Caroline Collins, Nanosonics, HRL for September

Executive Search Firm, Principal Connections announce Caroline Collins as HR Leader of the Month for September 2021

Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Caroline Collins the person?

The Career
When I was a kid, the plan was to be a lawyer – maybe a forewarning about my interest in employment law, that or too much time spent with my grandad watching Perry Mason re-runs! In the end, I pursued a BSc in Psychology and a Doctorate in culture change – always with a focus on how to leverage these in business. My interest and passion has always been on how best to enable people fulfil the potential of their talent in support of strategic and commercial success.

When I started almost 20 years ago, “culture” wasn’t something top of mind in the HR world, neither was people experience or organisational design. I was hard to “place” in the profession at the start but I was lucky enough to work with some great multinational and blue-chip companies across the pharmaceutical, tech, medical devices, start-up and financial services sectors both in house and in consultancy roles. I was supported to bring the cultural perspective and “people strategy” to the table and over time, as HR 3.0 has evolved, it’s come into its own. What’s striking is that across these very different companies, the very best of the best have a strategic and commercially focused approach to HR - it’s right there as a partner at the table as strategy is developed and implemented.

The Person
I’ve lived and worked in a lot of different places, at one point making seven moves in five years – I was an absolute expert at packing and logistics! I now live by the sea in Glenageary and make the most of it – I’m one of the people who gets in through the winter and did the “Dry Robe thing” before it was a fashion statement! I’m passionate about what I do and, having felt the personal benefit of mentoring and coaching throughout my career, I’m dedicated to developing women in leadership and ensuing we retain key talent in the workforce.

I also volunteer with STEM with start-up businesses – particularly those with a focus on Gen Z as they look forward and plan their careers. Bringing expertise to bear in this way is something I’d like to do more of in a mentoring capacity or at Board level. In my downtime, I love Scandiwegian/noir writing and I'm a total coffee addict so post-pandemic I’m looking forward to being able to hang out with a good book and strong coffee in a nice café again!

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

Nanosonics works at the cutting edge of infection prevention. On any given day, globally, some 90,000 patients are safer and have an improved outcome because of the high-level decontamination process our device and approach provides. We are headquartered in Sydney, Australia and operate across N America, APAC and EMEA. Our mission is informed by the fact that preventable infections are exactly that - preventable.

Despite that, the healthcare system is often forced to spend time and resources dealing with outbreaks of preventable infections which diminish a patient's quality of care and undermine a healthcare professional's capacity to provide the highest possible standard of care. For this reason, Nanosonics constantly pursues breakthrough innovations with the potential to transform infection prevention. Our vision is to provide fail-safe infection prevention solutions that protect not only an institution's quality of care, but more importantly the lives of those they treat. We pioneer ground-breaking technologies to prevent life-altering infections and set new standards that redefine best practice.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

Pre-pandemic strategic HR was already facing the challenge of moving into the HR 3.0 space where we could really focus on delivering agile consultancy to business, innovate and problem-solve as a key part of an organisation and be the “home” of meaningful data insights that inform people strategy. Culture always had a place in that but even more so post-pandemic. For me, culture will be make or break post-Covid, and a design-thinking approach to how we bring organisational cultures to life in an impactful way is vital.

I feel that we’ve heard so much about the “future of work” over the last number of years but in so many ways it’s been theoretical. Now, as we look towards planning future hybrid working models; face increasing challenges around attracting and retaining the very best talent; and ensuring we really deliver diverse workplaces (along with the considerable commercial benefits that brings) we have a massive opportunity to radically transform the world of work. My concern – and the biggest challenge – is that so much of the focus and narrative has already shifted back to the “old. normal” and getting people back into offices that we risk losing the significant potential benefits Covid taught us about what work and productivity mean in 2021.

I’m lucky in that I lead EMEA HR for a progressive organisation and have accountability for how we develop our culture. But more widely, I think the challenge is how we make sure HR continues to build future-fit leadership capabilities that serve in this new world of work. Emotional intelligence, flexibility in approach, real authenticity and a passion for employee experience is something we must continue to cultivate across all levels of the organisations we work in.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

Adaptability will be our greatest advance. Ensuring that we, as a profession, continue to evolve to add value and be present in strategic planning and commercial delivery is a huge area of opportunity. Our ability to reimagine every aspect of work, build in resilience and adaptable problem-solving, and act as a commercially savvy advisor to business is where we can really deliver. The role I have now – with a focus on People & Culture, rather than “HR” – didn’t exist three or five years ago. That cycle is increasing pace. The roles we will all have in another three years will look radically different again, and I believe and that’s no bad thing.

Millennials are now in middle management, the promise of AI and automation are beginning to be realised, and the need to work locally but within increasingly global / networked structures all mean we need to continue to evolve strategically and in our thinking and mindsets. We need to be as adaptable as the organisations we work for and sometimes, need to be the drives of that growth and change. I think this is a very exciting time to work in HR. Can you tell I love what I do?

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

“Get as much learning as you can and don’t stop” said my grandad, who was a very wise man! I don’t believe any of us are ever “fully baked” as professionals. That sense of being constantly curious, of wanting to critically evaluate and be creative is – to me – the modern-day professional equivalent of a pension. Learning whether through education or experience (and ideally both) is “money in the bank” in terms of personal fulfilment and employability.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

I try to regularly ask myself the questions ‘if I left my job tomorrow, what have I left behind me?’. What programs, initiatives and progressive achievements remain after I have left? What artefacts or evidence exists that I ever worked here?’. Regularly asking myself those questions ensures I never get too comfortable.

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I’m incredibly competitive and ambitious – I take it personally that a business I work with succeeds. I show up every day and want to be part of the commercial side with the leadership team and see the enablement of the business towards those achievements as a key responsibility. I’m very lucky with my current senior leadership team – we have open debate; we challenge each other and have a real focus on how to solve problems and improve the quality of patient care. That’s very special to be part of so it’s a great team in a business that does good. That gets me over any hump that three timezones and pandemic working might bring!

