IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Claire always willing to muck in to get the job done . . .

In the Spotlight this week is Claire McElduff, partner at Gildernew & Co

Claire McElduff
Claire McElduff

What was your first job?

I worked in a local bar and restaurant for 10 years throughout A-levels, university, and during my chartered accounting training contract. The customer-facing demands of hospitality helped me develop the communication skills that I’ve carried into my accountancy career.

What qualifications do you have?

A BSc in accounting from QUB, followed by my FCA from Chartered Accountants Ireland.

What do you attribute your success to?

I credit my parents and wider family for their work ethic and honesty - values that take you far in life. I’ve gained much from my colleagues particularly those at Gildernew & Co. Each team member is a specialist, but we work collaboratively, which helps us grow as individuals as well as a business. I also credit our three higher level apprentice students who joined us from school. They bring a freshness of approach, new ways of thinking and maturity beyond their years. Such a positive impact on us “oldies”!

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

I turned to our management team for help with this. Their feedback included words such as ‘honest’, ‘professional’, ‘hard-working’, ‘approachable’ and ‘straight talking’. I’m humbled and grateful in equal measure!

Who do you look up to in business?

On a daily basis its Gerard Gildernew and my colleagues for their dedication and focus. I can’t bypass our clients. We’ve helped many grow from small beginnings to extremely successful businesses. They’ve demonstrated drive, passion and resilience which has seen them through challenges such as Covid, Brexit and more recently the cost-of-living crisis. I’ve always taken a keen interest in Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s former PM. She once said: “You can be anxious, sensitive and kind and still be an effective leader”. Her words have always resonated with me.

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

Bring people with you: show you’re willing to muck in to get the job done. Ownership builds confidence: give responsibility (and support) from an early stage. Recognise success: buy a coffee, say thank-you, give credit for a job well done. Develop the team: we encourage training and promote from within. Balance and flexibility: we’re business focused but not at the expense of family or personal commitments.

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

Like most, I want our devolved government to be restored for the benefit of our health service, education sector and the local business community.

What website or app could you not do without?

LinkedIn for seeing what the business world is up to and BBC News for current affairs.

What was the last book you read?

I read on holidays but at home I’m a podcast fan. The 5am Club (client recommendation) is great for promoting the benefits of good daily habits.

What car do you drive?

Q5 Audi.

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I’m a member of my local Killeeshil & Galbally First Responders Group. We carry defibrillators and in the event of an emergency, NIAS will task us to go to the scene if in the area. This service plays a vital role in our local community especially now when our Health Service is under so much pressure.

What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?

Health and wellbeing. I am not the fastest runner, but I find it’s great for clearing my head or solving a problem. It also builds endurance skills. I completed my first marathon back in 2019 along with my husband Mark. I’m also the proud owner of a very active brown labrador called Bisto. Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out who’s walking who.