Posts Tagged ‘Business’

Inspiration from some of Ireland’s Leading Female Executives to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Voltedge Management in marking National Women’s Enterprise Day today 14th of October, celebrates these eight outstanding female executives, each of whom have achieved exceptional accomplishments in their area of expertise.

We met up with them (virtually of course) and asked them to share with us some of their career and business insights and how they draw inspiration from the environment around them, role models they had during their careers, some advice on coping during Covid-19, and what “Stronger Together” means to them.

We are thrilled to have this opportunity to celebrate these outstanding 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 inspiring words and the contribution they make to businesses, the workplace and to society generally.

Click here to read inspiration from Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet

Click here to read inspiration from Larissa Feeney, CEO at Accountantonline

Click here to read inspiration from Sinead Glennon, CFO at Risk Systems

Click here to read inspiration from Dee Kehoe, CPD Director Engineers Ireland

Click here to read inspiration from Geraldine Magnier,  Director & Co-founder of Idiro Analytics

Click here to read inspiration from Deirdre Mortell, CEO at Rethink Ireland

Click here to read inspiration from Anne O’Connell, Principal AOC Solicitors

Click here to read inspiration from Eileen Townsend, Head of Organisational Development IAASA

Voltedge Management is thrilled to have this opportunity  to celebrate these outstanding 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 inspiring words and the contribution they make to businesses, other females and to society generally.

If you have any enquiries or comments you’d like to share with us, 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.

Inspiration from Eileen Townsend, Head of Organisational Development in the IAASA, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Eileen Townsend, Head of Organisational Development in the IAASA 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.

IAASA is responsible for the supervision of the accounting profession in Ireland, comprising 40,030 members of Prescribed Accountancy Bodies (‘PABs’) in business and practice in the State. IAASA is the competent authority for the oversight of statutory auditors in Ireland, including oversight of the manner in which the five Recognised Accountancy Bodies (‘RABs’) perform the functions assigned to them in law in respect of statutory auditors, namely approval and registration, continuing education, quality assurance systems and investigative and administrative disciplinary systems.

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

Eileen: I am Head of Organisational Development and Standards & Policy in the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA). It’s a varied and enjoyable remit with responsibility for innovation, communications, adoption of auditing standards in Ireland and a range of policy issues in accounting and auditing regulation. I’ve been Head of Standards & Policy for 2 years, Head of Organisational Development for 1 and was previously Head of Regulatory & Monitoring Supervision for 6 years.

 

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Eileen:  I draw inspiration from a wide range of sources. People – my colleagues who bring different viewpoints and challenge me to improve daily, my children with their fresh perspective on everything and joy in simple things, people who’ve achieved great things and others who’ve overcome significant challenges. Books – I love reading, particularly books presenting new concepts (Brené Brown, Adam Grant, Tasha Eurich are current favourites). Podcasts – I listen to a variety of topics from wellbeing to leadership to documentaries and they often spark new ideas.

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

Eileen: I’ve been lucky to have had several significant mentors in my career, who valued my strengths, gave me insightful feedback and advice, and invested their time in my professional development. Working in regulation has its own unique challenges and when I was new to it, Helen Hall (now CEO of the Policing Authority), was instrumental in guiding me to clarify my purpose and values around regulation and also in developing the perseverance and resilience needed to achieve the vision.

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

Eileen: I read an article early on during lockdown about accepting the impact of a pandemic and not to judge ourselves (or others) by the standards we set in normal times. That advice resonated with me at a time when I was juggling work with home schooling, childcare, supporting cocooning relatives and feeling that I was dropping at least one of those balls daily.

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

Eileen: I’m spending a lot more time at home, with no commute and fewer places to go, so the pace of life is less hectic. I’m also expanding my family’s culinary experience, although with mixed success! I’m getting out for a walk most days and despite living in the same area for the past 14 years, I’ve discovered new places to wander, even within 5km.

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?

Eileen: All of our people have been working from home since March and we put a focus on staying connected and prioritising wellbeing. We’ve been using video conferencing to chat day-to-day, for weekly team meetings, to schedule virtual coffee breaks and to check-in regularly with each other. We introduced an online social networking tool to encourage and maintain our informal interactions. We surveyed staff to assess their needs, developed our intranet to provide wellbeing resources and made external wellbeing supports available also. Flexibility is essential for many employees at the moment, so we’ve implemented increased flexibility around working patterns too.

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

Eileen: It means that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts – that when we support each other, collaborate, share our time, knowledge and experiences, when we value our differences, when we amplify each other’s voices, then we build a community that can achieve real and impactful change for the better.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Eileen: Maya Angelou said ‘You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have’. I love the possibility in this idea, the call to encourage and nurture creativity, to build the creative muscle. While innovation requires more than creativity, building creative capability at individual and organisational level is a vital precursor to the implementation of innovation. Taking the perspective that doing it leads to more of it, is empowering and inspiring.

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 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”.

Inspiration from Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink 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 “Stronger Together” means to her.