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

I’m inspired by the trailblazers, women who have gone before me and as senior leaders created a path towards seniority for women and ensured we got to that “seat at the table” and could realise our potential. Brid Horan, Michelle Cullen, Dearbhail McDonald, Anne Heraty, Margot Slattery, Anita Sands and so many more have not only inspired me, but many have gone on to become good friends and sounding-boards. It’s only by seeing role models in action that possibilities become tangible go-afters.  

Q. THE PANDEMIC Describe how you have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic personally and professionally?

The pandemic and lockdown in particular was a strange time – for everyone indeed. The year prior to Covid saw me lose my partner in a very sudden accident so in a short space of time life went from being my version of “normal” to an entirely different reality. His death brought a very new kind of perspective on life, work and the importance of ensuring that what you give time and energy to really is the important stuff, has meaning and makes a positive impact. That’s the perspective I brought with me into lockdown and which served me well.

Working through the various lockdowns brought its own challenges and opportunities and on reflection, I’d say more good than bad will come from it. What stands out from the first lockdown was the massively positive energy in making sure everyone got up and running and was enabled from home. Whether it was giving flat-pack advice or being the informal “IT hotline” here was a real team spirit which was great to be part of – I couldn’t have been prouder of my team.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

I read a lot around the latest research and best practice, but I also love networking. I don’t mean the old-school (often awkward) exchange of business cards but having quality conversations with peers and experts. Getting to know people, understanding what makes them tick and hearing about different ways of doing things – there’s unique value in that learning.

I'm part of some online networking groups and find LinkedIn a really useful platform, CIPD continues to be a good resource especially looking at EMEA-wide working, and I’m looking forward to getting back to some in-person events as soon as that’s possible again.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

Anything West of the Shannon improves life exponentially so I’m the one you’ll see making a break for Galway or Mayo to get back to those roots and get some time with big skies, the Atlantic and some mountains to hike which allows me to re-group and refresh!

CLOSING COMMENT:

Congratulations to Caroline Collins on being named Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month' for September 2021.

ABOUT NANOSONICS

Nanosonics is an Australian infection prevention company that has successfully developed and commercialised a unique automated disinfection technology, trophon®, representing the first major innovation in high level disinfection for ultrasound probes in more than 20 years. trophon is fast becoming the global standard of care for ultrasound probe disinfection.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections is a Dublin based executive search firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group. We offer five interrelated senior recruitment and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with all our latest ne

Kevin Foley, CNP Santander, HRL for August

Executive Search Agency, Principal Connections announce Kevin Foley as HR Leader of the Month for August 2021

Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Kevin Foley the person?

Having completed my Bachelor of Commerce at UCC, I followed that up with a Masters in HRM from UL. My first HR role was in a multilingual call centre. This was a very much ‘in the trenches’ HR operational role. In hindsight, this generalist role proved the ideal launching pad for my HR career. In the summer of 2008, I took the very unwise decision to leave a permanent role (timing was never my forte!) and thus embarked on a series of contract positions. This exposed me to a number of diverse industries and allowed me to experience many different facets of HR as well as leading transformational HR projects. Following a 6-year stint in Kerry with an amazing Irish company, Fexco, and completing another Masters, in Executive Coaching, I arrived in my current role. I'm very fortunate to sit on the ExCo of CNP Santander and the unflagging support from my CEO has allowed me to shape the HR strategy for CNP Santander. It's a role that is demanding, challenging, rewarding and ultimately very enjoyable.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

CNP Santander Insurance is an international insurance company that designs and manages insurance products for customers in 11 European countries. Our majority shareholder, CNP Assurances S.A, is France's leading provider of life insurance and term creditor insurance, as well as the fourth-largest insurance company in Brazil. Banco Santander S.A., meanwhile, is one of the world's top 10 banking groups. Since our establishment in 2011, CNP Santander Insurance has gone from strength-to-strength with top-quality products made exclusively for European customers of Santander Consumer Bank and Finance. Drawing upon a powerful combination of distribution and insurance expertise, we create and manage a wide variety of insurance products such as Payment Protection Insurance and Guaranteed Asset Protection. We employ over 110 highly skilled people in our Dublin city-centre offices.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

The pandemic has irrevocably changed the world of work. It is clear that some form of hybrid working model will be a consistent feature in the foreseeable landscape of many organisations. There are many advantages to a hybrid approach. However, I believe that it is incumbent on HR Leaders to be cognisant and sensitive to the negative unintended consequences of hybrid working. For example, there is more and more research being published highlighting that the inequalities faced by women in the workplace have increased. The strides made by many organisations regarding Diversity and Inclusion must not be eroded as a result of hybrid working.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

Within HR circles, in recent years there has been an explosion of interest in and debate around the confluence of HR and technology. It would be foolish not to recognise the positive advances that technology has had on the HR profession. However, I'm a firm believer that in a post-pandemic world HR needs to ‘get back to basics’. What do I mean? Providing the best employee experience is single-handedly the most important topic facing HR Leaders. Technology can enhance employee experience but cannot replace it. A simple example – for me, it is inarguable that video interviewing is inferior to an in-person interview located in the office of an individuals’ potential new workplace. As Mickey Harte said, ‘you cannot email a handshake’.

