Joanne McEnteggart talks career influences and success

20 June 2016

Joanne McEnteggart joined First Names Group last year as Director of Business Development and has recently been promoted to Co-Managing Director for Corporate and Institutional Services in Ireland. As well as managing the day-to-day operations of our Shannon and Dublin offices, Joanne also plays a key role in developing our corporate services business worldwide – from New York to Hong Kong.

Who or what are your main career influences?

I grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs, from my grandmother to my dad, so I learned a lot at a very young age about how to communicate with people as well as the importance of understanding what makes people tick and how what is going on in their lives may impact on the way they do their jobs.

I am also constantly picking up something new from my great colleagues, and my husband is a great sounding board as he works in the same industry and I trust him to give me his honest (sometimes too honest) opinion.

What qualities do you need to succeed in business?

To succeed in any career, but especially in managing a business, you need to genuinely enjoy what you do. You also need a lot of energy and resilience. I have found that the ability to bounce back if something doesn’t work and approach it from a different angle – while still remaining focused on the client – is a vital skill. And of course in today’s fast-paced global economy, you increasingly need to be alive to opportunities (and risks) however they present themselves.

If you hadn’t chosen this career path, what would you have done instead?

A career in law was a strong contender throughout my education; I studied both business and law at University College Dublin. However, I decided that my personality was better suited to the commercial world. If we’re talking “what would you be if you could be anything” then I’d have to say professional athlete – ideally heptathlon.

What advice would you give to younger people / graduates considering a career in corporate services?

Fundamentally in our business you need to have a clear understanding of what you are doing and why. It’s important to put in the ground work and ask questions when you need clarity or support – especially when you are starting out. Don’t be afraid to ask question after question. Every day’s a school day, as the saying goes!

As you move on in your career you realise that changes in regulations, policies, reporting standards and tax legislation (and there will be many) are going to impact your working world, so you need to stay up to date. It can be an exciting, challenging, exhausting job but it’s never boring – despite what many people think is the defining characteristic of accountants!

What makes a great leader?

According to GE CEO Jack Welch, good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion. Great business leaders, in my opinion, inspire those around them to buy into that vision and own it. In our business, successful leadership is about forming and building good, solid relationships that last. People need to trust us and in turn we need to be authentic and empathise with them to communicate effectively.

(Answers originally provided for Institute of Directors member Q&A.)