You joined JP Morgan and have since held a number of senior positions with the company – what do you attribute this professional success to?

Whatever job you do, you must do it to the absolute best of your abilities. Once you do that, you start to get a reputation for getting the job done. Because I was seen to get things done at JP Morgan, people gave me more to do, so my role expanded over time.

In an organisation of this size, your network is also critical. To get things done, you need to be able to collaborate effectively with other people, influence and negotiate with them to help you to achieve what you need to do. That goes for both your internal and your external network.

I have also learned the importance of staying calm in a crisis. People will come to me, because I’m not going to panic or create drama if an issue arises. I try to listen to the problem, really get to the bottom of it and then support the team to get to a resolution.

As a leader I also think that building a reputation for being trustworthy, giving people recognition for their successes and having a positive outlook is important.

Who were the biggest influences in your early career and what have they taught you?

I had a boss who very strongly encouraged and supported me to do an MBA at night, despite it being tough to juggle work and study. You can develop quite a singular vision in an organisation of this size, concentrating solely on what you are doing day-to-day. So stepping back, learning a bit of the theory behind the practice, and getting an external view and perspective really helped my development.

Another boss plucked me from an area where I was a real subject matter expert and put me in to run a department that I was not familiar with. It was frightening at the time, but that jump made me realise that managerial skills are transferable across business lines, and that lateral moves can be very helpful to long term progression.

I have had a lot of informal mentors within JPM over my career, and I have also learned a lot from some amazing people I have come to know in the industry. For example, I’ve learned a lot about networking from, Marie O’Connor, recently retired from PWC whose networking ability is unparalleled! From others I have learned how to best engage and negotiate with diverse stakeholders.

What are the most important lessons you have learned over the years about managing people and strategic leadership?

You have to build respect. People have to trust you and you have to be honest with them. That means being honest with your clients, your boss and the people working for you – everyone. Don’t let problems fester. Address them quickly as they never age well.

At a strategic level, you need to set a vision for where you want to go and you need to make sure that everyone understands it and is behind it. Keep coming back to that vision to keep people on the right road. Effective and frequent communication is crucial in achieving the required outcome.

Never underestimate that if your vision requires significant change, there will always be people who find change difficult. They are going to need a bit of extra coaxing along the way to get on board, so you should identify them and think about how to address their concerns. My preference is always to use the carrot rather than the stick, but it isn’t always possible.

The other thing I tend to always do is play Devil’s Advocate when making a decision or providing guidance. I have to be careful that this doesn’t come across as negative, but, I always try to stress-test decisions just to look at what the downside risk is before rushing ahead with something.

Being inclusive and having people around you that are all a bit different is important. If the people on your team are all exactly the same, you will get no creativity, no challenge, and you will probably all make the same mistakes.

You have to surround yourself with people who have a different viewpoint and very importantly, you have to listen to that viewpoint, even if sometimes it feels uncomfortable.

In terms of personal development and upskilling, how do you stay current in your sector?

I am a firm believer in lifelong learning given the pace of change in our industry and the fact that the jobs of today will not necessarily be the jobs of tomorrow. I don’t believe that development comes in one single format, but it can range from structured CPD to very informal learning.

For example, I completed a corporate governance training course with The Institute of Bankers last year, which I found really helpful. The most interesting aspect for me was the interaction, debate and sharing of experience with the other people in the class.

At J.P. Morgan we also have a lot of access to training – both online and in person training – ranging from technical and soft skills training to managerial and leadership training.

Less formal training could be spending some time with somebody on the technology team, to better understand what they do, or attending a topical seminar, getting involved in an industry initiative or reading articles. Generally being curious.

I have found my engagement with boards a huge learning – whether it is the American Chamber which has given me great insights into other business sectors; or the ISPCA which has given me insights into not for profits; or by chairing the IFSC Funds Group where I have learned a lot about how the public sector works and how to Chair a very diverse group of people.

What are your hobbies outside of work? Do you have any tricks to switch off after a stressful day?

I’ve taken to gardening in the last three years. I’m not very good at it, but I love being outside and I love watching something grow from the ground. I also built my own house a few years ago which I enjoyed, so there is a theme of watching things grow up from the ground!

Exercise is a great de-stresser, and I am very lucky that I have a great personal training gym near my house – I find if I make an appointment to train, I am much more likely to do it and within five minutes of being in there, I find I almost always forget about work.

What’s the last great book you read?

If I’m reading a book on holiday, I go for complete escapism – nothing high-brow, it will be easy reading fiction. The rest of the time, I tend to read snippets online and articles in the newspapers or I listen to the radio to keep up-to-speed with what’s happening.

What kind of music and films do you enjoy?

I enjoy both music and films. I love the Stella Theatre in Rathmines and saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri there fairly recently which was great – but while I like going to the cinema, I probably prefer music and I have very varied tastes.

At the moment, I’m listening to the Spotify playlist for this year’s Electric Picnic. This is the first time I’ll be at the festival since it launched in 2004. I didn’t recognise a lot of the bands in this year’s line-up, so I thought I’d better get to know them beforehand. If I’m going on a longish journey, I’ll listen to music in the car or on a plane. It’s very varied. It could be anything from Nina Simone or Led Zeppelin to Calvin Harris, Bob Marley or Bruno Mars.

When you travel for pleasure, where do you go and why?

I like places that are not too far away. I go to Ibiza every year to relax – not to the party side of the island – just to switch off and recharge. I’ve been doing that for more than 20 years. I also made a New Year’s resolution a few years ago to try somewhere new every year. So far this year, I’ve gone on a road trip around the Puglia region in Southern Italy which I would highly recommend.