Inspiration from Geraldine Magnier, Director of Idiro Analytics, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Geraldine Magnier, Director of Idiro Analytics 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.

Founded in 2003, Idiro Analytics is a leading international data analytics consultancy. Headquartered in Dublin and 100% Irish owned, Idiro’s highly experienced data scientists and analysts help organisations to unlock value from their customer data using advanced analytics and AI. Idiro drives value for its clients by significantly improving commercial and operational KPIs relevant to them. Idiro has delivered solutions in over 30 countries to customers spanning telecoms, banking, utilities, education and government.

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

 Geraldine: For the last 6 years, I have been in my current role as Director of Idiro Analytics, this position encompasses largely the strategic direction of the company, be it new markets, sectors while also cultivating and curating the organisation’s culture. My remit also includes ensuring good corporate governance, directing and overseeing strategic outcomes. Finally, within Idiro, I play a major role in business development by formulating relationships externally, be it through liaising with our board of non-executive directors or prospect clients. Also, as co-owner I spend a significant proportion of my time networking and creating brand awareness through various initiatives. I truly love my role and get a huge amount of energy from it. Everyday feels different but always with a sense of progression and learning.

Then, outside of Idiro, in voluntary capacities, I hold roles in various organisations. This includes being an elected member on the national council of the Small Firms Association (SFA) of Ibec. Here the mammoth collaborative work done by council members to evolve a more level playing pitch for indigenous SMEs is a passion. Much of this work is evidenced when budget submissions penetrate government walls and eventually get passed. Working on the SFA national council is a true privilege as the sum of private SMEs in Ireland is 98%, many of whom are under severe pressure due to the pandemic but without them the back bone of Ireland would be hugely compromised given that such companies bring enterprise and employment to more rural parts where often other employment prospects may not be so rich… Although I live and work in Dublin, I grew up in a beautiful small town called Carrick-on-suir, so my work on the SFA council is centred by my connection and heart space for my native town and therefore an empathy for other towns and villages nationwide and not just Dublin centric.

This year I was elected to the policy council of the Dublin Chamber, a business to business networking and lobbying organisation, representing businesses from all sectors in Dublin and the greater Dublin area. Dublin is my adopted home for over 20 years now and I have seen the changes on the ground from a resident and business city centre located perspective; some good, some not so good. I most definitely want Dublin to reach its potential as a powerhouse capital but also as a living city. The work of the Dublin Chamber marvels this promise and aspiration with various campaigns such as the ‘New 15-minute City Planning Vision’ for Dublin and with sustainability at the core of each endeavour.

Then in alignment with my own sector, I have the privilege of being on the Board of Technology Ireland (Ibec). Where constant vigilance is kept on vital topics such cyber safety and ethics in AI etc. that affects all our lives and not just those associated with the technology sector.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Geraldine:  I am absolutely intrigued by people, the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of people captures me, no matter who they are… everyone is exceptionally interesting once you delve in with authentic curiosity. There is always something to learn and at the very least a fluid characterful conversation ensues. I draw my inspiration from people’s life stories, their perspectives, values and learnings. People generally and specifically hold the keys to life and hearty conversations guarantee a copy of such a ‘key to life’. But also the value of stepping into someone else’s shoes to see through their life experience prism. So, my podcast ‘Where the needle lands’ helps to feed that need of mine, especially in these more limited interactive days.

Then when I need to withdraw and spend time by myself to draw on inner inspiration… I lean more towards my creative side and that can take many forms, be it with art and craft, writing, meditative walks to being in the moment with jigsaw making with my two young kids. I shyly add that, for instance, I am a hobbyist milliner! I love hats… wearing or making.

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

Geraldine: I come from a multigenerational lineage of business owners and entrepreneurs, so I have never been short of role models and some great ones such as my Grandmother and Mother, both very learned and successful businesswomen. However, I realised later in life that I was short on mentors and consciously sought out specific mentors in my late 30s and early 40s. So, while it may seem obvious to people to have a mentor, I was late to this realization. I had been too busy ‘doing’ rather than apportioning more time and value to ‘being’.

My baby rearing years slowed me down for a while, and gifted me the realisation that I could grow enormously from the  value of honest mentors… so I sought out many and from each, their respective strong traits started to give muscle to my weaknesses. I still have many mentors, and the older I get, I give myself more permission to be open about when I am unsure and ask straight out to my peers for their guidance.

Generally, I ask for help more. An unintended benefit from this mentor-mentee relationships has shown me, how taking help builds up trust with each person you are openly vulnerable with, it then means that you have a force behind you and a common understanding and without judgement, you can be each other’s touchstone in the world of business or more.

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

Geraldine: As a technology company, the mindset often defaults to constantly trying for big bang innovation and while this is great for the creative muscle, it can be a tall order on a company’s resources of time and capital and an ever ending demand to be the best at the bleeding edge all the time. Idiro has been no stranger to pioneering, while this can be wonderful, but on balance, there can be a pain to being a pioneer or put another way ‘early bird gets the worm but second mouse gets the cheese’.

The best piece of advice I received since Covid, was the reminder that, one does not have to be outright innovative, that we can go the extra mile based on what has already been developed. The example given was the success of Zoom, and how they overtook the work of Skype who were the actual innovators of remote conferencing platforms. But Zoom went the final 10%. The takeaway message is that the final 10% can bring success. So not just specific to technology companies, all companies in all sectors can scan the market you are already in and see what the remaining consumer problem is in terms of what is on offer out there? What are the flaws and then can some of those be solved by a last 10% adjustment? Go the extra mile.

