What are your personal highlights from your playing career?
I think your personal highlights change as you get older. I wonder if my highlights now are the ones I had fifteen or twenty years ago as I was living them. When you’re playing every win is a highlight. Every All Ireland victory for me whether with club or county felt like the greatest one at the time. You have so many highlights when you’ve been a part of great Cork and club sides. I was so lucky, and looking back I’m wondering if I appreciated my career enough at the time. Possibly not! While captaining Cork meant everything to me if I was to pick one All Ireland out of the six senior inter-county ones as my highlight it would be the 1995 All Ireland final against Kilkenny when my club mate Denise Cronin was captain. Kilkenny had broken our hearts so many times and while we had started to turn the tables and defeated them in the semi-finals of ’92 and ’93 we had never beaten them in a final. People were saying we never would. We were a couple of points down with a few minutes to go and won by four I think and that for me was a moment and a feeling I’ll never forget. I smiled until Christmas. My entire club career with Glen Rovers gave me seven years of the closest thing to family one could have on the sporting side. Our seven county titles in a row, five Munster titles and three All Irelands came as a direct result of the incredible unity we had. Treasured memories indeed.
From your experience, what are the best things about being a county
Putting on the jersey. Everytime I pulled the jersey on over my head whether it was a challenge game, league game or championship I felt incredible pride.
Can you tell us a little about your current job, and how you arrived at this position?
Ah my working life has taken a few turns here and there. I never went to college straight from school. I worked, as did many of my friends, in various manufacturing plants. I worked in Bourns Electronics for seven years on the factory floor and it was strange really because I remember in 1993 after a week of celebrating captaining Cork to the All-Ireland I went back to work and I recall this voice in my head saying to me ‘Right, it’s time now to do something about your career’. I was 25. So I went back to college by night for a couple of years and became an accounting technician. Then I did a year in HR management. I left Bourns and went selling first aid for a while!! That didn’t appeal – found it a bit lonely actually after working with so many people on the factory floor. I went to work in Kodak in Youghal, became team leader there and then moved to Dell in Limerick as production floor manager. Something was always missing though and on impulse I purchased a Take Away and ran that for two years. Some people buy a dress on impulse-I buy chippers !! I hated every minute of that actually and so sold it on. Then I said to myself ‘What now’. So I went back to college by night and weekends to finish my accountancy degree, working in a few places in accounts by day and then joined Galvins’ Wines and Spirits. I was finally happy with my career choice. About time says you!!! I was in Galvins for seven years and when I finished I was head of finance. I moved to GxP Systems in early 2010 as the Financial Controller, took over operations and became Managing Director in 2011. That title has changed since to CEO. I have overall responsibility for managing GxP Systems, from overseeing day to day operations to defining the company’s strategic direction. It’s challenging in a very competitive market but I like challenges.
How did you combine your sporting and professional career while still
playing with Cork?
Looking back I don’t know. I suppose I left it late really to concentrate on my professional career but combining a full time job, college and training, I’m not sure. But you just do it don’t you. The college year suits sport really with exams in May. You’re off then until October. So the first few months of the year were probably the most difficult. I don’t recall it being difficult though. You’re just busy. It was never a chore. Camogie wasn’t anyway. That was my down time if anything.
Is there anything that would have helped you to better manage this ‘dual career’?
I’m not sure. As I mentioned above Sport is an escape regardless of the level you’re playing at. It was never a burden. And it helped me in my working life in more ways than one. I remember often getting excited during the day because we had training that night. And the harder the session the more I liked it. So I think Camogie enhanced my dual career. If anything I suppose I could have better managed my daydreaming! I spent too many hours dreaming of winning All Irelands.
How has sport helped you in a professional context?
Sport without a shadow of a doubt has made me the person I am both personally and in my professional life. It gave me confidence, ambition, and a ‘can do’ attitude. I was never the star pupil in school, wasn’t even close to being an A student. I did my leaving cert just to pass it but college was never on the agenda. But that didn’t matter. And I didn’t know or settle into my now career until I was over 30. How late is that? There is too much pressure on young teenagers today to make such early decisions about their future. How can you know at 17 what you want to do for the rest of your life? If you do I think you’re one of the lucky ones. I worry though that many make choices they regret and circumstances don’t allow them to change. Sport defined me I think. I recall in leaving cert, a few days before leaving, one of the teachers came around to us all and was wishing everyone luck. He just looked at me, smiled and said ‘you’ll be fine’. That stuck with me.
What qualities of an intercounty ladies football/camogie player can be beneficial in a business/management career?
I think they are several correlations between sport and a business or management career. Several commonalities and links can be drawn between sport and business, teamsports in particular.
One of the important learning points from sport which correlates to business relates to the examples of teams with reputably the best individual talent and ability yet have fallen short of performance expectations.
High-performing teams, therefore, do not necessarily have the best individual talent available, which means that other variables such as motivation, respect, responsibility, and communication are high on their agenda and of paramount importance.
A player with those attributes is an inter-county or national player in my view and we all want those players on our team whether in business or sport.
If you had three pieces of advice for current players hoping to advance
their career in the workplace, what would they be?
Well they already have the attributes of hard work, teamwork, commitment and motivation.
1) I think they need to find a career that excites them, one they want and if they do those attributes will undoubtedly be at the surface. It’s natural at that point. It’s hard and takes you going that extra mile. But nine times out of ten it’s worth it. And if it’s not then you learn from it and move on.
2) There will be lows. I’ve had lows in my working life, times where you feel hard done by. But never sulk or dwell on those for too long. Pick yourself up. You learn as much about yourself during the lows as during the highs.
3) You’ll make mistakes or make a wrong decision and have regrets on those. I’m still doing that and chastise myself over it at times but I’m older now and so I tell myself fairly quickly to stop focusing on it, move on, it’s not that serious on the scale of things. We all change as we get older. I’m not the person I was in my twenties or even thirties. What was important back then isn’t important now.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just be honourable and honest in your dealings and sleep well at night.