Rethink Ireland (formerly Social Innovation Fund Ireland) was created by Government to stimulate philanthropy and back social innovations. They raise philanthropic funds from companies, individuals and families, which are matched euro for euro by Government from the Dormant Accounts Funds. With these funds, they provide cash grants and business supports to support the best social innovations in Ireland to grow and spread.

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

 Deirdre: I am CEO of Rethink Ireland for 6 years now.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Deirdre: I am inspired by the donors and awardees of Rethink Ireland that I deal with every day. They get up in the morning with a desire and plan to turn Ireland into the kind of country we all want to live in – more equal, more sustainable, fairer – and they each play different roles in getting us there.

 

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

Deirdre: Sally Anne Kinahan was my first boss, as head of Oxfam Ireland. I was in my mid 20’s and she stretched me, threw me in the deep end of the pool, rescued me when I was drowning, and saved my backside when I messed up. She is also great fun to work with, a huge risk taker, and went on to a great career herself.

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

Deirdre: Breathe, remember to breathe.

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

Deirdre: Working at home meant I could spend much more time outdoors than I normally could in spring / summer.

Working remotely meant I was able to leave Dublin this summer and live and work in rural Cork, which was an absolute pleasure. City life is wonderful in the winter but singing to the cows on summer evenings is hard to beat. They like it too.

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?

Deirdre: We hold a Huddle on Zoom for 30 mins twice a week to have a chat, make announcements, and keep in touch. All staff are invited but it is not mandatory. We now also do a weekly email update to all staff – something which was only occasional before. I really enjoy the chance to connect with staff at all levels, especially new staff that have joined during the lockdown, who I may have never met in person.

We have allocated some staff resource to Wellbeing and tips and challenges are shared on Slack (our internal communications app) regularly. Everything from a cocktail making competition for the month of October (suggested by a staff member and to be judged by her daughter) to articles on sleep and weekend plans on Fridays.

We are lucky that most of our staff are digital natives, and Rethink Ireland did not own a desktop computer when this all started, so agile working was relatively easy for us. But I miss the chats and brainstorms.

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

Deirdre: COVID19 has reminded us of the power of neighbourhood and community. My neighbours are closer than we have ever been.

All we need to do now is to channel that social capital as we emerge from this pandemic into ensuring we build a just transition from it – closing the inequality gaps that have been widened by COVID19 – and ensuring that we prepare for the climate challenge as we do so.

I believe we can do that, because we have all been forced to stop and think, reflect on what really matters to us as a family, a community and a country.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Deirdre: “Well behaved women seldom make history” – attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt – no explanation necessary.

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 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.

Inspiration from Dee Kehoe, CPD Director with Engineers Ireland, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Dee Kehoe, CPD Director with Engineers 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 “Stronger Together” means to her.

Engineers Ireland is the membership and professional development body of the engineering community.   Its 25,000 members make up a community of creative professionals delivering solutions for society.

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

 Dee: I am CPD Director with Engineers Ireland and I also have responsibility for the STEPS programme, which is a non-profit outreach scheme that promotes interest and awareness in engineering as a future career to school students through a portfolio of projects.  I have been in this role since 2015 and have been with Engineers Ireland since 2010.  

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Dee:  Primarily from nature, other people and reading.  I like listening to TED talks, podcasts and watching arts programmes.  I love fiction and have been in the same book club for over 25 years.  Children continually inspire me with their openness to new ideas and fearlessness.

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

Dee: I have been fortunate in having worked for really great people in my career to date and have learned much from all of them.  Mary McAleese is a role model for me.  She was an excellent President of Ireland and I particularly admire how vocal and frank she is on significant issues that are important to her and society.  She is so empathetic and, in my view, has consistently exhibited all of the best qualities of a great leader.  I am looking forward to reading her memoir.

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

Dee: Take it one day at a time.  Covid-19 has thrown us all into a major sociological experiment of how to live mindfully.  I have got much better at not worrying about relatively minor issues and challenges and making the most of the day that is in it.  I hope I can maintain this mindset post Covid!

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

Dee: The lockdown meant spending a lot more time with my family which I loved.  My children may have a different view! I have also developed a much bigger interest in the garden and plants and flowers and while I have gone to yoga classes once a week since my twenties, moving to online classes has enabled me to practice it much more regularly which has been great for both my body and head.

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? 

Dee: As a team we have continued with our usual comms channels in the remote environment –e.g. weekly team meetings, regular all staff meetings and 1:1s. I also call my colleagues to check in with them and I think this is really important as remote working can be isolating.  SMT also initiated some cross-team projects at the early stage of remote working which helped with inter-team collaboration and a sense of shared purpose.

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

Dee: Team spirit.  We are social animals and Covid might challenge us in this regard at present, but it cannot change that fact.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Dee: Jim Rohn, the late American entrepreneur, is quoted as saying ‘Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment’.  I like it because he places the emphasis on the process or journey rather than just the desired outcome.  CPD is a journey and it keeps life interesting and purposeful.  We need to stay curious, connected and engaged if we want to be productive and purposeful.  It saddens me when I hear someone complain that ‘they have to’ undertake CPD for their job or professional body.  With a growth mindset, CPD is considered the fuel to adapt and grow so who wouldn’t want that!

