What inspired your interest in encouraging start-ups?
From my experience growing up in North Leitrim, I realised how important it was to encourage local and indigenous enterprise as a way of creating employment and incomes in the regions. As CEO of IDA Ireland, when it was responsible for promoting both Irish and foreign industry, I had the opportunity to directly influence the State’s supports for Irish enterprise. Now, as Chairman of the BOI Kernel Capital Seed Fund, I continue that interest.
What advice would you offer to someone considering starting their own business?
It's always better if the opportunity you identify comes from your own first-hand experience, for example, of working in a particular sector or a specialist area you are very familiar with. Find a co-conspirator or partner with whom you can share the turbulent experiences of a start-up. Don't be afraid to change tack if the market feedback to your initial idea is poor.
Why did you decide to become a Chartered Director?
Even though I had extensive experience as Chairman / Director, I came to the view that I should get a more structured and updated knowledge of the many aspects of a director’s role today. The Chartered Director journey was brilliant in achieving that perspective and the award of C Dir is a validation that I am qualified as a professional director.
How do you think the role of a director has changed in recent years?
There is much greater awareness today of the concept of “governance" in companies amplified by the failures and ethical scandals in companies in recent years leading to the regular questions: What was the Board doing? Were the directors asleep on the job? In addition, successive legislation has put personal liability on directors for good governance, for example, in health and safety and reckless trading.
What has been your career highlight?
The decision of the Intel Corporation during my tenure as Managing Director of IDA Ireland to establish their European manufacturing facility in Leixlip and who today employ 4,500 people directly there having invested €11 billion to date.