Learn new things, have fun too

Be one. In­spire one The re­ces­sion taught hote­lier Deirdre McGlone how to make dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions

The Irish Times Magazine - - INTERVIEW -

Vi­sion­ar­ies in­spire us. For Deirdre McGlone, owner of Har­vey’s Point in Done­gal, it was brother- in- law Jody Gys­ling who had the vi­sion to see how a run­down cot­tage on 27 acres of boggy land could be trans­formed into one of the coun­try’s premier ho­tel des­ti­na­tions.

It helped that the poor land in ques­tion was in a per­fect lo­ca­tion – on the shores of scenic Lough Eske.

A Swiss na­tional and globe- trot­ting busi­ness­man, Gys­ling had come to Done­gal in 1983 in search of a hol­i­day home. But thanks to the work that he and sub­se­quently his brother Marc put in, over time the hol­i­day home was trans­formed into a guest house, then a small ho­tel and, f i nally, i nto the award- win­ning four- star prop­erty it now is.

Along the way they re­cruited lo­cal girl Deirdre. A Euro­pean stud­ies grad­u­ate of the Univer­sity of Lim­er­ick, she had worked in France, Ger­many and Lon­don and took a re­cep­tion­ist job as a stop­gap, but never left.

She and Marc fell in love, mar­ried and be­gan their fam­ily. In 1996 they bought out Jody’s share in the ho­tel and set to work build­ing a strong clien­tele, mainly through great cus­tomer ser­vice and con­stant rein­vest­ment.

“Jody had the vi­sion and is the per­fect blend of hote­lier and builder with an eye for de­tail,” says McGlone. In recog­ni­tion of the fact that women are the pri­mary de­ci­sion- mak­ers for short breaks, he in­cluded such de­tails as hav­ing good light­ing and seat­ing in bed­rooms.”

McGlone is par­tic­u­larly com­mit­ted to fe­male em­pow­er­ment and she’s been in­spired by Paula Fitzsi­mons, founder of Go­ing for Growth, a pro­gramme for women look­ing to grow their busi­nesses, which is free to par­tic­i­pants.

Like so many for­mer par­tic­i­pants Deirdre McGlone: “Too of­ten women have a great busi­ness idea but not the con­fi­dence to con­vert that into a plan”. McGlone now gives back to it, act­ing as a lead en­trepreneur for a sis­ter pro­gramme called Acorns, which is aimed at early stage, fe­male- led start- ups in ru­ral ar­eas.

“I’m work­ing with my third Acorns group now and I just love it,” says McGlone. “I knew from par­tic­i­pat­ing in Be One. In­spire One, spon­sored by Ul­ster Bank, is a se­ries that tells the sto­ries of suc­cess­ful Ir­ish women and what it is that in­spires them.

The se­ries is be­ing sup­ported by Ul­ster Bank, which un­der­stands the need for flex­i­ble so­lu­tions for busy pro­fes­sion­als.

“Ul­ster Bank Pri­vate Bank­ing al­lows you the flex­i­bil­ity you need by sav­ing you time and help­ing you to man­age your per­sonal bank­ing from wher­ever you are, when­ever you want, leav­ing you free to fo­cus on the things that Go­ing for Growth just how open and car­ing women in busi­ness are to one an­other.”

A com­bi­na­tion of net­work­ing and pos­i­tive peer pres­sure can help build con­fi­dence in women. “Too of­ten women have a great busi­ness idea but not the con­fi­dence to con­vert that into a re­ally mat­ter in your life,” says San­dra O’Rourke, re­la­tion­ship man­ager with Ul­ster Bank Pri­vate Bank­ing. ul­ster­bank. ie. san­dra. orourke@ ul­ster­bank. com plan or the con­nec­tions to turn that plan into some­thing that works. It’s im­por­tant for women to know that there are sup­ports out there that can help them take an idea from the kitchen ta­ble to the board­room.”

McGlone says she was never overly con­fi­dent her­self. “It’s only over the years that I have gained con­fi­dence. I al­ways had a be­lief in my­self, but how to bring that out I just didn’t know.”

Con­tin­u­ing pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment helps. “It’s very im­por­tant to keep see­ing what’s out there, build­ing your net­works,” says McGlone, who is also pres­i­dent of the net­work­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion Done­gal Women in Busi­ness.

Fun is im­por­tant to her, as is a pos­i­tive out­look, but she’s re­silient in the face of fail­ure too. “I’m the type that will dust my­self off and look on the bright side. In the past I strug­gled with be­ing as­sertive be­cause I’d be nat­u­rally in­clined to go with the flow.

“I’ve had to learn to be tougher than that as a busi­ness woman. The re­ces­sion taught me how to make dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions too, in or­der to pro­tect my busi­ness.”

Har­vey’s Point blends fam­ily and work beau­ti­fully, but it’s im­por­tant to main­tain a work/ life bal­ance too.

For McGlone the key is hav­ing a good team around her. “I’m not afraid to em­ploy peo­ple with bet­ter skills than me be­cause it frees me up to look af­ter the guests, which is what I love.”

It also frees her up to get out with her fam­ily in the great out­doors, hill walk­ing and horse rid­ing.

When it’s time to come back in she’ll do her­self up, this time in­spired by her mother. “She raised six kids and al­ways liked to look her best and dress well. She took great pride in her ap­pear­ance and passed that on to me,” says McGlone. “Fash­ion doesn’t in­ter­est me at all but I l i ke be­ing ap­pro­pri­ately dressed and groomed for the role I play. It’s what she taught me.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: JAMES CON­NOLLY

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