Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

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 some of Ireland’s Leading Female Executives

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

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.

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