Darragh O'Loughlin

What was your first job?

Pre-registration pharmacist in the Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co Louth.

What is the best business decision you ever made?

Ten years ago I encouraged an excellent, enthusiastic young pharmacist to open his own pharmacy business, providing him with seed capital and mentorship in return for a stake in the business. Through a combination of good luck and hard work, he made a tremendous success of the pharmacy. While I may have lost a diligent employee, I earned a more-than-satisfactory profit on the venture and, more importantly, I gained a firm friend.

What is the most valuable professional lesson you have learnt so far?

Regardless of how tough things get, always look after your people. Be loyal to your staff, treat them fairly and honestly, and they will look after the organisation as though it was their own.

What, in your view, is the biggest challenge facing directors in Ireland today?

For pharmacy operators, as for directors of most businesses, one of the most difficult challenges is ensuring compliance with increasingly onerous regulation while maintaining high quality professional services in difficult economic circumstances and, in many cases, a reducing resource base.

Who do you look to for inspiration?

My primary school principal, the late Padraig Ó Súilleabháin, who taught me the importance of honesty, integrity, hard work, clear handwriting and good punctuation.