Inspiration from Mary Connaughton, Director of CIPD Ireland, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021

We asked Mary Connaughton, Director of CIPD Ireland 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 “Choose to Challenge” mean to her.





CIPD Ireland is the professional body for HR and people development – experts on the world of work and career partner to 6,000 members in Ireland and more than 150,000 members around the world.

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

Mary: I am Director of CIPD Ireland and have been in my role for 5 years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Mary: I’m lucky that I get to meet and hear so many HR leaders and top speakers, and I’m continuously humbled by their principled approach and commitment. Got lots out of an interview of Professor Tom Kochan, MIT Sloan School of Management by Prof Bill Roche last year.

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

Mary: I have drawn on different role models at different stages of my career – always looking for someone who inspires. Had a great boss at one point who showed great leadership, balanced support and challenge and resolved issues.

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

Mary: Stay positive and focus on the things that you can control.

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

Mary: Baking is a lovely mindful activity – I had got out of the habit and now enjoy it with my daughter. Finding the time to reach out to call those that I hadn’t been in touch with, both friends and distant relatives.

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?

Mary: Always put wellbeing first – starting by asking people how they are doing and how much they are investing in managing their own wellbeing.

Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Choose to Challenge’ mean to you?

Mary: We’ve had an interesting discussion on this – is it about choices I have made to challenge or not, is it about individuals or is it about organisations. So for me it’s about encouraging people to challenge the status quo. In our silence we are saying something is acceptable, even when we know it’s not.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?  

Mary: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – translated to be treat everyone with respect and fairness, as I would like to be treated.