Posts Tagged ‘International Women’s Day’

Join us in celebrating these Inspiring and Successful Female Leaders on International Women’s Day 2021

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Voltedge Management is marking International Women’s Day 2021 by celebrating these six outstanding female leaders, 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 “Choose to Challenge” means to them.

Inspiration and insights from Angela Tynan, Manager of Nutgrove Enterprise Park

Inspiration and insights from Jo Ballot, Clinical Research Manager at St. Vincent’s University Hospital

Inspiration and insights from Karen Hernandez, Senior Executive at Enterprise Ireland

Inspiration and insights from Lynda Quinn, Head of Human Resources with Tourism Ireland

Inspiration and insights from Mary Connaughton, Director of CIPD Ireland

Inspiration and insights from Nathalie Rowell, CEO of the Virdis Group

In celebrating these outstanding female leaders, Voltedge Management extends 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.

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 Lynda Quinn, Head of Human Resources with Tourism Ireland, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021

Friday, March 5th, 2021

We asked Lynda Quinn, Head of Human Resources with Tourism Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Choose to Challenge” mean to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tourism Ireland is responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination. The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the London Eye are two of the iconic sites which will join Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening to mark St Patrick’s Day 2021.

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

Lynda: I am Head of Human Resources with Tourism Ireland. I took up this position in September 2020.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Lynda: My children are a constant source of inspiration for me.  Their sense of curiosity and wonder never ceases to amaze me. Their ability to cope and adapt to the COVID world has inspired me on those days where I may have struggled to make sense of all that was happening.

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

Lynda: A number of mentors come to mind.  I am very fortunate to have worked with great leaders and mentors over the years and have always sought out their advice. Being surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do is what drives me forward.

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

Lynda: We’re certainly living in unprecedented and very challenging times, so one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given is to take one day at a time – don’t be too hard on yourself!

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

Lynda: Like so many other people who’ve been working from home since last spring, one of the positives for me has included being able to spend more quality time with my family. I’ve regained many hours previously spent commuting to the office each week, which has meant a less frantic lifestyle for me. The COVID crisis has shown that it is possible to work effectively from home, without the stress of dealing with rush hour traffic and long commutes.

I now have more time to focus on my own wellbeing and have tried many different pastimes over the last 12 months – from baking, to cycling, to yoga to sea swimming.  I haven’t found that one thing that I am truly passionate about, but I am enjoying having the time to explore all these new activities.

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?

Lynda: Having taken up my role with Tourism Ireland in the middle of the pandemic I have not had the opportunity to meet most of my colleagues face to face. Even though we can’t meet in person for now, we’ve become really good at maximising the use of ICT for communication and collaboration. I have regular meetings with my own team on Teams/Zoom, so that we stay as connected as possible. I’ve also created a dynamic ‘wellness hub’ on our organisation’s intranet, which has become a really useful tool for staff. It includes a mindfulness section, tips for nutrition and healthy eating when working for home, as well as an ‘ideas hub’ for staff members to upload their own suggestions.

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

Lynda: For me, ‘Choose to Challenge’ is about working to create a gender-equal world and greater inclusion in the workplace. It’s about actively challenging or calling out inequality or gender bias when I see it and, more positively, consciously celebrating the achievements of women.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?  

Lynda: ‘Be kind’ – in these very strange times we have never needed to say this as much as we do now, whether it is with our family, our friends, our colleagues or ourselves!  Life is really challenging for all of us right now so just by being a little bit kinder will help us get through this – with our sanity intact!

 

Inspiration from Karen Hernandez, Senior Executive at Enterprise Ireland, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021

Friday, March 5th, 2021

We asked Karen Hernandez, Senior Executive at Enterprise Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Choose to Challenge” mean to her.

 

 

 

Enterprise Ireland is the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. We work in partnership with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales on global markets. In this way, we support sustainable economic growth, regional development and secure employment. Further details on the organisation and its services are available at www.enterprise-ireland.com.

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

Karen: For the past four years I’ve been working as a senior executive at Enterprise Ireland, leading the agency’s centre of excellence in organisational development to support SME growth and job creation. In this role, myself and my team regularly engage one-on-one with companies to support them to put in place the appropriate organisational structures, capability and HR processes to drive business growth.  Prior to this role, I worked as a senior programme manager within Enterprise Ireland, designing and delivering development programmes to support client companies better innovate, increase export sales and scale effectively.  Before joining Enterprise Ireland, almost 15 years ago, I worked in the banking sector, across several HR and business functions.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Karen: I’m one of those people who loves getting up early, before everyone in the house is awake.  Since the pandemic started, I’ve continued to get up at my usual time, even though I’m working from home.  I use this time to think, to reflect on the day ahead and to exercise.  I run almost every day and I find it gives me the opportunity to think through challenges I’m facing at work and to create new ideas.  Sometimes I just run in silence and let my thoughts flow and other times I listen to music or podcasts.  I always return home with a renewed energy and motivation to face the day ahead.

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

Karen: I had a couple of very strong female managers when I worked in the banking industry.  Even though I was quite young at the time they gave me the opportunity to work with and influence senior management early on in my career.  This enabled me to find my unique voice within the workplace and have confidence in the value I bring to my role.

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

Karen: There are a couple of pieces of advice that have resonated with me and which have helped me through the ups and downs of the past 12 months. The first is to take each day at a time. I am, by nature, a planner and like to have my weeks and months mapped out in advance. However, we’re living in a very uncertain world at present and no-one knows what the coming months will bring. Although it was uncomfortable at first, I’m getting used to thinking and planning in terms of today and this week and not worrying too much about what I’ll be doing in 3 or 6 months’ time.

