Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

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

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

We are thrilled to have this opportunity to celebrate these outstanding leaders and to extend our very best wishes to them for continued success in their careers, fulfilment and happiness in life and to thank them for their inspiring words and the contribution they make to businesses, the workplace and to society generally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge Management is thrilled to have this opportunity  to celebrate these outstanding leaders and to extend our very best wishes to them for continued success in their careers, fulfilment and happiness in life and to thank them for their inspiring words and the contribution they make to businesses, other females and to society generally.

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

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Eileen Townsend, Head of Organisational Development in the IAASA to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

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

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

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

 

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

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

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Anne O’Connell, Founder and Principal of Anne O’Connell Solicitors to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Anne O’Connell Solicitors provides dedicated, expert employment legal advice that is tailored to every single unique client and their equally unique requirements. Working with employers, employees, and consultants, the Firm offers a wide array of services, training and seminars, and a 24/7 employment law hotline dedicated exclusively for the Firm’s employer clients. Anne O’Connell Solicitors was ranked as a Leading Law Firm for Employment Law in Ireland by Legal500 within its first year and was elevated in rankings the following year.

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

 Anne: Founder and Principal of Anne O’Connell Solicitors, an employment law specialist firm.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Anne: I draw my inspiration from many sources.

I draw it from what my parents taught me when growing up.

–              My Dad, who sadly passed away in 2018, always said that “there is no such thing as can’t”, and that “where there is a will there is a way” and giving up was not an option. My Dad was also adamant that when we did anything it had to be done right, whether it was mucking out a stable, sweeping a yard or shining his shoes, if I didn’t do it right I had to do it again. He instilled a sense of pride in us all and that we always had to strive to be the best that we could be. Being the second eldest of 4 with an older sister and two younger brothers, this often resulted in me pushing myself harder to fight my corner.

–              My Mum always seemed to manage to find a way to resolve any issues that arose, whether work related or to help friends or family. She is the ‘go to’ person to solve a problem and to make things happen. She always taught us how important it is to treat everyone with respect.

I also draw my inspiration from sports – the training, time, dedication and teamwork involved. The strength needed to pick yourself up after a defeat and continue or to battle through an injury or illness.

As I love to look at matters from different angles and try to find new and different ways of approaching issues, I find inspiration from certain businesspeople and leaders who apply different ideas and visions.

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

Anne: My career started in 1993 when I started my law degree and as I am qualified for over 19 years, I have had many role models and mentors throughout my career. My mentors range from solicitors and partners in the firms I worked in to my friends and colleagues in different firms.

My godmother however is the stand out role model for me as she is a brilliant business woman and was never afraid of any challenge. She expected the best from everyone she worked with and didn’t suffer fools lightly. She worked at a time when the business world was male dominated but she was always well able for any businessman. She is very clever and savvy.  She was subjected to many critics and certain adversity but she stayed true to who she was and didn’t lose herself. She is a very strong and yet caring person and has done so much for so many people.

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

Anne: Focus your energy on what you are able to control and not the things that you can’t.

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

Anne: – I got the room to just breath and to catch up on things, which I didn’t realise how much I needed.

– I was so grateful to have adopted a dog from the DSPCA last November. He was a game-changer in my life and a lifesaver during the lockdown.

– I discovered a lovely park nearby and actually heard the birds sing, which I didn’t before In Dublin and now I love to hear the birds, I find it so calming, especially as it makes me think of my late Dad.

– I discovered that my experience with breast cancer made me more resilient during Covid-19 and probably better able to cope.

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

Anne: We had daily zoom meetings and zoom Friday evening drinks. We did our High Fives every day and kept each other laughing and focused. Most of us returned to the office on 29 June and all of us returned in August. We were thankfully already set up to work remotely and had implemented the practice before Covid-19 hit. We have rotas for different members of the team to work from home when they wish. We had a health and wellness talk for the team. We set up a separate WhatsApp group called AOC Minds for exchanging good podcasts for mental health and nice quotes and other aids for each other and for anyone of the team to be able to say if they are not having a good day. We are also currently setting up an EAP programme.

