A member of IoD Ireland since 2009, Valerie Rice is Managing Director of Valerie Rice & Associates, a strategic commercial marketing & retail partner to blue chip clients. With a career in food, drinks and retail with Superquinn, Diageo and Guinness, she is passionate about brands and the positive impact they can have on driving business profitability and purpose. Valerie is a Non-Executive Director of St Luke’s Hospital Trust and the Galway International Arts Festival.
Why did you decide to join the IoD?
My career has been in the commercial, marketing and retail in the food and drinks sector. When starting my company, I wanted to connect with a diverse group of business leaders, the IoD offered me the best opportunity to do just that.
Since joining the IoD, how have you benefitted from your membership?
Networking events have enabled me to broaden my network and build new business connections. Relationships I have built have created rewarding opportunities - from lecturing with the Irish Management Institute, to securing Non- Executive roles.
What do you particularly value from your IoD membership?
Access to Thora (Mackey) and the team at The Boardroom Centre is something I really value as I implement my medium to longer term career goal to add value at Board level in the healthcare, retail and not for profit sectors.
What is the most important business lesson that you have learned in your career to date? Is there someone who has had a major impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
The late Feargal Quinn of Superquinn had a significant impact. He inspired me to work in retail, resulting in me joining the Board of Superquinn as Marketing Director in 2006. Feargal visited Wesley College, where I was a student, and spoke about the importance of looking after your customers, giving them an inspiring retail experience, had a lasting impact.
It’s central to my business ethos - value the customers an organisation has – your trade customers, consumers and colleagues. Colleagues, often overlooked, are your organisation’s team of performers on your stage, bringing your experience to life and invaluable in delivering an outstanding customer brand experience. We had an expression in Superquinn – “It’s showtime,” and I carry that with me, encouraging my clients to build great brand experiences.
Where are the biggest changes you have seen in business over your career?
Technology and how it has become an integral part of delivering better brand experiences. However, the pressure on the retail sector to re-invent itself, has been one of the biggest changes. As a retailer I believe those who embrace new technology, using it innovatively to create unique, immersive retail experiences have a real opportunity to connect with their customers. If we can help retailers to think about how they can deliver this in a transformational way, they will build lasting loyalty.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
To be visionary: what has worked before, is not guaranteed in the future. Business leaders need skills to envision how their business will re-imagine it’s future – having the vision to lead with real purpose and to navigate through challenging times as well as to build trust for your colleagues, customers and consumers
How do you think business leaders can best prepare for the future?
With the speed of change, being effective is key. Business leaders need to look outside their sector, to learn about impactful and innovative business solutions from other brands and businesses, particularly with regard to digital transformation.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring directors in Ireland?
The time you invest in building your network is invaluable and will reap benefits in creating important, lasting business relationships. Build relationships across sectors and capabilities, to build your skills, understanding and effectiveness as a business leader.