I'm a strong advocate of coaching. There has been an upsurge in the published research into the benefits that coaching brings. Some years ago, Google’s People Innovation Lab started Project Oxygen. Their initial hypothesis was that manager quality does not have an impact on performance. To prove this point they hired a group of statisticians to evaluate the differences between the highest and lowest rated managers in Google. They examined data using past performance appraisals, employee surveys, interviews and other sources of employee feedback. In fact, they proved that good management does actually make a difference! Moreover, Google identified the 10 behaviours of their best managers. Top of the list? The best managers are good coaches! Creating, instilling and, crucially, maintaining a coaching culture should be on the agenda of every HR Leader.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

The one piece of career advice I come back to again and again is ‘focus on the facts’. In the role of a senior HR professional, we are exposed to a lot of ‘noise’. ‘Noise’ can come in the shape of agenda's, politicking, emotion, and bias. When it comes to decision-making eliminating the ‘noise’ is always a good first step. As the saying goes, ‘you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts’.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

I try to regularly ask myself the questions ‘if I left my job tomorrow, what have I left behind me?’. What programs, initiatives and progressive achievements remain after I have left? What artefacts or evidence exists that I ever worked here?’. Regularly asking myself those questions ensures I never get too comfortable.

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

At the risk of sounding grandiose, I'm reluctant to pinpoint one particular achievement! I've been very fortunate to have worked in a variety of very successful companies which have allowed me to pursue my career ambitions. I suppose my career arc and the wide variety of HR activities I've been exposed to permit me a certain pride.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

I'm very interested in the field of behavioural economics and its application to HR. As such, writers such as Daniel Kahneman and Cass Sunstein have helped shaped my thinking. Moreover, Martin Seligman’s work in positive psychology is always insightful. From a leadership perspective, I admire Siobhan Talbot’s stewardship of Glanbia.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

Staying up to date for HR professionals at all levels has never been more important. I'm a member of Ibec’s FSI HR forum. Their regular surveys provide an invaluable insight into the myriad of topics across the HR spectrum. I'm also a member of Insurance Ireland’s Inclusion Taskforce. I subscribe to the Harvard Business Review. I'm also a regular listener to the ‘IMI Talking Leadership’ podcast.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

I'm a passionate Cork hurling supporter. However, in recent years my season ticket has brought me more heartache than joy! I'm an avid reader. I always have at least two books on the go at any one time. I also enjoy online share trading and maintain a keen eye on the markets.

CLOSING COMMENT:

Congratulations to Kevin Foley on being named Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month' for August 2021.

ABOUT CNP SANTANDER

CNP Santander Insurance is an international insurance company that designs and manages insurance products for customers in 11 European countries.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections is a Dublin based executive search firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group. We offer five interrelated senior recruitment and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with all our latest news.

Jim O'Brien, Aramark, HR Leader for July

Irish Executive Search Firm, Principal Connections announce Jim O'Brien as HR Leader of the Month for July 2021

Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Jim O'Brien the person?

The Person
I’m married to Dee for 17 years and we have 3 kids - Ben, Rachel and Sarah (who sadly for her lacks a US passport as she was the one born back in Ireland). My 12 year old daughter Rachel was born with significant intellectual and physical disabilities so creating a society where we enable people with special needs to achieve their fullest potential is profoundly important to me. Boardmatch connected me to the Muiriosa Foundation and I have been on the board there since January 2015. As much as we all believe our organisations do important things, the work that the team at Muiriosa do transforms people’s quality of life and nothing is more important than that.

The Career
I moved into HR running UK graduate recruitment scarily 24 years ago this month! I was lucky enough to work in a company which backed its young talent to move in to new areas without prior experience so then I did a mixture of Reward and HR Generalist. I got involved in our global merger HR project team and ran a mega busy Global Mobility programme after the merger which was a terrific experience in your 20’s.

I then spent 11 years with Diageo initially in Dublin in Reward and then Head of HR for a division, moved to California as VP HR for Wine (where we acquired two dual citizenship kids!) and finally took on a global Reward Director role.

I decided to move industry in 2012 and joined Bank of Ireland as HR Director for the Corporate & Treasury division and central functions. It was a fascinating time to work in banking and with cross sectoral moves you learn a lot.

I recently did 2 years with DAA addressing the challenges of rapid growth at Dublin Airport. Hopefully, we will see that again in the not too distant future. Dublin Airport is vital to this country’s economy and aviation has been decimated by Covid.

I then joined Aramark in June 2019 and this role in many ways is the culmination of all that mix of Centre of Expertise and HR Generalist experience at home and abroad as I have HR Shared Services, Centres of Expertise and HR Business Partner teams as part of my remit across the region. I would strongly recommend any aspiring CHRO to experience a mix of HR Generalist and CoE roles across their career as it gives you breadth and a wider range of perspectives.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

Aramark Northern Europe has over 15,000 employees across the UK, Ireland and EMEA. Our breadth extends across food services, facilities management, retail and property management. We service clients in Healthcare, Government, Education, Offshore Oil and Gas, all sectors of Business and Industry and large Sports and Leisure venues. We also own the iconic Avoca business in Ireland. We are part of a truly global leader with over 250,000 employees worldwide.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

(1) We will see a significant change in most business models post pandemic so rethinking the workforce required to meet those challenges as they evolve.

(2) Aligning business needs and the needs of employees to attract and retain talent including addressing systemic talent deficits across several key sectors as employees have exited those sectors badly impacted.

(3) Re-establishing a more vibrant post pandemic culture which motivates employees. Work has become more transactional for many and we need to reinvigorate the quality of work experiences and reestablish the joy of in person connections for many of us.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

I’m hopeful that the advance in technology will finally reduce the volume of diverse administration the HR function spends too much time managing in a piecemeal manner. More fundamentally, it will accelerate the move to a more analytics led and thus insight led function. That will be transformative for HR, and one of the interesting challenges will be having sufficient HR talent leveraging the analysis, as HR does not attract enough people with such skillsets. We will need to reach out to other functions and attract talent in.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

“You’re never fully ready for the next opportunity but take the opportunity. You will learn how to learn fast, fail fast at times and recover.”

