Member Spotlights

Paula Cogan

by Stephen Conmy

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What does leadership mean to you and how do you define it?

Leadership is walking the walk and not talking the talk. Covid has taught us all that no one has all of the answers but if you can deliver a message that people can understand and you can explain the thought process and rational, then the majority will come on board. Leadership is also about making difficult decisions when they need to be made.

What is the most important lesson you have learned, from your personal or business life?

It has certainly come from my grandmother. Her mantra was treat others as you would like them to treat you. It applies in all areas of life.

Is there someone who has had a major impact on you as a leader?

Peter Malone former CEO of Jurys Doyle Hotel Group. He was a marketing guru when no one knew what marketing was. He hired the best and the brightest he could afford and then let them get on with their job. Those who worked with him learnt responsibility and accountability from the outset.

Have you experienced failure? If so, what did you learn?

Absolutely and while it’s not nice at the time is does teach you a lot about yourself. I have Kelly Clarkson on my playlist for those days – ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

Who do you admire in the business world and why?

I admire so many people for different reasons. I have been very fortunate to know Bob Savage VP and site lead of Dell Technologies and he is someone who walks the walk and gives back in so many ways. He is a huge advocate of diversity and inclusion and the power of learning and no matter how busy he is will also have time to take a call.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring board directors?

Read up and then speak up. Of course it can be intimidating to join any board but you are there for a reason. Make sure to have briefed yourself as best as you can on the organisation in advance but also on competitors and any trends impacting on the sector so you can add to the conversation at board.

If you were able to run one company, apart from your own business, which would you choose and why?

I would like to run a cooperative or an agri-food company. I believe that there is such transformational change and innovation happening in this sector and we can be market leaders in sustainability and diversity in farming practices which would ensure job creation and the enhancement of life in rural Ireland for generations to come.

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