Since joining the IoD, how have you benefitted from your membership?
IoD Ireland’s dedication to developing and improving the effectiveness and performance of directors and boards throughout Ireland is very much aligned with what we do at ReputationInc. Like the IoD, our clients are made up of the most forward thinking and successful business leaders in Ireland and abroad and, for me, the quality and consistency of expert advice and insight has been immensely useful. We must take a wide view of every issue for our clients and membership of the IoD allows me to see a little bit further.
Is there someone who has had a major impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
To date, in my relatively short career, I have been very lucky to have worked with many great leaders across my client base. I’ve always tried to learn what they do best and instil it into my own work and approach to colleagues and wider industry stakeholders. Right now, the person who has had the greatest impact on me is my boss and fellow IoD member, John Keilthy. Over 15 years, he has built ReputationInc from very humble beginnings to become a genuine industry leader with a supremely enviable client list. I’m very proud to be a part of the next phase of its growth.
What are the greatest challenges you and your business have faced/are facing due to the COVID-19 crisis.
With a client portfolio spanning leading indigenous companies in Ireland and the UK, as well as some of the world’s most admired and respected international businesses and organisations, we have been involved in confronting many challenging scenarios that would have been difficult to envisage at the start of 2020. Thankfully, our expertise in communication and stakeholder management has helped to mitigate and minimise some of the negative reputational effects for our partners.
How has your business evolved and adapted as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?
At our core is a relentless commitment to outperforming our clients’ expectations. To do this we must be constantly evolving, seeing around corners and doing all that we can to ensure that we deliver on our promises to them. While some of the day-to-day ways of working may have changed, I would say that COVID-19 has, to date, not massively impacted how we meet the needs of our clients.
Has working through the impact of the current crisis on your business made you review your business model? Will it change in the future?
Since we first set up in Dublin, what has set us apart from the competition is that we're a cocktail between a management consultancy firm and a communications consultancy. We take the best elements of both worlds to ensure that our clients win trust, respect and admiration from the people that matter to them. It’s in this space that we provide value for our clients. As we have always done, we will continue to evolve our offer at the intersection of corporate and societal expectations to ensure our clients earn the reputation they deserve and reap the benefits of a good reputation.
Is there one key piece of learning/advice you would give to fellow business leaders on how to deal with the COVID-19 crisis?
Our key advice to clients is to keep the lines of communication open and remain collaborative. Businesses have the opportunity to emerge from this crisis better off if there is a clear understanding of steps and implementations across the board and that employees feel that they are involved and have a voice in process. Timelines will change, last minute decisions will cause confusion, surprises will happen, but we can emerge better.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Authenticity. In my experience of working with many leading CEOs and leaders over the years, the most successful leaders are those who understand what they are and what they are not. The leaders that can lean into their innate traits and leverage those traits for success are the ones I learn the most from. If they can be accessible, share a point of view on their organisation and its role in society, and can connect directly with stakeholders, they are destined for long term success.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring directors in Ireland?
A good reputation is the most valuable asset any one can have. It is shaped by your character and your actions, it is something no one can ever take away from you but yourself. There are three areas that can define how you are perceived by those most important to you - experience, competence and relatability. Experience means what you have done, not what you promise you are going to do. People will make judgements about you based on how competent they perceive you to be so you must outperform those expectations. Leaders that can mirror the expectations of their most important stakeholders and be relatable will benefit from a similar transfer of trust and advocacy.
(Published August 2020)