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Inspiration from Larissa Feeney, CEO at Accountantonline to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Larissa Feeney, CEO at Accountantonline 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.

Accountant Online is an online financial technology company based in Ireland. They are a team of accounting and company secretarial professionals, using cloud technology to help their clients access their professional services simply, easily and securely.

 

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

 Larissa: I am CEO of Accountant Online – I am the owner and founder and I set up this business in 2015. It is now the most popular accounting website in Ireland and has over 28,000 visits a month.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Larissa: I draw inspiration from other entrepreneurs and business owners, large and small, across Ireland and internationally. Most of our clients are small business owners and I love hearing their stories of why they set up and to watch them grow and progress. I admire and follow leaders such as Ariana Huffington who is making such a positive impact with her Thrive initiative because she is promoting a balanced, holistic approach to success in the workplace. I have also been very inspired by the ‘Inspirefest’ events put on by Anne O’Dea in recent years and I look forward to attending her ‘Future Human’ event at the end of October.

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

Larissa: I have enjoyed being part of networks and programmes such as ACORNS and I benefited enormously from my experience with programmes such as ‘Going For Growth’ and support from Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland. It helped me build a network and be exposed to a greater level of ambition and expertise than was available to me previously.

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

Larissa: To set short term goals month to month and adapt as we go. The future became very uncertain in March 2020. We needed to make some changes, but we needed to be flexible enough to row back on decisions if required, so we do review and revise our plans regularly.

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

Larissa: I am certainly seeing more of my family, which is positive. I also had to take a more formal decisive approach to getting fresh air and to be in nature more. I’m lucky to live in the countryside in Donegal and my step activity has massively increased since we introduced ‘walk and talk’ virtual meetings.

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? 

Larissa: Although we have offices in Letterkenny and Dublin, most of our staff actually already worked remotely prior to the pandemic, so working effectively together as a remote team was a challenge that we have always had to overcome. All the teams have regular meetings, and we encourage video screens to be on. In the good weather we held ‘walk and talk’ meetings to add some creative time. We did some quizzes in the early days of lockdown, but I don’t think they are sustainable as a social activity and are not suited to everyone. Lately we invited Voltedge to present some webinars which allowed staff to consider additional initiatives such as buddy systems and sharing photos of view of their walks. 

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

Larissa: It reminds me of the many female support initiatives and cultural expressions that are [unfortunately, still] necessary, such as ‘we can’t be what we can’t see’. Visibility of females in leadership positions across all disciplines is really important and will only happen by both genders making decisions to correct the clear imbalance across our society. I have 3 young boys, so I’d like to see them grow up in a world which has a more equal representation. I notice the tennis player Andy Murray is a great supporter of equality in sport – I think he has been brought up to challenge the clear imbalance there and his voice is powerful in addressing change in tennis, as an example.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Larissa: As a busy working mum, the quote that resonates with me the most is ‘When a ball has to drop, make sure it’s the right one’. We all have very busy lives, it is not possible to have it all, all the time. Prioritizing time is important and identifying what is important on any given day helps me ensure that I keep the right balls in the air!

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