The second piece of advice is that it’s ok not to feel ok. This pandemic has impacted all of us in very unique ways and it’s hard not to have days when we’re feeling down. We need to all look out for family members or work colleagues who may be struggling and be there for them and provide whatever support they need.

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

Karen: One of the benefits that the pandemic has brought is that it’s opened up more time in my day to focus on personal and family activities. Although I find I’m working longer days because I’m not commuting, I still make time every morning to exercise and I try to get out of the house for a quick walk with the dog at lunch time.

Because a lot of the kids’ activities have been cancelled, we’re now spending more time together as a family during the evening time, whether that be having dinner together or a pizza and movie night at the weekend. Having this time as a family is incredibly special to me and it’ll be important to continue these activities as much as possible once we’re out of the pandemic.

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?

Karen: As I’ve already mentioned, I’m conscious that this pandemic is affecting people in different ways and at different times. Regardless of the level of work I have, I try to stay in touch with my team and colleagues as much as possible, to check in with them as to how they’re doing on a daily basis and to be there for them if they’re having a difficult day.

During the first six months of remote working, I hosted a daily catch-up session with the wider team of 20 people – this was primarily a well-being initiative where we all caught up for 10 to 15 minutes and chatted about non-work activities.  In hindsight, this was a really critical initiative as it brought us closer as a team and laid the foundations for how we all communicate now with each other as we continue to work remotely.

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

Karen: To me the phrase ‘Choose to Challenge’ reminds me that I need to proactively look for opportunities to change and challenge things that I perceive as unfair, whether that be at work, at home or in my community. I truly believe that each one of us can make a difference and if we all take just one action to promote or to challenge inequality, we can have an incredible impact.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?  

Karen: One of my favourite quotes is from Henry Ford who said ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right’.  We can all easily find excuses and talk ourselves out of doing things that are hard.  The truth is that we never know what we can achieve unless we try.

Having self-belief and picking ourselves up when we fail is so important. When I first started running ten years ago I struggled to run to the end of my road. I never imagined I’d be able to run 10km, let alone a half-marathon.  Life is full of so many opportunities and I don’t want to look back on my life when I’m older regretting not having made the best of all that I could.

Inspiration from Nathalie Rowell, CEO of the VirdisGroup, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021

Friday, March 5th, 2021

We asked Nathalie Rowell, CEO of the VirdisGroup to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Choose to Challenge” mean to her.

 

 

 

 

The VirdisGroup provides high quality, international executive search services to life-science companies of every size; and for roles from R&D, regulatory and manufacturing to market access and commercialisation.

We become trusted advisors for our clients, and help their organisations grow through the quality and strength of their people.

We are a deliberately small and highly focused team of experienced individuals, bringing specialist insight, substantial added-value, and a track-record of successful delivery for the benefit of our clients and candidates.

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

Nathalie: I am the CEO of the VirdisGroup. I have been in that position since 2007.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Nathalie: I draw inspiration from the outstanding people I work with, my team, our clients and candidates.

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

Nathalie: Not really.

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

Nathalie: Keep focused.

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

Nathalie: 1. One can do more with less. 2. The love and support of my family, not that it was a discovery. Still, it felt good that it was there, stronger than ever.

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?

Nathalie: All of us have been very proactive in using Teams, WhatsApp to keep in touch, make a conscious effort to look out for each other, be more patient and tolerant, be systematic in communicating openly, emphasising that every single one of us has a voice.

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

Nathalie: As long as it is constructive and benevolent, I am all for it.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?  

Nathalie: Whatever it takes! It is our motto and all of us at Virdis have been living every minute, every letter of that sentence for the past 13 years.

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

Friday, March 5th, 2021

We asked Mary Connaughton, Director of CIPD Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Choose to Challenge” mean to her.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees?

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

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

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

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?  

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

Inspiration from Jo Ballot, Clinical Research Manager at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021

Friday, March 5th, 2021

We asked Jo Ballot, Clinical Research Manager at St. Vincent’s University Hospital to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Choose to Challenge” mean to her.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Jo: I work as the oncology clinical research manager at Clinical Cancer Research Trust charity located in St Vincent’s University Hospital , leading a team of research nurses, data managers and research assistants. Together, we facilitate access to new treatment options for oncology  patients . I have worked in Oncology Research for over 20 years and am in my present position since 2011.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Jo: My inspiration is derived from being part of a team which offers the latest cancer treatment options  to patients through the clinical trial process with the goal of extending their lives. There is huge satisfaction to see new oncology treatments becoming approved for the use to a wider patient population resulting  from our research team and patients collaboration.

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

Jo: Throughout my career, I have worked with many inspirational role models, nurses, doctors, scientists and pharmacists, however there are certain patients who continuously stand out, their ability to plough on, their ongoing resilience, in the face of extreme adversity. I get huge job satisfaction and drive because of their ability to keep going.

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

Jo: This too will pass.

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

Jo: My down time has become leisurely, for the obvious reasons but I have learnt to enjoy a slower and more pleasurable pace, traditionally, my downtime was busy, too busy at times. I am definitely enjoying my garden more, no longer seeing it as a chore, and I am delighted to be still sea swimming since last March. I am surprising and delighting myself with each dip. It has become a lovely refresh and rebalance opportunity each weekend. I also qualified as a Yoga Teacher last September and am slowly exploring some teaching online.

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?

Jo: We  have been hospital based for the majority of the year with some remote working which took time to figure out communication paths, we were lucky that we lived within close radius to the hospital and each other, so frequent detours via bike to drop work packages. We meet as a team weekly on Microsoft Teams and agreed collectively to turn on cameras and take a moment to check in on a social level and a final roundup at close of meeting to share forthcoming weeks work.  . We have been creative regarding on line celebrations of Christmas party, ‘ noughty ‘ birthday  and other events during throughout the year. A few random quizzes have provided a refresh/reset button .  Next up is the  St Patricks Day Quiz and board game challenge.