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

There is such a wide variety of key challenges and I work with some great people including a terrific HR team.

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I’m going to pick a job rather than a specific project. When I moved to California, it was a big cultural change and the business was acquiring smaller companies and trying to create a winning culture for the division. 3 years later, we had successfully integrated two companies and created a distinctive culture which was enabling our success. As a Leadership Team, the employee survey feedback had gone from neutral to overwhelmingly positive and there was an energy and cut-through pace to make things happen. That was a great journey to be part of and I love being part of a winning team.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

The public figure who has been a huge inspiration to me in the last few years is Jacinda Ardern and not just because of Covid. Her handling of the Christchurch mosque shootings and taking tough action that works rather than meaningless warm words was an early indicator that she is a leader who can make difficult things happen. She influences through strength of conviction and resilience rather than being aggressive and that leadership impact is inspiring to me.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

I’m part of a couple of good external bodies that help me stay current and look ahead. I also take part in webinars and read articles. There is a wealth of great information out there so it’s partly being clear on what topics you are most interested in.

Q. THE PANDEMIC Describe how you have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic personally and professionally?

Personally, what has served us well is to practice the sensible public health safety precautions to protect the two medically vulnerable people in my house and not to become obsessed with the latest data and theories, a lot of which have proved wrong anyway.

Professionally, being on top of the latest safety regulations and support programmes (both of which are very impactful in our business), maintaining good communications, supporting employee wellbeing and responding to change in as agile a manner as possible.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

I’m a big rugby fan so not being able to attend Leinster and Ireland games for the last 17 months has been painful. Hopefully, September will see a return to the RDS and then onto the Aviva for (hopefully) the All Blacks in November.

CLOSING COMMENT:

Congratulations to Jim O'Brien on being named Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month' for July 2021.

ABOUT ARAMARK NORTHERN EUROPE

Aramark Northern Europe has over 15,000 employees across the UK, Ireland and EMEA. Our breadth extends across food services, facilities management, retail and property management. We service clients in Healthcare, Government, Education, Offshore Oil and Gas, all sectors of Business and Industry and large Sports and Leisure venues. We also own the iconic Avoca business in Ireland. We are part of a truly global leader with over 250,000 employees worldwide.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections is a Dublin based executive search firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group. We offer five interrelated senior recruitment and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with all our latest news.

Michelle Bonner, B. Braun Ireland, HR Leader for June

Dublin Executive Search Firm, Principal Connections announce Michelle Bonner as HR Leader of the Month for June 2021

Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Michelle Bonner the person?

The Person
Born in Country Clare and raised on a farm, I've also lived and worked in Australia and currently live in Enfield, County Meath with my husband and two boys Jamie (4) and Ollie (2).

Life is very busy, but I enjoy being busy, it's when I'm at my best. I've a keen interest in the gym and keeping fit, but this has been one of my biggest challenges in the past year. I've always lived the with the ethic if you work hard you'll get to where you want to be, but always make time for yourself. I enjoy travel, and seeing new places with family, making memories with friends and a good night out never hurt anyone.

The Career
Over the past 15 years I was awarded opportunities in both professional and developmental, in numerous sectors to include retail, pharmaceutical distribution and currently within the Med Tech and Pharmaceutical at B Braun Ireland.

My career started in HR and developed in a more hands on operations role at Lidl. Naturally, I found my way back to HR and spent 11 plus years in Uniphar. It was at Uniphar, I progressed from HR Generalist to HR Director.
This experience gave me new insights as part of a global organisation through leading the HR function in Ireland and UK. In this busy role, I was responsible for transformational change, learning and development, operational HR along with strategic people projects.

Now Country Head of HR for industry leaders B. Braun Ireland, I'm required to be more agile than ever before. The past year especially - like most HR functions we needed to demonstrate agility and pause our HR plans as we supported our companies to adapt to the global pandemic.

My time in HR has brought many fantastic opportunities and learning experiences, taking on new challenges including downsizing projects, establishing HR functions for new business, working as part of a global team. All while studying part-time to attain my Masters in HR Strategies.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

B. Braun is a world leading, family run, progressive Medical Device and Pharma Company. Originally set up in Germany. One of the main draws to working with B. Braun is the shared global passion for people and customers. It's much more than ‘JUST’ a job. We protect and improve the health of people around the world. Our patient stories always inspire us to do more, be creative and innovative in providing even better care to encourage them to get the best treatment / life balance.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

The role of HR has evolved in the past couple of years and especially in the last 18 months. The transition from the perception that HR is an administration function to a value-add business partner has been the biggest challenge.

I think the past 18 months has allowed HR functions to bring value around adapting to the Covid crisis and supporting senior leaders and their teams through the change. HR has had to think about the practicality of everyone working from home to include Health & Safety and wellbeing and ensuring all of these were catered for. HR should be an integral part in all business decisions and should have a seat at the top table to ensure involvement in business decisions, the impact to people and culture and be part of the decision-making process. I'm pleased to say I work for a progressive company and people are seen as the best asset; thus, HR is seen as an integral part of the organisation.

In the past year we've had to shift to remote working, the challenge for HR leaders now is to ensure employees feel part of a team and connected to the organisation. I feel HR should have a strong link with the communications department, the implementation of open and honest company communications is key and involving employees as an inclusive trust-based company is the outcome we all want. Adapting to new ways of learning and development is another challenge with the move from what was once classroom based to now virtual and ensuing our managers are equipped to manage the team remotely and ensuing the sense of belonging and afforded opportunities for development.

