Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Marina Meehan the person?
Ever since I was very young I wanted to work in Human Resources (HR) or Personnel as it was then. I managed to persuade Tesco of the value of staff managers and I was one of the first ever appointed Staff Managers in one of their toughest East London stores. Since then I have moved in and out of HR specialist and generalist roles in the UK, Ireland and the U.S. The most insightful period was working with Enda McNulty a renowned sports psychologist, where I learnt all about high performance team working and leadership regimens to make the behaviours stick, in a Corporate setting. This experience has stood me in good stead.
On a personal level, I would describe myself as an energetic human resources leader, lucky enough to have worked with some amazing people in different sectors and across various organisations. I also have a good sense of humour that helps me not to take life too seriously.
Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?
Trócaire is the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland. It's one of Ireland’s foremost international development and humanitarian agencies. Established by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland in 1973, Trócaire’s mandate is to tackle the structural drivers of poverty in the global South and to carry out education, campaigning and advocacy work on global justice issues in Ireland and the global North.
Trócaire works in partnership with local development and humanitarian actors in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central America. We support people and communities to tackle the root causes of poverty, injustice and violence and to use their own power to create positive and lasting change. We believe that every human person is born equal and with the right to a life of dignity, free from poverty, violence and injustice.
Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?
2020 gave us lots of challenge and they will continue in 2021 as it really is an unknown landscape. In my view, all the studying and the benchmarking has not really equipped HR practitioners to guide and lead recovery with confidence and certainty. Consequently, there is a huge dependence on individual character and resilience to intuitively do what is right. Management and leadership styles have had to adapt, and this will continue. In asking managers to adapt, I call it managing with humanity but it’s much more than that. In HR we must role model self-compassion and encourage colleagues to speak up and step up in the new hybrid ways of working. These are exciting times rather than challenging.
Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?
I believe there will be much more emphasis on work and getting it done, this will override structure, job titles and hierarchy. We will have a huge dependence on social media to communicate and technology will continue to be our new best friend. In the next 12 to 18 months, we will look at talent through a new lens. We will depend much more on rising stars emerging, as people develop competence and confidence in getting results through remote ways of working.
Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
A number of years ago, there was an occasion when I was not popular for making a decision that I felt was the right thing to do. I was concerned that this would impact on the perception of myself and my HR team. My manager at the time said to me, use the quiet time to go about your work and get things done. People need HR more than HR needs people. This was the best bit of advice ever and it was so true.
Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?
My team. They are brilliant. They understand and accept the role that HR has had to take in leading the way in demonstrating learned positivity. Like everyone, we have an ever-growing workload and despite this we remember to check in with each other and take time to discuss the daily challenges and also what movies are worth watching!
Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?
Obtaining two national training awards in one year for a programme called 'Developing to Lead'. I got to meet the UK Prime Minister who presented both awards. He commented that the programme was the first he had seen that focused on return on investment to the organisation as well as the development of leaders without title. The programme in Britvic Soft Drinks developed cleaners as well as senior managers to Lead and work without title. It put succession planning into action.
Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?
Tony Robbins. I attended a 4-day session with him in 2018 and it was life changing. The theme was unleashing the Power Within and do what you believe you are capable of. Amongst his many inspirational quotes “The past does not equal performance unless you live there!”
Q. THE PANDEMIC Describe how you have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic personally and professionally?
Work and home life became one. So it was really about adopting different regimens. If I felt down, I would make time to ring a friend and if I sensed this in others I would try and make them smile. It has been personally an interesting time, as I started my role in Trócaire during lockdown and have not met most of the people I'm working with. So I have intentionally taken time to build relationships and get to know colleagues as people. I do a lot of mindfulness, daily gratitude and ensure lunch breaks are full of loud music and dancing. (A Tony Robbins habit that changes thought patterns and mood. It works!)
Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?
I am naturally curious about the human mind, especially as we work through and adapt to the pandemic. I have a great HR network and we are constantly sharing information and emerging HR practices that put people at the heart of what we do. I am also a ferocious reader and I do a lot of appreciative inquiry on high performance working practices in different organisations.
Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?
I am finding that 30 minutes on my indoor bike everyday is one of the best ways of getting downtime in my head. I love to read, travel and meet friends all of which are curtailed at the moment. The Christmas break came at the right time and I'm excited about 2021.
Congratulations to Marina Meehan on being named Principal Connections' HR Leader of the Month' for January 2021.
Trócaire works in partnership with local and church organisations, supporting communities in over 20 developing countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to bring about lasting change. Trócaire envisages a just and peaceful world where; people’s dignity is ensured and rights are respected; basic needs are met and resources are shared equitably; people have control over their own lives; those in power act for the common good.
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