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

Jo: Simply, I have a voice, I can choose to use it positively to speak out against traditionally accepted inequalities and less favourable opportunities available to other people, in my work and personal life.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?  

Jo: My favourite work quote is a hybrid of practical attitude and hopeful thinking, my almost daily quote is ‘It is what it is’ but balanced by ‘tomorrow is another day’.

Inspiration from Angela Tynan, Manager of Nutgrove Enterprise Park, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021

Friday, March 5th, 2021

We asked Angela Tynan, Manager of Nutgrove Enterprise Park to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Choose to Challenge” mean to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutgrove Enterprise Park supports the development of enterprise in the South Dublin area providing affordable and flexible workspace, together with advice and information to the start-up and growing business. Workspace includes offices, food and light industrial units, meeting and coworking space.

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

Angela: Manager of Nutgrove Enterprise Park in Rathfarnham for past 11 years.  I also manage the Enterprising Women and Link Networks on behalf of Local Enterprise Office DLR together with the LEO and Enterprise Ireland Hi-Start programme.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Angela: I am regularly amazed by the resilience and creativity that abounds in my entrepreneur networks and indeed our tenant companies in Nutgrove CEC.  Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have seen small businesses draw deep from their own resources, despite the negativity all around us and emerge with fresh ideas and the positivity to try a new approach. I am in awe of the true entrepreneurial mentality and tenacity.

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

Angela: In my early career in the ’80 and 90’s (when I most needed a mentor) the male dominated business world had dearth of female role models.  However, I don’t think I ever once asked anyone for guidance. In hindsight, if I had more confidence and self-belief, my imaginary mentor then (female or male) might have said “stop waiting for someone to notice how good you are” or “why did you not apply for that job”. I applaud those who pull other women up the ladder behind them, but we also need to include more people of colour and diversity.

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

Angela: Seek to understand the impact, or what might be going on behind the scenes before you judge – whether in personal interactions or in the business community. Many have struggled to adjust to enforced situations. An email response at 12 midnight from a busy parent is just a different way of working. The routine of 9 to 5 pre Covid-19 had already blurred into ‘always on’.  I think the challenge for business owners will be to take bold, imaginative measures to adopt flexible and remote working to keep the brightest talent invested and motivated.

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

Angela: A dog makes the round the block routine so much more tolerable!  Freddie – a frequently borrowed basset spaniel cross has tripped me up, made me laugh and orphaned countless gloves, but the pandemic world is a better place with him in it.

Adopt a time absorbing hobby. I accepted a ‘commission’ to knit a replacement for a fondly remembered fair isle jumper. Take it from me, it is simply not possible to think about  anything else, watch Netflix or drink wine while following an intricate vintage pattern with 5 balls of wool constantly entangling in your lap!

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?

Angela: Understanding people’s personal circumstances and challenges – whether home-schooling or levels of self-motivation – agreeing a work process and then giving them your trust and support to get on with the job is, I believe the key.  Regular online meetings are of benefit, but nothing can replace face to mask-covered face for a personal check-in if possible – our water-cooler moments – pandemic style!

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

Angela: When your career is somewhat established, it is easy to allow yourself coast along and I’ve been more conscious in latter years of the ongoing need to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Being surrounded by entrepreneurs probably rubs off and I am conscious that my advice to them is that if you are not getting enjoyment from or being adequately rewarded for the hours you spend every day, then you need to adopt changes. Change is good and necessary, and we owe it to ourselves to use the third of our lives we spend at work to do something that rewards or inspires – ideally both.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?  

Angela: I love both these quotes and they summarise my interpretation of ‘Choose to Challenge’ beautifully!

“Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for it.” – Katharine Whitehorn

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Maya Angelou

Alison McGinley, Managing Director of TaxAssist Accountants Ireland

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Alison McGinley, Managing Director of TaxAssist Accountants 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

 

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

Alison: I am the Managing Director of TaxAssist Accountants Ireland and I have been in the role for over 3 years having been with the organisation since it launched 10 years ago.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Alison: My role is to drive the business forward and position us for growth so I am always looking for new ideas; new technologies, new product lines, new marketing angles etc .

I find I get better inspiration when I am not caught up in the day to day in the office- so when working from home or traveling for example. I personally find researching different industries to my own useful and thought provoking. I also research what is going on my in own industry but in other countries.

I will also often get inspired by our network of franchisees both here and the UK telling me about client trends and things that are happening on the ground. So, I try to carve out time nearly every week to be out and about so I can to stay on top of that.

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

Alison: I was very lucky in my first role out of University at Google to be surrounded by a lot of very able, strong , female role models on the management team who were excellent role models. I absorbed a lot one of which was looking at how they advocated for themselves. Its something that holds a lot of people back but you do need to get comfortable with it. None of us wants to look boastful but seeing it done in a more graceful way was interesting to me at that early point in my career.

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

Alison: To say yes to good propositions/ ideas and figure out how you will achieve them afterwards!

I also really remember the penny dropping that perfection and the constant pursuit of expertise is not the way to develop your career. You need to let go and realise that your relationships with superiors, staff, clients are really what will propel everything forward so that area needs time.

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

Alison: For me it is people. Finding, motivating and keeping a strong team around you is so important.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Alison: ‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place’. – George Bernard Shaw

For me so much of our success or failure is about communication and building relationships with people.