Inspiration from Sinead Glennon, CFO at RiskSystem, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Sinead Glennon, CFO at RiskSystem 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.

RiskSystem is a specialist provider of risk management and regulatory reporting services to the global funds industry via a proprietary cloud based platform. The core competency of the firm is producing in a timely fashion valuable risk information necessary for investment funds to comply with their regulatory obligations. Since their founding in 2013 they have been providing solutions for AIFMs, AIFs, UCITS as well as regulatory reporting such as Annex IV, Form PF, CPO-PQR, PRIIPs and Open Protocol reporting. Providing a dashboard view across multiple funds and asset classes ensures those charged with managerial supervision or governance have vital data at their fingertips such that remedial action can be taken if required. Their clients range from small self-managed investment companies to large tier one global asset managers such as Credit Suisse Asset Management. RiskSystem currently have over 200 funds on their platform with assets monitored in the region of €36 billion.

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

 Sinead: My role is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in a company called RiskSystem. I joined the company in June 2019 after returning from Australia.

 RiskSystem is a specialist provider of risk management and regulatory reporting services to the global funds industry via a proprietary cloud-based platform. The core competency of the firm is producing in a timely fashion valuable risk information necessary for investment funds to comply with their regulatory obligations. Since our founding in 2013 we have been providing solutions for AIFMs, AIFs, UCITS as well as regulatory reporting such as Annex IV, Form PF, CPO-PQR, PRIIPs and Open Protocol reporting. Providing a dashboard view across multiple funds and asset classes ensures those charged with managerial supervision or governance have vital data at their fingertips such that remedial action can be taken if required. Our clients range from small self-managed investment companies to large tier one global asset managers such as Credit Suisse Asset Management. We currently have over 200 funds on our platform with assets monitored in the region of €36 billion.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Sinead: From other people. I have a great network of people in my life both personally and professionally and I place a huge amount of value on that. I am a sociable person and I get a great energy and strength from the people in my life. Life is full of challenges and people will continuously surprise you with what they have managed to overcome in their lives.

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

 Sinead: I have been fortunate to have had more than one person look out for me throughout the earlier stages of my career. Before I moved to Australia, I worked in a company for 10 years and I had a great boss during that time. He was a very different personality and skillset to me and although my role was an accountant for his department, he challenged me to approach my job from a wider business partner perspective rather than just strictly accounting. It was the origins of my move towards strategic finance, CFO and directorship roles.

Another person that comes to mind is a senior female manager in the same company who put me forward for a role shortly after I returned from maternity leave. There were two roles available at two different levels. At that time, my self-confidence was low as I was adjusting to returning to work and I completed an application for the more junior role and brought it to her for approval. She refused to approve it as she felt I was underselling myself and insisted that I apply for the more senior role. It was a pivotal moment for me in my career. It gave me such a confidence boost at a time when I needed it most and it led me to pursuing similar roles at this level and higher when I moved to Australia.

The best thing about these two people is that they have no idea of the impact they had on me personally or on my career. They were not actively trying to be a mentor. I will always be grateful to them and they influenced me in a way that I will always try to support or encourage others if I can.

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

 Sinead: Don’t procrastinate! If you get the opportunity to do something, then do it. We are all guilty of putting things on the long finger or saying “I must look into doing that” but I think 2020 has shown us how life can get in the way of best made plans!

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

 Sinead: I appreciate the value of being able to say that I am content in my life. I realise how fortunate I am to be able to say this at the moment, especially after a couple of particularly challenging years for me, family-wise.

The past year has made me realise the things I took for granted eg travel, socialising, gym, events etc. I feel a lot more grateful for these things now than I ever did before.

Months of isolation and restrictions have encouraged me to try new hobbies and activities and push myself outside my comfort zone. On one hand, jigsaws and crosswords and on the on her hand, headstands and the flying trapeze. So, quite a variety really!

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?

 Sinead: The reduction of social interaction among staff has been challenging for everyone. We have implemented a phased return to the office which has helped staff immensely. In general, we are communicating a lot through virtual means and trying to keep some of the office banter going in that way!

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

 Sinead: The key to surviving any challenge is the network of people around you. We are all individually stronger when we work together towards a shared purpose or a shared goal. At the earlier stages of my career, women were always pitched against each other and a competitive environment existed.  This is changing and women are supporting each other more now. There is recognition that we are not all striving for the same goals and success looks different for everyone. Combining different skillsets improves us all individually and gives us an opportunity to learn from other people’s skills and knowledge. We don’t have to be in competition with each other in order for us all to succeed at our goals.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Sinead: My former boss used to say “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions”. It changed my mindset on how I approach a lot of things both workwise and in my personal life. I found it shifted my focus from only seeing the negative aspects, to approaching it in a way of how I intend to get past it, or resolve it. It is not about assuming I will be able to fix something, but it is more about the mindset it has created for me. If you approach something with a negative mindset, you are more likely to find only negatives. So, on the flip side of that, you are at least making your best attempt to resolve or improve the situation.

