Orlagh Deegan

Orlagh Deegan owns Choice Training & Consultancy, a leading provider of Food Safety & HACCP and Health & Safety training. Orlagh is dedicated to providing a high level of service and strives to develop herself and the business. She holds an HDip Education, an MSc Business & Entrepreneurship, a BSc Hospitality and a vast array of qualifications specific to areas of Food Safety and Health & Safety Training. The business was started in 2015 and she now works with several large corporate clients as well as having a passion for working with SMEs in the food business.

Orlagh is a member of the Food Safety Professionals Association (FSPA) where she is a licensed trainer and is a member of the food standards auditing panel. She is also a licensed trainer with the National Hygiene Partnership (NHP) and the Environmental Health Association Ireland (EHAI) delivering a full suite of Food Safety & HACCP Courses from induction right up to senior management training in developing and implementing food safety management systems. She has a particular interest in working with aspiring trainers.

Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

There is always room for learning and development even for successful leaders. There are many styles of leadership and even for inexperienced leaders, if there is a willingness to learn and it’s something they really want, it is achievable. I believe in leading by example. Aspiring leaders should find a role model and learn about, observe or study their leader’s style and see if the approach can be adapted. The ability to shift styles for situational needs is a skill that requires practice to master.

If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?

Empowered teams take ownership and deliver results. Trust is key, allow them to try their own approach in striving for excellence. Hire the right people with the right attitude and allow them to learn from their mistakes as well as their wins. I would tell them to take calculated risks and ‘go with your gut’.

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

Continuous professional development is vital to remain relevant. Our associations and professional memberships assist us in keeping up to date with legislative changes and accepting change with an open mind. It keeps the business dynamic and competitive. Keeping on top of trends and methods in training and development is vital too, there has been a huge shift towards blended learning and this trend continues to evolve along with technological advances.

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

On the ACORNS programme, I was inspired by my lead entrepreneur Alison Richie, Managing Director of Polar Ice. Her story and success as a market leader is very inspiring. I admire people who work hard and create employment and opportunities for developing those employees.

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

Go for it! Starting a new business can be daunting for even experienced business people and it can be difficult when you find yourself in a position of making all major business decisions. If you have a vision and instinct tells you to go for it, do just that. Mistakes will be made, money even lost but lessons learned are valuable – they help you carve out a new plan and direction improving your vision. Set goals. Start on the little wins that lead to the greater goals and bring you closer to your vision.

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

Stephen R Covey, Brian Tracy & Peter Drucker sit on the shelf in the office. TED Talks are great for car journeys. CPD is important to me, I was selected as a participant on the ACORNS programme and attend regular development workshops. For something lighter, ‘Joy’ the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence is a great insight into the success of Joy Mangano, American inventor and entrepreneur. I have yet to read her 2017 book ‘Inventing Joy’.