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

Anne: It is such a powerful slogan as it is so true. Any time someone refers to me having set up on my own, I always correct them that I never set up on my own, I had a lot of help and support and two others working with me from the start. I would never have been able to set up on my own. I believe that strength is in a team and that while there may be good leaders, leaders are worthless without a good team. A wheel needs its spokes to turn. As humans we need each other and working together is not only the best way but the only way that anything can be achieved. Our voices are louder when heard as one and our actions more productive when done together. When anything is bound together it is much stronger than being on its own.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Anne: “She turned her can’t into cans, her dreams into plans” – this quote kept me going whenever I doubted myself or felt that life was difficult. When I set up the Firm I added to this quote that with the support of others everyday “she turns her plans into reality”.

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

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

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

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

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

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

 

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

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

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

Deirdre: Breathe, remember to breathe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

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

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Geraldine Magnier, Director of Idiro Analytics to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Founded in 2003, Idiro Analytics is a leading international data analytics consultancy. Headquartered in Dublin and 100% Irish owned, Idiro’s highly experienced data scientists and analysts help organisations to unlock value from their customer data using advanced analytics and AI. Idiro drives value for its clients by significantly improving commercial and operational KPIs relevant to them. Idiro has delivered solutions in over 30 countries to customers spanning telecoms, banking, utilities, education and government.

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

 Geraldine: For the last 6 years, I have been in my current role as Director of Idiro Analytics, this position encompasses largely the strategic direction of the company, be it new markets, sectors while also cultivating and curating the organisation’s culture. My remit also includes ensuring good corporate governance, directing and overseeing strategic outcomes. Finally, within Idiro, I play a major role in business development by formulating relationships externally, be it through liaising with our board of non-executive directors or prospect clients. Also, as co-owner I spend a significant proportion of my time networking and creating brand awareness through various initiatives. I truly love my role and get a huge amount of energy from it. Everyday feels different but always with a sense of progression and learning.

Then, outside of Idiro, in voluntary capacities, I hold roles in various organisations. This includes being an elected member on the national council of the Small Firms Association (SFA) of Ibec. Here the mammoth collaborative work done by council members to evolve a more level playing pitch for indigenous SMEs is a passion. Much of this work is evidenced when budget submissions penetrate government walls and eventually get passed. Working on the SFA national council is a true privilege as the sum of private SMEs in Ireland is 98%, many of whom are under severe pressure due to the pandemic but without them the back bone of Ireland would be hugely compromised given that such companies bring enterprise and employment to more rural parts where often other employment prospects may not be so rich… Although I live and work in Dublin, I grew up in a beautiful small town called Carrick-on-suir, so my work on the SFA council is centred by my connection and heart space for my native town and therefore an empathy for other towns and villages nationwide and not just Dublin centric.

This year I was elected to the policy council of the Dublin Chamber, a business to business networking and lobbying organisation, representing businesses from all sectors in Dublin and the greater Dublin area. Dublin is my adopted home for over 20 years now and I have seen the changes on the ground from a resident and business city centre located perspective; some good, some not so good. I most definitely want Dublin to reach its potential as a powerhouse capital but also as a living city. The work of the Dublin Chamber marvels this promise and aspiration with various campaigns such as the ‘New 15-minute City Planning Vision’ for Dublin and with sustainability at the core of each endeavour.

Then in alignment with my own sector, I have the privilege of being on the Board of Technology Ireland (Ibec). Where constant vigilance is kept on vital topics such cyber safety and ethics in AI etc. that affects all our lives and not just those associated with the technology sector.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Geraldine:  I am absolutely intrigued by people, the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of people captures me, no matter who they are… everyone is exceptionally interesting once you delve in with authentic curiosity. There is always something to learn and at the very least a fluid characterful conversation ensues. I draw my inspiration from people’s life stories, their perspectives, values and learnings. People generally and specifically hold the keys to life and hearty conversations guarantee a copy of such a ‘key to life’. But also the value of stepping into someone else’s shoes to see through their life experience prism. So, my podcast ‘Where the needle lands’ helps to feed that need of mine, especially in these more limited interactive days.

Then when I need to withdraw and spend time by myself to draw on inner inspiration… I lean more towards my creative side and that can take many forms, be it with art and craft, writing, meditative walks to being in the moment with jigsaw making with my two young kids. I shyly add that, for instance, I am a hobbyist milliner! I love hats… wearing or making.

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

Geraldine: I come from a multigenerational lineage of business owners and entrepreneurs, so I have never been short of role models and some great ones such as my Grandmother and Mother, both very learned and successful businesswomen. However, I realised later in life that I was short on mentors and consciously sought out specific mentors in my late 30s and early 40s. So, while it may seem obvious to people to have a mentor, I was late to this realization. I had been too busy ‘doing’ rather than apportioning more time and value to ‘being’.

