Thursday 14 December 2017

IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT AA director Conor Faughnan on his penchant for loud music – and he reveals what would be stashed away at the back of his dream garage

Conor Faughnan is director of consumer affairs for AA Ireland and a regular commentator on all things travel and transport. A well-known voice on Irish radio for the last 20 years, he's the AA's main spokesman and lobbyist. He's married with three teenage kids and lives in Knocklyon, Dublin.

1. If you were a car, what car would you be?

One that required much swearing and kicking to get started on a cold morning, but was fairly comfortable.

2. What's your favourite road?

The Boyle by-pass on the N4. I love the Gaelic Chieftain sculpture and the views are wonderful. To me it marks the point when I'm back in the west of Ireland.

3. What would you do with your last litre of fuel?

Swap it for a pint of Guinness.

4. Do you have a favourite car gadget?

Probably my iTouch, which plugs into the sound system and enables me to annoy passengers with my playlists.

5. What is the fastest you have ever driven (legally)?

I drove three closed stages of the AA Circuit of Ireland Rally years ago when we were sponsoring it, in a 2.5 litre Subaru Impreza – the most fun you can have with your clothes on. I had to go like the clappers because there were just two course cars behind me and then the late great Bertie Fisher, who was leading the race at the time. Mind you, the fastest flat-out speed was probably at the ADAC's test track outside Munich, where I got up as far as 260kmh in a C-Class Merc. Wasn't as exciting though.

6. What cars would be parked in your EuroMillions garage?

Something classic, something discreet, something topless and something expensive.

7. Who taught you to drive?

A failed experiment involved my then girlfriend, now wife, and her Opel Corsa. Miraculously, the relationship survived. Thereafter I went with a proper driving instructor.

8. During your childhood, what car did your family have?

My dad loved French cars (still does). We had Peugeots, a Citroen G Special and for a glorious period a Citroen DS. When we were kids we thought it was the coolest machine in creation and would not have swapped it for a space ship.

9. What was your first job?

Fitting tow-bars for an outfit in Blackrock. We also fitted babyseats – at the time they came with kits and the mountings needed to be drilled and bolted in. Simple unless you were completely incompetent, which, sadly, I was.

10. If you could switch careers what would you do?

Good question, since I rather fell into this one. I originally wanted to be a broadcast journalist so it would probably be in journalism or writing. My dream job would probably be RTE's America correspondent.

11. Who do you most admire in your industry?

I've met and known some really good business people. They have saved and created plenty of Irish jobs through the years and don't get a lot of credit. Mind you, the AA doesn't fit into one 'industry'. We're motor, home and travel and also media so that gives me a lot to choose from. I admire Irish success, so people like Gillian Bowler and Bobby Kerr would feature. Also Dermot Desmond.

12. What was your best career decision to date?

I went back to college later in life and did a business masters in TCD.

13. Do you have a personal business philosophy?

A company must have genuine values. You must treat customers well and keep your promises. If you mess up be honest about it. In the office I try to trust those around me rather than pretending to be on top of all the details.

14. What is on your car stereo right now?

I flit through a library of playlists, but a recent habit is playing Elbow's 'One day like this' at skull-thumping volume when I'm on my own.

15. One item you couldn't live without?

I'd have to say the mobile, even though there are days when I would cheerfully toss it out of the car window.

16. What three people would you want to be stranded with on a desert island?

Tough question when I have a wife and three kids! If I abandon them, so to speak, I'd enjoy the company of Stephen Fry, Jon Stewart or other professional smart-alecs. The wife would be essential so I'd have to drag her along kicking and screaming. Bear Grylls might be useful for survival essentials, provided he slung his hammock on the far side of the island.

17. How do you relax?

I think I'm good at leaving work behind me. We have Leinster season tickets and try to take in the Dubs' games as well. I play pool regularly, poker occasionally and golf appallingly. I've been known to enjoy a pint of Guinness.

18. What is your favourite sporting venue?

The RDS has been brilliant for Leinster games. Croker makes me proud as does most of the Aviva Stadium (I hope we eventually finish the northern end). The Millenium Stadium is very hard to beat.

19. Who is your sporting hero?

Loads, including Brian O'Driscoll, Ciaran Whelan, Isa Nacewa, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Keith Wood, Jason Sherlock, Paul McGinley.

20. Describe yourself in one word?


Irish Independent

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