Lorraine Butler is Managing Director of CPM Ireland which she joined in November 2015 after 14 years with eir Business, where she held a number of leadership roles, most recently as Director of Ireland’s largest Enterprise & Government ICT business. Prior to eir, Lorraine worked in the recruitment, IT & hospitality industries. She is a qualified professional coach and mentor in conjunction with DIT & IBEC, is a graduate of DIT where she holds a BA in Computer Science & Technology Management and also holds an MSc in Business Leadership & Management Practice from UCD Smurfit Business School.
Lorraine is a council member of the Sales Institute of Ireland and is a founding member of TWIG (Today’s Women in Grocery) a sub-board to the Irish Grocers Benevolent Fund. Lorraine is married to Jeff, is the oldest of 8 sisters and has in recent years returned to live in her native of County Laois while commuting to Dublin and Europe to manage CPM Ireland.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
The principles of leadership can be taught yes, but it takes a person with leadership inherent in their personality and DNA to truly and naturally lead and embrace leadership principles. I believe leadership can be improved upon and learned over time, even for those who don’t have natural leadership tendencies. But in order to become an effective leader, one has to truly want to lead, for the right reasons, believe in the cause – only then will you win the trust of your people which is an absolute requirement of effective leadership. And of course you have good and bad leadership; The concept of Shadow Of the Leader is something I have always embraced – being mindful of the shadow that your leadership casts, considering others are likely to follow in the same steps.
When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?
People skills are critical to any leadership role in our organisation. Our greatest asset is our people and leaders at all levels need to continuously inspire and motivate our employees. Good empathy and intuition are important skills -and knowing when to dial up or down each. In order to lead teams, you have to build a good team around you, realising that often others on your team are better at certain things than you are. A good leader will show the potential to embrace diversity within a team and take ownership of developing their people – where people grow, business grows.
If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?
Continue to carry out your business through the eyes of our customers. Continue to listen to what our customers need, use your market skills and knowledge to pre-empt what customers may need going into the future and execute on ‘what’s next’ as opposed to just talking about it. Being consistently mindful that people drive an organisation’s success, or lack of – respect, reward and collaborate with each other and communicate, communicate, communicate!
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?
Our ethos is people supported by technology and I believe this will remain true for 10 years time. However, technology will become ever more advanced and necessary during this time. Technology is imploding, exponentially in our everyday activity. The pace at which technology is penetrating our lives is in many ways startling but we need to embrace this trend. My baseline degree is in Computer Science and Technology Management and having spent a 14-year career with Eir managing their Enterprise business, technology and the enablement it can bring, is something I am very comfortable with. Second, to technology, insight and analytics is extremely important in understanding buying behaviours and patterns in the market and in each consumer type. CPM have invested in new technology and analytics capabilities to ensure we are at the forefront of the technology and insights space. This resource is fundamental to the future success of our business – we have doubled these resources year on year for the past 2 years and have budgeted to do the same for the years ahead.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
Carol Ann Lennon, Managing Director of Open eir is someone I greatly admire. Carol Ann is an inspirational business leader, consistently achieves strong business results, but always bringing her people along the journey. She has a strong ethos in balancing work and family and supports others who work with her/for her to adopt the same. She is a major advocate for diversity in the workplace and a great supporter of those who wish to progress and develop. She is the only female member of the eir Board and last year became a non-executive board director at AIB, while spearheading support for Special Olympics in Ireland. And while achieving all the success she has, she remains a very grounded, lovely human being! Louise Phelan VP Global Operations EMEA for PayPal is also someone I have huge admiration for. She has a very optimistic, no-nonsense and can do approach to how she leads a business, breaking the impossible down into manageable bites and achieving growing success. Louise is from a large family and heritage not too dissimilar from my own and to see the career heights she has achieved, while again remaining a really grounded and supportive individual, is very inspirational.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
To be honest, I’m not a huge reader – I usually make a new year resolution to read more, but it hasn’t really taken life in practice. I also tend to learn more from practice vs theory and find that biographies are a good balance of the two. A colleague recently recommended a publication by Joe Biden, ex VP of the United States- “Promise Me, Dad” where he talks through the 3 things any person really needs to have a good life…Something to do, Someone to love and Something to look forward to. A simple philosophy that rings true. Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of highly effective people” is also worth a read as are the Harvard Business leadership blogs which are short synopsis’ of thinking, but usually, leave plenty of room for thought!