I studied accounting and finance at the University of Limerick, before going on to complete my Masters in computing. After a false start in consulting, I joined a major software provider through their graduate programme.
It was a fascinating experience – I got to move around the business and turn my hand to all manner of roles and challenges, eventually ending up in sales. I loved it, but it could be quite a lonely existence at times. I was constantly moving from place to place, which made it hard to make real connections with colleagues or customers.
After 17 years it felt like time to try something different. I had a chance encounter with Anne O'Leary, the CEO of Vodafone Ireland. I immediately got the sense that this was a purpose-driven company – the idea of connecting people and making a difference in their lives through communication really appealed to me.
So, I made the decision to switch industry and company. I had no credentials in telecoms whatsoever, no personal brand or network to fall back on. It felt like a pretty brave thing to do.
I’ve been with Vodafone for four and half years now. I was originally Enterprise Director for Ireland, and I’ve since moved over to the UK. I’m essentially doing the same role, the main difference being that the mandate is a lot bigger – I’m overseeing 1,300 people across different teams and reporting directly to our group CEO.
It’s a massive operation, but it feels like a small one, as there’s so much consistency in our values and around how we do things. Trust, integrity, simplicity – we all live and breathe these values.
Being a senior leader myself, I need to lead by example, and the decisions I make have to be in the best interests of our customers. It’s also my job to spot where decisions are not being made in this way.
We’re an organisation that’s constantly innovating and investing time and effort in the right things. It’s crucial we remain at the cutting-edge of our industry and that we’re always on the front foot, whether it’s pushing our 5G networks or working with the latest tech such as IoT, robotics and smart cities.
At the same time, it’s about having the right mix of technology and people. Our job as an organisation is about empowering people and finding ways to make their lives better. The solutions change and get more innovative, but customer centricity and experience are always at the heart of everything we do. We are even remunerated in line with this.
That’s the mission, and it’s important for everyone here to buy into it that. It’s a different mindset to a lot of organisations. But if you’re someone who wants to feel empowered and entrepreneurial, the kind of person who’d enjoy running their own business for example, then you’ll fit in just fine.
Other than that, we welcome people from all walks of life. Diversity is a sincere movement at Vodafone; it’s done for the right reasons, and it’s not just something we pay lip service to. A huge amount has been done for gender advancement. We recently ran a fantastic Vodafone LGBT & Friends initiative, for instance, which was really well supported.
I’m really excited to see what the next few years will hold. The way we work is constantly changing to reflect the way society is evolving and how our customers are using their technology. It’s up to me to make sure we have the best people in place across the Enterprise team to meet our goals and that we’re all moving in the right direction.
I like to move at pace. The world is constantly changing; our customers don’t have time to wait around for us to hold our next monthly meeting, so we try to work in small groups and to do things in a more agile, spontaneous way.
I get excited thinking about the challenge. It’s purposeful; it’s an opportunity to play a part in connecting society for the greater good by doing the right thing for our customers.