Within my current organisation because we have dialysis nurses, production operators, technicians, sales staff and office staff, a key challenge is ensuing all staff are effectively communicated and engaged with the changes within the organisation. Balancing the fact that some roles can work from home and others cannot. We talked to the team, we listened to the team and ensured we adapted policies for all roles. This was a key challenge. We have employees who have been patient facing in clinics and hospitals and kept production going – we've had to ensure the Health & Safety and wellbeing of our team were of upmost importance and all relevant risk assessment and safety protocols were in place and all support structures were evident if there was a Covid positive case. I could not be prouder of our team.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

The connection between technology people and the workplace. We now rely on technology to get our work done. It is now about finding the balance to ensure we don't lose the human interaction face to face. The use of technology for data analysis and freeing up HR teams to be more of a value-add strategic HR business model and afford teams, the time to immerse themselves in the business.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Do not be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself. The fear factor can sometimes get the best out of you and give you a newfound confidence. Do not over think things, just get on with it. For example in 2013, I was getting married, started my masters and there was a massive site closure in work all happening around the time of my wedding. I just got on with it at the time but if I over thought it, I may never have taken on the masters, and that is something I would have regretted.
Another one is finding a coach or a leader that inspires you and will provide you with different perspectives and challenge you. Personal Growth is important. As Nike says, Just Do It.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

I'm a very positive person and the more I've to do in a day the more productive I am. I get my energy from my role as I love what I do and from the support network / people around me. I like structure, clear paths - so getting up early gets me ahead for the day. It could be going for a walk, catching up on work or just having a cup of tea this sets me up for the day. The pace at which the working world is changing and how quick organisations must adapt ensures I keep on top of new ideas. I involve my team where I can, allowing them to see what is happening and gaining input. I hired them for a reason and as much as I inspire them, they inspire me.

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I've been with B. Braun for just over 2 years now, and in those 2 years, I've established a one country - one team for HR. Prior to this there were 2 HR teams working in silos and there was no consistency around the operational HR elements.

We now work as one team, with aligned policies and procedures across all 6 sites in Ireland. A body of work that has been embraced by all sites. I've been involved in the GPTW and with all the changes led by HR B. Braun is recognised in the top 20 Great Place to Work in Ireland.

In 2020, we commenced our wellbeing strategy and adapted to Covid and this was shortlisted in the top 6 at the CIPD awards. So, in summary my proudest achievement is the evolution of the HR function at B Braun over a short period of time and the impact to the business. I enjoy working with such a positive, productive and inspiring team.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

In HR, you see many people come and go for a variety of reasons, it is the nature of the job. I feel I find inspiration frequently, be it someone who is a high performer, who inspires me to be more creative, or someone who puts themselves forward for a new challenge. Covid revealed many inspirational people within my current role.

In saying that, I'm equally impressed by people who feel comfortable enough to come forward and let me know they feel they are not progressing as they would like, or that for personal reasons they need to rethink their hours or take some time off. HR care about people, it is why we do what we do.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

I ensure I use my extended network of HR professionals to source ideas and gain perspectives.

I also like to read articles that are relevant to current HR challenges specific to my current organisation. I'd frequently attend seminars and utilise resources such as CIPD, IBEC, GPTW and our global business knowledge centre. One of our core competencies is sharing expertise so I'm never afraid to look for recent guidance.

Listening to the team and employees is also a key factor in staying current, what works for one company may not work for others. By listening we can work out what is right for our team.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

With 2 young kids and family in Donegal and Clare my relaxation time daily is a walk or a gym session. At weekends, it's all about getting out and about with the kids or getting a break to see family. I've a good circle of friends so a night out with them is always a good tonic too. Its amazing what a night of laughing with your friends can do for you.

CLOSING COMMENT:

Congratulations to Michelle Bonner on being named Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month' for June 2021.

ABOUT B. BRAUN MEDICAL

B. Braun Medical Inc., a leader in infusion therapy and pain management, develops, manufactures, and markets innovative medical products and services to the healthcare industry. Other key product areas include: nutrition, pharmacy admixture and dialysis. The company is committed to eliminating preventable treatment errors and enhancing patient, clinician and environmental safety. B. Braun Medical is headquartered in Bethlehem, PA and is part of the B. Braun Group of Companies in the U.S., which includes B. Braun Interventional Systems, Aesculap® and CAPS®.

Globally, the B. Braun Group of Companies employs more than 64,000 employees in 64 countries. Guided by its Sharing Expertise® philosophy, B. Braun continuously exchanges knowledge with customers, partners and clinicians to address the critical issues of improving care and lowering costs.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections is Ireland’s top international executive search firm global reach. We offer five interrelated talent acquisition and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with all our latest news.

Top Global Executive Search Firms for 2021

17th May 2021 - Dublin, Ireland - Market research firm and single source information provider to the human capital sector, Hunt Scanlon, has once again named Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group, of which Principal Connections is the Irish Office, as part of its 2021 Top 40 Global Executive Search Firms.

Hunt Scanlon reviewed an exhaustive list of global recruiting providers and culled it down to the 2021 top 40 global executive search firms that now dominate the executive recruitment business worldwide. Analysts looked at each executive search firm in great detail and formulated a list that they believe captures the best global executive search firms who can satisfy the most sensitive recruitment needs.

ABOUT AGILIUM WORLDWIDE LLC

Agilium Worldwide is a global group of independent retained executive search firms with locations worldwide, serving the Americas, Asia Pacific, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Agilium Worldwide ranks among the top 40 global executive search organisations in the worldwide.

Tadhg O’Halloran, Lakeland Dairies, HR Leader for May

Executive Search Firm, Principal Connections announce Tadhg O’Halloran as HR Leader of the Month for May 2021


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Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Tadhg O’Halloran the person?

The Person
I'm a native of Cork and proud as hell to be.

In essence I'm a very simple person with two passions in life: my family and my work. My wife and I downsized and moved to live near the sea a couple of years ago – this was one of the best decisions we have ever made as we can now walk the beach every day.

I love to BBQ and entertain though that has not been possible during the pandemic – and my wife is still wondering when I'll learn to BBQ for just two.

