Business News

60 seconds with: Paul Synnott

By Business & Finance
12 April 2017
Paul Synnott Esri Ireland

Director and country manager at Esri Ireland, Paul Synnott, takes the Business & Finance 60-second challenge.

Q. What was your first job?

My first job was managing the grounds, or in more simple terms, gardening, at a local dog kennels, in Kilpedder, Co. Wicklow, where I grew up.

My first ‘real’ job, as such, was with a company in White Plains (upstate New York) after qualifying as a geo surveyor from DIT Bolton Street in 1989.

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

Doing what I am now doing. Given the growth trajectory of Esri Ireland over the last ten years, every year seems to be my greatest achievement to date.

That said, it’s not all my achievement. I have a superb executive management team around me. We have exceptionally engaged employee, as well as a uniquely loyal customer base, all of whom work in partnership to ensure our respective and mutual successes.

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

It’s not necessarily advice that I have been given, but more advice that I read in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey, namely to ‘Seek first to understand before being understood’.

This statement is hugely significant in both business and personal life. It certainly takes plenty of practice at biting one’s tongue in order to be effective. Although I would doubt that it can ever be mastered. We are only human after all.

Q. How do you relax?

Running, walking and, increasingly, debating with Ollie (my dog) as to why Manchester United ever saw fit to pay over €90m for Paul Pogba.

Although, more so these days, it is getting my hands dirty in the garden when I am most relaxed.

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

Bruce Springsteen. Not the first name that might come into your head when discussed in the context of a ‘businessperson’, but a very successful businessperson nonetheless.

Why? Well, I’d like to understand how, after so many years, one can continue to mesmerise and engage audiences with the tools of his trade. And I’d like to understand why, at the age he is, he continues to give every last ounce of energy on stage to ensure his fans remain engaged with his music long after the gig is over. Perhaps it’s because he is ‘ready to grow young again’.

Q. What’s your motto?

‘Don’t be a slave to routine’ – Calvin, from Calvin & Hobbes (cartoon comic strip by Bill Watterson).

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

Peace of mind.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I motivate myself by doing the best I can do to be the best I can be, while always aspiring to learn something new each day.

I like to think I motivate staff through clarity of purpose, involvement and empowerment that in turn inspires trust. But you are probably best asking them.

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

My immediate (short to medium) focus is to substantially grow Esri Ireland.

We are the market leader in the supply and implementation of enterprise level geographic information systems to both public and private sector organisations. The challenge for us now, as we continue to grow our business into the future, is to retain our small company ethos, something I believe has been key to our success over the years.

The challenge for us now, as we continue to grow our business into the future, is to retain our small company ethos


Paul Synnott is a business leader with a passion and enthusiasm for driving and improving business performance through a focus on customer success.

He holds an MBA from Henley Business School, University of Reading where he specialised in Organisational Climate and Leadership Behaviour.

Esri Ireland is a software and services organisation specialising in the application of geographic information systems (GIS). GIS is based on the simple principle of attaching a location to every piece of data.

Since 2002, Esri Ireland has partnered with both the public and private sector in Ireland to help them understand the impact of geography on their business. Esri employs 45 people in Dublin and Belfast.