Face Forward - The Inspiring Change Podcast

Welcome to Face Forward, the Inspiring Change Podcast.  I wanted to create a platform through which I could talk to leaders about their views on internal communications, employee engagement, change and the role of leaders.  And I wanted to be able to share that with others who may be interested in hearing those views - so Face Forward was born.

Please listen, like share and comment on iTunes- it'll really help to get the word out there.  I can't promise to produce these as often as my blog posts but I will try to do them on a regular basis - I've a long list of people I'd like to get in the hotseat!

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Ep 33 - John Simmons
Author and Writer (and Grandfather of Tone of Voice :-) )

“If you’re going to use words, you might as well use the best ones you can”

John Simmons, has had many roles over his career but they all had one thing in common - a deep seated passion for the the 'joy of language’, as he puts it.  Starting his career in the UK's National Economic Development office, John soon moved into the agency world. During that period he worked on many ‘visual identity’ projects but he always wondered if there was a space too for ‘verbal identity’? And so the idea of Tone of Voice was born and became a key part of the brand programmes he worked on.

He left the agency in 2004 to work with a range of organisations, helping them to define their tone of voice and has written a number of books on the subject.  He’s also written a number of fictional novels and is a member of the Dark Angels collective.

Ep 32 - Orlaith Carmody
Coach and Leadership Consultant

"The mushroom theory of 'feed them $&*% and keep them in the dark' is gone"

Orlaith has had a number of different careers within a career. She started her career as a journalist in local radio and then with RTE before co-founding Gavin Duffy and Associates. Her focus was very much on media relations training, coaching and supporting thousands of business and political leaders.  In latter years however, that naturally broadened out into leadership development, talent development and leader coaching

 

Today, Orlaith is a coach and leadership consultant, spending much of her time coaching leaders and helping businesses to cope with the changing world of work - from working with Millennials and GenZs to maximising retention, creating purpose and driving career ownership.

Ep 31 - Gavin Bate
Mountain Guide, Entrepreneur and Charity Founder

"Don’t fall in love with your wins – positively seek out what might kill you next"

If you want to hear from someone with a varied, wide-ranging and interesting career, you need look no further than Gavin Bate. He's traveled thousands of miles around the world, summited the seven highest summits on the planet, walked across the Sahara (solo!), driven aid trucks in Africa and taught in Kenya's slum schools. And that's only the half of it!

Today, Gavin is an International Mountain Leader, runs Adventure Alternative, which he started in 1991, and is the founder of Moving Mountains Trust, an international charity working with disadvantaged children and communities primarily in Kenya, Tanzania and Nepal. He is also a experienced speaker and lecturer on leadership and leadership psychology, much of the context for which he takes from his experiences in the mountains.

Ep 30 - Joyce Walsh
Head of Leadership & Talent, Ulster Bank

"If you don’t continually learn how can you grow as a leader?"

Joyce is a career banker with over 20 years experience in the sector.  Deciding that college wasn't for her, she took a role in Bank of Ireland from school and spent 14 years there before moving to Ulster Bank in 2003. Within a year she became an Area Manager, a role she held for four years before she was asked to set up an Academy for retail staff, her first foray into L&D. A role as Head of Learning for the bank followed in 2009.

 

In 2018, having spent 10 years evolving the learning offer in Ulster Bank, Joyce became Head of Leadership & Talent. In 2019 she won the Irish Institute of Training and Development's award for Outstanding Individual Contribution.

Ep 29 - Josh Schneider
Author, Speaker and Coach

“Anything is possible but not everything is possible”

Straight out of college, Josh fell into accounting (because that's what you did, right?).  However, very quickly, he realised that it wasn't for him and it was during those two years that he realised, for many people, work was just not enjoyable.  But, having seen and experienced a few moments when people were in their element (or what he refers to as 'having that 'tingly feeling''), he knew there was more that companies and individuals could be doing to get the most from each other.

So his career took a major turn and, today, Josh is an author (with three books under his belt), a speaker and coach. In this episode I talked to him about his most recent book, '5 days to your best work yet', a very practical guide and workbook designed to help readers identify what they can do to get more out of work.

Ep 28 - Margot Slattery
President, Sodexo Ireland & NI

“Start to understand exclusion and then you start to understand inclusion”

Having been exposed to the hospitality sector from a young age (her mother worked in a local Co Limerick hotel), Margot trained initially as a chef before taking a sideways step into hotel and catering management.  She spent a numbe rof years working for a contract catering company which was acquired by Sodexo.

