Posts Tagged ‘leading female executive’

Inspiration from some of Ireland’s Leading Female Executives to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2021

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

In celebration of National Women’s Enterprise Day, Voltedge Management invited some colleagues to share some of their own experiences and thoughts on their success and building the future – the theme of this year.

Their inspiring words on careers and role models, and the biggest opportunities and challenges for building the future are truly insightful.

 

Charlotte Barker, Chief Executive of the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Ellen Gunning, CEO of the Global Institute for Public Relations

Geraldine Langan, Chief Operating Officer of LanganBach Services Ltd

Lorna Maguire, Client Services Director at TITAN Experience

Siobhán Finn, National Hub Network Manager at the NACEC

 

To all female executives, best wishes on this day and take a moment to acknowledge your success and contribution to business and society in general.

If you would like to share your own insights please call us our office 01 525 2914 or email us on info@voltedge.ie.

Inspiration from Charlotte Barker, Chief Executive of the Institute of Designers in Ireland, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2021

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

As we look forward, we want to help “Build the Future”. We asked Charlotte Barker, Chief Executive of the Institute of Designers in 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 career, and what is, in her opinion, the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge for building the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Charlotte: I am the Chief Executive of the Institute of Designers in Ireland, the professional membership organisation representing designers from all disciplines such as product design, digital design, strategic design and more. I was appointed in September 2021 and am the first Chief Executive to be appointed to lead the strategic vision of IDI’s board of Directors.  

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Charlotte:  Everywhere! I am a sponge, finding inspiration and joy in the smallest of things on a daily basis. I do believe though that people are my biggest influence, I find human beings and human behaviour fascinating and a constant riddle that needs to be solved.

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

Charlotte: I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who was the Group Managing Director of a leading retail design agency in London, at a pivotal time in my life when I felt I needed a guiding light through my career. Struggling to balance a young family and the pressures of career progression is certainly not easy, and all too often spells the end for incredible, talented women who don’t have the support through these times and can’t see an end to the exhaustion. Having my mentor, Ros, gave me a chance to talk through all the thoughts in my mind about my working day, validate my thinking and tip me in the right direction.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest opportunity is right now for building the future?

Charlotte: I may be biased, but I would say that it’s design. We are seeing a huge surge in our industry as the demand for human-centred responses to the crisis we have been through has shown many just how powerful design can be. Focusing on human beings is a means to providing the best solution to products, to services, to the spaces we share and the planet we inhabit. Design-led responses allow us all to challenge the processes and norms that we have become accustomed to.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest challenge is right now for building the future? 

Charlotte: Investment in people, planet, and profit equally. While we remain fixated on economic success, we deplete our natural resources and burn out our people. This has to be led from the top, and in the developed world we are slow to move.  

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered over the last 18 months? 

Charlotte: Getting away from the mad dash of life and having better quality time at home as a family has meant we’ve enjoyed each other’s company more! It’s not great to get together late every day when everyone is tired and it’s a treadmill of cajoling kids to do homework, have dinner, baths and bed. Now there is time to discuss the day, eat earlier, laugh more. I’ve also enjoyed having time to read more; I love the escapism of fiction and have really enjoyed some super books this year. Finally, the power of community has been incredibly strong, and I am fortunate enough to live beside neighbours that I now count very much as friends.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Charlotte: ‘It is what it is, we are where we are’ – Not a literary quote, but a former client of mine used to say it! It’s a way of not dwelling on the past, accepting the present, and realising you have the power to change the future. No use crying over spilled milk!

The Institute of Designers in Ireland is the largest and oldest association of Irish design professionals, and longest established creative forum in Ireland. IDI is committed to advancing the value and impact of design – inspiring, supporting and learning from one another along the way.

 

Inspiration from Ellen Gunning, CEO of the Global Institute for Public Relations (GIPR), to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2021

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

As we look forward, we want to help “Build the Future”. We asked Ellen Gunning, CEO of the Global Institute for Public Relations (GIPR), 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 career, and what is, in her opinion, the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge for building the future.

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

 Ellen: This is a great time to ask this question. I have just this week begun to work as CEO of the Global Institute for Public Relations (GIPR). The GIPR was previously known as Irish Academy of Public Relations and I had been the director there for almost 30 years. We have just re-branded to reflect the global nature of our clients who are based in 50 countries around the world. We felt that the old name did not reflect the fact that we have a joint venture in the Middle East and a partnership in Greece, for example. So technically, this is my first week in my new job!

