Year joined IoD: 1999
Why did you decide to join the IoD?
For the network and formal learning opportunities
Since joining the IoD, how have you benefitted from your membership?
The one-day specialist courses have been very relevant and timely e.g. public sector board director training. I’m currently pursuing the Chartered Director programme which is terrific. I’ve benefited from The Boardroom Centre and have used the excellent Board Evaluation service.I’ve formed some really good business relationships through IoD.
What do you particularly value from your IoD membership?
The quality and structure of the director training is second to none.It’s up to date, relevant, focused and delivered by expert lecturers who really support students to succeed.The one-day bite-sized learning is also good and can be accommodated within a busy schedule.
What is the most important business lesson that you have learned in your career to date?
My grandmother used to tell us, “there’s no such word as ‘can’t”.
My lesson would be to say ‘yes’ more often. We often hold back but if we take that leap and give it a go I find that, more often than not, we can do more – and better - than we thought we could.
Is there someone who has had a major impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I’ve been fortunate in my business partner, my clients and others who gave me opportunities and supported me to take on things very early in my career. Being really stretched when I was young (setting up a business; taking on a bank chairmanship etc) gave me invaluable learning that has served me well ever since.
Where are the biggest changes you’ve seen in business over your career?
Leadership styles have changed as Ireland has become a knowledge economy. Far less command and control and way more servant leadership, which is much more difficult, of course.
Organisation culture has changed for lots of reasons – leadership styles, working parents, technology, societal values, scarce talent. It’s more informal, collegiate and collaborative now, thankfully.
Board governance has come under greater scrutiny – boards are better as a result.
Technology has transformed our world entirely.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
There isn’t a single magic bullet! Good leaders are emotionally intelligent, clear sighted and resilient. Understanding the impact of their behaviour on others and creating a mood where people want to engage, collaborate and deliver in the interests of all stakeholders – that’s the leader’s work.
How do you think business leaders can best prepare for the future?
Be curious and commit to ongoing learning and personal development. Listen to others and engage with the zeitgeist. Read as much as you can. Immerse yourself in new experiences. Invite challenge and stay open. Do some reverse mentoring with different or younger people.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring directors in Ireland?
Take the time to learn about what it means to be a director and what is involved before making a commitment. Once you’ve decided and joined a board, give it your all. Join the IoD and do some courses!