Inspiration from Anne O’Neill, President Elect of Irish Dental Association

We asked Anne O’Neill, President Elect of Irish Dental Association to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

Voltedge: What is your current role and how long you have held this position?

Anne: Within the Irish Dental Association, I hold the position of President Elect for the past 8 months which will change to President at our AGM in May. My “day job” is Assistant National Oral Health Lead for Dental ICT and Public Health and Epidemiology within the HSE, for the past 16 months. Before that I held the position of Principal Dental Surgeon in the HSE for 18 years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Anne: That’s a tough question. I learned my work ethic from my parents who were primary school teachers. My patients are a source of inspiration- our dental service provides care to children and adults with additional needs. Over the years I have met many parents and carers who are hugely inspirational in how they support and care for patients with additional needs. I believe if we create a service that meets the need of our parents, ourselves and our own children, it will be a service worth having.

Separately to my dental and work inspiration, one of my hobbies is knitting. I get great creative inspiration from knitting friends and some social media platforms.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Anne: I have been fortunate within the health service to work with people in many different leadership roles- my Principal Dental Surgeon group when I was new to that position were a great mentoring team, each bringing different strengths to the group, the Area Administrator undertaking risk assessments provided great mentoring to me both in applying risk management and as a parent. I also value the support and learning from the Secretary General of the Dental Association when I first became a member.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Anne: The best piece of advice that I have been given is to thank your dental nurse every day, to acknowledge and appreciate those who contribute to the success of the team.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Anne: I think that to be a successful leader you have to be ready to take some level of risk, to try the new process/invent the new product/ stick your head above the parapet. I think the biggest challenge to leaders today is social media- while it provides ready access to information, the ability to critically analyse the quality of information is lost. Every one has an opinion on the various platforms and trolling/criticism to the level of personal attack which we hear of every day makes it more difficult to maintain the confidence and knowledge to lead.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Anne: The quotation I probably return to the most is known as the serenity prayer, it has many different associations but I regularly apply it to all sorts of work and personal challenges as a reminder that while none of us can change the world, there are things we can and should change.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

My other favourite is from Aristotle: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.