Colum O’Sullivan

Colum O’Sullivan (Sully) completed a BSc degree in Food Business in UCC in 1999. Having spent 4 years working with the Musgrave Group in their operations department, he left to set up Cully & Sully in September 2004 with Cullen Allen from Ballymaloe House. Cully & Sully supply over 1,500 shops nationwide and exports to both France and the UK. All Cully and Sully recipes originate from Ballymaloe House and all of the food is produced in Ireland using all Irish beef, lamb & chicken. Cully & Sully were finalists in the 2007 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards and the Shell Livewire awards. Cully & Sully won the Meteor Best Local Producer awards and were the first Irish company to win a category award at the Sial d’Or awards in Shanghai. The company went on win the Global Sial d’Or award in Paris, beating 248 products from 30 countries all over the world. Cully & Sully was sold to US based Hain Celestial Group in 2012.

Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

Wow that’s a tough question. Yes I think leadership can be taught but of course not to everyone or by everyone. It takes time and patience to teach and I suppose the teacher has to take the time and care about who they are teaching.

When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?

The ability to talk to people and get on with them. Would I trust them and do I like them. Clearly ability is important.

If you could wind back the clock to when you were starting your career what advice would you give yourself?

Not to stress the small stuff. This is easier said than done but definitely the ability to deal with stress and taking things personally.

What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?

We have just launched a new range of bone broths into the Irish market and have just launched into France.

What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?

I have always greatly admired Cully’s granny Myrtle Allen. I remember her walking around a factory in France with us when she was 82 years old and tasting the sauces with a wooden spoon. She was ahead of her time and never compromised on her beliefs.

What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

I think biographies are always interesting but I think working closely with someone is great. Mentors in business are another great way to get close to good leaders or even having a personal business coach could be an idea.