From los­ing loved ones in omagh bomb to her award-win­ning ca­reer in ar­chi­tec­ture world ...

Ar­chi­tect Jo­hann Mul­doon and en­trepreneurs Julie and Mark Camp­bell tell Lisa Smyth how they have ful­filled their busi­ness dreams de­spite risks and early set­backs

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY LISA SMYTH

AN award-win­ning ar­chi­tect has de­scribed over­com­ing the loss of loved ones in the Omagh bomb — as well as set­backs in her pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion — on her road to suc­cess.

Jo­hann Mul­doon, a di­rec­tor of Manor Ar­chi­tects in Money­more, Co Lon­don­derry, told the Busi­ness Tele­graph that her grand­fa­ther died in the dis­si­dent repub­li­can bomb­ing of 1998, in which a to­tal of 29 peo­ple lost their lives.

The mother-of-two, who is due to have her third child, also de­scribes dif­fi­cul­ties in her early ed­u­ca­tion ex­ac­er­bated by hear­ing loss af­ter suf­fer­ing from Ger­man measles.

But Ms Mul­doon, who was raised in Cas­tled­erg, re­veals that she dis­played busi­ness acu­men from a young age, and made a £25 profit on the sale of her home-made First Com­mu­nion dress.

Ms Mul­doon will speak at the Ul­ster Bank Busi­ness Boost event at the Gle­navon Ho­tel in Cook­stown, Co Ty­rone to­day.

As a child grow­ing up in Cas­tled­erg, only one teacher at Jo­hann Mul­doon’s pri­mary school be­lieved she would suc­ceed in life. The only child of a mixed-marriage cou­ple in ru­ral Co Ty­rone, her home dur­ing the first six months of her life was a tin roof prop­erty that had run­ning wa­ter but no elec­tric­ity.

It was a hum­ble be­gin­ning for a woman who has gone on to be­come the first fe­male ar­chi­tect in North­ern Ire­land to re­ceive an MBE — the lat­est in a long list of pro­fes­sional ac­co­lades — and who fre­quently works on mul­ti­mil­lion-pound de­vel­op­ment projects.

How­ever, it is most likely the mul­ti­ple chal­lenges she has faced through­out her life that have given Jo­hann — who be­came a di­rec­tor of Money­more-based Manor Ar­chi­tects in 2008 — the de­ter­mi­na­tion to ex­cel at every­thing she does.

“I was al­ways in trou­ble as a child,” she said.

“There wasn’t a week where I didn’t get slapped for some­thing.

“I think the prob­lem is that chil­dren are put in a box and kept in a box, and there was a per­cep­tion that I would never amount to any­thing from a very young age.

“I had Ger­man measles when I was young, which re­sulted in hear­ing loss and that caused me prob­lems.

“There was only one teacher, who I loved, who took time with me — she used to let me get up and sing in class.”

Jo­hann moved schools aged nine and later be­gan at­tend­ing Omagh Academy, where her life started to change for the bet­ter.

“I was with an en­tirely new group of peo­ple and I was able to rein­vent my­self,” she said.

By the time she was 16, Jo­hann had been awarded UK Young En­tre­pre­neur of the Year by Sir Richard Bran­son, and she went on to be­come the first mem­ber of her fam­ily to at­tain a third-level ed­u­ca­tion.

She be­gan a de­gree in phi­los­o­phy and psy­chol­ogy at Queen’s Uni­ver­sity in Belfast, but it was a chance visit to the school of ar­chi­tec­ture’s build­ing that prompted her to change di­rec­tion.

“One night, in a thun­der­storm, I took refuge in the ar­chi­tec­ture build­ing and I saw the mod­els and draw­ings and I knew it was what I wanted to do,” Jo­hann said.

How­ever, get­ting a place on the de­gree course was not easy.

“They told me they didn’t like peo­ple com­ing in the back door,” Jo­hann said.

“I told them they had a 10 or 15% dropout rate and I wanted to do the course, but they were still very hes­i­tant.

