Nicola McCarthy, INM, HR Leader for April

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


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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:

  • Executive Search
  • Board Search
  • Advertised Selection
  • Interim Management
  • Leadership Consulting & Assessment

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

HRD Executive Search
Joe ffrench, Microsoft, HR Leader for March

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


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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:

  • Executive Search
  • Board Search
  • Advertised Selection
  • Interim Management
  • Leadership Consulting & Assessment

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

Senior Appointments Ireland

Ireland’s latest Senior, Executive & Board Appointments

Each month, Principal Connections – the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group issues a circular synopsising the latest Senior, Executive and Board Appointments that have been announced across Ireland for the preceding month.


2021 Issues

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February Issue    
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SENIOR APPOINTMENTS SUBMISSIONS

To include an announcement in our monthly Senior Appointments Series please e-mail your submission to: info@principalconnections.ie

Alternatively, should you have a Senior, Exeutive, Board or Interim search requirement or wish to avail of a Leadership Advisory or Assessment Solution, please contact us in confidence on +353 (0)1 703 88 94.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections is Ireland’s leading senior executive search firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group with 55 Offices across 30 Countries.

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


Executive Recruitment Ireland
“Best in Executive Recruitment Ireland 2020”

PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS TAKES “BEST IN EXECUTIVE RECRUITMENT”

Dublin, Ireland, February 01st 2021 — The ninth Chambers Ireland National InBUSINESS Recognition Awards, took place on the later date this year, of Friday last, January 29th 2021. With Ireland now well into its third lockdown, a prestigious list of Irish businesses attended the awards which were streamed live, with Mr. Ian Talbot, CEO of Chambers Ireland opening the event and MC, the renowned business journalist Vincent Wall. This year winners were selected from across 19 distinct categories based on the criteria of: ‘resilience’, ‘exceptional performance’ and their response to the ‘adversity’ presented by 2020.

“Market leading products and services, state of the art infrastructure and market opportunity, none of these guarantee business success. It’s the people of an organisation who define it. And more specifically, it’s the quality of leadership demonstrated by those individuals.” said Pat O’Donnell, Managing Partner of Principal Connections – The Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group who took the award of “Best in Executive Recruitment”.

PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS TOP EXECUTIVE RECRUITMENT FIRM AT NATIONAL AWARDS

“As a senior executive search and leadership consulting firm, Principal Connections is in a privileged position. Each day we work towards appointing many of the senior executives and board leaders who drive Irish business.

To be recognised for excellence in this endeavour, I feel truly honoured and especially delighted to accept this prestigious award this afternoon. Despite the unique circumstances imposed by the COVID 19 pandemic, this award reflects the resilience, agility and success that Principal Connections achieved in partnership with our clients in 2020. I would like to thank each of our exceptional management consulting team, our board and international colleagues, all who share in this recognition” said O’Donnell on accepting the award on behalf of the executive recruitment firm.

THE CHAMBERS IRELAND NATIONAL InBUSINESS RECOGNITION AWARDS WINNERS

The Chambers Ireland National InBUSINESS Recognition Awards 2020/2021 Winners:

  • Company of the Year: DHL Express
  • Business Man of the Year: Harry Hughes: Portwest
  • Business Woman of the Year: Claire Tolan: Irish Distillers
  • Financial Services Company: Capitalflow
  • Executive Recruitment: Principal Connections
  • Agency Support to Business: Skillnet Ireland
  • Executive Education: UCD Smurfit Executive Development
  • Cyber Security and Compliance: Sysnet Global Solutions
  • Foreign Direct Investment: Wuxi Biologics
  • Retail Excellence: Lloyds Pharmacy Ireland
  • Green Energy Provider to Business: SSE Airtricity
  • Government Body for Business: Credit Review Office
  • Irish Brand: GoMo
  • Security Company in Ireland: Netwatch Ireland Ltd
  • Tourism – Irelands Hidden Heartlands: Fáilte Ireland
  • Pensions & Life Company: Zurich
  • Business Broadband Provider: Virgin Media Business
  • Post Graduate and MBA Programmes: TU Dublin
  • Finance Provider to Micro Businesses and Start-Ups: Micro Finance Ireland
ABOUT CHAMBERS IRELAND

Chambers Ireland is Ireland’s largest business organisation with a network of Chambers of Commerce in every major town and region in the country.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections is Ireland’s leading retained Senior Executive Search Firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group.

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

Board Search Ireland
CEO & BOARD DIRECTORS CONSENSUS 2021

CEO & Board Directors Consensus 2021: The Board Director of Today

Principal Connections’ CEO and Board Search Practice has helped many of the most successful organisations across Ireland build their boards and senior leadership teams.

As we continue to navigate the global public health emergency as well as Brexit and new trade deal arrangements, the presence of a strong, independent and effective board is more crucial than ever. The most effective boards have a positive and sustainable impact on the organisations that they serve ensuring good governance while driving organisational performance. High performing boards instil confidence among shareholders, trustee’s and stakeholders, and create a diverse and balanced perspective — one that reflects the strategic vision of an enterprise.

A Report by CEO & Board Search Firm Principal Connections

In December of 2020, Principal Connections decided to undertake a comprehensive research programme to gauge the views of board directors of Irish entities – ranging from plc’s and multinationals to private limited companies, public sector and non-profit entities, concerning a broad range of board related themes. Topics focused on included board – practices, refreshment, diversity, social issues and COVID-19. The findings have produced many interesting insights for the first time in an Irish context.

We would like to sincerely thank the CEO and board director group who took considerable time from their busy schedules to participate in this consensus. We at Principal Connections firmly hope that this consensus will support and better inform boardrooms across Ireland in their debate and decision making as they look to the future.

RECEIVE YOUR COPY

If you would like to receive a complimentary copy of our CEO & Board Directors Consensus 2021, please Register an Interest

PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS CEO & BOARD PRACTICE

Principal Connections’ CEO and Board Search Practice has helped many of the most successful organisations in Ireland build their boards and senior leadership teams. We partner with our client organisations to identify the right leader for their particular strategic need, and assess and recruit the best talent to drive value.

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Principal Connections is Ireland’s leading Executive Search Firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide LLC.

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