“Don’t be afraid to ask.” 60 Seconds with: Caroline Dunlea, co-founder of Core Optimisation

60 Seconds With | Tue 5 Feb | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Caroline Dunlea, co-founder of Core Optimisation.

Caroline Dunlea, co-founder of Core Optimisation, takes on the Business & Finance 60-second interview challenge.


Q. What was your first job?

My first job was working in a small manufacturing company in my local town when I was 15. I worked at the weekends for about 3 years. Along with the pocket money, it definitely gave me a sense of hard work and taught me the value of teamwork.

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

Aside from raising two wonderful children and seeing them make their own decisions as adults in the world, it is definitely setting up Core Optimisation with my business partner, David. I didn’t envisage myself as a business owner and like many things it developed very organically. I was at that point where I wanted to paddle my own canoe and to influence and shape a company’s development and culture in a very specific way. You can only take that so far when you work for someone else.

Core Optimisation, now just three years in business, is an award-winning agency with an international client portfolio. We experienced consistent growth and are now opening up an office in London. I am tremendously proud of what we have achieved to date as such a young company.

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

Progression, Relationships, Culture

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

Don’t be afraid to ask. Whether it is asking for advice, asking for assistance, or asking for an opinion. We have become stronger at identifying supports that help us grow as a business and help us offer a better service to our clients. As a young company you need to be able to identify and rely on the supports that are available to you.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

The Industry we are in is very quick to change. What worked yesterday does not always work today. So, training is important and making sure that the team has the bandwidth to stay on top of trends as they emerge. We encourage our team to attend conferences and also encourage them to speak at events when the opportunities arise.

We also like to be very open and communicative so have transparency on the company goals and performance which keeps everyone motivated and goal-orientated.

We also make sure to have a few nights out to recharge the batteries and appreciate the hard work put in.

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

Ariana Huffington. She’s a strong, successful and hard-working woman. I love how she had foresight in the early digital era and I admire her Thrive initiative which focuses on health and wellness in business and her own experiences in business.

Q. How do you relax?

This is something I am constantly working on. I love the outdoors and find it takes you away from the phone and the laptop so I regularly cycle and try to get out at least once a week for a few hours. I also enjoy hiking and travelling to see new places and combine those passions when I can. I have just booked an 18-day trek of the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m in the great outdoors and my head starts to clear.

Q. What’s your motto?

It’s something that I read when I was very young and it always stuck with me, ‘Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.’

We need to remember that we cannot control everything (despite the fact that I try), but we can have an impact by making a positive change. It isn’t a weakness to admit what you can and cannot do. Some things are better done by other people.

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

We will continue to focus on further growth in Ireland while also increasing the awareness of our services and developing our team of digital experts in London. We have just made our 13th hire and have plans to grow the team to 23 over the next 12-18 months. While we specialise in the Hospitality Industry and will continue to do so, we have had fantastic successes partnering with clients within the retail and financial services industry and are keen to develop the work we are doing in this sector.

Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.