My baby rearing years slowed me down for a while, and gifted me the realisation that I could grow enormously from the  value of honest mentors… so I sought out many and from each, their respective strong traits started to give muscle to my weaknesses. I still have many mentors, and the older I get, I give myself more permission to be open about when I am unsure and ask straight out to my peers for their guidance.

Generally, I ask for help more. An unintended benefit from this mentor-mentee relationships has shown me, how taking help builds up trust with each person you are openly vulnerable with, it then means that you have a force behind you and a common understanding and without judgement, you can be each other’s touchstone in the world of business or more.

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

Geraldine: As a technology company, the mindset often defaults to constantly trying for big bang innovation and while this is great for the creative muscle, it can be a tall order on a company’s resources of time and capital and an ever ending demand to be the best at the bleeding edge all the time. Idiro has been no stranger to pioneering, while this can be wonderful, but on balance, there can be a pain to being a pioneer or put another way ‘early bird gets the worm but second mouse gets the cheese’.

The best piece of advice I received since Covid, was the reminder that, one does not have to be outright innovative, that we can go the extra mile based on what has already been developed. The example given was the success of Zoom, and how they overtook the work of Skype who were the actual innovators of remote conferencing platforms. But Zoom went the final 10%. The takeaway message is that the final 10% can bring success. So not just specific to technology companies, all companies in all sectors can scan the market you are already in and see what the remaining consumer problem is in terms of what is on offer out there? What are the flaws and then can some of those be solved by a last 10% adjustment? Go the extra mile.

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

Geraldine: Prior to the pandemic, I had this notion that having children was one thing but evidence in the environment of them in any form would threaten my professional status or profile. Lockdown showed us all that people still can and want to work and be their best albeit that a child may make an audible or visual cameo role during a zoom call for business. While admittedly it can be somewhat interruptive, it is life and children are part of life.

To this end, the contrast prior to the lockdown, I put myself under pressure to present an exterior of not being ‘stretched’ due to having kids and chasing that elusive work life balance. Whereas in reality, I had major last-minute challenges around childminding and handovers that often put my heart crossways, particularly if they were unwell but I had to attend a meeting. Sometimes, my toddler just needed me to hold his hand while feeling under the weather. So, a major discovery during the pandemic was, (I say this in a tongue and cheek way) the pandemic has shown that loads of people have kids, more evidently!

But more importantly, the lockdown has shown how much parents of young children were juggling and smiling through all the craziness. But particularly as a woman, there can be an assumption that if you have young kids that your professional work quality and delivery may be compromised by being a mother and a professional. This is an additional stress we don’t need any longer, as the pandemic has set us free of the illusion or not, of having to ward off any incorrect perception. The pandemic has allowed dogs to bark, office homes to showcase their less than orderly bookshelves, less than groomed and less ironing from the waist down, all to be a new acceptable norm! So, isn’t it great, by being in this together, we are facing more truths and therefore more freedoms?

Since March, I have seen the value of intentional connection because remote bridging to people automatically causes more discerning decisions about with whom we choose to connect and converse. With social distancing both physically and virtually, I believe we are deepening our relationships rather than broadening them. So now I am more careful where I extend and apply my resources of energy and time because I have to be. Whereas I believe in the past I was less judicial about my resources and boundaries regarding tasks that I would take on. Now I am more mindful of my limitations and rather than be challenged by that, I acknowledge that and accept it more.

The next time someone says, let’s have a quick drink in the pub, I will go! I certainly will never take that opportunity for granted again. The banter and craic that only happens in a pub situation will never be underestimated again. We can go to dinner with friends and enjoy full on catch ups, but there should also be a space made for frivolous ‘bant’ and rant talk about nothing… just for the laugh and the exchange of energies that only happens effortlessly in a pub situation. The public sitting room of our cities, towns and villages keeps a certain and unassuming fabric of life going through the tapestry of personalities under one roof. But more vital to their soft-side offering, these public houses showed in lockdown times that they were conspicuous in their absence as the passive vigilance that they bring to our streets, that a little more edgier in the absence of pubs than in the past when they left a light on for civility.

