60 seconds with: Stephen Purcell

Business, Interviews | Thu 27 Apr | Author – Business & Finance
Stephen Purcell

Director at Future Analytics Consulting Stephen Purcell takes the Business & Finance 60-second challenge.

Q. What was your first job?

My first full-time role was following my primary degree when I was hired by Irish Rail in the divisional engineer’s office.

The role taught me the critical importance of attention to detail in railway engineering, the contractor and procurement management process and also reaffirmed my interest in town planning and development, which is ultimately why I then pursued the Master of Regional and Urban Planning programme in UCD.

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

I have just become a dad in recent days, so my new boss Freya Elizabeth Purcell must get a mention here! In my career to date, I am particularly proud of the role I have played in the development of our company, Future Analytics Consulting, and the growth we have experienced in recent years.

With a team of 24 and a diverse project portfolio, we connect city planning, research and economics, and our reporting and technological platforms help government and businesses to organise, and explore data to make smarter decisions.

It has been an exciting experience building our profile in recent years. We are continually looking to bring the business to the next level, and I have pursued supporting initiatives such as joining Plato Dublin during 2016/17 – this is a really useful group learning programme that encourages business owner-managers to stimulate new ideas and learn from large ‘parent’ companies.

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

‘Measure twice, cut once’. My mother-in-law would always say this to my craftsman father-in-law!

It certainly holds true in consultancy services, especially where so much of our research is subject to scrutiny and is relied on for major investment decisions. Ensuring our clients have trust in what we do is essential!

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

I have incredible respect for the likes of Chuck Feeney and other notable businesspersons who have had considerable success in their careers and have fulfilled an opportunity to make a massive impact on the lives of others through philanthropic means.

They say if you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune, but if you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else. There are an incredible number of Irish SMEs and businesspersons doing some truly great charitable acts and initiatives, not for the glory or kudos, but under the radar and with a passion to help. These unsung heroes deserve a lot of respect.

Q. How do you relax?

The working week tends to be quite busy with ongoing projects, many of which have statutory deadlines, and so my perfect mode of relaxation is hanging out over the weekend with my family and perhaps hiking with our black lab, Lexie.

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

Making a difference.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

Our team are passionate about the type of work we undertake, and the challenges we face and novel solutions we seek to apply. We promote ‘thinking outside the box’ to bring added value to projects.

Communication is hugely important to solve project challenges and meet our project objectives, and all team members need to be kept informed of ongoing progress. Because we have a diverse skill-set across the company, we are fortunate to have projects across the public and private sectors, and indeed across Europe so we are continually learning and applying these processes to the Irish context.

We are concentrating on our company culture in recent years, and seeking to engage more closely with our overall team. By empowering and encouraging individuals and teams alike, we are all ‘champions’ for the collective growth of the business and the achievement of our individual and collective goals.

Q. What’s your motto?

We are lucky to be alive and well – there are so many faced with such difficult circumstances, that it is important to reflect on how lucky we are, and to maintain a positive mindset.

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

Future Analytics Consulting has carved out a strong profile in the pursuit of European Commission-funded research on applied research topics such a smart cities, energy efficiency, urban resilience and critical infrastructure protection.

We are keen to pursue commercialisation opportunities arising from these projects, and our software development and data analytics offering is continually evolving through this experience.

As a town planning and development consultancy with a specialism in data analytics and market intelligence, our service offer has a broader application into other sectors now.

Being used to taking a ‘helicopter view’ or strategic perspective on challenging projects, we are helping clients to navigate key investment decisions and providing them with the comfort of this advice being evidence-led.

We intend to bring a product to market over the next 18 months that will leverage the software development expertise we have gained through our European research projects, and to continue to raise our profile across the Irish market and internationally with strategic alliances and partnerships we have developed.

The Plato Dublin programme I am participating in has given me exposure to great insights from successful business operators who provide guest-presentations, and enabled me to apply these processes within the business more coherently.

We hope that Future Analytics Consulting will continue to become a recognised name in town planning, development and strategy consultancy services across Ireland, and we will be working hard throughout 2017 and beyond to ensure this!

There are an incredible number of Irish SMEs and businesspersons doing some truly great charitable acts and initiatives, not for the glory or kudos, but under the radar and with a passion to help


Stephen Purcell is a chartered surveyor and town planner, with a particular interest in project strategy.

Within town planning and development projects, his track record extends to securing planning permission for large scale residential (both housing and apartment) projects, commercial schemes and mixed use urban developments.

Purcell has project managed multi-disciplinary teams and represented consortia from project inception through to development consent.

He has also coordinated national and regional forward planning and socio-economic research across a range of projects, including the Gateways and Hubs Development Index, 2013.