Maura Quinn was appointed as Chief Executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland in 2008 and is responsible for leading the strategic development of the IoD through growing the membership base, expanding the range of programmes and services and building the profile of the organisation. In September 2008, Maura spearheaded the introduction of the IoD Chartered Director Programme, which is the most sought after and prestigious director qualification in Ireland. She is a leading voice on the importance of director training and board diversity and a keen advocate of the need to improve corporate governance standards and the quality of boards in Ireland. Prior to joining the IoD, Maura was Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland for eleven years, where she was credited with the resurgence, growth and development of the organisation in Ireland. Having operated at a senior level with UNICEF HQ in New York and Geneva, Maura was also elected Vice-Chair of UNICEF’s Standing Group of National Committees, which generate one-third of UNICEF’s income worldwide.
Having studied Law and Marketing, her career has included a range of senior appointments in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. In 2014, she was appointed as a non-executive director of the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital and she also serves on the Player Development Board of Rugby Players Ireland. Maura has recently served on the judging panel of the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards and the Business & Finance Awards.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
I believe that leadership skills can be taught and leadership programmes can enable you to become more self-aware and analytical as to what kind of leader you are as well as giving you the tools to improve your performance as a leader. Having said that many people possess innate leadership qualities and have a natural ability to lead.
When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?
In our organisation, the personal qualities that are hugely important not only at a leadership level but across the team are integrity, ambition and passion. We are a small but highly effective team and that passion and drive have been core to the growth of the IoD in recent years.
If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?
To remain customer focused and to seize opportunities while maintaining the high degree of professionalism with which we approach all of our activities and the services we deliver to our 2,700 members.
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?
We are constantly reviewing and analysing what works and what doesn’t in our business. I think it is important to recognise when a particular project or initiative is not working and to be confident and brave enough to move beyond it. We are always seeking to improve our offering to our members be it across our training programmes, resources or events to ensure that we remain responsive and relevant to Ireland’s business leaders.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
I greatly admire Bill & Melinda Gates because of their enduring legacy through their Foundation. I hugely admired Mathilde Krim of AMFAR.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
Learn from those around you. I take great inspiration from the leaders I meet on a daily basis and have met throughout my own career. In terms of specific courses, the IoD’s Chartered Director Programme is a wonderful leadership programme combining academic and peer-to-peer learning for senior business leaders.