She has been at Sodexo ever since, during which time she’s held a number of positions across the company from Operations Manager to Account Director. In 2015 she became Country President, responsible for Sodexo’s 4,000 employees in Ireland and NI.  She’s a passionate advocate of the diversity and inclusion agenda, is a member of Sodexo's global LGBT network leadership team, and was the founding chair of Sodexo’s Women Work network.

Ep 27 - Denis Doolan
Chief, Organisational Excellence, Special Olympics

“Key to inclusive leadership is creating an environment where people can succeed”

Compared to many, Denis's career has been wide-ranging.  It started in London in 1994 where he worked in tech PR before "falling into event management" for the Sydney Olympics. Returning to Ireland in 2001, he continued in that vein before setting up his own consultancy, running strategic planning, project management and leadership development programmes for a range of commercial and non-profit clients.  When Denis was offered the chance to become interim MD of Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia region in 2011, he seized the opportunity.

He has since gone on to take a global role with responsibility for operational and leadership development.  The Leadership Academy he and his team set up has been recognised by a number of bodies and his current focus is looking at the role leadership plays in sustainability, inclusion and driving change.

Ep 26 - Julie Sinnamon
CEO, Enterprise Ireland

“The most powerful thing any leader can do is to tell stories of success”

Born in County Down, Julie’s career in business started early in life.  Her Father was a poultry farmer and retailer and, in many ways, that started to shape her views of business from an early age. She studied business in Ulster University before moving to Dublin in the late seventies, a time when things in Northern Ireland were pretty lean but foreign direct investment in the Republic was beginning to build.

Since then, she has spent 30 years in the Irish Development Authority and Enterprise Ireland, both semi-state government agencies.  She has been CEO at the latter since 2013 during which time the agency has supported hundreds of indigenous Irish companies, creating tens of thousands of jobs.  Julie is a strong supporter of initiatives that drive diversity and is a champion for women engaging at all levels in the public and private sectors.

Ep 25 - Dr Nick Morgan
Author, Coach and Communications Speaker

“You have to ask yourself ‘how did what I just say make the other person feel?’”

A lecturer in his early career, Nick’s first foray into ‘practical communications’ was as a speech writer for the Governor of Virginia. In 1997 he went on to found Public Words, a consultancy with a mission to improve the world of professional communication in which he has worked with CEOs from most of the Fortune Top 50, a number of Heads of State and a US President or two (he wouldn't tell us who!)

I met Nick at the launch of his newest book 'Can you hear me? : How to connect with people in a virtual world'.  As the use of smartphones, teleconference, video conference and email continues to explode in business, Nick explores the impact that's having on the quality and impact of our communications. He shares the top five challenges he identified in his research, and offers some ideas on how to mitigate them.

Ep 24 - Carmel Doyle
CEO, Jack and Jill Foundation

“If you surround yourself with people who are better than you, you can really play to your strengths”

Having started her career at Dermot Desmond's NCB stockbrokers, Carmel very quickly moved through the ranks before moving out of research and into PR.  Over the next 12 years she worked her way through the Irish PR scene with stints in Edelman, Text 100 and Keatings. In 2001 she set up her own consultancy - Gemini Consulting.

It was then that she met Jonathan Irwin, founder of the Jack and Jill Foundation. The foundation supports families who have children with suffer severe intellectual and physical disability to be able to keep their children at home. Today they support 350 families across Ireland.  Following a period as interim CEO, Carmel took up the role on a permanent basis in January 2019.  You can find out more at www.jackandjill.ie

Ep 23 - Jeni Brown
Head of Strategic Organisational Enablement and Transformation, Openet

“Challenge creates character and you need character to lead”

By her own admission, Jeni’s career journey has been a meandering one. Following an Arts degree from University College Dublin she completed a Masters in European Studies. Her career started in the voluntary sector before a move into IBEC - Ireland's largest business lobby group - a role "that was a real apprenticeship".  It was in that role that she started to think about HR and how businesses can drive success through their people.

She held a number of HR positions before joining Openet in 2015 where she is responsible for looking at how structures, systems and people can support and deliver on the company's overall vision and purpose.