The Career
I would describe my career journey to where I am today as a rather unique one. I was very lucky to spend the formative and development years of my early career in Aer Lingus having joined the airline in 1979 in a front-line customer service role. I became involved as an employee / trade union representative and was enticed across to the management side of the relationship shortly afterwards.

These were rather challenging years with a lot of trade union unrest especially in the aviation sector, so my focus was very much around employee / industrial relations. I progressed rather quickly to the position of Staff Relations Manager and was mentored by an inspiring individual in the person John Behan who is well known as a true HR professional and a great ‘change agent’.

I was fortunate to find myself, thanks to John, on a rotational management development programme which provided me with operational and P&L responsibility for several different functional areas including operations and commercial departments.

These broad experiences allowed me to develop as a much more rounded HR Leader. My career and development journey continued after I left Aer Lingus in 2002 since which time, I have enjoyed several key roles including:

All of which have brought me to my current role as Group Head of HR & SLT Member at Lakeland Dairies which is the second largest dairy processor on the Island of Ireland.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

Lakeland Dairies is a farmer owned co-operative and the second largest dairy processor on the Island of Ireland. With its origins in Killeshandra Co. Cavan the Co-op celebrates the 125th Anniversary of its foundation this year. We now process almost 2 billion litres of milk and have revenues of €1.09b. We export 95% of our dairy produce to over 80 countries across every continent of the World.

We operate across 9 manufacturing centres north and south; our head office is based in Cavan. We employ 1,200 people and utilise the most advanced technology and systems in the processing and manufacturing of an extensive range of the highest quality dairy products.

The Co-operative ethos of ‘Stronger together’ embodies the culture of Lakeland and enables a real can-do attitude among our people which is special and unique and has stood up to many challenges over the years and none more so than the current Covid-19 Pandemic during which, as an essential food business, we continued to safely operate all our facilities in full.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

If I were answering this question in 2019, I'd probably have said the battle for ‘talent’ was top of the list. Today and in the context of the very different world we now live in I think the most important challenges HR Leaders face are about how we need to ensure that we have the appropriate systems and programmes in place to support and keep our people safe during such unprecedented times. Awareness of mental health and wellbeing and the provision of specific supports to employees and their families are more relevant now than ever before. Fit for purpose Employee Assistance Programmes are vital.

After that, the usual challenges will continue to apply, battle for talent – attract and retain.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

I think more organisations are becoming aware of the importance of performance coaching as a key business enabler. The top performing businesses have been on this page for many years and so it may not be seen by everyone as a big advance. However, as it starts to become the ‘norm’ and more businesses invest in performance coaching using trained and qualified Business Performance Psychologists to enable improved and sustained Leader and Business performance and results, I think this will be seen as a major advance in HR.

Enterprise Ireland and organisations like The Learning Partnership are real advocates in this space through the EI sponsored Leadership for Growth Programme.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

My Mentor from my time in Aer Lingus, John Behan, advised me to never allow myself to be ‘pigeonholed into one specific area but to develop a broad business acumen and then return to HR as a real value add generalist’. That stayed with me and framed my approach and career ever since.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

From a career perspective I'm more fully focused on making a real contribution to leaving things better than they were when I arrived. From a personal perspective I became a Grandad for the first-time last year and my second grandchild will join us in July – what more motivation does one need?

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I'm fortunate enough to have had a very productive and satisfying career and it is difficult to pick just one thing – but I think if I reflect back, it is probably the part that I played in developing and implementing the plan that became known as ‘The e6 Shannon Sustainability Plan’ which prevented the closure and ensured the continuation and ultimate growth in the Element Six – DeBeers operations in Ireland.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

I'm inspired everyday by the people around me. It would be wrong to single out any one individual and I'm constantly inspired by the ethos of the Co-operative movement – ‘Together we are Stronger’, as this inspires and influences a real collaborative way of working.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

I network with a very talented cohort of HR Leaders across industry and academia as well as being an avid reader of HR and Employment Law publications.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

I read a lot and I love to walk the beach as often as I can and at least once a day. I love to entertain while cooking on my huge Webber BBQ – I just need to remember that these days its about cooking for 2 or 4 people max and not 20+!!! I cannot wait for international travel to open-up again to allow me to indulge myself again in the joy of travel.

CLOSING COMMENT:

Congratulations to Tadhg O’Halloran on being named Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month' for April 2021.

ABOUT LAKELAND DAIRIES

Lakeland Dairies is a farmer owned co-operative and the second largest dairy processor on the Island of Ireland. With its origins in Killeshandra Co. Cavan the Co-op celebrates the 125th Anniversary of its foundation this year. We now process almost 2 billion litres of milk and have revenues of €1.09b. We export 95% of our dairy produce to over 80 countries across every continent of the World.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections are Ireland’s premier retained executive search partners and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Partnership. We offer five interrelated talent acquisition and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with all our latest news.

EXECUTIVE LEADERS TALENT REPORT 2021

Leaders Talent Report 2021: A Report for Ireland's Senior Executives

As featured in the Sunday Independent 25th April 2021

At Principal Connections, we partner with many of Ireland’s most noteworthy senior executive teams and boards to appoint the best leadership talent from the local as well as the international market.

The allocation of financial capital has long been acknowledged as a vital driver of an organisation’s performance. The value of a robust and responsive talent-management program however, has less widely been appreciated. There is no doubt that, organisations with effective talent-management strategies have a better chance of outperforming competitors and, among publicly owned companies, are likelier to outdo their peers’ returns to shareholders.

A Report by International Executive Search Agency Principal Connections

For the fourth year running Principal Connections compiled a survey that focused on the core trends influencing the leadership talent agenda in Ireland and the outlook for 2021. The findings of which build on the foundations of similar studies undertaken.