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Ellen:  I am inspired by the industry that I work in – PR is very dynamic! I’m inspired by the people I work with – I have a fantastic team of hard working creatives. I am inspired by other industry leaders and thought leaders who share their vision and their back-stories and encourage us all to do more and do better! I am also inspired by books – I’m never done reading, even if I only get to skim-read most books! And, of course, I’m inspired by my husband whose view of the world is utterly different to mine – he is an artist – and who never ceases to amaze me with his vision.

 

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

 Ellen: Undoubtedly my mother. I am the eldest of four children and my mother brought us all up to believe that we could do absolutely anything. She simply did not know how to dampen our enthusiasm for success, in whatever area we were interested in. My father has now assumed that role. He shares a deep interest in communications and offers unquestioning support and love no matter what I get up to.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest opportunity is right now for building the future?

Ellen: I believe that the future lies in the hands of those who have the ability to gain insights from data. We are all drowning in data but very few people can analyse and draw conclusions successfully. The future is in AI and Machine Learning that makes this possible. The future will be owned by the visionaries who are first to adopt the technology. Speed is of the essence.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest challenge is right now for building the future?

 Ellen: The biggest challenge is possibly the changing life expectancy of people who now want to change career paths multiple times during their lives to suit the lifestyle that they have chosen. People are demanding a satisfaction from their work environment that wasn’t previously present. This is a challenge because the ‘length of service’ of employees will continue to shorten as we progress. The upside, of course, is that employees now are much more multi-skilled that previously. From the perspective of GIPR these employees also travel more and upskill at different times in their lives.

 Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered over the last 18 months?

 Ellen: I have re-discovered the value of family and now set aside time each week for my father and my mother-in-law (and nothing interrupts it). I found that I really enjoy working on my own as much as I enjoy working with others – which was a real surprise. And I also discovered that I really am addicted to travel. I missed business travel so much. I can’t wait to get back to doing business with different cultures, on different continents, in person. I work with people that I am genuinely interested in, so I really enjoy interactive time with them!

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Ellen: My favourite quote has to be this: If you believe you can do it – you can. If you believe you can’t do – you definitely can’t. I subscribe to the can-do theory!

 

Inspiration from Geraldine Langan, Chief Operating Officer of LanganBach Services Limited, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2021

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

As we look forward, we want to help “Build the Future”. We asked Geraldine Langan, Chief Operating Officer of LanganBach Services Limited, 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 career, and what is, in her opinion, the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge for building the future.

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

Geraldine: I am the Chief Operating Officer of LanganBach Services Limited, a role I have held since 2017.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Geraldine: Our dedicated and professional team have been with us for over 10 years, and we will be celebrating 30 years in business next year.  As an essential service we were at the forefront in providing essential supplies to the HSE and all our customers during the pandemic. The resilience and determination shown by the team during that difficult time, in continuing to provide excellent customer service to all our customers, is where I draw my inspiration.

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

Geraldine: Over the years, I have been very fortunate to meet and be guided by several inspiring women in business, in  particular Paula Fitzsimons, National Director of the  Going for Growth programme, a wonderful initiative, that supports female leaders in business. I would also have to mention Emeritus Professor Alan Mullally of Trinity College Dublin,  who has been of tremendous support as a guide, mentor, and friend throughout my business and academic career.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest opportunity is right now for building the future?

Geraldine: The pandemic brought immense challenges to our customers and we will continue to engage in new partnerships and seek out new innovations that are emerging in the Medical Diagnostics Industry, to further meet their needs.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest challenge is right now for building the future?

Geraldine: Adapting to a post pandemic world and the impact that Brexit is having will continue to pose a challenge.

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered over the last 18 months?

Geraldine: I have lived in County Wicklow for many years and for the first time, during lockdown, I realised that I had never really appreciated the beauty of where I live. As a family we went on many walks and the importance of being present with them at that time and not thinking of other things was a valuable and positive  lesson. I also went back to playing the piano which I have not done for many years.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Geraldine: As I really enjoy a cup of tea, it had to be “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water” Eleanor Roosevelt.

 

LanganBach Services is committed to continuing our legacy of excellence in customer service, supplier engagement and innovation. Leaders in the distribution of Diagnostic Kits and Reagent, Laboratory equipment and consumables to healthcare professionals in the Medical, Industry and Research & Development Sectors.

