Q. What attracted you to enter the world of retail when you joined Clery & Co.?
As a commerce graduate and consumer watcher my business and marketing experience stood to me in good stead when the opportunity presented itself at Clery & Co. in 1991. It’s hard to believe that I’m still here 19 years later!
Q. What do you think are the most important skills for a CEO of an organisation like yours?
Integrity and leadership are also very important qualities to possess. It is imperative that you earn the trust of your people and gain their buy-in in order to effectively drive the strategic direction of your organisation.
The ability to simplify complex situations in terms of the environment, risk and competitive positioning are an integral part of the role.
Q. What have been the most significant changes you have seen in the Irish business over the past 10 years?
(a) the currency changeover to €uro
Since the changeover to the €uro in 2002, the country has experienced a fair degree of irrational exuberance. Having been a member of the Euro Cash Changeover Working Group and a great fan of the Euro, it has now become apparent that it fuelled the economy in a way we never anticipated; we didn’t recognise the longer term significance of this at the time. Our exuberance led to giving away large amounts of productivity and competitiveness without the ability to adjust by devaluation. This was a contributing factor to the massive development of property during that time.
Globalisation and World Trade also means that consumer demand during this period could increase year after year without any significant inflation. Emerging economies in Asia have hand enormous supply capacity and it was unprecedented how demand could soar so much without inflation.
The rapid changes in technology allows for better and faster global communication and has had a huge impact for businesses and people alike. In particular the trading of financial instruments across the globe meant that local regulation was insufficient to ensure global stability of the banking system.
Q. What did your role as President of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce involve?
While the council comprises of an executive, a presidential line up, and many taskforces, it was my primary role as President to lead the strategic objectives of the Chamber for the duration of my term in office. I also had the responsibility to ensure that we were fully compliant from a corporate governance perspective as well as ensuring that the Council and its Chamber executives were effective to the full potential that their roles require.
From a business perspective the Dublin Chamber of Commerce is the primary business networking organisation for in the City, representing multi-faceted industries across varying sized enterprises. The Dublin Chamber of Commerce operates as a key influencer for all of these enterprises to ensure that their voices are heard and relevant issues are raised with Government.
Q. Where do you see the future of retail?
The Government’s last budget was a step in the right direction, however much more needs to be done. At enterprise level money is not always the solution to our problems. It can be how we organise ourselves to deal with problems and become better at delivering results. There are lots of opportunities for improvements in business if we focus on delivering value to the customer. There is still a lot of activity in the sector, however, it is imperative to strike a balance whereby consumers feel they are gaining value for money and retailers are not compromising on quality.
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