Leadership ahead of the curve

View from the Boardroom | Wed 6 Apr | Author – Business & Finance Louise Phelan paypal
Louise Phelan, vice president of global operations, PayPal EMEA

Louise Phelan talks to Business & Finance about leadership, teamwork and motivation.

Suffice to say, Louise Phelan knows a thing or two about leadership. The PayPal vice-president of operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa heads up her company’s Irish operations, and Phelan maintains a high-profile media presence on Ireland’s FDI scene.

“For me, leadership is about empowering those around you and trusting their judgement,” she explains. “It’s about investing in people and creating a culture of two-way engagement that rewards and values people. In my experience, that’s the best way to lead and to inspire confidence, motivation and loyalty.”

One’s team is “critical” in this mix. “Your people are your company’s most valuable asset,” she says. “They are your brand ambassadors and your customer champions. A company’s success is intrinsically linked to the success of its team. After all, technology doesn’t change the world – people do.”

Phelan uses a combination of coaching, empowering and rewarding her team in order to motivate them. “I want to give my talented teammates the opportunity to thrive and that means investing in them.” PayPal offers people careers and not just jobs, she says, and it’s essential to give people the opportunity to develop their skills.

“A top priority for me is making sure that everyone in my organisation has the opportunity to be really effective and engaged in their work, to grow their skills and develop their career. Reward and recognition are a big part of our culture. We have monthly spot awards and quarterly internal awards that recognise our top performers, but sometimes it’s just about remembering to say thanks to people for a job well done.”

AHEAD OF THE CURVE

Change is constant – especially in the technology sphere, she says, and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. “The only way to tackle it is to innovate constantly and deliver services that meet these evolving needs and deliver a real impact. At PayPal, we do this all the time. We’re re-imagining the future of money and developing technologies to benefit people and businesses. Just look at the huge changes that are taking place in how we pay for things, particularly around mobile. We’re at the forefront of this digital payments revolution. In 2015, 28% of the 4.9 billion payments we processed were made on a mobile device.”

So how does she define success? Quite simply by helping others to achieve their potential. “It’s so rewarding to coach and mentor people and watch them transform into successful leaders. That’s my favourite part of the job.”

A top priority for me is making sure that everyone in my organisation has the opportunity to be really effective and engaged in their work, to grow their skills and develop their career

As for the future, Phelan’s aspirations are clear. “PayPal puts people at the centre of everything we do. We empower people to spend their money any way they want, anywhere they want and from any device they like. We’re leaders in a fast-paced and exciting global industry. Our European Operations Centres in Dublin and Dundalk play a key role in PayPal’s ongoing success in Ireland and internationally.

“My key aspirations are focused on growing and developing our wonderful team of 2,500 talented people in Ireland so that we continue to deliver the highest levels of innovation and service to our customers and merchants. And we’re hiring all the time through paypaljobsireland.com.”

According to Jim Dowdall, CEO of GloHealth, “Louise’s drive, strategic thinking and leadership has resulted in PayPal going from strength to strength in Ireland resulting in the creation of a significant number of jobs that are important to our economic recovery.”  

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