60 seconds with: Rosemary Steen, Director of External Affairs, EirGrid Group

Business, Interviews | Tue 26 Sep | Author – Business & Finance rosemary steen eirgrid group
Rosemary Steen, Director of External Affairs, EirGrid Group

Rosemary Steen, Director of External Affairs, EirGrid Group, takes on the Business & Finance 60-second interview challenge.


Q. What was your first job?

My first-ever job was working in Kitty O’Shea’s bar in Dublin. It was a great introduction to working in a service industry. I learnt some good lessons that are still relevant to me today, including how to multitask, work with a team and manage crowds, particularly during the post-match celebrations! I also got to know about  the importance of listening to the customer.

Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

There are a few personal and business achievements that I am very pleased and proud to have completed. On a personal level, the one that stands out for me is my involvement with the AsIAm organisation which serves children and families in Ireland who are affected by autism. We try to educate people about autism, as well as advocating for and empowering the autism community in Ireland. I passionately believe that young people with autism need their voice to be central to the debate about the kind of services they need to improve their lives. I am also very aware how early intervention for children with autism can make such a difference to their quality of life, and that of their families. On the board of AsIAm, I work with so many incredibly dedicated people who bring all of their expertise and energy to bear to improve the lives of others, and I’m really inspired by it.

Q. In three words or less, how do you define success?

Freedom, giving, growth.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever had was in relation to empathy. I believe the worst thing we can do, in our business and personal lives, is to cast judgement on other people. Everyone has their own battles to fight in their lives and are trying to create the best possible future for themselves and their loved ones. From the outside, we can’t see these struggles, that’s why it’s so important to always be kind, and to avoid judging others. I don’t think you should underestimate the importance of empathy and self-awareness and the impact it has in leading and serving others.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I’m motivated by the challenges of understanding and resolving complexity, and of bringing talented teams together to find solutions to issues. I try to motivate my staff to enjoy resolving these issues with me, and to celebrate their successes as we work through them.

I’m also motivated by giving time to the voluntary organisations I care about. It’s an opportunity to bring the learnings from my professional life and contribute to the advancement of these organisations. It’s both motivating and rewarding.

Q. If you could step into the shoes of one business person for the day, who would it be and why?

I would love to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I have huge respect for the wonderful work this organisation does, and we know of course that Bill Gates has one of the most extraordinary stories in the world of business. Their foundation has a simple guiding ethos which centres around unlocking the possibility inside every individual. There is so much that could be done in the world with that remit, and I admire that this couple, who could have retired to a life of luxury without a thought for the rest of the world, have chosen to spend their time and money making a difference.

Q. How do you relax?

I love the gym and Reformer Pilates – it’s important time out for me to unwind. Most of all I relax by walking my two dogs, it is a pure moment of pleasure that I treasure every day.

Q. What’s your motto?

“Grace under pressure”. I always try even in the most challenging situations to be thankful for the people working to support me professionally and personally.

Q. What are your aspirations for the future of your business?

Our job in the EirGrid Group is to provide a safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity on the island of Ireland: now, and in the future. This is delivered through the grid, a high-voltage network that brings power from generators and supplies wholesale energy to heavy users. My aspiration is that there is a shift whereby the grid moves from its unseen role to becomes a central and understood part of everyone’s lives in Ireland. I’d like to get to a position where people understand that the grid has a positive impact on all of us because it enables us to do the things we need to do every day, powering our businesses, our communities and our home lives. I also want to build awareness of the ethical way in which we carry out our work, ensuring that we have a positive impact on the local and national environment.

I don’t think you should underestimate the importance of empathy and self-awareness and the impact it has in leading and serving others.