Over 60 guests attended the Women in Family Business and Leadership event in the DCU Business School this week.
Organised by the Centre for Family Business and the Leadership and Talent Institute and sponsored by AIB, pwc and William Fry, the event aimed to create awareness and ignite important conversations around inclusivity and diversity in family business leadership.
President Brian MacCraith spoke about a wide range of formal and informal initiatives at DCU that support the vision for the University to become a place that explicitly values women as leaders and through this it will become the lived experience of staff.
Maura McAdam welcomed guests to the second event in the ‘Women in Family Business and Leadership’ series, and highlighted some important research that has been carried out it this area. As Professor of Management and Director of Entrepreneurship at DCU, Maura spoke about entrepreneurial leadership and the idea that one should not focus on male or female leadership style, rather your own leadership style within the individual environments.
Keynote speakers, Caroline Keeling, CEO of Keelings; Stephanie Manahan, CEO of the Central Remedial Clinic; and Bríd Horan, Former Deputy CEO of ESB and Steering Committee Member of 30% Club Ireland, shared their individual leadership stories and experiences, addressing some of the challenges faced by women looking to enter into positions of leadership or currently in these top roles.
Having taken up the position of Chief Executive in June 2014, Stephanie Manahan has been central to establishing new management structures and robust governance for the CRC. She is leading out on a transformational change programme for the organisation and overseeing the implementation of the Strategic Plan for CRC for the next five years. In sharing her journey, Stephanie explained what leadership meant to her and how she believes our leadership styles affect our transformation and change goals. She also spoke about the impact various women and events have had in shaping her leadership style and highlighted the importance of managing the setbacks and remaining resilient.
Caroline Keeling gave us an insight into some of the challenges she has faced as a woman leader within a family owned business. Caroline took on the leadership role in 2006 with a strong vision for the company above everything else. Whilst the company faced a number of challenges in 2008, Caroline stressed the importance of emotional intelligence (managing self, reportees, boss, peers and teams) in leadership for peak performance, and how critical she feels it is for people to have balance in their leadership and what they stand for outside of the business.
Prior to her retirement in late 2014, Bríd Horan was Deputy Chief Executive of ESB, having spent eight years on the ESB Executive Team. She is also an active member of the 30% Club Ireland Steering Committee and Chairperson of ISAC (Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange). Brid’s presentation focussed on three key messages;
- Being realistic – challenge yourself! If something is not challenging your business, your business won’t change
- Build relationships – highlighting the importance of building relationships inside and outside of your business
- Be resilient – remember that nothing needs to be perfect.
These insightful presentations were following by breakout clinics where participants were given an opportunity to take part in a more in-depth discussion and Q&A session with each of the keynote speakers and with Maura McAdam, Melrona Kirrane and Janine Bosak from the DCU Business School.