Inspiration from Fidelma Whelan, Managing Director of MacLachlan & Donaldson

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Fidelma Whelan, Managing Director of MacLachlan & Donaldson 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Fidelma: My current role is as Managing Director of MacLachlan & Donaldson, an intellectual property law firm based in Dublin and Belfast. I have been in role for 6 months now, since September 2019.  From a background in management consultancy, finance and operations, I am finding opportunities to bring in my past experiences every day.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Fidelma: I look for inspiration in all directions, from the people I know, to the media I consume and the examples I see around me ever day.  Some inspiration is directly related to how people work, behave or achieve, while other inspiration is more academic and I spend time each week keeping up to date with the latest in the world business, management, leadership and IP.

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

Fidelma: I have had the good fortune to work with a number of outstanding individuals throughout my career in management consultancy and beyond. At each stage of my career, I worked with at least one person who I still consider a mentor.  It wouldn’t be possible to pick out just one as each person had their own impact across my varied career – from work role models who showed me what true leadership is, or demonstrated that a work-life balance is possible if you define what that means for you, or showed me what can be achieved through sheer energy, persistence and focus.

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

Fidelma: That I own my own career and that there are no “shoulds “ in career or life.  It has really driven me to find work that invigorates and challenges me as I have progressed through my life. I haven’t always been fully in control of how and when I moved jobs, due to family circumstances, but by taking ownership of my career and understanding that there is nothing I “should” do, only rather to do what works for me, my family and my life, I have taken my work in interesting and challenging directions.  Take the time to understand what you want from your work, believe in your ability to achieve it and then work to get it.

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

Fidelma: The increasing interconnectedness and mobility of the workforce presents both opportunities and a huge challenge for leaders as we seek to recruit and retain the best talent for our organisations.  As the world moves ever faster and expectations of what a workplace should provide change, we need to challenge ourselves to keep up and get the best from this trend.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Fidelma: “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can” – Nikos Kazantzakis   This quote defines so much about how I view success and growth in my life and in my workplaces. There has be an underlying belief in yourself and your actions before you can truly be successful. Your mindset is as important as your actions are, and there is a lot of scientific research to back this up now.

Dee Coakley, Co-Founder and CEO at Boundless

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Dee Coakley, Co-Founder and CEO at Boundless 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Dee: I am Co-Founder & CEO at Boundless. Boundless was founded in May 2019.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Dee: I’m a huge believer in network. I draw inspiration, energy – and, at times, solace – from conversations with other founders and amazing women who have paved the way for those of us who are earlier in our careers.

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

Dee: 10 years ago, as a Fledgling COO in London, I had the good fortune to get to know Divinia Knowles. At that time, Divinia was COO of Mind Candy, which was seeing rocket ship growth. Divinia still found time to organise monthly meetups for local COOs – conversations and connections that taught me so much. The COO Network that was once a casual group of 5 of us that used to meet for monthly beers is now a professional network of almost 400 COOs. And, last year, Divinia was one of the first investors in Boundless. She’s hugely supportive of everything we’re doing, and continue to be incredibly generous with advice and invaluable introductions.

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

Dee: Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. This is not new advice – we all hear this all the time – but it is great advice. I procrastinated for years over starting my own business. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. The things that seem the scariest reap the biggest rewards. This may sound like a cliché but, the more I test this, the more I find it to be true.

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

Dee: The world of work and how people effectively work together is changing. The millennial workforce have much higher expectations of the organisations that they work for, and their leaders, than previous generations. Successful leaders will be those who are focussed on a vision that’s making the world a better place, those who push for diversity on their teams and in their company’s thinking, and those that provide flexibility and inspiring working environments for their teams. Those who crack these things will flourish, but those who fail to get to grips with new ways of working will flounder.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Dee: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint Exupery. There’s a huge difference between ambition (wanting the upside of the destination) and drive (being prepared to do what it takes to get there). Considered planning gives teams the fuel they need to execute effectively. I’m a natural born planned and love nothing more than getting a great team together to hatch great plans!

Inspiration from Louise Harrison, Employment Lawyer and Partner in Flynn O’Driscoll 

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Louise Harrison, Employment Lawyer and Partner in Flynn O’Driscoll 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Louise: I am an employment lawyer and partner in Flynn O’Driscoll which is a corporate law firm focussed on Ireland’s SME, midmarket sector. I took up this role in October 2019 after 14 years with William Fry, where I trained as a solicitor and was ultimately appointed partner.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Louise: I am inspired by my four-year old daughter Edith, who is a blessing beyond my powers of description and brings boundless joy into every day!  I find inspiration in nature, particularly mountains and the sea, and I have always found music, books and film to be powerfully life-enhancing.

After a recent life-changing health challenge, I am currently feeling inspired by the beautiful Georgie Crawford who represents resilience and positivity and I am grateful for her raw honesty and her choice to use her platform to make what can be an extremely isolating experience better understood.

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

Louise: I have been lucky to have had excellent training and opportunities during my time in William Fry. Maura Roe mentored me generously for over 10 years and she stands out for her integrity and technical excellence.   I can thank Alicia Compton for teaching me the art of dispensing with unnecessary words when drafting advices!  Catherine O’Flynn would be a role model for any aspiring leader.  I felt inspired in particular by her poise, her lack of ego and by how readily and openly she gives (deflects!) credit to others for accomplishments.

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

Louise: I worked with the well-known media lawyer Michael Kealey many years ago, during my traineeship.   He told me how important it was to be seen to be decisive and not equivocate or unduly ‘hedge’ my bets when advising clients.   I still remember him warning me about how frustrating it feels, from a client’s perspective, to receive lengthy emails or letters saying ‘on the one hand (x) but on the other hand (y)’, where the author is apparently unwilling to recommend a course of action. This advice served me very well.   My approach to my practice has been to focus not as much on providing commentary on legal issues or concepts as on identifying a manageable solution along with a practical implementation plan. This approach conforms well with the commercial ethos in Flynn O’Driscoll best summarised by Pat Flynn’s mantra “solutions, not problems!”.

