Michelle Carpenter

Michelle Carpenter is the  CEO of Rowing Ireland. She is a native of Limerick City and has been involved in rowing all her life. Before joining Rowing Ireland Michelle worked for the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and the European Central Bank on the launch of the Euro 2002 information campaign. She joined the team in Rowing Ireland in 2014 and under her directorship she established the Get Going…Get Rowing programme in its present form linking with partners across the country and internationally to integrate the Olympic Values Education programme. In 2018 30,000 individual students (mainly girls) engaged in the programme. In 2019 the programme was awarded a diploma of recognition for its work in engaging girls in sport from the International Olympic Committee.

Carpenter has been involved in rowing since a young age and was one of the first female registered members of Shannon Rowing Club in Limerick. She won her first Irish championship with the club in 1988 and was a member of the Irish Squad from 1987-1993 when she rowed for Shannon and Commercial Rowing club, Dublin. Last year she competed in the Irish Championships as a Masters rower for Lady Elizabeth Boat Club.

Under what conditions do you get your best work done?

I love a fast pace when it is really busy but not so busy that you are not achieving anything. I am a big team player and believe in the merit of the team and teamwork. I supposed after being involved in rowing in crew boats for so long that isn’t a surprise.

As organisations get larger there’s often a tendency toward dampening inspiration. How do you encourage creative thinking within your or your client’s organisations?

We are still very small but growing every day. Going back to teamwork and believing that everyone has a key role to make the cogs in the chain work is really important. With my role now and with the Get Going…Get Rowing programme partnerships were also a big component, linking in with those who have a similiar mindset wanting to achieve the same goals.

Have you had a mentor and if so how did this person impact you?

I have had a number of mentors from an early age but three key mentors in my life. I have realised this is so important for women in leadership to have a really good mentor and also a great supporting sponsor.

Have you ever been professionally stuck? How did you become unstuck?

Lots of times I like to ask advice from lots of different experts and then make up my own mind in the end based on the facts that I have received. Again, a good mentor is key in situations like this to advise and support.

What advice would you give your younger self?

You can do it. Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith to push yourself forward for something, there is never a perfect time to go for something.

What qualities do you believe are the most important to be a leader? If not all these qualities come naturally, do you have any tips on how to cultivate them?

Understanding and the ability to try new things and think outside the box. Take as many courses and talk to as many people from business/leadership as you can to try and cultivate and nurture these key qualities.