long have you been in the business? Over 25 years, starting after university as a
global management trainee with Visit Britain. I also have worked for them in
Canada and Portugal, and opened up the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in
Toronto. I’ve been in New York since the end of 2007.
many people work for you? In all
we have 20 in North America, and I now have five in Australia and New Zealand.
the best part of the job?
Promoting the island of Ireland
and having the opportunity to travel. And the variety! Dealing with stakeholders
from small businesses in Ireland to international airlines, and delivering
economic benefit in terms of employment. Plus getting people inspired to visit the destination.
did you want to be as a kid? A nurse. But I realized very early on that it wasn’t something I’d be very good
at – I’m not sure I would have had the right bedside manner!
was your first ever job?
I worked for three months
at a Safeway supermarket to earn money for a school trip to Italy.
the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Reaching the top of Huayna Picchu [the
mountain that rises over Machu Picchu] as thick fog rolled in and having to
guilty pleasures? (laughs) Chocolate.
on your iPad?
A mix of music with a lot of my
favourites of the 80s, plus magazines such as
Vanity Fair and the Economist.
And Irish newspapers.
do people not know about you?
I’m a keen squash
player and I love to garden.
was the last thing you bought (apart from something to eat)?
Two pairs of shoes. In New York at FSNY. I love it.
were you happiest?
I’m happy now!
would you tell your 20 year old self?
most of every day. There’s always an
upside to most situations.”
skill or talent do you admire in someone?
ability to bring consensus and find solutions.
at the top of your bucket list? India and New Zealand.
had a brush with fame? I have, many including Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Matthew Broderick
and Sara Jessica Parker.
keeps you awake at night? Not a lot.
do you spend your frequent flyer points?
Travelling – as opposed to getting stuff and
merchandise. But I have to say I have a
good number banked, as I don’t have as much time to spend them right now!
is your greatest extravagance?
Probably shoes. How
much did the most expensive pair cost? $500 – but that’s Canadian dollars and that
wouldn’t be the norm! I like
to buy them on sale. My mother taught me well: wait for the sale and then go in
for the kill.
How do you stay fit when you travel? I go for a run, usually 10
If you could change one thing about the industry what
would it be?
Not change exactly, but continue to
improve the professionalism of the industry. Expanding ongoing commitment to training as you find in other industry
you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? Richard Branson. I think he’d be pretty entertaining.
you have a favourite charity? Canadian Cancer Society.
will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months?
Equipping ourselves to deal with uncertain factors. There’s
a lot of potential from a geopolitical perspective, and preparedness for any
crisis that may occur is important.
do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Travelling, with a little more free time!