By Yishi Chakrabarty
We might often find ourselves wondering about the seductively cutthroat, goal-oriented lifestyles business moguls have the privilege of leading. Stilettos and pinstripes overseeing bustling work form myriad shapes of transcending innovation and accomplishments.
We dream about how these tycoons, no matter from which part of the world they might be, get to adopt their own versions of the American Dream into their lives fuelled by an unadulterated adrenaline rush from dizzying success.
But as with anything else in life, if a perspective sounds a bit larger-than-life and cinematic in its approach, it probably is not from life. It might just be more of a marketing pitch than your average glimpse into somebody else’s profession.
Like when undercover CIA officer Michele Rigby Assad debunks the glamorised lives of secret agents painted by Hollywood, it draws a parallel of possible exaggeration in terms of other professions which incite a form of hedonism and awe with their global appeal and influence.
So what is life really like for these business leaders, jumping from one strategic decision to another successful annexation? What really fuels their drive and keeps them going?
Top executives from the Galwegian technology industry Niamh Costello, General Manager of Galway Technology Centre (GTC) and Mary Rodgers, Innovation Community Manager for the PorterShed innovation hub agree on one thing: It’s the people they work with, the community of technology enthusiasts eager to support one another at all times that keep them devoted to coming back to the work that they have come to love so much.
It makes one think that this mutually-fostering culture might be more than just an earnest Irish take. A job doesn’t have to be gratifying every day but it really does help when you have support if you’re weathering a particularly brutal breakdown.
Much like PorterShed, GTC is an enterprise that provides furnished and serviced workspace at the heart of Galway to ICT, digital media and other knowledge and service-based sectors.
Niamh Costello has been the company’s general manager for the last seven years. GTC has pioneered the development of start-ups in digital talent in Ireland. It was as if a prompt response to the needs of entrepreneurial technology cluster pervading the innovation scene of the early half of the 1990s.
But this driven business figure’s origins were relatively humble.
“I grew up on a farm,” she says.
However, from an early age, Niamh “had the desire to step into a general management-type role.”
She started out as a hotelier. That job enabled her to travel internationally. As a result, she gained “fantastic insight” into business disciplines, finance, strategy, marketing and managing various types of personalities.
She kept herself open to opportunities of all kinds and by her mid-20s, was able to ascend to the position of a general manager in a hotel.
Thereafter, she “took a bit of a side-step from the hotel industry” to work on other aspects of the hotel and catering industry like project management and finance. She feels fortunate that her early trainings had helped her hone highly transferable skills.
To this day, she looks forward to deriving inspiration from young, motivated and hard-working contributors. She absolutely loves building companies, helping them solve problems and watching them go through different stages of growth. She finds joy in having gained traction in a business that attracts a lot of young minds.
She loves being able to help in developing a sector that creates increasing job opportunities, a sector that consists of interlinked pools of intriguing careers coming together to symbolise more of a symbiotic community.
For warding off an unexpected slump in motivation, Niamh swears by going out, talking to people and absorbing their energy.
“I’ve always been a people-person,” she gushes.
“I go to events and talk to peers, get some new ideas and I think that really helps.
“I like to draw inspiration from others. My ideal form of recharging would probably be having coffee with Mary Rodgers,” she laughs.
What about Mary Rodgers? Did she always want to manage and shape diverse forms of innovation?
“Definitely,” Mary says emphatically.
“What I do now is definitely an incidental by-product of the work I put in throughout my life. I had no prior plans to do what I do now whatsoever.”
Turns out different people in the same profession can have different mantras to leading a life.
Mary Rodgers was appointed by the Galway City Innovation District as Innovation Community Manager at the PorterShed innovation platform. An experienced entrepreneur, executive manager and advisor, she has founded Stateside Solutions, making her a US market entry specialist.
The NUI Galway and GMIT graduate is regarded as one of the most influential in business in Ireland by entities like the Irish Voice and Irish Tatler. She is a business mentor for Líonra and the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Galway and the former Vice President of Credit Suisse, an investment company, for its New York branch.
“I love my job as an analyst. I get to work on different problems every day with different people,” she says.
“The team and the board behind PorterShed are highly motivated people. If we’re reaching a slump with a member company, the community makes sure to rally round and fix the situation. We’re always trying to create a pathway to move on to the next big thing very quickly.”
To aspirants starting out, leading business figures have spoken: a team player makes the dream play out better.