Describe your role?
I am managing director of The Butler’s Pantry, a dynamic business where change and innovation is constant and ‘best practice’ is our standard. I’m surrounded by highly talented people, true professionals full of creativity and a sense of fun.
Your career path?
After a degree in history and politics, I joined the McDonalds graduate management development programme straight from college. I went on to work with Next and PJ Carroll, then ran my own consultancy business specialising in business development for high-potential start-up businesses. I invested in The Butler’s Pantry in 2000 and with my colleagues grew the business to nine shops, a purpose-built kitchen and head office in Bray and grew the brand which has an excellent reputation and endless potential.
One way in which technology has helped you fulfil your role?
Timely and relevant information is critical in a fresh food business where product has a one-three day shelf life. So first thing in the morning I need our our key performance indicators – I rely on our management information systems to give me this information.
A typical day?
Check in with Niall Hill our executive chef and head of food and Eoin Warner, head of retail and review the daily and weekly KPIs. Marketing and business development are a big part of my day, everyday. I stay in touch with customers so trips to our shops are always part of my plan.
How do you deal with work stress?
I am a very disciplined list writer and strongly believe in business planning, both of which help reduce stress. I also take a half day a week away from my desk when every device is turned off to give me thinking time.
We live by the sea, a real treat in every kind of weather – I love time in my garden. Sunday evening dinner is like a religion, time I treasure with my family. I love music and I sing in a choir.
Paper diary or electronic?
I love my paper diary because ticking things off as I do them gives me a great feeling of satisfaction though I use S-Planner and S-Memo too.
Has the economic climate affected the way you do business in a positive way?
We celebrate our 25th year in business this year. 2009 and 2010 were tough years for us but we learned a lot. We are a smarter business now in so many ways, our framework is more sound, enabling the business to continue to grow.
Business thought for the day?
View problems as challenges and an opportunity to learn. This helps convert a negative situation into a positive one. Another favourite of mine is ‘you have two ears and just one mouth so use them accordingly’.
People you admire in business (past or present)?
I am a big fan of people who think outside the box, like Caroline Casey of the Aisling Foundation. Padraig O’Céidigh of Aer Arann, Aidan Heavey of Tullow Oil.
What designers, labels, or shops do you like?
MaxMara for smart casual, Armani and Levis for jeans, Mary Grant for tops and coats, Paul Costelloe and Helen McAlinden for the classic look and LK Bennett for daytime dresses.
I love antique jewellery, especially from McManus Jewellers and Gollums Precious. Both are family businesses and I love dealing with the two gentlemen craftsmen. I adore the smell of leather so bags, belts and shoes are always on my shopping list. My favourite is my mother’s 1950s crocodile leather handbag.
What do you wear while traveling on business?
Dresses mainly; so comfortable, a wardrobe decision made easy and frankly, so ladylike.
From the April 2012 issue of THE GLOSS Magazine.