Ep 22 - Helen Tynan
Director of People Operations (Ireland), Google 

“During change, being able to paint a picture of the opportunity is key”

Helen started her career as a primary school teacher.  However, with a class of 43 four-year old boys she realised pretty quickly that perhaps that wasn't the career for her!  So, she went back to college to study computer science before going on to work in a number of software firms.  And it was there that she found HR, "before there were really careers in HR". 

Helen has now worked in HR for over 20 years with brands including GE, Andal Fujitsu, Dell and Oracle before she joined Google in 2010.   As Director of People Operations, Helen is responsible for both Dublin's 8,000 employees and the Finance team across all of EMEA, roles she moves between on a daily basis.

Ep 21 - Colin Gordon
CEO (former), Glanbia Consumer Foods 

“Real leadership for us is about making selling easier”

Over his 30 year career in consumer marketing, Colin worked across a range of sectors from alcohol and tobacco to healthcare and soft drinks.  He is a Board member of Bord Bia’s (The Irish Food Board) Consumer Foods Board.

For the past 13 years he has been CEO of Glanbia Consumer Foods, Ireland's largest food producer.  The company boasts some of Ireland's best known food brands including Avonmore and Kilmeaden cheese and sells close on 2.5m items per day.  He lives for marketing and sales and is strong believer in the power of storytelling and aligning staff with overall strategy. I spoke to him just before Christmas, a busy time for cream it appeared!

Ep 20 - Des Moore
CEO, Cumberland Building Society 

“One of the key things I’ve learnt is to modify your own style to suit the circumstances”

Des has worked in financial services for over 30 years, "both as a banker and leader" as he puts it.  Having spent most of his career working in Ireland, his more recent experience is in the UK, as MD of First Trust Bank (AIB's Northern Irish subsidiary) and, more recently, as CEO of Cumberland Building Society in NW England.

He is someone that relishes the challenge of change and, in this episode, we spoke to Des at the start of Cumberland's change journey - a journey made somewhat trickier by the fact that there was no obvious 'burning platform'.  We'll talk to Des again later in 2019 to see how his change plan is progressing and what he's learned along the way.

Ep 19 - Ger Mitchell
Group HR Director, Permanent TSB 

"When nothing is certain, everything is possible"

Over a 25 year career in PermanentTSB, Ger worked his way from bank teller to the role of HR Director.  This was the first time in its 200 year history that the bank appointed an HR Director from a non-HR background.

His commercial background allowed him to open doors to parts of the organisation that, previously, HR hadn't felt equipped or confident to approach.  And it gave him an understanding of the business that allows the HR team to connect enable and build capability that connects with people across the organisation in a much more meaningful way.

Ep 18 - Anth Burrows & Ollie Strong
Founders, Intelligent Emotion 

"In the digital age, the human touch is going to be more, not less important"

Between them, Anth and Ollie have over 30 years experience helping large organisations to create more compelling and human cultures by focusing on internal communications, employee engagement and leadership.  

They met when both were working for RSA and, in late 2015, founded Intelligent Emotion to help organisations humanise workplaces for the digital age. They fundamentally believe that tapping into people's emotions at work, providing purpose and supporting that with great leaders, increases pride, drives innovation and, in turn generates better and more sustainable business results.

Ep 17 - Jeff Caselden
Co-Founder and Principal, Caselden Consulting 

"Sometimes, your job as a leader is to illuminate corners that people aren’t looking in"

Two years ago Jeff, and his wife Mindi, co-founded Caselden Consulting to focus on the people side of business, something they're both passionate about.   Today they work with companies large and small, in Ireland and further afield, to coach leaders and help teams to be the best they can be. 

Prior to this, Jeff spent 18 years in Amazon where he worked in a number of different divisions before coming to Ireland in 2008.  In the years since then, he worked in a number of roles, most recently as General Manager where he grew the business from 300 to 1,300 employees.

Ep 16 - Paul Diggins
Director of Internal Communications and Community Investment (former), Rolls Royce

"The best leaders understand that the answers are out there on the front line".

Paul has worked in internal communications for over 20 years - by his own admission, "that was back when internal communications was still a new thing". 

He started his career in Barclays where he worked in a number of roles before continuing his career in the Insurance sector with the Prudential, and in mobile telecoms with T-Mobil / EE.  He then returned to financial services with RBS to work for the general insurance business before it was floated on the stock market as Direct Line Insurance. 

 

Most recently he was with Rolls-Royce, with a brief to unify people under a new narrative, vision and strategy.