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 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!

Inspiration from Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet Ireland, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet 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 “Stronger Together” means to her.

Skillnet Ireland is a business support agency of the Government of Ireland. Their mandate is to advance the competitiveness, productivity and innovation of Irish businesses through enterprise-led workforce development. Skillnet Ireland currently support over 18,000 businesses nationwide and provide a wide range of valuable learning experiences to over 70,000 trainees. Their mission is to facilitate increased participation in enterprise training and workforce learning in Ireland.

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

 Tracey: Executive Director of Policy & Communications since 2016 and I have been with Skillnet Ireland since 2006.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Tracey:  I draw inspiration from people and nature.

At Skillnet Ireland, we focus on people and our success is dependent on the collective energy, foresight and commitment of everyone involved. I am so often inspired by the passion of others truly focussed on making a difference and innovating. With such a wide group you can’t but be inspired to see that everyone with drive can embrace new business challenges in so many exciting ways.

I love to see how expansive and complex nature can be yet also so peaceful and simple. More and more I am drawn to getting out, in as much as we can, to observe how beautiful the flowers and foliage can be in brightening our lives and smiling back at us.

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

 Tracey: I have been very lucky with both male and female roles models and mentors during my career. One role model that stands out is my good friend Attracta O’Regan, Head of Law Society Professional Training and Rule of Law Advisor for the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe.  Attracta exhibits a determination to innovate and push the boundaries both in her career and life. Always a true professional, but also a great character, Attracta is an achiever and an excellent mentor and role model to many. I really appreciate our friendship and her many words of wisdom.

When I was cycling today, I was thinking who to choose as a role model and I also thought of Paul Reid, current Head of the HSE, for his leadership ability. Paul was one of my role models many years ago in eircom. He could mobilise huge teams with a clear vision and engage with employees at all levels. He is a great role model to so many young people, who can see that success is possible with hard work, focus, lifelong learning, and staying true to yourself.

For women I think it is so important to have a mix of male and female role models and mentors. Great value can be gained from both, bringing such different insights, helping us understand ourselves and each other in so many new ways.

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

 Tracey: The best piece of advice is that “we are all different and respond differently to things”. This has been important in terms of having patience and recognising that so much abrupt change can be difficult. I got this advice from someone after we lost my Dad during Covid, someone reminding me to be kind and patient both with myself and others. It has been of value in many ways as the pandemic has gone on.

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

 Tracey: I have found peace and gratitude during the pandemic. I know that I am lucky and that although this is hard on us all at times, we still have so much to be thankful for. The quiet walks have been very beautiful with less traffic or busyness.

Really enjoying food has been great. Meals at home have become more of an occasion and so enjoyable. Whether it’s trying new things or tasting things more, I don’t know but even our picnics haven been great during the lockdown when you couldn’t rely on a café etc. Simple but fun.

Really treasuring real-life and virtual smiles. It is so great to see faces and smiles and see others you know or not smiling and enjoying life. Our Irish humour has been fantastic throughout.

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?

 Tracey: At Skillnet Ireland we have taken concrete steps to communicate and collaborate effectively with our employees and our wider Skillnet Network community. Together, through regular communication and engagement, we have worked closely to rapidly design new initiatives to support businesses and the workforce through our Networks and new MentorsWork, Rebound, Clear Customs and Skills Connect programmes. Developing these together has brought a great energy to our collaborations.

We also introduced a programme of measures and learning events to support all employees during the pandemic, with our full team participating together.  We have had some very creative approaches designed by our teams to communicate, support each other, and build our resilience. One practice I loved was our daily ‘thought of the day’ from a different employee each day during the lockdown. Each person would share their thought of the day, and this brought a fascinating array of creativity and joy, as the team shared poetry, philosophy, music, comedy, and family stories to brighten up our days.

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

 Tracey: This year stronger together takes on a very special meaning. Even without seeing others we can feel close to all our families, friends, colleagues, neighbours and strangers knowing we are all in this together and all wish the very best for everyone around the world to get through Covid-19.

Stronger together also means the solidarity and support of women and men to work together to champion and facilitate women’s capacity to achieve success within their careers, their own businesses and in their wider lives. Providing support to women to thrive in all areas is so important given the extra burdens women often face as carers and homemakers.

Stronger together also means standing together to champion our womanhood and being proud of how wonderful being a woman is – and having fun while doing it!

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Tracey: One quote I like is “Change is the only constant in life” from Heraclitus. We are always in a state of flux making the present moment so precious to truly observe and enjoy.

The Importance of Having a HR Strategy

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

We often think that a HR Strategy is something that only large organisations have in place, but that should not be the case. A HR Strategy is critical for all types of business – be it start up, SME or larger corporation. Many studies have shown that companies who have well defined HR practices that align with the company’s business goals achieve greater results, improved financial performance and a more engaged workforce. Companies without a clear people plan are at risk of losing or never creating a competitive advantage. 

