High Flyers: Friends call Diane 'a heart with feet'
In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Diane Morrow, learning & development partner at Aflac Northern Ireland, a US Fortune 500 company with a global cyber security and technology centre in Belfast.
What was your first job?
I have a strong work ethic which was instilled in me by my parents. While studying at university, I worked as a retail assistant at Burton Menswear. After that, I had the absolute joy of working in customer service for Euro Disney in Paris for a time which, as a real people person and Disney lover, was a dream come true for me and a chance to spread my wings.
What qualifications do you have?
After graduating with a first class honours from Stranmillis University College, I taught business studies for almost 10 years, honing my learning and development skills, introducing experiential learning into the classroom and utilising my existing business connections to really bring learning to life. I joined Aflac NI in March 2020 and more recently I’ve taken on the brand-new role of learning & development partner, having gained professional qualifications in executive coaching through Aflac NI’s excellent career development programme. One of my favourite things about working for Aflac NI is that the company really values development and commits to investing in its people with continuous learning.
What do you attribute your success to?
Undoubtedly my parents. They taught me to give 100 per cent to everything that I do. I’m so thankful to them for the encouragement and opportunities they gave me through education and instilling that sense of lifelong learning in me.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
Personally, I think I’m really bubbly and have a good way with people. I’m a people person first and foremost. A friend once described me as “a heart with feet” and I really hope I live up to that!
Who do you look up to in business?
Working in the tech industry, I have to admire Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella. I’m continually inspired by his work. His successful leadership style is authentic and empathetic, which is something I very much relate to.
How do you get the best out of the people who work with you?
My management style is to be open, empathetic, vulnerable and real. To be a great leader, you must have a great relationship with all of your team members and to get the best out of people, you need to know them and truly care about them. For me, unlocking what’s holding individuals back is key to driving them to fulfil their potential.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
Northern Ireland is an exciting place for businesses to be right now and our talent pool locally is unrivalled. Aflac recognised the city’s amazing culture, energy and resilience and decided to make Belfast home to its brand-new global IT hub in 2019. Not only that but the “quack” is great. We’re humble by nature, so, if I had to change anything, it would be for more leaders to shout louder about how great our talent is.
What website or app could you not do without?
I love to shop and I have a slight shoe and handbag addiction, so The Outnet is probably my most-visited site. WhatsApp is great for keeping up to date on all the family banter and of course the mum groups and never-ending kids sporting WhatsApp groups!
What was the last book you read?
The Curious Advantage by Garrick Jones, Paul Ashcroft, and Simon Brown which deals with unlocking our collective curiosity. Some of the insights are fascinating and I try to take that learning and embed it into my work.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
People are always surprised when I tell them that I’m a member of the Harley Davidson Chapter in Belfast. I also love to rollerblade! My husband and I spent many an afternoon rollerblading over the Brooklyn Bridge when we lived in New York and I’m also a not-so-secret country music fan, I learnt to ‘two step’ when we lived in Texas!
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
My passion really is my family. I’m blessed to have two beautiful children (14 and 11). Now, my life really is dedicated to giving them all of the knowledge, support and tools they need to be happy and successful in life.