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

Geraldine: In Idiro we immediately sought and followed the guidance of expert organisations such as Voltedge as their ‘Employer’s Guide’ is rich in practical advice and contingency plans. As business owners have become even busier in these pandemic times, being able to have an outside team at your disposal for bespoke challenges and immediate access has been tantamount to dwarfing our employee concerns. But also, it’s the first time that the employers guide was a radical ‘living document’ of additional pressures, so we were able to fully place our trust in Voltedge to keep abreast of the moving compliance goal posts. Their walk beside us in these C-19 times, has been crucial to our business survival as it allowed us to keep a clear thinking space to pivot and adjust our business model and delivery under the demands of the current crisis.

Each employee was also asked about their particular circumstance and resulting needs. We never took a one size fits all approach. So, we have been active in adjusting to some employee requests to respond adequately for their particular wellbeing and collegiality needs. Management also routinely does one to one check ins on how staff are doing, not necessarily around solid work items but more on how the person is feeling or coping during this Covid-19 time and placing emphasis on empathy to their particular experience of the C-19 environment. As a company, we are mindful that we are all experiencing this crisis differently, for example, parents are often so busy with their children that they are not so aware of or feeling lonely. While others are caught up with the heavy emotions of fear for older parents that they may not be able to visit etc. or they simply live alone and feel that aloneness.

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

Geraldine: United we stand, divided we fall. There are many ways to interpret the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ but its essence for me is essentially, that it is the antithesis of a social theory favouring individualism over the collective. Typically, Western society has favoured freedom to act as the individual over the collective for decades and the results have been less than palatable in so many facets. In societies where they look outward or from a collective point of view, they are often less ageist and more inclusive. By weighting individualism over ‘togetherness’ may suggest that we work from a mentality of scarcity.

Together means to share, care and know that abundance exists and there’s plenty for everyone. Stronger together means, the distribution bottlenecks can be diminished, and more fluid deployment of all resources ensues. Together we can’t be beaten or beaten down as we are minding one another. In the workplace, over the last decade or so, the importance of team versus ‘I’ has ignited and the realisation that you could have a wonderful person in a boss but they too are only one part of a really diverse and interesting team and can be more powerful if ‘togetherness’ is celebrated and cultivates as a mentality. It is a myth to think that we never achieve anything great by ourselves, we are interconnected and therefore interdependent. By the same token, it is reassuring that the same is true in bad times, that we are never truly alone either, even if at the time we believe we are alone, we are not.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Geraldine: “….way leads onto way…” by Robert Frost from his poem ‘The Road Less Travelled’. The reason why I love this quote is because it gives quality to all of our endeavours, the failed ones as well as the successful ones. So even if something does not turn out the way you expected or desired, well the mere fact that you turned up to a situation, means you have broadened your net to learn, see, hear an item of information or meet someone randomly, that will act as a link to your next or another step. Just showing up means a ‘way’ leads onto a ‘way’ which is always fruitful, maybe not today but someday when you least expect, and this starts joining up the dots in life. So “way leads onto way”, means no effort is in vain or futile. But not doing something or trying a ‘way’ is paralysis by one’s own making.

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Dee Kehoe, CPD Director with Engineers Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

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

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

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

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

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

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Sinead Glennon, CFO at RiskSystem to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

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

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

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

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

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

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

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Larissa Feeney, CEO at Accountantonline to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Accountant Online is an online financial technology company based in Ireland. They are a team of accounting and company secretarial professionals, using cloud technology to help their clients access their professional services simply, easily and securely.

 

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

 Larissa: I am CEO of Accountant Online – I am the owner and founder and I set up this business in 2015. It is now the most popular accounting website in Ireland and has over 28,000 visits a month.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Larissa: I draw inspiration from other entrepreneurs and business owners, large and small, across Ireland and internationally. Most of our clients are small business owners and I love hearing their stories of why they set up and to watch them grow and progress. I admire and follow leaders such as Ariana Huffington who is making such a positive impact with her Thrive initiative because she is promoting a balanced, holistic approach to success in the workplace. I have also been very inspired by the ‘Inspirefest’ events put on by Anne O’Dea in recent years and I look forward to attending her ‘Future Human’ event at the end of October.

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

Larissa: I have enjoyed being part of networks and programmes such as ACORNS and I benefited enormously from my experience with programmes such as ‘Going For Growth’ and support from Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland. It helped me build a network and be exposed to a greater level of ambition and expertise than was available to me previously.