There are many different types of HR Strategies, but fundamentally, they are all based on the same principle of ensuring that the organisation can attract, engage, motivate and retain productive employees.  The key to a successful HR Strategy is understanding your business goals and ensuring you develop a clear people plan that will help you deliver the outcomes you need to be successful.

A cohesive strategic approach to attracting, managing and motivating your people will provide better engaged employees and ultimately aid retention. Having an appropriate HR Strategy in place means you are saving significant costs which can include the cost of having disengaged employees in the workplace, increased sickness or absenteeism and the cost of replacing employees. These potential cost savings along with the other benefits, such as increased profits and productivity provide a strong basis for developing a robust HR Strategy.

A good HR Strategy will identify and priorities the interventions that are appropriate to the size of your organisation (small, medium or large), the phase of growth of the business, the company culture and the financial resources available.

Voltedge can help you develop a pragmatic HR Strategy that will be relevant to your business, its industry and culture and will be designed to deliver practical and cost-effective solutions for your people. Call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

To Change or Not To Change

Monday, October 14th, 2019

Do you need to transform, revitalise or re-structure your business?

Companies must adapt or die – this is a mantra that is so true (Kodak, Radio Shack, Blackberry, HMV to name a few), and companies need to constantly consider change – even when it doesn’t seem to be a major issue. There are often key critical business decisions that will drive success or failure, but – from a people point of view – we need to constantly push change and embrace innovation to succeed.

We outline 5 flags that inform a business that they need to consider change and re-organisation:

  1. Static or sliding revenue: This may be due to external business factors, but if not, this is a real sign of stagnation in the business
  2. Demographics: Have you had change in your senior and middle management teams within the last 3 years? If not – why not? A strong business will have natural fluidity within its senior teams, it allows organisations to bring in different thinking, diversity and challenge of the status quo – is that happening?
  3. Employee retention/attrition: Are you losing a significant percentage of employees – why? What is the feedback from the exit interviews – read between the lines! If they are leaving because of their manager, or because of fundamental issues within the business then you need to consider change – quickly
  4. Risk analysis and skills inventory: Have you looked at the risk of losing critical employees (both technical and managerial), and also do you know what your critical skills are? By doing these exercises you will understand if you have the right expertise and people, and also if they are at risk of leaving -then you can plan and consider actions
  5. Gap Analysis: Have you looked at your strategic Manpower planning and analysed what is needed in 3-5 years’ time to sustain and grow your business compared to your current structure?

The best companies constantly change and value innovation – so take time out to do a business change analysis exercise – it may make a huge difference to your business success – no matter what level of change and/or organisational redesign you opt for.

Voltedge Management supports its clients through all types of change, looking at minor re-structuring to major organisational transformation and design. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

Scaling for Success – How to Build Your Business

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Date:                    Tuesday June 11th
Venue:                 Fitzpatrick’s Castle Hotel, Killiney
Speaker:              Joyce Rigby Jones, Liz O’Donovan, Voltedge Management

Business plan – understanding how and why you want and need to grow your business – have a strategic reason/not reactive

Managing resources and driving the business – multi-tasking and ensuring you maximise resources

Resourcing – types of resources including interns/contracts/employees/outsourcing/collaboration
How can we – in the network – help each other – talk about synergies/support

We provide focused dedicated HR support with innovative solutions developed to client specific requirements.  Our client-centric approach aims to ensure success at all levels, offering customised interventions to meet challenges and maximise opportunities.

Agenda
7:00pm Open Networking, Refreshments
7:30pm Introductions
7:50pm Scaling for success – how to build your business
8:45pm Networking
9:00pm Finish
Please Email: faiza@nutgrove-enterprisepark.ie to book your place.

Voltedge News

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

We are delighted to be featured in this month’s Business Achievers – the business portal and networking hub designed to connect business owners and entrepreneurs to industry thought leaders, generate new business opportunities and deliver solid positive and supportive connections.

Year on year, Voltedge has grown organically, with a team of 28 consultants and associates currently, we have expanded our services so that our business model can ensure our clients receive the best possible support and advice with their people management needs. We now have experts right across the broad range of Human Resources Management capabilities, and can provide expert intervention and support at each of stage of the life cycle of the employee.

Building a strong partnership with our clients is one of our core objectives in Voltedge. We will always give advice based on the needs of the business, and where difficult situations arise, we aim to provide options that can result in real solutions. We can provide as much hand-holding as is needed and strive to enable our client be strong and informed people managers, no matter what size their organisation is, what level of experience they have or what profile of staff they employ.

Read the full interview with Co-Managing Director Fredericka Sheppard about Voltedge’s business journey to date.

Voltedge Management

Inspiration from some of Ireland’s Leading Female Executives

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

 

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 six 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.

