Inspiration from Anne O’Connell, Founder and Principal of Anne O’Connell Solicitors, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Anne O’Connell, Founder and Principal of Anne O’Connell Solicitors 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 since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Anne O’Connell Solicitors provides dedicated, expert employment legal advice that is tailored to every single unique client and their equally unique requirements. Working with employers, employees, and consultants, the Firm offers a wide array of services, training and seminars, and a 24/7 employment law hotline dedicated exclusively for the Firm’s employer clients. Anne O’Connell Solicitors was ranked as a Leading Law Firm for Employment Law in Ireland by Legal500 within its first year and was elevated in rankings the following year.

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

 Anne: Founder and Principal of Anne O’Connell Solicitors, an employment law specialist firm.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Anne: I draw my inspiration from many sources.

I draw it from what my parents taught me when growing up.

–              My Dad, who sadly passed away in 2018, always said that “there is no such thing as can’t”, and that “where there is a will there is a way” and giving up was not an option. My Dad was also adamant that when we did anything it had to be done right, whether it was mucking out a stable, sweeping a yard or shining his shoes, if I didn’t do it right I had to do it again. He instilled a sense of pride in us all and that we always had to strive to be the best that we could be. Being the second eldest of 4 with an older sister and two younger brothers, this often resulted in me pushing myself harder to fight my corner.

–              My Mum always seemed to manage to find a way to resolve any issues that arose, whether work related or to help friends or family. She is the ‘go to’ person to solve a problem and to make things happen. She always taught us how important it is to treat everyone with respect.

I also draw my inspiration from sports – the training, time, dedication and teamwork involved. The strength needed to pick yourself up after a defeat and continue or to battle through an injury or illness.

As I love to look at matters from different angles and try to find new and different ways of approaching issues, I find inspiration from certain businesspeople and leaders who apply different ideas and visions.

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

Anne: My career started in 1993 when I started my law degree and as I am qualified for over 19 years, I have had many role models and mentors throughout my career. My mentors range from solicitors and partners in the firms I worked in to my friends and colleagues in different firms.

My godmother however is the stand out role model for me as she is a brilliant business woman and was never afraid of any challenge. She expected the best from everyone she worked with and didn’t suffer fools lightly. She worked at a time when the business world was male dominated but she was always well able for any businessman. She is very clever and savvy.  She was subjected to many critics and certain adversity but she stayed true to who she was and didn’t lose herself. She is a very strong and yet caring person and has done so much for so many people.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world?

Anne: Focus your energy on what you are able to control and not the things that you can’t.

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic?

Anne: – I got the room to just breath and to catch up on things, which I didn’t realise how much I needed.

– I was so grateful to have adopted a dog from the DSPCA last November. He was a game-changer in my life and a lifesaver during the lockdown.

– I discovered a lovely park nearby and actually heard the birds sing, which I didn’t before In Dublin and now I love to hear the birds, I find it so calming, especially as it makes me think of my late Dad.

– I discovered that my experience with breast cancer made me more resilient during Covid-19 and probably better able to cope.

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees?

Anne: We had daily zoom meetings and zoom Friday evening drinks. We did our High Fives every day and kept each other laughing and focused. Most of us returned to the office on 29 June and all of us returned in August. We were thankfully already set up to work remotely and had implemented the practice before Covid-19 hit. We have rotas for different members of the team to work from home when they wish. We had a health and wellness talk for the team. We set up a separate WhatsApp group called AOC Minds for exchanging good podcasts for mental health and nice quotes and other aids for each other and for anyone of the team to be able to say if they are not having a good day. We are also currently setting up an EAP programme.

Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you?

Anne: It is such a powerful slogan as it is so true. Any time someone refers to me having set up on my own, I always correct them that I never set up on my own, I had a lot of help and support and two others working with me from the start. I would never have been able to set up on my own. I believe that strength is in a team and that while there may be good leaders, leaders are worthless without a good team. A wheel needs its spokes to turn. As humans we need each other and working together is not only the best way but the only way that anything can be achieved. Our voices are louder when heard as one and our actions more productive when done together. When anything is bound together it is much stronger than being on its own.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Anne: “She turned her can’t into cans, her dreams into plans” – this quote kept me going whenever I doubted myself or felt that life was difficult. When I set up the Firm I added to this quote that with the support of others everyday “she turns her plans into reality”.