What does leadership mean to you and how do you define it?
To me, a leader has a vision and works towards that vision while motivating and inspiring others to follow. A leader is someone who is respected, admired and has a positive impact on others. A leader is also very often the decision-maker. A good leader will assess the risk/reward and make an informed decision. Leaders don’t procrastinate, they move quickly to catch the wave. Theodore Roosevelt once said: “The worst thing you can do, is nothing.”
What is the most important lesson you have learned, from your personal or business life?
We’re all human and ultimately, we all experience the same thoughts, feelings and challenges along the way, albeit at different stages of our lives. Let your guard down, and when you do, others will respond and relationships will form. You have more in common with your colleagues than you realise. Don’t be afraid to connect with others on a personal level, not just on a business level.
Is there someone who has had a major impact on you as a leader?
I was fortunate enough to work with some very smart people over the last 20 years. But in particular, I witnessed a couple of strong independent women making their mark in the boardroom at a time when a woman at the boardroom table was a rare occurrence. I took real inspiration from these women and hope that I can be just as effective. Who knows maybe one day I too will inspire others in a positive way.
Have you experienced failure? If so, what did you learn?
Yes, I did, a number of times. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and more often than not, that reason is not always evident at that particular time, hence the disappointment. Although failure can damage confidence levels, it also builds resilience, and I’ve learnt that there is more than one path to get you where you want to be. Keep going, you’re closer than you think.
Who do you admire in the business world and why?
I have admired many people over the years but more recently I have huge admiration for Paul Reid (CEO of the HSE). Since being appointed to the top job just months before the pandemic hit, he has remained calm, and despite being under massive pressure for such a prolonged period, he always shows kindness and empathy towards his colleagues. He’s had to pivot and adapt quickly to get the job done. We come from very similar backgrounds so he inspires me to keep going and be the best that I can be.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring board directors?
Get yourself out there, build your own personal brand, meet and engage with people. Build on your existing skills and learn new ones. Keep evolving. It’s also important to trust your instinct (even if you’re a lone voice) your instincts are usually right.
If you were able to run one company, apart from your own business, which would you choose and why?
I’d like to take over from Jeff Bezos of Amazon. OK, maybe that’s not realistic just yet so I’ll start with the new Amazon Ireland for now. The business model is very simple and obviously very lucrative, and the online innovation is impressive. Having utilised their selling platform in the past I know that there’s still room for improvement and I’d be just the person to tackle it. Jeff – I’ll have my people call your people.