 

Avril Daly, CEO of Retina International

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

Avril: Since January 2016 I have been CEO of Retina International, a global umbrella group of 43 patient led charities and foundations supporting research into retinal degenerative conditions that cause severe vision loss. Prior to this I was CEO of the Irish research charity, Fighting Blindness. I am also the Vice President of EURORDIS, the European Rare Disease organisation.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Avril: I have worked in health advocacy for 18 years, in the area of vision loss and rare disease. I am constantly inspired by those that I meet, the patients, the parents, the clinicians, the scientists, industry and indeed the legislators who all work together to achieve consensus that can lead to effective health policy to change lives. What is really fascinating is the ingenuity of necessity that results in mums, in particular, coming up with systems and solutions that they share to help their peers and their children cope with the impact of rare diseases on their daily lives.

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

Avril: More than one, in this sector you are mentored by many individuals across disciplines from drug development to social care. I would not be doing what I do today had it not been for one person, Michael Griffith. Michael was the first CEO of Fighting Blindness. The focus of the organisation is to find cures for vision loss through the promotion of research. This involves advocating for structures that will lead to progress in research for age related and genetically inherited retinal disease. To advocate for improved clinical trial processes and to work with all stakeholders to improve access to therapies. A tall order.

What Michael understood was no one group, no one disease area could achieve this alone. He taught me that by aligning with other groups with similar objectives, we can all achieve our overarching goals. That is why we work so closely with rare disease groups and other vision groups internationally. He taught me in a small country you must look beyond borders – research and drug development is a global task.

To me, a true leader can take in a lot of information but does not hold onto it, the information is shared, it is discussed with the team. A leader listens to the perspective of all of the team and that information is put to good use. Michael remains a true leader, a genuine promoter of women in business and now in retirement a good friend.

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

Avril: Look beyond your network – as those whose partnership will enable you to achieve the goals of your community may not necessarily be obvious.

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

Avril: Time, taking the time to step back and to consider. It is easy to fall into an instant unconsidered response because we are all accessible every minute of every day 365 days of the year. Time to consider complex decisions should not be a luxury.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Avril:

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.

Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour.

Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour becomes your habits.

Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.

Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

Mahatma Ghandi

When you work in patient advocacy for unmet medical need, it is a long and winding road, it is easy to become disheartened. Keeping a positive approach as a community and supporting each other really can affect change.

 

Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel

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

Deirdre: I am Chief Executive Officer of The Wheel, and have been in this role for 18 years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Deirdre: From the front-line impact that our member organisations have day-in day-out. The level of commitment, passion and ingenuity that people who work in charities bring to making social change happen is humbling to see. It inspires me to help and support them every day. It’s also why my role remains exciting and fulfilling after so many years.

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

Deirdre: Two of the founding leaders behind The Wheel who are both very sadly now deceased: Dr Mary Redmond, an extraordinary visionary in the fields of law, academia and social entrepreneurship; and Kate O’Sullivan, a wise and impactful founding CEO of the Carmichael Centre. I learned to dream big from Mary and to implement wisely from Kate…. two traits that I hope I mimic to some extent over my time in The Wheel.

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

Deirdre: Don’t worry about what others are doing, just focus on leading this organisation to be the very best that it can be.

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

 Deirdre: Particularly pertaining to leaders of charities and other non-profits, we have to spend far too much of our time ensuring that our organisations have secure funding to continue for the next 6 – 12 months. If we could get funding lines secured over multiple years we would be able to focus much more on the impact and positive social change our organisation is making: communicating it better and listening and learning as to how to do things even better.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

 Deirdre: From Charles Handy: “Be the best you can be, at the thing you are best at, in the service of others”. This sums up my sense of personal values and in an extraordinarily pithy way also describes a motto for a fulfilled life. I only came across this about two years ago at an event that The Wheel hosted for the senior leaders in our membership organisations but I think of it often since.

 

Eimear Cahalin, Co-Founder and CFO of Vivid Edge

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

 Eimear: I’m co-founder and CFO of Vivid Edge. We’re providing energy efficiency as a service to large energy consumers to help them accelerate their energy efficiency plans, and kickstart projects that are desirable but aren’t getting done for various reasons. For instance, a great project might have a four-year payback, and the internal hurdle is three years; we use a service model to make the project happen.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Eimear: Everywhere! I’m an avid reader, across business, science, sport, psychology, nutrition, poetry and fiction. I really believe that a lot of innovation comes from cross-pollination of ideas and I love abstracting an idea from one area and applying it in another.

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

 Eimear: My father was key. He came from a very humble background and ended up Finance Director of an oil company. He never talked about success, he just worked hard at making it happen. He taught me I could do anything I put my mind to. He believed women were the backbone of most organisations, from companies, to hospitals, to the Catholic Church, and was a great champion of women in the workplace long before it was fashionable.

When the likes of Margaret Downes were blazing a trail in the 1970’s (yes, I was VERY young!), he always made sure I was aware of their achievements; it was his way of saying “you can do this too”. He led me to just ignore the concept of the “glass ceiling” and get to where I want to be. He died ten years ago, and I still miss him terribly, but when I’m stuck I still ask myself how he would deal with a situation.

