Dress­ing the part

Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

Any­one who knows me knows that I do love my clothes, and I go to great trou­ble to have nice out­fits for the Plough­ing. Now I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, so I think that’s an in­no­cent enough in­dul­gence. But it’s not just a friv­o­lous thing. I firmly be­lieve you have to por­tray a good im­age when you are rep­re­sent­ing an or­ga­ni­za­tion. It ap­plies equally to the men­folk, and I would have a word with them if they weren’t well dressed for a pre­sen­ta­tion. They would al­ways take the ad­vice well and you’d rarely have to say it a sec­ond time be­cause they know they are rep­re­sent­ing the As­so­ci­a­tion.

You never get a sec­ond chance to make a first im­pres­sion and your clothes are the first thing that peo­ple no­tice. In the past, I have told dig­ni­taries to re­move their welling­tons when they come on stage at the Plough­ing. And I make no apol­ogy for that. I think there should def­i­nitely be a code of dress in Dáil Éire­ann. It shows re­spect for the peo­ple you rep­re­sent. There’s no rea­son to look like the wreck of the Hes­pe­rus. It’s an in­sult to the peo­ple you are rep­re­sent­ing be­cause you are say­ing that you don’t think enough of them to make an ef­fort. and more, to speak at con­fer­ences and meet­ings about the suc­cess of the Na­tional Plough­ing Cham­pi­onships and how I’ve man­aged, as a woman in busi­ness. I don’t know if I do any­thing dif­fer­ently as a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor be­cause I am a woman. I am a great be­liever in bring­ing peo­ple along with you, rather than dic­tat­ing to them from on high, but I don’t think that’s a trait spe­cific to women. I treat ev­ery­one the same and give them as much re­spon­si­bil­ity as I think they can han­dle. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, peo­ple al­ways rise to the chal­lenge. So, of course, I’m also a great be­liever in del­e­gat­ing as much as you can. No one per­son, no mat­ter how bril­liant they are, can run the whole show. It’s not good for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, and it’s cer­tainly not good for the per­son who tries to do that.

Be­ing a woman in a role like mine has brought lots of awards over the years, too. I cer­tainly never ex­pected to be rec­og­nized as busi­ness­woman of the year in the Veuve Clic­quot awards in 2013. That was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing be­cause I don’t drink al­co­hol. Peo­ple who like the bub­bly stuff will know that Veuve Clic­quot is a premium cham­pagne. The com­pany started the awards for en­tre­pre­neur­ial women to hon­our Madame Clic­quot, who took over the cham­pagne house in the early 1800s af­ter her hus­band died sud­denly. She was only 28 and this was a time when women had no role in the busi­ness world, but she emerged as a for­mi­da­ble busi­ness­woman.

As a non-drinker, I knew none of this when I got the call from Veuve Clic­quot. I had a dilemma: should I tell them I didn’t drink, or not? I de­cided to be up­front in case there was a cham­pagne toast and I found my­self look­ing around for a plant to tip the drink into. Fair play to them, they said there was ab­so­lutely no prob­lem and they went ahead with the award.

The name Veuve Clic­quot prob­a­bly rolls off some peo­ple’s tongues, but I had to prac­tise pro­nounc­ing it a few times to make sure I got it right. Then they took me, and the eight other award-win­ners from around the world, to their vine­yard in Reims, where they planted in­di­vid­ual vines in our hon­our, with lit­tle name plaques on them. I saw the vines of pre­vi­ous Ir­ish re­cip­i­ents, such as pub­lisher No­rah Casey, de­signer Louise Kennedy and chef Da­rina Allen. I was in very good com­pany in­deed.

It’s nice to think that the vine will be there for years, and per­haps some day the grand­chil­dren will be in France and will de­cide to look up Nana’s

vine in Reims.

Award: Anna May is pre­sented with the Veuve Clic­quot Busi­ness Woman of the Year Award 2013 by Car­o­line Sleiman

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