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Inspiration from some of Ireland’s Leading Female Executives

National Women’s Enterprise Day aims to encourage women to set up their own businesses and to increase national recognition of the essential role played by Ireland’s leading female entrepreneurs.

Voltedge Management would like to celebrate four Irish female executives, each of whom have achieved outstanding accomplishments in their area of expertise. We asked them to share with us some insights on their experiences and how they draw inspiration from the environment around them, role models they had during their careers, the best advice they received, and what they see as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

Niamh Cosgrove, Director of Sales & Marketing for MedLab Pathology

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

Niamh: Since 2015 I have held the role of Director of Sales & Marketing for MedLab Pathology. Prior to this I had other managerial positions within Sales, Business Development and General Management in the company since it was first established in 2010. In my current role I am responsible for creating and delivering effective sales and marketing strategies, the delivery of sales budgets set by the board and I also play a crucial role in the success of the company by consistently driving significant growth through the application of strategic planning and analytical skills. I an experienced leader within the pathology laboratory sector having worked in this area for over 13 years, holding roles in business development, account management, sales and marketing. I graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a microbiology degree and then completed my PhD in molecular biology in the Conway Institute at University College Dublin.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Niamh: My inspiration comes from my parents. They are the essence of selflessness and unprecedented love. I’m one of eight children and I can honestly say I have never seen anyone work harder than my Mum and Dad. Their partnership and sharing of responsibilities to raise all of their eight children into successful leaders in their own fields fills me with motivation that no matter what the adversity if you believe in yourself and work hard anything is possible. That’s what they brought us up believing.

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

Niamh: My Principal Investigator during my PhD had an influential impact as a role model for me early on in my career. At the time when I joined her research group as an impressionable new PhD student she had a small team. Over the course of my PhD I watched her work tirelessly on gaining additional funding and saw her establish herself as a leading researcher in the field of endocrine oncology research where she now holds an Associate Professorship. That early influence of a female leader and mentor at the beginning of my career had a lasting effect on me. Over the past 12 months I have appreciated being able to inspire the new younger female generation via the WITS life science forums by contributing and highlighting the opportunities available to students following a life science qualification.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Niamh: If at first you don’t succeed, try again! It comes from my parents always teaching me that anything is possible with hard work and determination. There is never only one route to where you want to get to and I think when you realise if you get a knock back or you need to take a step back for a period of time, depending on your life circumstances, that the more “zig-zag” route you take to get to your destination will ultimately shape you for the better. It’s a learning curve along the way and often you actually take more from the more scenic route!

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Niamh: I believe the challenge is around adapting to changes. We live in a time where technologies like AI and machine learning are disrupting most businesses in a positive way and showing their worth, so leaders need to be ready to embrace the new ways of working and select the one that is most appropriate for their business. In addition we have a changing workforce where Millennials will soon be replaced by Generation Z’s – so the flexibility that these generations are seeking will only grow and companies will need to be ready to embrace more options around freelancing and working from home where possible.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Niamh: “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”

I was given a card with this quote on it from a friend during a very difficult time in my career where I was being challenged constantly. The very fact she saw the resilience in me that I couldn’t at that time meant so much to me and gave me the push I needed to step up and not give in!

 

Marie-Louise Kelly, CFO of ORIX Aviation

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

Marie-Louise: I am CFO of ORIX Aviation, and have held that position for over three years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Marie-Louise: I work with a fantastic team of people within ORIX Aviation. They are smart, professional and hard working in an environment that is challenging, interesting, dynamic and very rewarding. It is a pleasure to work with these colleagues and their drive, ambition and enthusiasm pushes me further to achieve our goals and strategic aims.

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

Marie-Louise: I have worked closely for most of the last ten years with James Meyler, firstly when he was Chief Commercial Officer and now as our CEO. He has been a very important mentor for me, always providing sound guidance and feedback. Most importantly he has provided encouragement and support to me. This was particularly evident when I was promoted to CFO upon returning from maternity leave.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Marie-Louise: Not to assume that your manager intuitively understands how you feel or what your development goals are. Constructive discussions need input and thought from both the manager and staff member.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Marie-Louise: More pronounced generational shifts mean that there are cross sections of the workforce with very different work related expectations, motivations, what the ideal work / life balance is, how they value benefits, how they want to be managed and the type of development needs that they have. Leaders need to develop an organisation and culture that can be flexible in meeting expectations across these generations at any given point in time.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Marie-Louise: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart

Many good ideas can get lost between suggestion and implementation. If we want to succeed, we need to follow through and encourage people alongside us to do the same.

 

Michelle Maguire, CEO of Ireland’s Blue Book

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

Michelle: CEO of Ireland’s Blue Book. 11 years with Ireland’s Blue Book.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Michelle: Every year we hire graduates and I find their energy inspiring and infectious. I also work with hoteliers who have welcomed guests for over 50 years, and I find their energy equally inspiring. I am privileged to work with people who are passionate about what they do, and I am energised by that positivity.

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

Michelle: I have had many managers and colleagues who I have learnt from over the past 25 years.  I think you have to be a magpie collecting from everyone around you, absorbing expertise from different disciplines.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Michelle: Focus on the things you can control. If something is out of your control, there is no use wasting time or energy on it. The challenge is identifying what is not within your control.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Michelle: Speed of change; you must be extremely agile and responsive. Leaders need to be highly adaptable to make the most of the pace of change and innovation in their environment.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Michelle: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” I think it is the challenges that build our strengths. That said some plain sailing is sometimes needed.

 

Sinead Mooney, Managing Director of RED C Research

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

Sinead: My current role is Managing Director of RED C Research.  Myself and Richard Colwell set up the business in 2003 so I’ve been in the role since then – 16 years and have never looked back!

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Sinead: I think you need to draw inspiration from everyone and everything.  In a more active sense it is from my colleagues and clients who I am working with constantly.

But also in the down times simply going for a walk or people watching can be great sources of inspiration for us as market researchers where ultimately we are trying to understand people.

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

Sinead: I think we learn from so many people in the course of a career.  However, my parents were my first role models.  My Mam ran her own business and ended up on the board of Bord Failte representing the very large B&B sector.  They taught me about hard work, how to interact with people and I was given encouragement no matter what avenue I wanted to pursue.

When I started working, I was fortunate enough to work with Robin Addis, Roger Jupp and Elaine Malcolm in Lansdowne Market Research at the time, who were all mentors who gave of their time freely to teach me and guide me.  I’m sure I have not thanked them enough over the years.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Sinead: Two similar pieces of advice “be nice to everyone on the way up, cause you never know who you’ll meet on the way back down” and “manners cost nothing.”  In my view these are very important to remember in your working career.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Sinead: There are many challenges business leaders face these days with constant new information, thought leaders and legislation.

One of the biggest challenges in the past number of years is spotting and nurturing good talent.  In the current climate the uncertainty businesses are facing due to the current political and economic landscapes are challenging and with that comes the challenge of knowing when to grow and knowing when to consolidate.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Sinead: “Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.”

I can’t remember where I read it, but it was early on in my career and my friend did it up as a painting for me with the words included which I treasure.

 

Today is an opportunity for Voltedge Management to celebrate these outstanding Irish female leaders and to extend our very best wishes to them for continued success in their careers, fulfilment and happiness in life and to thank them for their contribution to society.

If you have any enquiries regarding this article or any other topic we have covered, please call us our office 01 525 2914 or email us on info@voltedge.ie.

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