Business Irish

Friday 20 September 2019

This working life: 'Family is most important but I thrive on the challenges of work'

Lucinda Creighton: CEO vulcan Consulting and former Fine Gael TD in conversation with Mary McCarthy

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton

Mary McCarthy

Lucinda Creighton: CEO vulcan Consulting and former Fine Gael TD in conversation with Mary McCarthy

Travelling for a living

Myself and my husband left politics at the same time and when we set up our consulting company it was not a conscious decision that I would end up doing the travelling. It just organically developed as the best solution for our family.

He is the chairman and focuses on the Irish work and my area is business development. This means I will be in Brussels every second week with regular trips to London, Paris, Berlin and last year, at one stage, I was in the US every month.

Being self-employed gives me some flexibility; one of us can always bring my daughter to school but Paul would be the primary care-giver for our two children - aged five and two - and we have a wonderful full-time childminder five days a week. It's important that one parent is around in the evening, and Paul often works from home too.

Keeping on keeping on

When I get overwhelmed I try not to over-analyse things and I concentrate entirely on the issue at hand. I enjoy the work. I'm a self-confessed political animal. After working for 12 years in domestic politics I am in my element analysing and trying to understand political pressure and policy outcomes, and trying to figure out a solution that best suits our client.

There is also the practical motivation of having a mortgage and salaries to pay. We have a core staff of 10 people now, plus seven special advisers, so there is pressure to keep the show on the road financially.

Blowing off steam

Exercise is a huge release for me. I'm nine-months pregnant so have let this lapse but I intend to get back to it. I like to exert myself and prefer the hard, physical labour of a spinning class to yoga; that just cracks me up. I'll have the gear in the car and I'm a member of a gym in Dublin and one near my home in Kildare, and I will try and fit in at least three classes a week - I might get up really early and go before work. When I travel I take my gear with me and squeeze in a run. I love horses and horse riding, and now that I am out of politics I actually have time to indulge this passion.

Maternity leave for the self-employed

I will take a few weeks off when the baby arrives but during this time I will be working from home using Skype and Zoom to keep up with client accounts. Being self-employed, it is hard to take a big chunk of time off.

When I had my last baby I was doing conference calls from my hospital bed.

Staying healthy

I try to stick to unprocessed foods and would do a lot of batch cooking at weekends to take the pressure off during the week. We try and eat together in the evenings when I am here. I never drink during the week now, perhaps a few glasses of wine at the weekend. Your lifestyle changes as you get older, when I was in my 20s I was out the whole time.

Work life and family life

Building a company from scratch is a huge emotional and physical commitment. With a busy professional life and young children there is no perfect balance, every day is a challenge. There is this idea you can have it all, but the truth is something has to give and I think someone has to take on the role of primary carer. I don't think enough men are willing to step up in Ireland to do this.

A woman in politics

Politics can get vicious on social media. I respect that people have different views, but if you stick your head above the parapet you are open to abuse. It seems to me that men can take this aggression more lightly than women can.

When Minister Josepha Madigan recently encouraged aspiring female politicians to get a good husband she was ridiculed - but the sentiment was correct. If you have a young family the unpredictability of the job makes it nearly impossible, without some serious support, husband, partner, whatever. Your life is not your own and you need to be constantly available. A lot of talented women opt out at council level because of the hours. It's a real shame. We need equal representation if the issues that matter to women are going to be addressed properly.

I loved being in politics but I am enjoying the flexibility of being self-employed. I do work extremely hard, and travel a lot, but I can plan a family holiday confident it won't be cancelled last minute because of extending Dáil sittings, and I can now be certain I will be able to attend my children's school plays.

Where chaos reigns

My professional crisis management skills are pretty well honed but I know our house will be in chaos when our third baby arrives. It is pretty chaotic already, I'd imagine all homes with young children are. I like to tell myself that the third won't be as much of a shock as the first two and it won't make too much of a difference.

My family is the most important thing in my life, but I adore my work. I thrive on the challenge and could never give it less than my all. I admire women who stay at home to look after their children, and men also, though it is still mostly women who stay home, but I could never do it. I am lucky I know my children are well looked after by Paul when I am not there. Otherwise our current set-up would never work.

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