“We were two months into term, so I went home and com­pleted the first two projects that week­end.

“When I came back, they let me in and I came top of ev­ery year.”

Jo­hann grad­u­ated with a first­class hon­ours de­gree and de­cided to con­tinue her stud­ies at the pres­ti­gious Mack­in­tosh School of Ar­chi­tec­ture in Glas­gow.

How­ever, for the first time since pri­mary school, she strug­gled.

“It was in­cred­i­bly tough,” Jo- hann said. “I was among an in­ter­na­tional group of peo­ple and I wasn’t the top stu­dent any­more.” At the end of her first year, she trav­elled to Fin­land and spent the sum­mer study­ing there be­fore re­turn­ing to Glas­gow with re­newed fo­cus. But she was then con­fronted with a se­ries of per­sonal tragedies — her beloved mum was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer and she lost her grand­fa­ther and a num­ber of friends as a re­sult of the Omagh bomb­ing in 1998. “Some of my love for ar­chi­tec­ture comes from the fact that I have the abil­ity to step out of what is go­ing on and fo­cus on my work,” she said.

“These things have made me re­alise how short life is and so I want to do the best I can at every­thing I do.”

While Jo­hann is first and fore­most an ar­chi­tect, her pro­fes­sion can­not be sep­a­rated from her busi­ness as­pi­ra­tions. She showed real busi­ness acu­men from a young age.

“I al­ways wanted to own my own busi­ness by the time I was 30, I al­ways wanted to be in con­trol of my own des­tiny and I was mak­ing money from about 11,” she said.

“I sold my first Holy Com­mu­nion dress and made a profit. I think mum had it made for about £65 and I sold it for £90 and bought my first dog.

“I was al­ways mak­ing money, whether it was sell­ing mar­bles or mak­ing things.”

Jo­hann ad­mit­ted that re­la­tion­ships have suf­fered in the past be­cause of her stead­fast ded­i­ca­tion to her ca­reer. But she has found a way to blend her pas­sion for ar­chi­tec­ture with a fam­ily life and now lives in Bal­ly­money with her dairy farmer hus­band, Ger­ard Mccloskey, and their two chil­dren.

“I was never a baby per­son, I was al­ways fo­cused on my love for ar­chi­tec­ture and I never re­ally con­sid­ered let­ting any­thing else in, but now I have two ba­bies un­der three and a third com­ing in No­vem­ber,” she said. “When I was first preg­nant, that was the most anx­ious pe­riod in my ca­reer as I was con­cerned about how peo­ple and clients would view it, whether they would think I would be off for nine months and whether I would de­liver their projects.

“I was con­cerned about how the busi­ness would run be­cause of per­cep­tion, in­stead of re­al­ity.

“As it turned out I had a Cae­sarean sec­tion with my son.

“I was out of the of­fice for three weeks and then I took him to work with me un­til he was four-and-ahalf months. I didn’t know any other way to go about it.”

As a re­sult of her ex­pe­ri­ence, Jo­hann — the lead speaker at the Ul­ster Bank Boost event at the Gle­navon Ho­tel in Cook­stown to­mor­row — is also an ad­vo­cate of the con­tri­bu­tion made by women to the busi­ness world.

“I am very, very stub­born and I love what I do,” she said. “I don’t think I have ac­cepted ‘no’ in my life.

“I think you have to be re­ally com­pet­i­tive and dog­matic and never al­low your­self to be put down.

“I want to in­stil in peo­ple that con­fi­dence has no com­pe­ti­tion.

If you are con­fi­dent in your­self, then no one can com­pete with you.

“If you have con­fi­dence and be­lief and if you keep go­ing and are un­re­lent­ing, then you will al­ways win.”

‘I was al­ways the prob­lem child ... but one teacher be­lieved in me’

Jo­hann Mul­doon, a di­rec­tor at Manor Ar­chi­tects

Jo­hann Mul­doon, also be­low, out­side Manor Ar­chi­tects in Money­more

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.