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

Geraldine: Prior to the pandemic, I had this notion that having children was one thing but evidence in the environment of them in any form would threaten my professional status or profile. Lockdown showed us all that people still can and want to work and be their best albeit that a child may make an audible or visual cameo role during a zoom call for business. While admittedly it can be somewhat interruptive, it is life and children are part of life.

To this end, the contrast prior to the lockdown, I put myself under pressure to present an exterior of not being ‘stretched’ due to having kids and chasing that elusive work life balance. Whereas in reality, I had major last-minute challenges around childminding and handovers that often put my heart crossways, particularly if they were unwell but I had to attend a meeting. Sometimes, my toddler just needed me to hold his hand while feeling under the weather. So, a major discovery during the pandemic was, (I say this in a tongue and cheek way) the pandemic has shown that loads of people have kids, more evidently!

But more importantly, the lockdown has shown how much parents of young children were juggling and smiling through all the craziness. But particularly as a woman, there can be an assumption that if you have young kids that your professional work quality and delivery may be compromised by being a mother and a professional. This is an additional stress we don’t need any longer, as the pandemic has set us free of the illusion or not, of having to ward off any incorrect perception. The pandemic has allowed dogs to bark, office homes to showcase their less than orderly bookshelves, less than groomed and less ironing from the waist down, all to be a new acceptable norm! So, isn’t it great, by being in this together, we are facing more truths and therefore more freedoms?

Since March, I have seen the value of intentional connection because remote bridging to people automatically causes more discerning decisions about with whom we choose to connect and converse. With social distancing both physically and virtually, I believe we are deepening our relationships rather than broadening them. So now I am more careful where I extend and apply my resources of energy and time because I have to be. Whereas I believe in the past I was less judicial about my resources and boundaries regarding tasks that I would take on. Now I am more mindful of my limitations and rather than be challenged by that, I acknowledge that and accept it more.

The next time someone says, let’s have a quick drink in the pub, I will go! I certainly will never take that opportunity for granted again. The banter and craic that only happens in a pub situation will never be underestimated again. We can go to dinner with friends and enjoy full on catch ups, but there should also be a space made for frivolous ‘bant’ and rant talk about nothing… just for the laugh and the exchange of energies that only happens effortlessly in a pub situation. The public sitting room of our cities, towns and villages keeps a certain and unassuming fabric of life going through the tapestry of personalities under one roof. But more vital to their soft-side offering, these public houses showed in lockdown times that they were conspicuous in their absence as the passive vigilance that they bring to our streets, that a little more edgier in the absence of pubs than in the past when they left a light on for civility.

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?

Geraldine: In Idiro we immediately sought and followed the guidance of expert organisations such as Voltedge as their ‘Employer’s Guide’ is rich in practical advice and contingency plans. As business owners have become even busier in these pandemic times, being able to have an outside team at your disposal for bespoke challenges and immediate access has been tantamount to dwarfing our employee concerns. But also, it’s the first time that the employers guide was a radical ‘living document’ of additional pressures, so we were able to fully place our trust in Voltedge to keep abreast of the moving compliance goal posts. Their walk beside us in these C-19 times, has been crucial to our business survival as it allowed us to keep a clear thinking space to pivot and adjust our business model and delivery under the demands of the current crisis.

Each employee was also asked about their particular circumstance and resulting needs. We never took a one size fits all approach. So, we have been active in adjusting to some employee requests to respond adequately for their particular wellbeing and collegiality needs. Management also routinely does one to one check ins on how staff are doing, not necessarily around solid work items but more on how the person is feeling or coping during this Covid-19 time and placing emphasis on empathy to their particular experience of the C-19 environment. As a company, we are mindful that we are all experiencing this crisis differently, for example, parents are often so busy with their children that they are not so aware of or feeling lonely. While others are caught up with the heavy emotions of fear for older parents that they may not be able to visit etc. or they simply live alone and feel that aloneness.

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

Geraldine: United we stand, divided we fall. There are many ways to interpret the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ but its essence for me is essentially, that it is the antithesis of a social theory favouring individualism over the collective. Typically, Western society has favoured freedom to act as the individual over the collective for decades and the results have been less than palatable in so many facets. In societies where they look outward or from a collective point of view, they are often less ageist and more inclusive. By weighting individualism over ‘togetherness’ may suggest that we work from a mentality of scarcity.

Together means to share, care and know that abundance exists and there’s plenty for everyone. Stronger together means, the distribution bottlenecks can be diminished, and more fluid deployment of all resources ensues. Together we can’t be beaten or beaten down as we are minding one another. In the workplace, over the last decade or so, the importance of team versus ‘I’ has ignited and the realisation that you could have a wonderful person in a boss but they too are only one part of a really diverse and interesting team and can be more powerful if ‘togetherness’ is celebrated and cultivates as a mentality. It is a myth to think that we never achieve anything great by ourselves, we are interconnected and therefore interdependent. By the same token, it is reassuring that the same is true in bad times, that we are never truly alone either, even if at the time we believe we are alone, we are not.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Geraldine: “….way leads onto way…” by Robert Frost from his poem ‘The Road Less Travelled’. The reason why I love this quote is because it gives quality to all of our endeavours, the failed ones as well as the successful ones. So even if something does not turn out the way you expected or desired, well the mere fact that you turned up to a situation, means you have broadened your net to learn, see, hear an item of information or meet someone randomly, that will act as a link to your next or another step. Just showing up means a ‘way’ leads onto a ‘way’ which is always fruitful, maybe not today but someday when you least expect, and this starts joining up the dots in life. So “way leads onto way”, means no effort is in vain or futile. But not doing something or trying a ‘way’ is paralysis by one’s own making.