Clair Daly, HR Leader for July

Clair Daly, Head of People, Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month for July 2020

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

The Career
I have almost 20 years’ experience in HR. I completed a HR/IR graduate programme with IBEC in 2003 which catapulted me into the world of HR and I have never looked back. I have worked in a variety of industries; Financial Services / Legal /Banking / Private Equity & Aircraft Leasing and more recently I have joined a newly established organisation called Quintain.

The Person
I’m from Kerry and I came to Dublin in 2000 to complete a Post Grad in Business Studies in Smurfit Graduate School of Business. Shortly afterwards, I entered the working world and Dublin became my second home. On a personal front, I am married to Ray and we have three beautiful children, Harry Freddie & Amy.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current company?

Quintain is a start-up Company and officially launched in Ireland last October. It is one of the largest mixed-use developers in Ireland, with a landbank that can accommodate over 9,000 residential units and almost 95,000 square metres of commercial space. To be part of a growing company is very exciting and to get involved so early on is even more exciting because sometimes HR is only integrated into an organisation when the headcount is already established. However, with Quintain, I was the first employee on payroll. This shows the commitment of the Managing Partners to their people and with this mindset I know our Company will be a success.

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

Given the recent environment in which we find ourselves, the whole world of work has changed and will continue to change. The days of having employees in a fixed location is no longer the case. This has and will change the whole dynamic of an organisation. Employee engagement is going to be at the forefront of HR Leaders’ minds because we may be missing that human to human connection and our interactions with employees may not be in the traditional format that we are used to; this will change the way we interact and connect with our people which in turn could have an impact on a company’s culture. Connectivity on a number of levels will be crucial to the ongoing success of an organisation.

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

Work redesign & AI.

Remote working is already here and if we can master the art of operating remotely and navigate this new territory and overcome the obstacles, we will continue to grow and thrive in our newfound environment.

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

Three pieces of advice which will probably sound pretty basic but resonated with me and still hold value; ‘if you’re in HR to make friends you are in the wrong profession’. This was said to me in my very first HR role and this really struck a chord because HR can be a lonely profession - you have to be especially careful with your relationships because you never know the day when you may have a difficult conversation with someone in the business that you may have a close working relationship with. This advice was followed with ‘it’s not personal, it’s business’. In HR you can find yourself in difficult situations where you are terminating employment contracts. No matter how many times you do this, it never gets easier and it impacts you on so many levels because you feel for the person on the other side of the table. It’s important to treat people with dignity and respect and remind individuals that decisions are made for business reasons and are not personal and they can leave the organisation and continue to grow and succeed in their careers. Finally, ‘there are two sides to every story’; again, this is crucial when you are in the midst of an investigation or a HR matter because sometimes there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

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

My job - I love what I do. I love the fact that we are building a company and I am part of the selection process of finding the right people for our organisation. I love that we are creating an environment where people can succeed in their roles and have the freedom to grow not only in their roles but also with the organisation.

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

Proudest career achievement? That is a very difficult question to answer! No one moment stands out, each role has their own special moments that I hold dear and I am proud of, but I was honoured to be asked to join the Quintain team.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

I have been blessed to have a number of mentors throughout my career, and they have inspired me both professionally and personally. They have taught me a lot along the way and I am still learning from them.

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

More recently online seminars but traditionally breakfast briefings/ reading articles/ LinkedIn/Courses and listening to others.

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

Spending time with my family and switching off. I recently started playing the concert flute. It was a hobby of mine when I was a child and I’ve started playing again, which I am really enjoying but my family may have a different view on the matter.


Congratulations to Clair Daly being named the Principal Connections HR Leader of the Month for July 2020.


Quintain, the third largest residential developer in Ireland. Launched in October 2019. Quintain will oversee 460 acres of prime development land in Ireland including:

Adamstown - 5,000 homes across 220 acres of land.

Clonburris - a new sustainable community in the Dublin area.

Portmarnock - an 87 acre development with the potential for 1,000 homes.

Cherrywood - the recently acquired Cherrywood site is 120 acres and has an expected capacity of 3,000 homes.


Principal Connections is Ireland’s leading retained executive recruitment firm. We specialise in resourcing for Senior Management, Executive, Board, Interim and Specialist Leadership appointments across most major industries. Principal Connections is the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group, ranked among the top global retained executive search groups in the world.

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