In the latest research programme, 192 executives with overall responsibility for the human resources function of their respective organisations completed the survey. Due to the ongoing global public health emergency as well as Brexit and new trade deal arrangements, the survey was undertaken a few months later than usual this year.

RECEIVE YOUR COPY

If you would like to receive a complimentary copy of our Leaders Talent Report 2021, please Register an Interest

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS - THE IRISH OFFICE OF AGILIUM WORLDWIDE EXECUTIVE SEARCH GROUP

Principal Connections has the most successful team of management consultants in the executive search industry in Ireland. Over the years, our highly committed executive search team has helped some of Ireland’s biggest and best organisations find elite senior, executive, board, interim and specialist leaders to drive their agendas.

We deliver solutions to organisations varying in size, structure and maturity. We do this across each of our distinct practice areas, whether private, public or not-for-profit, and draw on the deep expertise of more than 250 Consultants in 55 Cities and 30 Countries globally as the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group.

Nicola McCarthy, INM, HR Leader for April

Executive Search Partners Principal Connections announce Nicola McCarthy as HR Leader of the Month for April 2021

Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Nicola McCarthy the person?

The Career
I fell into HR completely by accident. After finishing school, I was keen to start working, so while most of my friends were experiencing college life, I had the opportunity to travel the world while working with an aircraft and crew leaser, living in many places including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Pakistan and Greece (the list goes on!). Following my return from travelling, which lasted a couple of years, I made the decision to come home and gain experience in a different industry, and so I took up a temporary role in the HR Department (personnel department at the time) in Mercury Engineering, and I loved it! I worked late nights and long hours to get on top of personnel files, policies and procedures, and putting basic structures in place at an operation level. Within a few months the MD came to me and told me I had a flare for HR, and offered to support me through a degree programme. So four years later, working full time and attending NCI at night, I received my BA Degree in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations. Over the years I worked my way up to Group HR Manager whilst the company grew internationally.

At that point I felt Mercury Engineering was a security blanket and I needed to test myself. After a brief contract in Siemens, in which they were in the process of moving their core HR roles to the UK, I moved to Greyhound Recycling and Recovery as HR Manager and later as HR Director. This was a tough and fast paced industry. I learned a huge amount about resilience and industrial relations through a period of massive change and acquisitions. I left Greyhound when I felt from a HR perspective the challenge was no longer there. I then looked to a new opportunity and set-up my own recruitment and consultancy business, which ran for two years and would have continued to do, if I didn’t miss PEOPLE so much. That’s when I joined Independent News & Media Limited (INM).

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

With over 750 employees, INM has a number of well-known brands in the group to include The Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, The Herald, Sunday World, Belfast Telegraph along with 13 regional titles and a print plant. Additionally, INM is home to some non-publishing brands such as Cars Ireland, Cartell, Choosy and the Reach Group. With a broad spectrum of people specialisms there is a huge amount of variety to the people agenda. In 2019 we were bought by Mediahuis, a leading newspaper & magazine publishing, TV, radio and online media company founded in 2014 with assets in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and now Ireland.

With the take-over still relatively new when Covid-19 hit, it was essential for us to move quickly, to equip all our staff without substantial test runs, to a remote working environment with minimal impact to the business. While the level of difficulty of such a challenge can vary greatly across industry, in the media industry working from home was essentially a complete move away from the newsroom set-up. This challenge was truly embraced by the organisation and fully supported from the top.

I imagine similarly to most, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years for my team and given the immense transformation on how we work now, a huge focus will be on how we incorporate our new way of working for the future.

Additionally, we have a number of exciting HR projects in 2021, including a company-wide Job Levelling Programme, the roll-out of our new Employee Engagement Platform and a full calendar of events around Mental Health & Wellbeing.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

I believe creating the right employee experience life cycle for our workforce will be the most important challenge. This will not just be about engaging with our people, but creating a culture where people can effectively collaborate and innovate which will not only achieve business goals, but enable meaningful work where diversity and employee wellness are key.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

Flexible Working - I believe Covid-19 and in turn remote working has shown organisations that the traditional 9 to 5 is not the future of working.

Technology – Technology advances are impacting how we manage our workforces, hire new employees, comply with regulations, and handle HR data.

Work Life Balance – Naturally, people are more motivated and engaged when they are less stressed out about family and personal life issues, when work life balance is addressed and workforces have enabled employees to have an effective work life balance.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

In my 1st year in college a lecturer gave us a golden rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. In HR, this golden rule has stood the test of time over and over again.  Considering an employee relations situation or disciplinary process with empathy, fairness and consideration is always a good way of doing things and when the tough conservations or constructive feedback is required it can be done knowing you can stand over your process and procedures.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

INM is such an exciting place to work, it is extremely fast paced with wonderful people and amazing talent.  When I first started with the company over three years ago, I sat in meetings with Editors and Journalists who are so interesting in their ability to tell stories or relay information that I was definitely nervous!  INM is the type of company that fosters curiosity and debate; there is never a right or wrong answer, only a range of possibilities. No two days are the same and as we have now joined the Mediahuis Group in the last two years, it has only extended the range of possibilities.  The role would involve a high level of industrial relations which are complex and diverse in nature and I thoroughly enjoy it. Never a lack of motivation!

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

My proudest career achievement to date is my “career” in HR.   I have had three amazing children over the course of my career and I have always felt you never went back to where you left off before going on maternity leave, so I am happy I’ve managed to balance each senior HR role with a family and continuing my progression from a development perspective along with the challenges of engaging HR roles.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

I am inspired by the women around me; HR is one of the few professions dominated by more women than men.  So during my nearly 20 years in HR I have meet some amazingly talented women, most who are now HR leaders in their own right and some who have left HR and followed their professional dreams in a different direction; I hope, similarly to the support they provided me throughout the years, I have done the same for them. These relationships are so important in the HR environment where confidentiality, trust and sensitivity are essential.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

Through-out my career I have attended the Annual Legal Island Employment Law Update without fail, which sets me up well for the year ahead.  I also read a lot, so I sign-up for a number of regular newsletters etc. and flag them to read when I have the time.

