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Fiona Flannery CDir

Independent Non-Executive Director, Financial Services Expert

Fiona Flannery CDir

Fiona Flannery CDir

Independent Non-Executive Director, Financial Services Expert

Fiona Flannery CDir is an Independent Non-Executive Director, and Financial Services Expert.
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Fiona has a 30-year track record in international financial services. She has held a variety of c-suite roles including chief risk officer. Fiona has also been a  Chief Executive Officer of a leading German infrastructure bank, as well as CEO of an Australian owned international payment service provider. Fiona left her most recent executive role in December 2023 and is now focusing on building a portfolio of independent non-executive director roles.

Why did you initially join IoD Ireland? 

In my opinion the IoD ranks as the pre-eminent business association facilitating networking with professionally qualified directors. I also highly value the regular events and learning opportunities the IoD hosts, I am a passionate believer in life-long learning.

Did the Chartered Director Programme help you feel more equipped in your role as a Chief Executive Officer in the Financial Sector?

100%. Whilst providing Chartered Directors with up-to-date technical skills, it also provided me with a great toolkit to encourage meaningful boardroom debate and challenge. Taking fiduciary duties with the utmost care and attention was another vital takeaway for me from the programme.

You hold a number of INED roles – How does becoming a non-executive director require a shift in thinking? How do you have impact?

Having served as an executive and receiving the wonderful support and mentorship from the serving independent non-executive directors, I consider myself fortunate enough to have learned from the best. Navigating the transition is a balance, whilst supporting the executive, you also have to have the confidence and maturity to be able to question and challenge their work. 

Securing your first INED appointment can be challenging and can take time. What advice would you give to others that may help them in their preparation?

Decide on the type of portfolio you wish to build and base this on your strengths and experience. Your value is measured by the strength of your network and never underestimate the value of that cup of coffee or conversation to gain an insight into what is going on in the market. I am a big believer in serendipity plus getting out and physically meeting people.

Joining a board is a serious undertaking and has considerable responsibilities for the director, what do you think are the key considerations when embarking on a non-executive director journey?

I would cite a number of critical factors: the strength/experience of the executive team, the strategy of the company, its financial health but of key importance to me is its culture. I would encourage that you seek out an environment that actively displays all facets of diversity and has an embedded ESG roadmap.

What advice would you have for how to best present yourself and your experience as you look for new director and non-executive director opportunities? 

All careers have a rich history, the how’s and why’s certain paths were taken and where they led is always a much more compelling story than listing off your achievements. A relatable person is as important as a technical skillset when choosing a director as close cooperation is required during times of crisis, which will invariably arise.

What are the key characteristics that you believe every leader should have?

Compassion, empathy, respect, integrity, self-awareness, well informed and ability to maintain a sense of calm.

How do you think business leaders can best prepare for the future? 

“ABL” – Always be Learning! Be reflective and know your limitations. Hone your listening skills. Scan the environment for threats and opportunities. Challenge from a position of knowledge. Share information both positive and negative in a timely manner.

What, in your opinion, makes a great leader? 

A good communicator who has the ability to listen and is authentic. Someone who can show humility can build trust and is fair and transparent and walks the talk on diversity.