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

 Eimear: You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. I suppose the current version of that is to be authentic. And I was reminded of it again when I saw Hamlet at the Gate the other night, so it goes back as far as Shakespeare’s day; “To thine own self be true and it must follow as the night the day, thou can’st not then be false to any man”.

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

 Eimear: There are so many conflicting ideas out there of how to lead. Should we be able to be successful in a 4-hour work week, as Tim Ferriss suggests, or do you have to put in a 70-hour week and have space for nothing else in your life as others do. Is the key to success to do as John C Maxwell says, and “fail early, fail often”, or is it to persevere past Seth Godin’s “Dip”?

I think the challenge for leaders is to be able to shut out some of the noise and focus on where you are trying to get to. We need to keep asking ourselves what do we want our organisations to look like in three- or five-years’ time, to keep reassessing how we get there, not to get disheartened if it feels like the path keeps changing, and to be able to bring your people with you through what may be unsettling changes. Ultimately what I am saying is we need to take a flexible path to a fixed prize, without appearing flaky!

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Eimear: A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. There a certainly risks to venturing outside your comfort zone, but you’ll almost certainly rust away if you stay in the harbour. It’s very easy to sit back and let life happen, but I believe the rewards of having a growth mindset and taking a risk every now and then can’t be beaten.

 

Kathryn Meghen, CEO of The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

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

Kathryn: I am CEO of the RIAI, which is the membership, support and registration body for Architects in Ireland, with 3700 members.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Kathryn: The quality of our buildings is so important – our homes, offices, education buildings and public spaces all effect the quality of our lives. I am inspired by the people I work with – their expertise and passion for excellence and their ability to create and deliver amazing work constantly inspires me.

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

 Kathryn: At different stages of my career there have been different people that I have look up to and looked to for advice and guidance. I have always been so impressed by how generous busy people are with their time and expertise. I hope that I am now in a position to offer help to others.

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

Kathryn: Trust your instincts.

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

 Kathryn: Keeping the organisation focused and staff motivated amid increasing pace of change and ever-growing distractions.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Kathryn: “Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” Jack Ma Founder of Alibaba

 

Olivia Buckley, Founder and Managing Director of Olivia Buckley International

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

Olivia: I am the Founder and Managing Director of Olivia Buckley International, a luxury event management company based in Ireland and have been operating since 2013.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Olivia: When people ask me what I was like as a child, I always remember one incident in particular where I decided to take it upon myself to clean out and “redecorate” the chicken coop. The joy that I took in taking something, be it an object or an area and transforming it into something else has obviously stayed with me to this day and explains a lot about my field of work! I find inspiration absolutely everywhere, art, nature, people, travel, books or films and am always open to new ideas and concepts, from the ridiculous to the sublime!

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

Olivia: I have been lucky enough to cross paths with some wonderful Business People over the years but I have to give a special mention to Simon T. Bailey. I first met Simon at an Industry Networking Event. He had such wonderful charisma and was so friendly that we connected straight away. It was a wonderfully memorable encounter where we spoke about life and its’ endless possibilities and from that it was inevitable that Simon and I would stay in touch he would become a great source of inspiration to me. In January 2013, after relocating back home to Kerry and taking time out to reflect on my career path I arranged a call to connect with Simon. It was this call that would influence my entire future and the beginning of something life-changing.  I would never have seen myself as someone who could run their own business but Simon has taught me to not only see my potential but to fulfill it. It was very much his support that nudged me out of my comfort zone to launch my own business. Simon has taught me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. He reminds me to not be afraid to swim upstream and defer from the crowd. Having the belief in yourself to go in the opposite direction to everyone else and step out of the safety zone are all concepts that have completely changed me as a person and ultimately fueled the success of my business today.

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

Olivia: Again, I will come back to Simon T. Bailey who said to me, “I want you to .com your name today. You are going places and I am coming to Ireland to launch your business with you on February 1st and watch you brilliantly soar”. Simon saying this to me was honestly life-changing. Having someone I respected so much in business, believe in me to that level was all I needed to take a leap of faith, follow my dreams and launch my own company.

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

Olivia: On a personal level, I feel that in Ireland, we can often have a very self-deprecating attitude that whilst charming, doesn’t always lend itself to promoting confidence and leadership, particularly in young women. It is essential that we nurture and promote confidence and self-belief in our young women so that they are motivated to fulfil their true potential. They need to believe that they can pursue their dream wholeheartedly and ferociously despite any hurdles, professional and personal that may try to get in their way so overall, I would like more leaders to acknowledge the importance of nurturing female talent and promoting female leadership.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Olivia: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle. This is an important quote to me and I think it subconsciously permeated the tagline that we created for our company, “Visionaries in Creativity – Masters of Events”. Creativity informs all of our work and mastery comes from the practice and repetition of this. We live by it and strive to achieve it daily.