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

Louise: An awakening is well underway about work-life boundaries in this ‘always-on’ digital age and it will take bold, imaginative leadership to spearhead the change I feel is needed to keep the brightest talent motivated and invested. True flexible working (not a model that involves fitting five days of work into four paid days!) is increasingly viewed by employees as a core issue, not a luxury.   I recall recently seeing the topic described as an ‘evolve or die’ moment for business and this resonated with me.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Louise: A very special friend gave me a framed print of Max Ehrmann’s. Desiderata recently and I take comfort and inspiration from it every day. It is a timeless reflection on life and perspective.  I love it and looking at it reminds me of her kindness!

Inspiration from Ann Marie Phelan, Enteprise & Innovation Manager at IADT

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Ann Marie Phelan, Enteprise & Innovation Manager at IADT 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Ann Marie: I am currently working as the Enterprise & Innovation Manager at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT). My role involves working with high tech start-up companies which have the potential to scale internationally. To that end, we deliver an enterprise development programme (the New Frontiers Programme) at the Media Cube – IADT’s on-campus start-up incubation centre. This programme is run in partnership with Hothouse, at TUD Grangegorman. The brief also involves working with more established companies that are looking to introduce innovation into their businesses by undertaking research & development in an area where they may not possess the knowledge in-house. I have been working at IADT for the past two and half years and I am thoroughly enjoying the fast-paced environment.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Ann Marie: My inspiration comes from the entrepreneurs / company founders that I meet on a daily basis. These people are an eclectic mix of creatives, inventors, business thinkers and rule breakers. I feel very privileged to be able to share in the personal journeys that these people undertake. Observing their tenacity first hand and seeing how they deal with challenges gives me the opportunity to learn different approaches to problem solving and to apply it to my own work. It is often the case that our companies are profiled when they win awards or secure funding but for me knowing the real story behind the headlines and understanding their personal sacrifices makes their success all the sweeter.

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

Ann Marie: To answer that question I would have to reference my mother who has always been a very strong role model for me throughout my life. She has been and continues to be a significant touchstone in terms of guidance on a whole range of matters. There have been many people throughout my career who have influenced the way I operate. At the risk of causing offence to anyone I will answer this question by summarising how these key role models have reaffirmed for me the importance of integrity, the need to listen to “the voices less heard” and the importance of saying “thank you” to those you work with.

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

Ann Marie: Don’t be afraid to ask “what does that mean”? Certainly this advice had particularly relevance for me during my time as a barrister. It is critically important to ask what you do not know. We can all fall into the trap of not wanting to be perceived as lacking knowledge on a topic or not being up-to speed with the latest technology. The simple fact of the matter is that we live in a very fast-paced global economy and there are always people who will know more than you do about a particular matter. However, I have found more often than not that people are only too delighted to share their knowledge.

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

Ann Marie: A feeling of being isolated is something I think is felt both equally for small company founders or leaders of large corporations. Leaders / founders often encounter what I term the “yes minister” effect where employees are not comfortable to give honest feedback, particularly if it goes against the founders/ leaders expressed position. Creating an environment that supports employees to express their own views in a constructive format is to my mind the Holy Grail in terms of capitalising on the untapped potential within an organisation. I’m not sure I have all the answers in terms of achieving this environment but certainly asking people’s views and including “the voices less heard” goes a long way to creating this space.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Ann Marie: The Latin quote from Horace “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero,” literally meaning “pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the next one”.

I’m a great believer in the notion of seizing the day. I apply this thinking daily in my work, particularly when I am advising entrepreneurs to properly value their own time, which is an expensive commodity. I am constantly reminding the companies I work with to be mindful of this fact. I make the point that if a potential client doesn’t want your product or service, bring on the “No” and then follow it up with “why”. Delaying that journey of discovery is a costly exercise. So “Carpe Diem” and get on with it. If in the unfortunate event that this business isn’t working then change direction or discontinue it. This will enable you to move one step closer to the next great opportunity!

Inspiration from Anne O’Neill, President Elect of Irish Dental Association

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Anne O’Neill, President Elect of Irish Dental Association 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Anne: Within the Irish Dental Association, I hold the position of President Elect for the past 8 months which will change to President at our AGM in May. My “day job” is Assistant National Oral Health Lead for Dental ICT and Public Health and Epidemiology within the HSE, for the past 16 months. Before that I held the position of Principal Dental Surgeon in the HSE for 18 years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Anne: That’s a tough question. I learned my work ethic from my parents who were primary school teachers. My patients are a source of inspiration- our dental service provides care to children and adults with additional needs. Over the years I have met many parents and carers who are hugely inspirational in how they support and care for patients with additional needs. I believe if we create a service that meets the need of our parents, ourselves and our own children, it will be a service worth having.

Separately to my dental and work inspiration, one of my hobbies is knitting. I get great creative inspiration from knitting friends and some social media platforms.

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

Anne: I have been fortunate within the health service to work with people in many different leadership roles- my Principal Dental Surgeon group when I was new to that position were a great mentoring team, each bringing different strengths to the group, the Area Administrator undertaking risk assessments provided great mentoring to me both in applying risk management and as a parent. I also value the support and learning from the Secretary General of the Dental Association when I first became a member.

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

Anne: The best piece of advice that I have been given is to thank your dental nurse every day, to acknowledge and appreciate those who contribute to the success of the team.

