High Flyers: 'Unacceptable behaviour by someone else' was motivator for Cara's success

Cara O'Kane, financial director at RiverRidge.

In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Cara O’Kane, financial director at RiverRidge

What was your first job?

My first job was working as a clerical officer in the human resources department of Craigavon Area Hospital.

What qualifications do you have?

My qualifications include a BA (hons) in banking and finance, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and I’m an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (ACMA). I have also successfully completed the ILM Level 5 coaching and mentoring qualification.

What do you attribute your success to?

Success to me is working hard for the benefit of the company, and for my team. A key attribute to success is building a good team around me to help achieve our goals and that’s something I’m lucky to have at RiverRidge.

How would you describe yourself to someone who'd never met you?

I like a good conversation, I’m always happy to help and I have a positive mental attitude.

Who do you look up to in business?

I can’t name one particular person, but I look up to anyone who is authentic, approachable, a natural leader and has a unique vision for the company they lead.

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

I always try and build genuine relationships with the people who work for and with me. I practice a supportive management style and I try to ensure that everyone in the organisation is treated with equal courtesy and respect.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

Have a functioning Executive with a better focus on supporting growth in Northern Ireland based SMEs. In addition, I would implement having tuition fees paid for during third-level education, as I believe this would ensure that all talented young people in our community are given equal opportunities for career development.

What website or app could you not do without?

I couldn’t do without Whatsapp. It’s a great way to keep in touch with people and make yourself feel popular (even though the same friends can be in 10 different groups!). It is also a great medium for sharing photos and videos.

What was the last book you read?

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.

What car do you drive?

I drive the Kia e-Niro. Working for RiverRidge, it would of course be an electric car!

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

My decision to go to university was significantly impacted by a period of prolonged workplace bullying. Whilst extremely hurtful at the time, it ultimately resulted in me pursuing a successful career. Ironically, unacceptable behaviour by someone else was a great motivator for success.

What's your greatest passion outside work and family?

Spending time with friends and all my animals. I have three dogs, Echo, Leia and Biscuit, and a horse, Scully!