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

Larissa: To set short term goals month to month and adapt as we go. The future became very uncertain in March 2020. We needed to make some changes, but we needed to be flexible enough to row back on decisions if required, so we do review and revise our plans regularly.

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

Larissa: I am certainly seeing more of my family, which is positive. I also had to take a more formal decisive approach to getting fresh air and to be in nature more. I’m lucky to live in the countryside in Donegal and my step activity has massively increased since we introduced ‘walk and talk’ virtual meetings.

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

Larissa: Although we have offices in Letterkenny and Dublin, most of our staff actually already worked remotely prior to the pandemic, so working effectively together as a remote team was a challenge that we have always had to overcome. All the teams have regular meetings, and we encourage video screens to be on. In the good weather we held ‘walk and talk’ meetings to add some creative time. We did some quizzes in the early days of lockdown, but I don’t think they are sustainable as a social activity and are not suited to everyone. Lately we invited Voltedge to present some webinars which allowed staff to consider additional initiatives such as buddy systems and sharing photos of view of their walks. 

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

Larissa: It reminds me of the many female support initiatives and cultural expressions that are [unfortunately, still] necessary, such as ‘we can’t be what we can’t see’. Visibility of females in leadership positions across all disciplines is really important and will only happen by both genders making decisions to correct the clear imbalance across our society. I have 3 young boys, so I’d like to see them grow up in a world which has a more equal representation. I notice the tennis player Andy Murray is a great supporter of equality in sport – I think he has been brought up to challenge the clear imbalance there and his voice is powerful in addressing change in tennis, as an example.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Larissa: As a busy working mum, the quote that resonates with me the most is ‘When a ball has to drop, make sure it’s the right one’. We all have very busy lives, it is not possible to have it all, all the time. Prioritizing time is important and identifying what is important on any given day helps me ensure that I keep the right balls in the air!

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

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

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

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

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

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Tracey:  I draw inspiration from people and nature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

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

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.

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

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.

Voltedge Winner of BEST SME HR Initiative at HR Management and Leadership Awards 2017

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

 

We are delighted to share with you some exciting news for Voltedge at last week’s HR Leadership and Management Awards.

The annual HR Leadership and Management Awards are the benchmark for companies who demonstrate excellence in HR in Ireland.
For the past 2 years Voltedge Management was shortlisted in the category of Most Innovative Use of Technology and this year, we were delighted to be shortlisted in three categories – HR Team of the Year, Most Effective Employee Engagement Strategy and Best SME HR Initiative, and on Thursday night last, we were absolutely thrilled to pick up the trophy for the BEST SME HR Initiative.

award

Well done to everyone who was shortlistedand all the night’s winners.

We continuously strive to be a business partner of choice, supporting our clients to achieve great things through their people by using HR to deliver strategically in the business. Give us a call on 01-525 2914 or email info@voltedge.ie to find out more about the services we offer.

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11. Best SME HR Initiative

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, March 6th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively and every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Handling personal issues in the workplace:

Q: We have a manager who is experienced and well-regarded. However, recently he seems distracted and has been out of the office a lot, he is missing important meetings, and doesn’t seem to be managing his team well at all. Some of his team are now complaining, as they feel they are being ignored, and the workload is piling up. He has told another colleague that he is going through a rough patch and may be getting a divorce. How do I manage this?

A: Unfortunately, nearly everyone in the workforce goes through a difficult patch personally, sometimes they manage and keep it from disrupting their work, others not so much. In this case, his personal difficulties are seriously impacting on his work, and his performance.

However, given that his is a valued employee, it is important to be supportive – and he may not actually be aware of the impact of his personal difficulties on his work. Have his manager sit down with him and have a private conversation about how he is getting on – how does he feel he is doing? Does he have any issues he needs to discuss? If he is open, then you could offer counselling or refer him to your company doctor. However, it’s important for him to understand that his current behavior is having a negative impact, perhaps he needs a short period away from work to sort things out? You could offer to support his workload for a short period also to get him back to normal. Tackling issues like this early will – in nearly every case – work better for everyone.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

HR Leadership and Management Awards 2017

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Voltedge is delighted to announce that – for the third year running – we have been short-listed in the HR Leadership and Management Awards in 2017 – Best SME HR Initiative, HR Team of the Year, Most Effective Employee Engagement Strategy. 
Fingers crossed for the final that is to take place on 2nd March 2017!