The Marketing Institute: What does a CEO of Guaranteed Irish do?
Brid O’Connell: Guaranteed Irish is a business membership organisation which represents over 300 homegrown and international businesses operating in Ireland. My role as CEO is to ensure that businesses who have chosen to invest in Ireland are heard at the community, national and government levels. Together with my fantastic team, we network on behalf of our members to enhance conditions for business in Ireland, that in turn leads to job creation and community improvement.
MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?
Brid: Taking the decision to work for myself almost twenty years ago. At the time I was working in a comfortable, pensionable job, but the challenge of working for myself tempted me away. Having had that experience of running my own business has proved invaluable and is what attracted me to my current role, representing Ireland’s business community.
MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Brid: I joined Guaranteed Irish as CEO in 2016, and I’ve been tasked by the board with reinvigorating the organisation and making it relevant in the 21st Century. Over the past year, we’ve undergone a rebrand and set ambitious targets for the coming years.
We now place equal emphasis on attracting both homegrown enterprises and international companies as members, and we’re open to members throughout Ireland. We’ve put in place a new appraisals process for membership applications: all companies applying are carefully vetted and must demonstrate they meet core criteria around jobs, provenance and community.
MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Brid: Adaptability is crucial in this role where no two days are the same! Each day I’m meeting with members of Ireland’s business community, from large to small, who are all facing different challenges, and more often than not, have competing interests. Plenty of energy, ability to think on your feet and a clear long-term strategy are also critical to a good day’s work!
MII: Describe a typical working day.
Brid: Emails from 7am, meetings from 10am, phone calls in the car, so it’s all go… but that suits me! As a team, we work on great projects and we are sticklers for deadlines. By about 4pm I’ll check back in with my team and start to round up the next day’s to-do list. I feel like I can’t signoff for the day unless my list is done and that I’ve managed to get my 10,000 steps!
MII: What do you love most about your role?
Brid: The people that I get to meet. I have met some of the smartest brains in the world of business and I am always learning something new from them. Also, the team I work with - every one of them are creative and dedicated to supporting Guaranteed Irish - we really believe we are “all together better’.
MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?
Brid: I’m 100% focused on the rebranding and repositioning of this well-known and well-loved brand. This has been a really worthwhile role, especially after the economic downturn when so many businesses suffered. I’m excited about where we can take the Guaranteed Irish brand to next. I have an amazing Board of Directors who have big ambitions for the only national brand of provenance; this is only the beginning of an exciting journey.
MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?
Brid: Business people who do the right thing for society. That’s what inspired the Guaranteed Irish Hero campaign. My members inspire me every day - I am really spoilt for choice! I generally look up to people who have made a difference in society, not necessarily those who have made money. At Guaranteed Irish, we have plenty of members who have done both.