From telesales to stock exchange - Cpl boss Anne Heraty says: 'Stay curious and don't be frightened of failure'

Cpl Resources chief executive Anne Heraty speaking to businesses in Belfast
Gary McDonald Business Editor

FROM helping out as a youngster in her father's undertaking business to "mucking about" at jobs in a record shop and night club, to selling bulky typewriters and then to becoming the first Irish woman chief executive of a public company which today enjoys global sales of more than €430 million (nearly £370m) . . .

Anne Heraty from the tiny Co Longford village of Ballinalee charted her remarkable business life story when she was keynote speaker at the annual PKF-FPM Leadership Talk held as part of the 2017 MLM Management Month initiative, in association with the Ulster University Business School.

She is currently CEO of Dublin-headquartered Cpl Resources plc, Ireland’s leading employment services group, which employs 750 staff at 36 offices in 10 countries and which in the year to last June posted a 10 per cent increase in revenues to €433.4m.

A multi-award winner (notable Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006 and Business & Finance Business Person of the Year in 2014) - she also became the first woman to address the PKF-FPM event, following in the illustrious footsteps of the likes of Martin Naughton, Denis O'Brien and Willie Walsh.

During a conversation with broadcaster Gerry Kelly in a packed-out lecture theatre, Anne's passion for business aligned to a clear set of values was evident as she traced her career - warts and all - from telesales with Xerox to stock exchange with Cpl, which included her fledgling years in the recruitment sector with Grafton.

Her them was “Back yourself, believe in yourself, believe in your idea”, and she told guests: “Stay curious and don't be frightened of failure. Success and failure are two sides of the same coin. Both are just experiences and each set different challenges for you.”

She told how she negotiated her businesses through two downturns - firstly the dotcom bubble burst (her recruitment speciality at that time was technology) and then the financial crash of 2007.

"But sometimes recessions are good times in which to do business. You also have to be lucky, and I certainly had my share of it," she said.

Anne - who is also president of IBEC, the group that represents Irish business - outlined some of her fears about Brexit, and even though there are so many unknowns right now especially for Ireland, she insisted: "I believe we're in the calm before the storm right now."

PKF-FPM Accountants managing director Feargal McCormack said Anne’s truly inspirational approach to leadership was underpinned by values of honesty, respect and accountability and added: “She is a role model in so many ways and someone who has quietly and effectively made a significant mark on Ireland’s economic landscape.”

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