From the desk of CHRISTINE HEFFERNAN, Director of Corporate Affairs at Tesco Ireland.
An accomplishment you are most proud of?
Honestly, getting my dream job last year. I love retail and enjoy how diverse and dynamic Tesco is. Every day is different and combines the things that interest me – retail, media, people.
What keeps you awake at night?
I manage stress very well, mostly through preparation – I make lists and always know what the next steps are and what to prioritise. I credit the MBA with teaching me how to focus and prioritise, which in turn helps me remain strategic. In fact, If anything made me restless in the last few months, it was the renovations on the very old house I bought last year.
How do you handle difficult situations?
In a corporate affairs role, challenging situations, even crises, do arise but the most important thing is to remain calm and think of the longer-term objective. I seek out expertise, choosing ability over seniority, and I also try to understand the motivations of others and the pressure on them. Compromise is often the way forward and the best route to a constructive outcome.
Which is the most useful way to engage clients or suppliers? A business breakfast or lunch or other?
I like short, effective meetings with a clear agenda. When it comes to meeting people outside the business, I’m so conscious of how time-pressed everyone is. I’ll suggest a snappy breakfast or lunch meeting or a meeting in one of the stores. We can chat as we walk the aisles.
How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
About 40 minutes. I’m usually at my desk by 7.45am, picking up breakfast en route.
Describe your style.
I do like to dress up for work – it makes me feel confident and professional. I favour dresses over suits: Karen Millen, Florence & Fred, Reiss. For an extra-important meeting I might wear DVF or Bastyan. I do have my hair blow-dried occasionally but am basically low-maintenance!
Pastimes outside of work?
I cycle a lot. I did the Ring of Kerry last year 188k and plan to do others. I took up paddle- boarding last summer and I’m taking up running this year. My birthday is in March and I plan to run a 10k then. I find exercise, along with eating well, keeps me sharp and constructive, better able to make decisions. When you work long hours, it’s important to pace yourself, to factor in holidays, to enjoy life and be good to yourself.
Describe your role.
I’m one of seven executive directors at Tesco Ireland. As Director of Corporate Affairs, I’m responsible for media, communications, corporate responsibility and internal communications for our 15,000 colleagues. We have a strong community agenda – I lead Tesco’s involvement in community-based initiatives, such as Food Cloud (a service which distributes food to the homeless) and have initiated a two-year fundraising partnership with Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
How do you build a team?
I lead a team of eleven. Seven members are new. Adding new members to a team always creates energy and drive. As a team leader it’s important to create space and opportunities for your team to grow and develop.
From the January 2015 issue of THE GLOSS Magazine.