 

Inspiration from Lorna Maguire, Client Services Director at TITAN Experience, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2021

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

As we look forward, we want to help “Build the Future”. We asked Lorna Maguire, Client Services Director at TITAN Experience, 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 career, and what is, in her opinion, the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge for building the future.

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

Lorna: My current role is Client Services Director at TITAN Experience. I’ll be in this position for 2 years now, come November.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Lorna:  Many places… The super team I work with, peers, books, articles, and constant research. We pride ourselves on being an insight driven agency so naturally I’m always on the lookout for new concepts and fresh thinking to bring to our clients.

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

Lorna: I’ve been very lucky to have had some amazing role models to lean on throughout my career to date. Eavan Mulligan, a previous Director in TITAN, who I worked with for a couple of years is somebody whom I learnt a lot from – even if she doesn’t realise it! Eavan’s work ethic, commitment to exceptionally high standards, and ability to always see the bigger picture are aspects I’ve tried to take forward in my own working life. I’m also lucky to call her a friend.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest opportunity is right now for building the future?

Lorna: For me, it’s the breadth of young and skilled talent in Ireland. We need to listen to the leaders of our future and give them the forums to be heard. To me, age really is just a number – if you have the ability, the wiliness to learn, the drive to exceed, and are empathic along the way, then no position should be off limits, in a lot of circumstances.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest challenge is right now for building the future?

Lorna: To maintain a collaborative culture in this increasingly virtual world. Whilst remote working has given us all the opportunity to achieve a better work/life balance, the challenge now is to build and maintain those wonderful team dynamics, ensure team development and encourage team collaboration. 

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered over the last 18 months? 

Lorna: Family is everything.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Be present.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Lorna: ‘You get what you give’ because it applies to all aspects of life – both work and personal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At TITAN EXPERIENCE we work with global brands, rights holders and sponsors, to invigorate, arouse and connect through the unique energy of sport. We create exceptional experiences to connect brands and rights holders to their target audiences and internal stakeholders.

 

 

Inspiration from Siobhán Finn, National Hub Network Manager at NACEC, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2021

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

As we look forward, we want to help “Build the Future”. We asked Siobhán Finn, National Hub Network Manager at NACEC, 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 career, and what is, in her opinion, the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge for building the future.

 

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

Siobhán: I joined the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres in early January this year, right at the outset of the third lockdown! As National Hub Network Manager, I am responsible for building the organisation, delivering the organisation’s strategy and developing strong, productive and collaborative working relationships with multiple partners and stakeholders. 

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Siobhán: The people I share my values with – trust, respect and integrity; the community of people I work with; my daughter whose belief in doing right for the world is unwavering; and the ‘knowing’ that self-belief has the power to change so much.

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

Siobhán: There were several over the course of my career, however Pat McGrath, the former CEO of the PM Group, is a standout for me. Pat is a highly experienced board chair and executive and I learnt so much from him during his tenure as Chairperson with the Cork Innovates Partnership.

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest opportunity is right now for building the future?

Siobhán: The post-Covid recovery offers us a real opportunity to ‘build back better’; this time in our lives is a real opportunity to reflect, re-evaluate, and reimagine the ways in which we want to create positive change in our world, our local communities and how we live our lives into the future – creating a better place for our families and our communities and leaving a legacy for our children that really counts!

Voltedge: What do you think the biggest challenge is right now for building the future?

Siobhán: To make change happen, we need to think differently, and build regionally. As we live the ‘new normal’ we must remember to hold onto what we have learnt about ourselves, the communities in which we live and put those learnings to good use for a better future.  It can be easy to lose valuable learnings as the pace of life runs away with us all.

 Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered over the last 18 months?

Siobhán: I’ve had a really busy 10 years raising a young daughter (now a teenager) and changing my life direction in my 40s. I turned 50 right before Covid. This time, when sometimes it felt like the world stool still, has reminded me how much I love being in nature, in the outdoors and how much I enjoy walking for hours on end. I am an introvert by nature and this time showed me how much I value the company of people and what being in the presence of positive people can do for you. It taught me the importance of being in the presence of those I love and respect the most.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Siobhán: Be true to yourself!

 

The National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC) represents a network of 250+ Enterprise Ireland funded centres and hubs across the Republic of Ireland.

Formally established in 2008 and drawing together a number of pre-existing regional networks, NACEC’s primary role is to support and develop the interests of community enterprise on a national basis.

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.