I have always encouraged my team to information share which we do a lot; one person will attend a conference or summit and will give relevant updates on key points at our weekly team meeting.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

I have three sons and a husband who are football fanatics, so weekends (pre Covid) are spent travelling around Dublin to matches and training sessions. When I do get to relax I love to read, a book which is light or with a mysterious twist is my go to. I love to walk, spending most of summers in Wexford, with lots of beach walks and a little red wine!

CLOSING COMMENT:

Congratulations to Nicola McCarthy on being named Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month' for April 2021.

ABOUT INDEPENDENT NEWS & MEDIA

Independent News & Media Group Limited (INM) is the leading newspaper and online publisher on the island of Ireland, is vertically integrated with print and distribution assets, and is the largest wholesale distributor of newspapers and magazines on the island. The Company is a 100% subsidiary of Mediahuis N.V. a private European media group, headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections are Ireland’s premier retained executive search partners and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Partnership. We offer five interrelated talent acquisition and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with all our latest news.

Joe ffrench, Microsoft, HR Leader for March

Executive Recruitment Firm Principal Connections announce Joe ffrench as HR Leader of the Month for March 2021

Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Joe ffrench the person?

The Career
I’ve been lucky to have a diverse set of HR roles spanning different industries and a variety of Irish-based, regional and global roles. The constant thread has been the opportunity to have business impact and gain personal learning along the way.

I started my career at IBEC on the graduate training programme and then worked as a Consultant mainly with manufacturing and engineering companies. This involved providing HR advice, representing companies in union negotiations and in third party institutions. It was tremendous responsibility to gain so early on in my career.

Subsequently, I moved to Bank of Ireland and enjoyed several HR Manager and Learning and Development roles in different business units. There I secured my first opportunity to be a HR Leader for a business unit which gave me great leadership experience in a part of the business that was driving significant transformation.

I then moved to Microsoft and held a number of local HR roles with different businesses before becoming the Country HR Lead and Chair of our Site Leadership Team. As a team we focused on creating a One Microsoft culture across our businesses and bringing increased investment to Ireland. We were successful in doing this and in creating the seeds for the continued investment that is happening today. I moved to an EMEA Regional role for two of our businesses and then was asked to lead the Talent Management function for them. My current role is Talent Management Lead for our Marketing and Consumer Sales businesses.

The Person
My career and life choices are based on three core values – family, impact and learning – and these have served me well in navigating the journey of life so far. I’m married to Deirdre and we have three great children and a dog (who is really a fourth child!). I enjoy sports, movies, keeping fit and experiencing different cultures.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

Microsoft is a global technology company with the mission of empowering every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. We work hard to ensure the technology we build benefits everyone in society and that that we play a leadership role in protecting the planet. Our aspire to culture is based on the concept of growth mindset thinking where everyone has potential to be nurtured and where we commit to continuous learning and personal growth. We embarked on a strategic and associated cultural transformation a few years ago and it has made the company a truly inspiring learning environment to do great HR work.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

Covid-19 has accelerated work and societal trends that have been building over the last number of years, so I strongly believe this new hybrid world of work is here to stay. Navigating the change to this new world of work is the most critical challenge HR Leaders face. Alongside the challenge it also presents opportunities: opportunities to reimagine the nature of work, work environments and cultures, and the role our organisations can play in addressing the social, economic and environmental challenges we face.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

The digital transformation of our own function and wider organisations through the use of technology like Data and Artificial Intelligence. Delivering this successfully depends on a strong change management approach with a particular emphasis on the cultural transformation required.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

“Put yourself in the other persons shoes”. This was said to me early on in my career when representing companies involved in union negotiations and it’s stuck with me all along. Making the effort to truly understand what’s driving the person you are dealing with helps gain appreciation for their perspective and helps identify wider options to make progress.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

I'm motivated by the opportunity to positively contribute to business performance.

I enjoy when there is a difficult challenge to address, requiring complex strategic planning and problem resolution.

Working with colleagues and my own team, is very rewarding for me. I really enjoy the interaction and the partnership, the collective effort.

I'm lucky that my roles over the years and certainly my current role, have given me so much opportunity to work with great people – this certainly spurs me on and keeps me fresh and challenged.

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

Seeing the results of the work I undertook with the Microsoft Ireland Leadership Team to bring increased investment to Ireland and the impact of our development programmes on people’s growth and career development.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

I’ve been inspired by the work of many thought leaders in the area of positive psychology, high performance and wellbeing like Martin Seligman and Tony Schwartz.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

I subscribe to a number of online sources for reading material and I'm a member of two HR networks which help provide perspectives from a variety of industries. I’ve also been able to listen to some wider business programmes since my children’s sport has been on hold with Covid-19 and have found that really valuable.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

I spend as much time as possible with my family. I love watching movies and sports, coach one of my children’s Gaelic football team and have resumed playing tennis recently, although that is now back on hold with Covid-19. I also use yoga and meditation to try and keep myself in balance – some weeks are better than others!

CLOSING COMMENT:

Congratulations to Joe ffrench on being named Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month' for March 2021.

ABOUT MICROSOFT

At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. Our mission is grounded in both the world in which we live and the future we strive to create. Today, we live in a mobile-first, cloud-first world, and the transformation we are driving across our businesses is designed to enable Microsoft and our customers to thrive in this world.

We do business in 170 countries and are made up of 144,000 passionate employees dedicated to fulfilling our mission of helping you and your organisation achieve more.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections is Ireland’s premier retained executive recruitment firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group. We offer five interrelated talent acquisition and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with all our latest news.