Could you tell us about your career background and your current roles?
I can divide my career into two main phases: I worked for 33 years in retail banking, including 12 years as CEO of TSB Bank and PTSB. I decided to retire in 2002 (long before the crisis, I'm glad to say!) and then entered the second phase - namely life as a non-executive director inside and outside banking. I'm a non-executive director of Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank and I chair three other companies - Independent Trustee Company, H & A Marketing and PR, and the Johnson & Perrott Motor Group.
What is the most valuable professional lesson you have learnt so far?
It's almost a cliché but, without any doubt, it's to have the best people around you, then motivate them to get on with it and let them at it. Bill Gates said that Microsoft's core skill is not designing software and systems - it's hiring great people!
Has networking played an important part in your career?
Networking - in other words relationship building and management - is an absolutely vital aspect of life in general and of business in particular. You can learn so much by interacting with as wide and as varied a circle of people as possible.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I'm sure my colleagues, both from my former life as an executive and now on the various boards on which I serve, would say that my style is very collegiate but at the same time very demanding and challenging. I would hope that they would also say that I'm supportive and understanding of the issues and difficulties they face.
What, in your view, is the biggest challenge facing directors in Ireland today?
Particularly in regulated entities, the single biggest challenge is to be able to devote enough time to plan and prepare for the future of the business. And you're trying to do this in a very competitive, dynamic economic environment, while at the same time addressing the myriad of burdens and obligations posed by ever-increasing regulatory requirements.
What do you think are your main attributes / skills that have helped you to get to where you are?
Each individual has his/her own attributes and skills. In my experience, the people who get on best - in all spheres of life - are hard-working and diligent and they have high standards of integrity. A non-executive director who meets these criteria, and who has a strong curiosity gene, will go a long way.