Ep 15 - Sean Murray
Director of Marketing (former), UCD Business School

“If you have a mandate for change as a leader and you’re on your own, it’s not going to happen".

Sean held a number of positions at Smurfitt Graduate School of business over his 20 year career there.  Most recently he was Director of Marketing, a role he held for 11 years until he retired in 2015.  Prior to joining Smurfitt he was Director of Marketing at BUPA Ireland where he was involved in its launch in 1996.  He also had significant experience in the food sector having served as a GM and Marketing Director in Waterford Foods (now Glanbia).

When it comes to leadership, he saw the good, the bad and the ugly through his 50 year career.

Ep 14 - Tom Murphy
Senior Communications Leader, Microsoft

“Your people are your greatest cheerleaders” 

Tom has worked in communications for over 20 years.  He started his career in PR working with brands like Microsoft, Intel and Gateway before, in the late 1990s with the advent of the Irish tech boom, turning his attention to tech startups, working in Iona, Marrakech and Cape Clear.  

In 2005 he joined Microsoft Ireland before moving to HQ in Seattle in 2009.  He's worked in a number of roles in PR and CSR and, more recently, in internal communications, where he's played a key role in driving  global change for 15,000 staff across 140 countries in Microsoft Services.

For more on Tom's career, see his LinkedIn profile here.

Ep 13 - Orlagh Hunt
Founder, Human Capital

“There’s a great opportunity with the digital agenda to put leadership at the heart of business performance” 

 

Orlagh has worked in HR and organisational change for more years than she cared to admit to in this week's interview :-).  She started her career in Retail and FMCG before moving into Financial Services as Group HRD in RSA. She then returned to Ireland to become Chief People Officer in AIB and, more recently, interim HRD in Virgin Media Ireland.

 

She set up Human Leadership in 2018 to help organisations thrive in the changing world of work by focusing on leadership and the role of human qualities in the digital era.

 

For more on Orlagh and on Human Leadership see her website - www.human-leadership.com

Ep 11 - Mike Ruddock
Head Coach, Lansdowne RFC (and formerly, Wales)

“As a leader, be clear about what you want to achieve and don’t be afraid to tell people”

 

Following a work accident at 26 and knowing he wouldn't play again, Mike told his Dad that he was going to coach Wales (as you do!).  20 years later he did, taking that team to SixNations Grand Slam Success in 2005.  Since then he's held a number of coaching roles, most recently with Lansdowne where he won the UIL Cup in 2018.


To find out more about Mike you can view his profile on Linkedin. Mike is also Development Director Ireland for Acorn Global International .

Ep 12 - Alison Esse
Co-Founder, The Storytellers

“Once you’ve got people emotionally hooked, their appetite to change is far greater” 

 

15 years ago, around her kitchen table, Alison co-founded The Storytellers with a plan to help organisations communicate their strategy and vision in a more emotionally compelling way.  Since then, they've applied their storytelling framework to over 170 multi-nationals across the globe.  Alison and her team have seen the power of a great story and, when it's supported by emotionally engaging leaders and continuous reinforcement through real life stories, the positive impact it can have on business performance.


To find out more about Alison you can view her profile on LinkedIn. 

Ep 10 - Harry Ashbridge
Writer, Monzo Bank

“What makes tone of voice real, is giving people the skills, confidence and permission to use it for themselves”

 

Harry has worked with words for many years.  He started life as an editor before joining London-based agency 'The Writer' in response to an advert that called out their mission 'to stop the tyranny of linguistic mediocrity'.  Six months ago he became Monzo Bank's writer though, as he says himself, "Everyone here is a writer, I've just got the job title".


To find out more about Harry you can view his profile on Linkedin. To have a look at Monzo's tone of voice and to read more about 'active language monkeys', see www.monzo.com/toneofvoice.

Ep 9 - Tara O'Sullivan
Chief Creative Officer, Skillsoft

“Diverse teams do better, make more money and have more ideas”

 

Tara has over 25 years of experience in tech marketing,  Today, at Skillsoft, the world's largest e-learning company, she has a diverse portfolio including branding, corporate marketing, communications and product marketing.
 

 

She's also a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

 


For more on Tara's experience click here to view her profile on Linkedin. Tara also talked about Google's 'Just not Sorry' plugin for Chrome - there's a bit more on that here.

Ep 8 - Pedro Angulo
Head of Leadership Development, AIB

“Leadership style creates climate, and that impacts directly on engagement and performance”

By his own admission, Pedro's purpose throughout his career- or his 'set of experiences' as he describes them - has been to help people to grow, develop and become the very best that they can be.

