#WXN speaker series: Lucy Gaffney’s top tips for success in business
FROM a first job as secretary at Dublin’s St Michael’s College to the boardroom of communications giant Digicel, Lucy Gaffney has learned to “think the unthinkable”, she told a room packed full of businesswomen at Dublin’s Westin Hotel.
Addressing the Women's Executive Network Breakfast (WXN) Speaker’s series, the businesswoman, who was Chief Operating Officer at Esat Telecom when it was acquired by British Telecom in 2000, told the audience that with businesses now moving at such a fast pace, “we must accept help from other people.”
She added that in the business world she lives in, spanning thirty years in the world of radio, newspapers, petrol stations and telecoms, things have changed radically in the last ten. To survive and grow, you need to constantly evolve and change and stay ahead of the game, no matter what business you are in.
Here are her top five tips for success in business:
1. Mentor: Never underestimate the help of a great mentor. “I have always either sought or accepted the help and nurturing I received from mentors. From Sean McGlinn in the old Irish Press days....to Leslie Buckley in Esat,” she added.
2. Stay relevant: “When I look at the businesses I am involved in, they are moving at 200km/h – imagine a Formula One car on a race track that up to now was a Ford Focus,” she said. “If I were a retailer in Ireland today, for example, I would spend a week in Asia and the US every year, if I was in manufacturing I would go to China for a week every year.”
3. Training/upskilling: Ms Gaffney said that in Digicel, over $5m each year is spent on training and there are 500 training programmers. “There is no point in me or Denis (O’Brien, Digicel founder) going from country to country talking about business model shifts.”
4. Don’t be afraid to fail: “What gave me my biggest kick early on was being made redundant – my second job. So I got a job in an advertising agency, and boy did I work hard.”
5. Think the unthinkable for your business and constantly challenge: “Business is about having the bravery to adapt and overcome, being bold enough to identify and tackle big and little challenges alike and be agile enough to innovate and change the way you think and do business.”