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

Anne: I think that to be a successful leader you have to be ready to take some level of risk, to try the new process/invent the new product/ stick your head above the parapet. I think the biggest challenge to leaders today is social media- while it provides ready access to information, the ability to critically analyse the quality of information is lost. Every one has an opinion on the various platforms and trolling/criticism to the level of personal attack which we hear of every day makes it more difficult to maintain the confidence and knowledge to lead.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Anne: The quotation I probably return to the most is known as the serenity prayer, it has many different associations but I regularly apply it to all sorts of work and personal challenges as a reminder that while none of us can change the world, there are things we can and should change.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

My other favourite is from Aristotle: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Inspiration from Monica Bruni, Chief Financial Officer at Escher Group

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Monica Bruni, Chief Financial Officer at Escher Group 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Monica: I am Chief Financial Officer at Escher Group and I’ve been in that role for approximately 11 months now.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Monica: I think passion is a tremendous source of inspiration for me. I really enjoy what I do so that passion and drive really helps to motivate and inspire me. The opportunity to come in and help grow a business and make it into something truly special is inspiring. At Escher for example, there’s been a lot of positive change recently in terms of restructuring and refocusing our goals. To be able to be a part of that is as exciting as it is inspiring for me.

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

Monica: I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few people along the way who’ve helped guide and encourage me. Strangely enough, their messages have all been pretty similar as well. Be yourself. Be confident. Don’t be afraid to be either.

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

Monica: In my 30+ years in business, I’ve given and been given a fair amount of advice. The one thing that sticks out to me is to trust your gut instinct. I think that also ties into being yourself and feeling confident in yourself and your abilities. If you can do that, you’ll find you have pretty good instincts to help guide you. Seeking advice or guidance from others is important and at Escher we have a great support structure for that; but in the end, trust your gut.

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

Monica: Rapid changes in the marketplace. Many businesses today are operating in a global environment. The rapid rise and expansion of ecommerce has only accelerated that. We see that at Escher every day when speaking with our clients. More businesses (small and large) are embracing and implementing technologies which allow them to compete across borders. With that comes a need to understand and operate effectively in complex technological, geographical, and geopolitical environments.

This increases their demand on technology and increases the need to keep pace with the rapidly changing environment.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Monica: “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.” Over the course of my 30-year career, I feel I can confidently say that being a woman has never held me back. However, when I do look in the rear-view mirror and all the lessons I had to learn along the way, that one definitely stands out. You have to raise your hand and take risks.

It applies to a lot of circumstances in every-day life and in business. Maybe you’d like to get a discount from a vendor you’re working with or looking to advance in your current position; you won’t get it if you don’t ask for it.

I think earlier in my career I was less confident and maybe a little passive. I often sat back and waited for good things to happen rather than going out and making them happen or asking for them to happen.  I felt if I worked hard it would get noticed and just happen. In the end, you don’t (and won’t) get what you don’t ask for.

Inspiration from Niamh Clarke, Head of Quality and Regulatory Affairs, QP & RP with PCO Manufacturing

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Niamh Clarke, Head of Quality and Regulatory Affairs, QP & RP with PCO Manufacturing 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Niamh: My current role is Head of Quality & Regulatory Affairs, QP & RP with PCO Manufacturing Ltd who are the leading parallel importer of pharmaceutical products in Ireland. Having been with the company for 21 years, I have been in my current role and a member of the Senior Management Team for the past three years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Niamh: I honestly draw inspiration from everywhere. I absorb information from a plethora of different sources, the media (very often radio interviews on my commute), audio books (again on my commute), various written articles. I also draw constant inspiration from my amazing team and colleagues. We’ve been lucky enough in PCO to have a very stable management team and so we communicate and collaborate well giving us the opportunity to continuously strive for excellence.

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

Niamh: My most influential role model in life has been my father and that is primarily down to a number of very key lessons early in life – he instilled in me an incredible work ethic which has remained with me, a very simple but important message that ‘it is just as easy to be five minutes early as five minutes late’ and that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. They probably read as being very basic and very much common sense – but as he also says ‘common sense is not very common’!

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

Niamh: That it is possible to overcome ‘imposter syndrome’. Firstly, by actually recognising and acknowledging it (I needed a little help here – thanks Dearbhalla Baviera) and subsequently by accepting it, albeit in a different guise. Being a good leader does not mean a complete elimination of self-doubt – in fact, a certain amount of self-doubt can lead to an increased level of self-awareness which in turn can augment one’s leadership capabilities. This realisation, relatively recently in my career, has completely changed my outlook for the better.

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

Niamh: Sourcing and retaining talent – we have a huge responsibility to pro-actively develop our teams to have our existing talent conclude ‘I want to stay here’ and also to foster a company culture and vision that makes prospective talent think ‘I want to be a part of that’.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Niamh: ‘A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink’ – I love this! I recently saw this somewhere and just thought ‘that’s me’!

Inspiration from Patricia Nolan, Head of HR at Blackrock Clinic

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Patricia Nolan, Head of HR at Blackrock Clinic 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, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Patricia: Head of Human Resources for almost 9 years with Blackrock Clinic.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Patricia:  My Inspiration comes from successful people in all walks of life, business, sport, music, politics and the literature and the arts.

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

Patricia: I have been very lucky to have had exposure to some really strong and inspirational leaders throughout my career in both work and college whilst doing an MBA.

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

Patricia: Stay positive and keep moving forward!

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

Patricia: Biggest challenge facing leaders today is communication as leaders are competing with so many mediums. On the one hand it has become instant and immediate but on the other hand it can get lost in all the noise from the other channels coming at people in their daily lives.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Patricia: Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching. Satchel Paige ..Favourite quote as it always makes me smile..

Join us in celebrating these Inspiring and Successful Female Leaders on International Women’s Day 2020

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

 

Each year, March 8th marks International Women’s Day around the globe, and this year the theme is “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights”.

