Why did you decide to join the IoD?
I joined the IoD to update my skills and knowledge so that I could add more value as a Non-Executive Director. Completing the Chartered Director Programme was a challenging and most enjoyable learning experience, which I would highly recommend.
What do you particularly value from your IoD membership?
I really value the opportunity to network and stay updated on key business issues. The IoD events are always inspiring, insightful and enjoyable. While the webinars during COVID have been excellent, I am looking forward to getting back to the ‘in person’ experience next year!
What is the most important lesson, from your personal or business life, that has guided you the most in being a business leader?
Time and energy are valuable currencies that need to be spent wisely. As a leader, it’s essential to carve out time for strategic thinking and for cultivating relationships with all your stakeholders. But it’s equally important to make time to rest and recharge. I’ve come to realise that if this time is not scheduled in the diary, it simply won’t happen. As a mother of four, I am getting better at this but it’s still a work in progress!
What is the one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
‘Know Thyself.’ To be truly effective, a leader must first and foremost know themselves - what makes them tick, their strengths and weaknesses, biases, purpose, values and how they come across to others. Self-awareness is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. With a high level of self-awareness a leader can adapt their approach to build stronger relationships, communicate with impact, develop personal resilience and make better decisions.
What are the biggest business challenges or/and opportunities that you have seen over your career to date? And how did you help to overcome or/and optimise these?
I have experienced many challenges throughout my career, but it is through these challenges that I have gained the biggest learnings. In essence, I have learned that the outcome is largely determined by how you choose to respond to the situation. As the saying goes, ‘We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.’ The best leaders don’t dwell on setbacks — they move on, learn from their mistakes, and put their energy in to things they can do something about.
How has your business evolved and adapted because of the COVID-19 crisis? Do you believe COVID-19 will impact your future business model?
Like many others, I moved my business to a virtual platform. Initially, I found it very challenging as I love the ‘in person’ experience but it’s funny how quickly the silver linings appear. As well as brushing up on my digital skills, I’ve cultivated new offerings and have partnered with new clients further afield.
How do you think business leaders can best prepare for the future?
Apart from the need to embrace technology and stay agile, leaders will need to step up and proactively address the ESG agenda. They will need to adopt a more transparent, collaborative and compassionate leadership style to win the trust of their stakeholders. Trust is the glue that holds everything together in leadership relationships.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring directors in Ireland?
- Build a diverse and supportive network of ‘trusted’ advisors to challenge your thinking and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Schedule time to reflect and recharge. Leadership is a marathon, not a sprint and to sustain optimal performance you cannot serve from an empty vessel
- Keep learning and stay agile. As Darwin said, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.’
(Published on 5th January 2021)