One of the outstanding hoteliers and businesswomen in Ireland, Deirdre McGlone began her career in the hospitality industry at the age of thirteen, working in local hotels. Following her graduation in 1988 from University of Limerick with a degree in European Studies, Deirdre played a pivotal role in the development of the multi-award winning Harvey’s Point Hotel, Lough Eske, Donegal. Since its opening in 1989, this family owned and managed resort is synonymous with world class hotel-keeping blended with genuine Irish hospitality. Harvey’s Point has been awarded TripAdvisor No. 1 Hotel in Ireland for five consecutive years (2013 – 2017).
Deirdre is a member of the ‘Going for Growth’ women in business community and a mentor in ACORNS, an organisation which assists women in start-up businesses in rural Ireland. In 2015, Deirdre was awarded the prestigious accolade ’Donegal Person of the Year’ and in 2017, she was runner-up in the IMAGE magazine ‘Business Woman of the Year’ awards. A board member of Donegal Tourism, Deirdre was appointed by the Minister for Tourism to the Industry Leaders Group, in helping to shape government policy to 2015.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Leadership can be taught, but only if the person being taught is prepared to learn and prepared to lead. There are however, natural qualities that are fundamental to leadership, such as a strong sense of self belief as well as vision, courage, integrity and humility.
When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?
As I am in the hospitality industry, I look for someone who genuinely likes people, someone with a lovely smile, a kind heart and a positive attitude.
If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?
I would advise them to remain true to the vision of the company, to nurture the culture of caring and teamwork that already exists in our organisation and aspire to excellence in hotel-keeping and hospitality. And of course to lead by example and to maintain our Mission, which is “Happy Customers, Happy Staff and Profitability”.
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?
I am always looking to keep up to date with industry trends and to work on our competitive advantage by playing to our strengths such as exceptional customer service.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
I admire Mary Robinson, our first female President of Ireland and the high commissioner at the UN, a great leader who continues to work to promote human rights. I also admire Paula Fitzsimons, who has encouraged many Irish women in entrepreneurship and growth of their business through the hugely successful Going For Growth and ACORNS programmes. Paula is also the national coordinator for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) for Ireland since 2000.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
There is a world of information available at our fingertips on the internet. I enjoy reading posts on LinkedIn. I have a particular interest in learning more about the importance of Leadership in developing a culture of customer care in an organisation. My Donegal colleague, Charlie Boyle of Customer Service Excellence Ireland, hosts workshops for businesses that want to enhance the customer experience. For my own personal development, I am soon to attend a ‘MEtreat’ on Mindfulness for Leaders.