In his role in AIB, Pedro is responsible for Leadership Development, something he says companies aren't just talking about now, but are actually focused on. Outside of AIB, he is President of the Irish Chapter of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council).

 

 

Click here for more on Pedro's career and experience or read his Irresistible Leaders post.

Ep 7 - Eric Bowman
VP of Digital Foundation, Zalando

“There’s a point in tech start-ups at which people need leadership, not just marching orders”

Throughout his career, Eric has worked in tech roles both in startups and in large multinationals.  He has worked for brands including TomTom, Gilt Groupe and, most recently, Zalando, the German online fashion retailer.   In Zalando, Eric, along with his 500-strong tech team, is responsible for tech infrastructure and systems across the business

 

As someone who started his career with little respect for 'management', Eric is now an advocate of strong, human leadership.

Ep 6 - Michael Killeen
Managing Director, The CX Company

“Customer expectations are increasing so fast that companies can’t keep up with them.”

Michael started his marketing career in the US working with brands like GE, Harley Davidson, American Airlines and FAO Schwarz.  He founded Dialogue Group in 1990 and, 12 months ago, with a renewed focus on his customer experience roots, transitioned Dialogue into The CX Company. The CX Company runs an annual customer experience survey and works with Irish-based companies to improve their own levels of customer service.

For more - and to download their CX reports - go to www.thecxcompany.com.

Ep 5 - Feargal Quinn
Former Irish Senator and Superquinn Founder & CEO

“If you enjoyed your day, everyone you came into contact with, it touched them as well.”

Feargal Quinn founded the Superquinn supermarket chain in Ireland and has spent his life championing customer service.  

He was an Irish Senator, worked in television and has written a number of internationally published books.  His 1992 book 'Crowning the Customer' has sold more than 50,000 copies, and been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and a host of other languages.

 
Ep 4 - Fionnuala Meehan
VP EMEA Google Marketing Solutions, Google

"Culture is like French bread - you need to bake it every day"

Since 2005, Fionnuala has worked in Google's Dublin office. And as she says herself, at the beginning of Google's Irish journey, that meant her working 'wherever I needed to be' - in project management, telecoms and learning & development.

Today Fionnuala is VP EMEA in Google Marketing Solutions, helping SMEs and agencies to 'stay ahead of the curve in online'. She is also Site Lead in Dublin, tasked with creating a strategy to ensure that the staff feel connected to each other, to US colleagues and to the local community.

As promised in the audio, here's the view from Fionnuala's window! :-)

Ep 3 - Lisa Melody
Head of Talent Acquisition & Development, Ornua

"It's OK for you to tell your team how you're feeling as you’re going through change"

Lisa has worked in HR for nearly 25 years during which time she has spent time in the telecoms, financial services and food sectors. 

 

She has worked with Nortel, the Canadian telecoms company and went through the good and the bad times with AIB.  18 months ago, Lisa joined Ornua, the Irish food and ingredients company as Head of Talent Acquisition & Development, as it goes on an ambitious journey to become a €3bn company by 2021. 

 

Getting the right people in the right roles doing the right things is a key deliverable on that journey.

Ep 2 - Declan Bourke
MD, IG Ireland

Credit : Special Olympics

"Staying in contact with the business, being friendly and accessible means you're more likely to get open and honest feedback"

Declan is a 20 year finance sector veteran who has worked in many roles in the UK, Japan and, most recently, in Ireland where he's the MD of IG Ireland, Founded in 1974 and now, with offices in 14 countries and over 1000 staff, IG is a global leader in online trading.

The 11 years he spent living and working in Japan as MD of Nichiai KK - a consultancy with extensive experience in helpdesk and graphic design/marketing operations - gave him a unique insight into Japanese culture and business. 

Ep 1 - Mary Davis
CEO, Special Olympics

"When Leadership cascades all the way down - that's when you can say you are a good leader"

Mary is an Irish social entrepreneur and long-term campaigner for the rights and inclusion of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Today she is the Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics International having previously held the role of MD and Regional President of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE).

She is probably best known in Ireland for her role as CEO of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Dublin, the first time the event was staged outside of the US since the movement was founded 1968.  Mary was awarded a Person of the Year Award in 2003 and more recently received the 'Outstanding Contribution to Womens' Sport' Award at the The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year awards

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