The book that changed my life
'Blue Ocean Strategy' (1) by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. I consider myself a strategist, having studied it extensively at Ashridge Management College in England. It really transformed the way I thought about innovation and strategising.
The quote that keeps me sane
"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of" – Paulo Coelho, 'The Alchemist'.
The best advice I've ever received
"Be busy" – sound advice when there is nothing to be done about the circumstances you find yourself in.
The film I've watched again and again
Any John Candy film; probably 'Uncle Buck'. He makes me laugh out loud every time.
The song I want played at my funeral
'What a Wonderful World' by Louis Armstrong. My husband Richard always asked the sound guys to play it as I stood down from the stage after a particularly nerve-wracking awards presentation or speech. It calms me and makes me smile.
The scent that evokes pleasant memories
Freshly cut hay – it evokes strong memories of long summers on my mother's family farm in Glenade, Co Leitrim; supposedly helping to bring it in, but more often messing about with my cousins.
The piece of furniture that will become an heirloom
A chaise longue (2) that I bought at a house auction in London – it's beautiful to look at but impossible to relax in.
The picture that is worth a thousand words
When Richard was diagnosed with cancer we asked Barry McCall to take family pictures. There is one that stands out – it's of Richard and our son, Dara (3). There is sadness in the photograph, but I also see that incredible bond between them.
The item that takes pride of place in my wardrobe
A wonderful Roberto Cavalli dress which I wore to the premiere of 'Lincoln' – one of the few occasions in my life when I fell in love with a piece of clothing, purely because it made me look better than I was.
The sentimental piece of jewellery
My Boodles ring (4). I wear it all the time. There is a very funny story as to how it ended up on my hand but too long to explain here.
The characteristic I like most in myself
I think, and hope, that I mind my friends and family – I am so grateful to them for everything they have done to help Dara and me through the loss of Richard.
Chief among them is an intolerance for any perceived lack of drive – in myself, mainly, but also in others.
My first kiss
The last time I cried
Just a few minutes ago when writing about that picture of Dara and Richard.
It was the best of times . . .
The day I discovered I was pregnant with Dara. I had been through a very difficult miscarriage a few months earlier following many attempts with IVF. Dara was a perfectly natural and magical baby.
It was the worst of times . . .
That day in St James Hospital when the oncologist said nothing more could be done for Richard's cancer. It was the end of the road and that fragile hope we had been clinging to for a few short months.
The person I call when things go pear-shaped
My mother Mags. She's amazing – a good combination of wisdom and practicality. She has a great capacity for happiness despite the difficulties we have faced as a family.
My death row dinner
Lobster with drawn butter to start, then something really out of bounds – macaroni with the finest cheese and white truffle oil served with salty focaccia. If I am still alive after all that, I could help do the executioner out of a job by having a cheese course. To finish maybe a bit of a throw-back dessert from my childhood: baked Alaska, my mother's specialty.
My pet peeves
Those hairdryers in hotel rooms for which you have to hold your finger on the button permanently to use, but top of the list is those passengers who always appear surprised when they finally get to the conveyer belt at airport security and have to unload their multiple pockets, remove belts, hunt for the liquids and take an age to undo the laces of their shoes – and sorry, but it's usually the guys.