 

Sue Marshall, CEO of Abodoo

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

Sue: I am the CEO of Abodoo. Abodoo is an online career matching platform dedicated to SmartWorking. I’ve been in the role since September 2016 – so it’s been an extremely interesting time, creating and developing our business strategy, building our platform and creating a business from the Vision our Co-founders had back in the Summer of 2016.   Abodoo launched in September 2017 in Ireland and then in the UK in April this year and it’s an exciting time for us as we grow.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Sue: I am inspired more by people I meet rather than those in the spotlight. I have had the pleasure to work with some incredibly creative people over the course of my career and seen some shining stars emerge. When someone with a passion for a role really makes it their own, grows with a business and goes on to be a really great leader and motivator it inspires me.  When I see young people just starting out in their careers I am inspired by their enthusiasm.  When I meet business leaders who are working towards a better way of working, be that SmartWorking or introduction of really innovative tools, a great business idea or a new initiative – I feel inspired to help lead change.

 

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

 

Sue: I have been lucky to have had more than one mentor. However, my standout mentor was a really inspirational leader – early in my career – called Peter Preston.  At the time I was at a crossroads. I had been working towards my accountancy qualification (AAT) and was on track for a career in finance.  I was bored but felt that I was in too deep after years of study.  I was working for a start-up (Peter was the MD) and so had to get involved in lots of areas of the business as we had a limited team. Peter noticed that I was really passionate about marketing and gave me the opportunity to get my teeth into some interesting projects before ‘suggesting’ that the CIM (Certified Institute of Marketing) qualification may be more interesting long term. His support, encouragement, leadership and ultimately his guidance and training in sales and marketing were invaluable and instrumental in shaping my career.

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

Sue: This is an easy one. I was the Sales and Marketing Director and Shareholder of an outsourced contact centre business. We were profitable and growing and overachieving on just about every matrix from sales to profitability. We started to win some significant contracts – with larger companies – who often demanded heavily discounted rates or long credit terms… It was easy to be ‘seduced’ by client names and excited at the prospect of these much larger deals. The Finance Director gave me the following advice – Turnover is VANITY – Profit is KING. He refocused my mind on the bottom line and away from the ‘vanity’ of high turnover. That advice has stuck with me throughout my career and regardless of the ‘name’ or size of a deal – if it’s not going to turn a profit then as a business you simply cannot afford to sign the contract.

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

Sue: I think that there are a number of challenges, related to the economy, growth and leading a successful business – but by far and away the biggest challenge has stayed the same throughout the decades – finding the right talent at the right time.

This is why SmartWorking is such a game changer for many organisations – it opens up their talent pool. Once you realise that presenteeism is less important than output you have a whole world of talent available (quite literally!). Abodoo is championing SmartWorking in Ireland, the UK and further afield. All of our registered candidates are crying out for permanent careers which enable them to work from their local hub or home, without lengthy, costly commutes.  With this comes another challenge – actually finding the ‘gems’. Clients are fishing in a sea rather than a pond and it can be daunting. That’s why Abodoo offers a ‘matching service’. We match candidates to roles based on experience and skills and those are the only candidates you see; cutting down on time spent ploughing through CV’s and applications.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Sue: I have a number of quotes and flip between them – depending on circumstances – but one of my all-time favourites has to be from Pele – one of the greatest footballers of all time:

‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all love of what you are doing or learning to do’.

 

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.

 

Voltedge Management

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, August 7th, 2017

brexit-update-v3

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar wants the Irish sea to become the post-Brexit border with the U.K., without any customs and immigration control at the land border with Northern Ireland, the Times reported.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, July 31st, 2017

brexit-update-v3Euro clearing could stay in the U.K. after Brexit, Irish central banker Philip Lane tells The Times.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

How to Retain Key Employees

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

You help your employees grow to become their very best, so what happens when they tell you they are leaving?

A recent survey by IRN (Industrial Relations News) and CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) in Ireland found that 37% of private sector firms have made counter offers to retain staff (based on 585 member responses of CIPD and IRN subscribers). The terminology ‘retention payment’ is appearing again as a means of attempting to retain key employees.

This data showed that it was the larger companies who made counter offers (39%) with more non-union companies doing this, rather than unionised companies (29%).

Mary Connaughton, CIPD Ireland Director, stated that the use of counter-offers highlighted that many Irish employers are struggling to keep key people at current pay levels as employment opportunities in the labour market increase, raising questions about future talent pipelines.

Invariably if an employee has offered their resignation, you are too late, and even a counter-offer will not necessarily retain them.

So what can you do if one of your key employees tells you they are leaving? Here are few tips on how to hold onto your key employees:

  1. Listen.
  2. Make it clear that their role is significant.
  3. Foster employee development.

Pro-active regular progress discussions are key, ensuring that managers know if there are issues or concerns that need to be addressed. The simple action of saying ‘well done’ and giving fair but challenging objectives are also critical. Employees rarely leave a company because of their salary, it is more often because of a lack of career opportunity or difficulties with their manager.

A good leader will always support their employees. They will constantly try to help them in their personal development. Implementing a success planning programme to focus on developing your high potential employees will help significantly, as they will see a real career path and appreciation for their work and abilities – both actual and potential.

Your most important resource is talented people. Are you doing your best to retain your top talent? Contact us at info@voltedge.ie to see how he we can help your business.