Business Wisdom: Joanne Hession

From the desk of JOANNE HESSION, founder and owner of QED Training.


Describe your role?

I started QED, a training and mentoring business, responsible for training thousands of budding entrepreneurs, and QED International, which helps business schools worldwide get accreditation; my earliest success was leading the process and achieving accreditation for the UCD Michael Smurfit Business School, which attained the Triple Crown [Joanne coined the phrase, now used globally] of AACSB, Equis and AMBA. QED provides new businesses with best-in-class training on how to do business better, smarter and more successfully and we also work on government schemes to help people who are out of work start their own ventures. My book, co-authored with Joan Baker, Don’t Get a Job, Build a Business, was published last month. It aims to provide insights and answers to the provocative questions every business owner needs to ask themselves.

Your Career Path?

After a commerce degree at UCD, I took an MBS at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, followed by a stint at Ernst & Young. I then became manager of the Masters of Business programme at my old alma mater before leaving to take a year out to work with Concern in Africa following the Rwandan civil war. I was responsible for an education programme for refugees displaced in Tanzania. On my return, the idea of setting up my own business was formed, leading to the establishment of QED.

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

Technology has helped me be more efficient and productive in many ways. One example is Skype, which has reduced meeting and travel time, thus lowering costs.

A typical day?

I always get up at 5.45am. I get a huge amount done before breakfast with the kids [three daughters aged between six and ten] so I know that even if the rest of the day collapses, the basics are covered. I am in the  office by 9am unless I need thinking space when I go to a local hotel and concentrate with a cappuccino for a few hours. I try to get home by 4pm for homework and supper and then bed by 10pm (I like a lot of sleep).

How do you deal with work stress?

Sleep, exercise (tennis twice a week at least), water, me-time, saying “no” – I think women particularly fall into the trap of needing to have our noses into everything and we can’t! It’s something I try to emphasise when coaching and training women: focus on what is it I want to get done, nothing else!

Paper diary or electronic?

Electronic for day-to-day appointments but I still plan out my days, weeks, months and year on paper: being able to look ahead at a glance is crucial.

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

Yes, it makes me more determined to help other entrepreneurs succeed and that QED succeeds. I believe it is a great time to set up or grow a business. Most of the competition is in disarray. You are unlikely to set up or try to grow a “silly” business idea (one in which there is little margin or future) at a time like this. Great people are available; customers are looking for solutions and value for money.

Business thought for the day?

Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts (Albert Einstein). What or who has inspired you? Apart from my parents – superb role models for life and business – and Anne Heraty, CEO of the CPL Group, whom I greatly admire, I have been inspired by a number of books, among them The Corporate Athlete by Jack Groppel  and Jim Loehr and James Collins’ Good to Great.

What is on your desk?

Tablet, diary and a framed photograph of Joan and myself from the launch of our book.

Best advice you got? Gave?

Life is too short to live someone else’s dream; make your own happen.

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

Dresses. I think they suit me. I choose the dress first, look at the label after. I have a stylist friend who puts me in a dressing room and hands in her choices – a brilliant way to do it. If you have no friends who are stylists, I think a personal shopper is the answer, especially if, like me, time is at a premium and you find shopping stressful. I always wear heels. I love my work clothes way more than I do my casual stuff – what I wear to work makes me feel the way I want to be, confident and in control.


From the March 2013 issue of THE GLOSS Magazine.


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