We asked Fidelma Whelan, Managing Director of MacLachlan & Donaldson 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?
Fidelma: My current role is as Managing Director of MacLachlan & Donaldson, an intellectual property law firm based in Dublin and Belfast. I have been in role for 6 months now, since September 2019. From a background in management consultancy, finance and operations, I am finding opportunities to bring in my past experiences every day.
Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Fidelma: I look for inspiration in all directions, from the people I know, to the media I consume and the examples I see around me ever day. Some inspiration is directly related to how people work, behave or achieve, while other inspiration is more academic and I spend time each week keeping up to date with the latest in the world business, management, leadership and IP.
Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?
Fidelma: I have had the good fortune to work with a number of outstanding individuals throughout my career in management consultancy and beyond. At each stage of my career, I worked with at least one person who I still consider a mentor. It wouldn’t be possible to pick out just one as each person had their own impact across my varied career – from work role models who showed me what true leadership is, or demonstrated that a work-life balance is possible if you define what that means for you, or showed me what can be achieved through sheer energy, persistence and focus.
Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?
Fidelma: That I own my own career and that there are no “shoulds “ in career or life. It has really driven me to find work that invigorates and challenges me as I have progressed through my life. I haven’t always been fully in control of how and when I moved jobs, due to family circumstances, but by taking ownership of my career and understanding that there is nothing I “should” do, only rather to do what works for me, my family and my life, I have taken my work in interesting and challenging directions. Take the time to understand what you want from your work, believe in your ability to achieve it and then work to get it.
Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
Fidelma: The increasing interconnectedness and mobility of the workforce presents both opportunities and a huge challenge for leaders as we seek to recruit and retain the best talent for our organisations. As the world moves ever faster and expectations of what a workplace should provide change, we need to challenge ourselves to keep up and get the best from this trend.
Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?
Fidelma: “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can” – Nikos Kazantzakis This quote defines so much about how I view success and growth in my life and in my workplaces. There has be an underlying belief in yourself and your actions before you can truly be successful. Your mindset is as important as your actions are, and there is a lot of scientific research to back this up now.