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Trailblazing Women: Anne Heraty, Chief Executive of Cpl Resources plc

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 6/10/2015 Anne Ravanona

This interview is part of a series on Trailblazing Women role models (Entrepreneurs and Leaders) from around the world and first appeared on Global Invest Her. You have to see what you can be. 2015-10-06-1444144082-1586973-AnneHeratyphoto.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-06-1444144082-1586973-AnneHeratyphoto.jpg

"Back yourself, believe in yourself, believe in your idea. Don't be afraid to take risks or make mistakes. If you make mistakes, learn from them and move on! Just go for it! Have no fear of failure. Success and failure are 2 sides of the same coin. Both are just experiences and each set different challenges for you."
Anne Heraty is Chief Executive of Cpl Resources plc. A publicly quoted company, they provide recruitment and outsourcing services across a range of disciplines and sectors offering specialist labour market knowledge and expertise in each sector. Anne established Cpl in 1989 and has played a key role in developing it to become Ireland's leading employment services company. Cpl finished the year with 9,729 people working on behalf of Cpl on client projects. They have a network of 32 offices in nine countries. Anne holds a BA degree in Mathematics and Economics from University College Dublin. She is the first woman Chief Executive of an Irish company floated on the Stock exchange and has won many awards including 2006 EY Entrepreneur of the Year and Business Person of the Year 2014.
Visit their website: and follow her on Twitter: @AnneHeratyWho is your role model as a leader?
I don't have one single role model as a leader. My mother was very entrepreneurial and ran the family business when my father died. She was very resilient and I learned a lot from her, growing up in a family business. I really admire all of women in the Going for Growth network in Ireland. They are really fantastic. I am part of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year judging panel and have had the opportunity to meet and learn from phenomenal entrepreneurs through that.

What is your greatest achievement to date?
I would say putting a great team together here at Cpl. I started the business in 1989 and through the growth of the business over the past 25 years, my key achievement is my strong focus on the composition and strength of the team. Many of them have been with us a long time and we have added new people as we have grown. To me, the real achievement has been pulling a great team together and creating a very strong culture with high values within Cpl. Our key values include a very strong customer focus, empowerment (to do more, to learn more and deliver better for our customers)and accountability. We really try to live these values and are absolutely passionate about them. I believe that has made a real difference to the business. We are clear about the way we want to do things, and we want everyone who works with us to really live our values.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman leader?
"When the company was smaller, I wanted to be involved in everything and every decision. Learning to let go and to delegate was hard. If I hadn't learned how to empower people the company could not have grown."

You learn from your mistakes and realise that there are so many people who are better than you. You have to make sure you have the right people with the right skills and attributes. You learn how to let go by making mistakes and holding on to stuff for too long. Self-reflection and thinking about what you want to achieve and the best way to do it are key. I have learned a lot on the job and think it's really important to learn from your mistakes. You need to understand both why you succeeded and why you failed.
One of the biggest challenges I faced, was shortly after we brought the company public in 1999. We were a specialist Technology recruitment company at that time. Right after our IPO, the economy headed into the crash and unemployment increased significantly. It was a very difficult environment and we had to really look at rebuilding the business. I had to rebuild the company in the public eye, with all the visibility that being a public company entails. The team rose very well to the challenge and we pivoted successfully.

What in your opinion is the key to your company's success?
The key to our success has been our ability to deliver for our clients. What they would say about us is that we will always deliver, no matter what happen, the ups and downs along the way, no matter what issues and challenges arise.
"We are very committed and focused on delivery and execution. In my mind, the team and our customer are almost seamless."

We really do live our values of honesty, respect and accountability and because the trust is there, you don't have to take out the contract every time there is a challenge.
Going public came from growth - I didn't set out to grow the company and go public. I simply wanted to be the best, not the biggest in recruitment. We didn't think about growth at all. Our growth came as a result of our passion and focus on being the best and delivering the best for our customers.

If you could do 1 thing differently, what would it be?
I was 29 when I set up the business. In hindsight, I would have set it up earlier. It took me a while to find my niche and what I really liked doing. I had a degree in Maths and Economics and at one stage thought about doing Law and teaching, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Then I got into recruitment and could very quickly see the difference that good recruitment and talent management made to the bottom line and delivering shareholder value.
One of the things I particularly love about Dublin and Ireland is that we have fantastic young graduates with great skills, who have confidence in themselves. I love seeing them starting up early. There are no barriers if you have the passion and want to do it.

What would you say to others to encourage them to become entrepreneurs?
"Back yourself, believe in yourself, believe in your idea. Don't be afraid to take risks or make mistakes. If you make mistakes, learn from them and move on! It's important to know yourself well, your strengths and weaknesses and put a team around you who play to your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses."

It's really important for your leadership ability to make good decisions and work well with the team.

How would you describe your leadership style?
Ours is a relationship and people business. It's all about building relationships with your customers and partners and other relationships and how well we work together. In a people business, your corporate culture is so important. I would say that I am collaborative with the team. We openly discuss ideas and challenge each other. Then we make a decision and move on.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
I have a 19 year old daughter and tell her what I would say to my younger self:
  • "Make good choices in life, learn to exercise good judgement
  • Go with your gut. Learn to trust your instinct.
  • It's really important to believe in yourself, understand your strengths and play to them.
  • Don't be afraid to fail, make mistakes or choose a different path.
  • You can achieve anything you want to if you go about it the right way and really want it.
  • Everything you do does matter."

This advice has never been more important than now. Traditional careers are changing through the impact of technology. I gave a talk at my daughter's school a few years ago about careers and the diversity of all the options out there. You have to decide what you want to be and it's harder because of all the options. There is no certainty anymore. You can do the best degree, have the best results but you need to keep looking out there to where you want to be and how to position yourself.

3 key words to describe yourself?
  • Honest
  • Courageous
  • Good listener
Watch Anne Ravanona's TEDx talk on Investing in Women Entrepreneurs.
For other interviews with Trailblazing Women leaders on Huffington Post Read More Here
Follow Anne Ravanona at @anneravanona, and check out other interviews in the Trailblazing women series on Global Invest Her blog
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