Conor Carmody is the Director of Programmes at The Innovation Exchange. The Innovation Exchange assists multinational corporations with their digital transformation.
What was your first job?
My first real job was as a trainee manager in Superquinn Blackrock. I had a few jobs before that including collecting trolleys for Quinnsworth and packing cakes for Tea Time Express.
As an aside, all of these businesses have now disappeared so maybe that says something about my influence!
What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?
I think I was always attracted to the retail industry and Superquinn at the time was recognised as a leader in the field. The Blackrock store had just opened and was filled with interesting counters and displays that made it absolutely ahead of its time.
The training we all received was very hands-on and everybody from Feargal Quinn down understood every aspect of the business. It was also a great atmosphere in which to work and learn.
What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?
My family… My best ever sales result was persuading Ann to marry me and then stick with me all these years!
In business, being a part of the team who built Ireland’s 3rd mobile network, Meteor, in the face of two very strong incumbents and over a short space of time gain 1 million customers leading to a successful exit to eircom was a great achievement.
Career wise, would you do anything differently?
I think we always look back and say what if and then spend time rerunning all the old stories and wonder what we would do differently.
Experience tells me now that all of these past experiences have shaped me today so I am not sure there is anything to be gained by wishing to change the past.
I find it much better to focus on applying the lessons learned to shape the future.
In one sentence, how would you define success?
I’ll paraphrase Emerson:
“To laugh often and much… to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is success.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m not sure it’s just one piece of advice but an accumulation of experience working with much smarter people that I would suggest curiosity is key both in business and personal life.
Always being on the lookout for new challenges, new ideas and trying to understand this world around us would seem to be a very healthy way to live your life.
Einstein said it much better:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when you contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.”
How do you motivate yourself and your team?
I actually think that’s a two way street… I find that working with smart people who have a good outlook, a can-do attitude and a sense of fun is very motivating and I would think that my role is to provide the conditions that allow like minded people to thrive and deliver success.
How do you handle adversity?
Head on! I think if something is going wrong or causing friction, it needs to be addressed straight away, leaving issues to fester does not make for a good outcome for anyone.
How do you relax?
As I am often reminded, if I am not cutting the grass, I’m looking at it wishing it to grow so I can cut it again.. There must be an insight there for someone to decode.
What are your aspirations for the future of the business?
As we develop the Innovation Exchange, we are planning to build on our success of this launch year and in the years ahead, develop the brand and proposition to be recognised as the leading hub for Innovation and collaboration in Ireland and maybe further afield.