Voltedge Management would like to share with you the story from these nine Leading 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.

 

Click here to read inspiration from Anne Marie PhelanEnterprise & Innovation Manager at IADT

Click here to read inspiration from Alison McGinleyManaging Director of TaxAssist Accountants Ireland

Click here to read inspiration from Anne O’NeillPresident Elect of Irish Dental Association

Click here to read inspiration from Dee CoakleyCo-Founder & CEO at Boundless

Click here to read inspiration from Fidelma WhelanManaging Director at MacLachlan & Donaldson

Click here to read inspiration from Louise HarrisonEmployment Lawyer & Partner at Flynn O’Driscoll

Click here to read inspiration from Monica BruniCFO at Escher Group

Click here to read inspiration from Niamh ClarkeHead of Quality & Regulatory Affairs, QP & RP with PCO Manufacturing

Click here to read inspiration from Patricia Nolan, Head of HR at Blackrock Clinic

This is an opportunity for Voltedge Management 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 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.

Leading Irish Female Executives – Their views on Motivation, Leadership and Change

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

 

Each year, March 8th marks International Women’s Day. It is a time for us to recognise and celebrate the successes and accomplishments of women across all aspects of society, both nationally and internationally.

This year Voltedge would like to celebrate 7 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.

 

Claire McHugh, CEO and Co-Founder of Axonista since 2010

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Claire: The world is full of things to draw inspiration from – usually other people’s stories, anything from film, music, books to personal relationships and being part of a community. I think, if you surround yourself with good people and challenge yourself to continually try new things, you will find no shortage of inspiration.

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

Claire: Several. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the business owners of every company I’ve worked at, and learned tons from them about how to run a business. When you run your own business, you find there are no shortage of amazing people willing to give their time freely to support you on your journey. I think Dublin is especially good for this because of the very supportive start up community here. This tight knit community, coupled with Dublin’s small size, leads to lots of serendipitous moments that enables you to meet new mentors, and bump into old ones, all the time.

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

Claire: There isn’t one single piece of advice that sticks out. There are moments when a piece of advice really resonates, or can show you a different perspective on something that you hadn’t previously considered. When people go out of their way to help you at no benefit to themselves – those are the really helpful and memorable moments for me.

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

Claire: Leading by example, and remembering to set an example worth following. At a time when so many political leaders are doing a shockingly bad job, I think it’s all the more important for business leaders to show that inclusiveness, diversity and collaboration are the real way to achieve greatness.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Claire: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling.

For me this embodies the principle that you must not let fear of failure prevent you from making bold and difficult choices. Fear can only be conquered by facing it, by going outside our comfort zone – and it’s really by challenging yourself in this way that you learn the most, about yourself, about others, about life. For me, in business and in life, some of the most exciting times are when facing fears!

 

Elizabeth Barry, Executive Board Director and Head of Corporate Affairs with Airbus Financial Services UC for 22 years

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Elizabeth: My inspiration comes from trying to have a clear path for my teams to follow so that their work lives give them both direction and an element of satisfaction. I teach that every challenge or change leads to something better but that a new ‘positive’ can only come about with an actively positive mindset, or input, from those who want it.

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

Elizabeth: If I had a mentor, it would actually be an ‘anti-mentor’. Some years ago, I had time to observe at length a very senior and respected member of Irish society with whom I worked, and who was a consummate bully. I decided that if I ever had an opportunity to set up and run an organisation, which I did, I would ensure an ethos of understanding and positive co-operation would emanate from the top. This has been my personal challenge ever since and not always possible!

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

Elizabeth: Always ask for advice! It’s free and often incredibly useful. You will inherently know if it will work for you when you hear it. However, always ask it from another organisation and not internally.

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

Elizabeth: Finding staff who are as committed to their careers as they are to their ‘work/life balance’. It’s often a misunderstood issue and it’s a modern one. If staff enjoy work and a home life, hearing them trying to throw in something else like learning Mandarin while out at the gym and entertaining 20 for dinner at the weekend may just be what it sounds – too much. It is often less stressful to do just two things well and enjoy it.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Elizabeth:  My staff so often hear me saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ that I must really believe it. I firmly believe that there is always an upside – it may just not be so immediately obvious!

 

Fiona Heaney, Creative Director, Designer and Co-Owner of Fee G since 2003

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Fiona: Everywhere! Travel, nature, people. I am a visual person and get inspired all the time. However, it is important to take time out for yourself, to be energised and be able to be inspired.

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

Fiona: When I graduated, I got a job with a Director of a fashion company, Tom Mc Donald, who was at the end of his career. He was able to give me great advice and nuggets of information to help me on my journey. He was open and honest and willing to help me.

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

Fiona: Trust your instinct and always deliver your very best.

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

Fiona: I’m a Creative Business person and must constantly be creative & deliver new product & styles every season. This is relentless, with fashion being instantly available from catwalks to store and visibility on social media making it even faster workplace.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Fiona: I have to go with this one, as it’s in my office for 10+ years: “Good clothes open all doors” Thomas Fuller

 

Jennifer Cashman, Partner and the Head of the Employment Practice Group in Ronan Daly Jermyn since 2005

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Jennifer: Professionally, I draw inspiration from my clients’ businesses and the challenges they face on a daily basis – I have a keen desire to get to know their business and help them to achieve their commercial objectives and that inspires me to use the law in a commercially focused way to help them. Personally, my family and particularly my children, and their endless energy and enthusiasm for life, inspires me every day to try and be the best parent and role model that I can be.

