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30 Best Leaders To Watch 2020

Active Centre of English Training: Cork's First and now its Leading English Language School


“We encourage our teachers to investigate teaching and learning so as to improve their own and their students' learning.”

With China’s growing economic might, is Mandarin becoming the preferred language of business? Not anytime soon, says a newly released study. Instead, English will maintain and grow its dominance, moving from ‘a marker of the elite’ in years past to ‘a basic skill needed for the entire workforce, in the same way that literacy has been transformed in the last two centuries from an elite privilege into a basic requirement for informed citizenship.’

In light of the foregoing, we’re pleased to present Active Centre of English Training or ACET.

ACET is Cork’s first English language school and one of the first English language schools in Ireland. The school is managed by the founding family. The team consists of three directors, a team of seven office staff and 15 full-time teachers with many more part-time teachers in the peak season. The school is located in one building with a capacity for 100 clients throughout the year and three centres in the peak months of summer season. Due to a growth in business and popularity in 2019, the school will proudly be introducing a 4th centre in summer 2020.

OdileMigieu: Interview Excerpt

Can you brief us about the history of your company?

Our language school, ACET, was established in 1975 by OdileMigieu — it was the first in Cork and, in fact, one of the first in Ireland. Today, it is the oldest remaining language school of its kind in Ireland. It is a true family business, started by me and then my husband, Pat Coade, who joined as a business consultant in the 1990’s, and now run by me and our devoted team. Since 1975, ACET (originally Cork Language Centre), has grown from a one classroom school on McCurtain Street to a three-center academy that is well-known and respected throughout the world.

There is nothing more important for a successful small business than a well-defined mission and vision statements. Can you explain your M&V statements in brief?

The goal of ACET is summed up in the mission statement, which is ‘to provide English language training to a level above international standards, exceeding customers’ expectations and ensuring that superior performance associated with quality is our normal behaviour in an environment of continual improvement’. Our core values are customer service, professionalism, teamwork, and profitability.

Our aim is to improve student experience by identifying areas of good practice and those requiring further development. Key factors considered include experience in class (quality of teachers, teaching and student progress in developing language skills) and experience outside of class (social life and activities and support services).

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

I worry about the changes in environment of learning and the future for the younger generation. Will students/clients still want to learn English in a native country or learn from internet classes? We just need to keep up with changes, come up with new ideas, and engage with new interests.

‘It is difficult to start a venture, but far more difficult to maintain it.’ How would you and your team interpret this saying?

Our main goal is to continue to provide English Language training to a level above international standards in a positive and inclusive client-centered environment, with a range of support services to enable our clients to improve their English and enjoy their stay in Cork and Ireland. All our team is given the support and authority necessary to maximize the level of client satisfaction. We embrace the responsibility for the social, economic, and environmental impacts of our activities.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

My advice for a successful business idea is passion and knowledge of the industry. Passion will consistently drive you to improve your process; therefore, business. Passion will move you forward, but knowledge will point you in the right direction. Conduct market research on your industry and talk to target customers to find out your business’s potential. Reach out to professionals that can help you with certain areas of business, such as financial advisors and other language schools. That way, you can be confident about the direction you’re headed and sustain the momentum you need to get there.

What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

I was honored with “Businesswoman of the Year” award in 2019, which I consider as one of my memorable moments.

What are your future focus areas?

Technology is changing the face of business and education such as platform learning, interactive whiteboards, online classes etc. Emerging technologies offer the ability to improve customer experience by learning from the data that can be captured. We will develop strategies to stay ahead of the change curve.

Meet the Charismatic Founder and CEO: OdileMigieu

Odile is the founder and CEO of ACET. She studied an MA in French Literature and settled in Ireland in 1972. In 1975, she founded ACET and since then the school has grown in size and reputation. She also loves developing new courses and services and encouraging her team to participate in new projects. This reinforces the sense of belonging,which is so important at ACET. In her free time, she enjoys walking and trekking as well as gardening and reading.

“Our main goal is to continue to provide English Language training to a level above international standards in a positive and inclusive client-centered environment, with a range of support services to enable our clients to improve their English and enjoy their stay in Cork and Ireland.”