Business Wisdom: Anne O’Leary

Engineer and entrepreneur ANNE O’LEARY believes exploiting the benefits of technology and promoting entrepreneurship are key to economic growth… 

BW

Describe your role?

I have a number of roles helping technology businesses derive value from the software they develop. I am Executive Chairman of Kinematik, a company that provides software to manage R&D data throughout a product’s development life cycle. I am responsible for the strategic direction of the company, the implementation of aligned planning and goal setting. I also chair a start-up company called Incident Control Room, which provides a cloud-based technology that allows large organisations to prepare, execute and analyse crisis events. I’m helping out with sales strategy, organising the board and helping develop the business plan and defining the route to market. I am on the advisory board of Ignite UCC, a programme that promotes entrepreneurship in recent graduates, creating an environment where they can develop a business product or service.

Your career path?

I graduated as a civil engineer from UCC with primary and masters degrees. I set up my own company, CADCO, in 1990, distributing engineering design software. The company was sold to Techdata in 2009 and I briefly considered taking some time out, which didn’t happen, as exciting technology opportunities like Kinematik and ICR were just too interesting to stay away from.

Tell us one way technology has helped you fulfill your role?

Selling the benefits of technology is a huge part of every day for me. I spend my time helping organisations understand that implementing the correct technology can help solve problems, improve productivity and collaboration, and ensure regulatory compliance. I need to practise what I preach:  for example, technology has enabled me to stay located in Cork, yet be plugged in to partners in the UK and US through Skype and corporate video-conferencing. It doesn’t eliminate the need for travel but has reduced it significantly. Then when I’m travelling, I have access to everything I need – files, project plans, etc – through technology.

A typical day?

6.30am, I feed the four horses in my barn. It’s a lovely way to start the day. At 7am, I check emails and my three girls [all at UCC] usually leave for college around this time too. If I’m not travelling, meetings, conference calls and replying to emails keep me busy until I get home to husband and family at about 6.30pm. But because most of Kinematik’s business is based in the US and Canada I’m often back to emails or calls later in the evening.

How do you deal with work stress?

I love to ride my horse but also run and swim when time allows. I have signed up for the Berlin Marathon in September.

Downtime?

I have not had enough in the last few years, but hope to exercise more and spend more time with friends and family.

Paper diary or electronic?

I’m an iPad addict.

Has the economic climate affected how you do business in a positive way?

People and organisations are more willing to embrace technology in order to deliver significant improvements in productivity and efficiency, so I think the recession may help our business grow faster.

Business thought for the day?

Don’t give up – nine nos is still a maybe!

People you admire in business (past or present)?

Carol Bartz, former CEO of Autodesk and of Yahoo; Barry Maloney, CEO of Balderton Capital; John Newton, founder of Documentum and Alfresco; Jerry Kennelly, formerly of Stockbyte, now Tweak.com.

What is on your desk?

Business plans for 2012, cash flow projections and project plans for customers.

Best advice you got?

Tell the customer you are going to deliver … Then do it!

What kind of clothes do you like to wear to work?

Typically I wear business formal – a dress or suit. What designers do you like? As I hate shopping, I do it as infrequently as I can get away with, stocking up on three or four suits (Hugo Boss is a favourite) and pairs of shoes at a time.

 

From the June 2012 issue of THE GLOSS Magazine.

 

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