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

Jennifer: I have had lots of role models and mentors along the way and too many to mention.  My parents have always had an unwavering belief in my ability to make it to a senior role in law and their work ethic and integrity have always been a great inspiration to me.  Frank Daly, a founding partner of Ronan Daly Jermyn, was a great role model in my early career in terms of his commercial and practical approach to the law and his energy and enthusiasm for the growth and development of our Firm.

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

Jennifer: Clients assume you know the law – what they also want from their lawyer is knowledge of their business and sector so that you can use your legal knowledge in a proactive and commercially focused way.

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

Jennifer: Change and more change!  Business leaders must be very adaptable to change and must keep up with technology trends in particular.  The business and commercial environment in which we all work is constantly evolving and there is much uncertainty in the global market.  This brings threats but also brings much opportunity so business leaders need to surround themselves with a strong, engaged team who can assist in spotting opportunities and meeting new challenges on a daily basis.  Keeping that team engaged is vital.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Jennifer: To thine own self be true!

 

Laura Shesgreen, Chief Financial Officer for Boxever Ltd. since 2015

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Laura: I tend to get inspiration by taking some time out. Sometimes it is as simple as going for a long walk.  The key for me is just having uninterrupted time which allows me time to think.

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

Laura: Yes, I have always had a role model who served as mentor at each stage of my career. I think having a mentor is super important as you chart a career as they can really help you navigate learnings and challenge you to reach further than you possible believe you can. I owe a big thank you to a lot of people who have helped me along the way.

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

Laura: Take every opportunity, even if it is unclear at the time where it will lead to – if it is something you believe you can commit to and enjoy –  go for it.

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

Laura: Leaders today are faced with many challenges ranging from the accelerated pace of change, constantly disruptive innovations, dispersed workforces and increasing regulatory & compliance demands.  If I was to pick out the biggest challenge that I believe leaders face I think it always comes back to people and ensuring they are building the right teams that can effectively deal with all of these complexities.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Laura: Clear Head, Full Heart, Can’t Lose.  I like this quote because I believe – Outcomes are made – they do not just happen.  Even if you fail, you have just found another way of not doing something.

 

Noelle O’Connell, Executive Director of European Movement Ireland for the last 6 years since 2011

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Noelle:  As a passionate sports fan, successes and accomplishments of our sportspeople never ceases to motivate me. In addition to being inspired from family and friends, colleagues – engagements and interactions with people you I’ve encountered in the many different walks of life have always inspired me and form the tapestry of who I am.  Having been fortunate to have worked in many different sectors and countries during my career, this has certainly proved to be the case.  In my current role, at a European, national level and with the challenges posed by Brexit, it’s fair to say, no two days have ever been the same.  Working for a bigger cause has kept me challenged, motivated and always on my toes.

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

Noelle: Growing up, the dedication and work ethic of my parents would have been my first marker.  In the political world, Mary Robinson’s election as President of Ireland stands out for me.   Starting out in my own career, after college, having a mentor was not something that I had the foresight to nurture or proactively seek to acquire, regrettably.  Working in different sectors, perhaps in the non-multinational sector, there may be less opportunities to have a mentor etc.  that experience is now why I always try to encourage my team to actively seek out a mentor / role model externally etc. in addition to aspiring myself to serve as a good role model and example by empowering through sharing learnings, advice and experience. I’m fortunate myself to have some outstanding mentors and various ad hoc ‘Sounding boards,’ whom I can ask for advice or guidance.  I would encourage people not to be shy or reticent in asking for advice or guidance – it shouldn’t be perceived as a sign of weakness but rather to approach the process from a position of strength.  It’s taking me some time to practise what I preach in this regard but I’m getting there.

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

Noelle: Have integrity and be authentic – Be true to yourself, your values and your beliefs.

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

Noelle:  There are many challenges facing leaders every day; be it from the accelerated pace of change in terms of the world of work set against the backdrop of increasingly interconnected and more challenging geo political environment.  Being authentic, whilst delivering on the core business objectives in an increasingly complex, multifaceted and multiconnected world.  It’s not enough to work in silos or be a technical specialist in just one area.  Leaders nowadays have to be multi-skilled, all rounded and be able to motivate your people.  Without good talent and a shared commitment to fulfilling the organisation’s or business’ mission, it is harder to deliver on the organisation’s goals and objectives necessary to grow and develop the business.  For many leaders, I would venture, the challenge of striving for work life balance and learning to trigger the ‘off switch,’ and saying ‘no,’ probably exists across all sectors and businesses.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Noelle: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night…  Rage, Rage against the dying of the light.’  Dylan Thomas, – Leaving Cert poetry inspiration.   Carpe diem!

 

Olive Casey, HR Director for Amgen in Ireland and the Netherlands for the last 3 years

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Olive: In my current role I draw inspiration from being part of a company that makes medicine for grievous illness.  Knowing that everything we do is focused on serving patients’ needs is a uniting factor that pulls all of us together and drives us to do the best job we can.  Some of our own employees have been patients taking our drugs to battle against life threatening illness.  That inspires all of us to continuously try to improve.

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

Olive: I worked under a senior leader in the US who had a long and successful career.  He taught me that at the end of your career it is not just what you have achieved that will matter to you, but how you achieved it.  Leaders’ success today depends as much on their behaviours as it does on their results.  The “how” has become as important as the “what”.  I was lucky enough to have learnt this at an early stage in my career.

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

Olive: To believe in myself!

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

Olive: There is a lot of competition for talent in the market and employees have high expectations of their managers.  Leaders today are expected to be skilled in coaching staff and developing talent, in addition to having a strong functional expertise.  And many leaders feel unequipped to carry out this aspect of their role.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Olive: A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination – Nelson Mandela.

 

Today is an opportunity for Voltedge 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, we’d love to hear from you.