Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I originally pursued a college education in Early Childhood Education and Psychology, fields quite distinct from my current path. It was during my second year that I acknowledged this wasn’t my true calling, but I wanted to finish what I had started. Following various job experiences, I took on a customer service position at AIB Bank, but within a few weeks, an opportunity arose for me to transition into the role of Executive Assistant to the Head of Card Services. This role provided invaluable exposure to project management and relationship building, offering insights into different facets of the business, and aiding in my career direction.

Transitioning to the sales team, I focused on nurturing relationships with retail branches, recognising the importance of supporting their efforts and seizing sales opportunities. Through dedication and teamwork, I consistently surpassed targets, establishing myself as a key relationship manager in the card-issuing business.

During this journey, I grasped the significance of collaborative partnerships, striving for mutually beneficial outcomes. Frequently asked about my success in exceeding targets, I attributed it to the power of teamwork. While my professional journey primarily unfolded in the Financial Services and Payments sectors, including a tenure overseeing a Card Department in another Irish bank, I found my niche in the VAT (Value Added Tax) Technology domain, drawn to its intricate details.

Over the years, I cultivated my skills in team management and project management, recognising the need for formal recognition of my expertise. This led me to pursue certifications such as PMI-CAPM and ACP, alongside a Diploma in Project Management from UCD. Subsequently, I embarked on a full-fledged career transition into Professional Services, fuelled by my passion and the foundation of my accumulated experiences.

 

Can you tell us about your role with The Project Foundry?

My role in The Project Foundry is Strategic Account Engagement Lead. I manage our biggest account with a clinical research organisation. I have been navigating a major change in leadership on their side, along with building our account strategy, working with the client stakeholders to provide resources to augment their teams and ensure successful delivery of their internal projects. I manage everything from stakeholder relationships, contractor relationships to contract renewals, escalations, reporting, budgets, and forecasts. I also deal with anything else that may arise. It’s a tough job, but very rewarding.

 

 

What motivates you to do what you do?

When I see that a solution I’ve implemented, benefits my stakeholders or our contractors, it feels like I’m truly making a difference. I’ve always harboured a desire to positively impact both individuals and businesses alike. I remember an interview from many years ago where I was asked why, despite not working on commission, I consistently exceeded targets; they struggled to comprehend that my drive stems from a genuine passion for what I do. Collaborating within a team, contributing to collective achievements and shared visions energises me. While I possess a natural competitive streak, it’s primarily directed inward—I constantly strive to outdo my previous efforts and embrace opportunities for growth. Loyalty is integral to my character; I commit to companies that value their employees. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to be associated with exceptional organisations that inspire me to dedicate myself wholeheartedly.”

 

How have you evolved personally and professionally over the years?

I have changed exponentially over the years. On a personal level, I have become quietly confident, acknowledging my weaknesses and striving to navigate them. More importantly, I’ve recognised my strengths and know that my skills and personality are highly sought after in various industries. While I am a perfectionist, it doesn’t mean I do everything perfectly; rather, I always feel the need to strive for perfection. I’m still working on allowing myself to be imperfect, and I’ve made considerable progress.

Professionally, I have undergone significant evolution. From feeling inferior to those with prestigious degrees from big universities, I now understand my worth in any environment. The skills I possess are much rarer than I once believed; what were once considered ‘soft skills,’ I now consider ‘superpowers’. I am authentically ‘me’ in work environments. My industry knowledge is extensive and cannot be found in books alone, yet I maintain a voracious appetite for learning and continuously seek to upskill. While it’s sometimes hard to believe how far I’ve come, I know there is always more to learn and improve upon, which is endlessly exciting.”

 

What does Culture in a work environment mean to you?

Culture has nothing to do with pool tables, free coffee, or snacks. For me, culture is all about teamwork and a supportive environment. It’s about respecting individuals for being just that—individuals. It’s about acknowledging demanding work and removing the fear of failure. Excellent communication and staying true to your word are key. A great work culture is one where people are happy to get up and go to work, where they want to spend time with their colleagues outside of work, and where being recognised for your work is the norm. It’s one where people want to stay for the long haul and are committed to a common goal.

 

Why is it Important to you?

Most of our lives are spent at work. It should be somewhere that we feel we can grow personally and professionally. I want to be excited to see what challenges each new day brings knowing I will have the team around me feeling the same.

 

How do you maintain a healthy balance between your work and personal life?

At the moment, it’s with difficulty! Working remotely helps, though. I like to sing so take part in shows sometimes. I love exercising and training, so I try to do that a few times a week. I help my friend with her natural skincare business as a volunteer and I make it a point to have a family movie night at least once a week.

 

Are there any misconceptions about your work/field that you would like to clarify?

There is a misconception around what a Strategic Account Engagement Lead is, in general. My role is to manage the client account, build strong, long-term stakeholder relationships, suggest innovative solutions to their problems (and help implement them), identify opportunities for growth, negotiate contracts and meet agreed sales targets.

 

Is there a particular aspect of your work that you are especially passionate about?

Relationship building and becoming a trusted advisor is my favourite part of the role. Getting to the point where a client knows they can go to you to resolve an issue before it escalates, for example, or trusting your judgement when it comes to decisions that need to be made around a project/situation.

 

How do you deliver value to clients?

I meet with them and try to understand what outcome they are trying to achieve. Often, the stakeholder sees a project and they automatically think they need PM to achieve the goal. However, they might not even be ready to kick off a project but need help getting to the crux of a problem. It might be that they need to change a process before they can start a project. Where I bring value is teasing out the problem with them and then proposing a solution or introducing them to someone who would have more expertise than me in a particular area. I work to alleviate the pain the client is experiencing.

What is the one thing that very few people know about you?

I am much more of an introvert than people realise. Because of my love for Musical Theatre and performing (singing, dancing, acting), people often assume I’m a true extrovert, but I am much more comfortable at home with just my family or on my own completely ensconced in an enjoyable book or podcast.