60 Seconds With

“Have an ambitious vision” – 60 seconds with Michael O’Hara of DataSolutions

By Business & Finance
02 May 2023
Pictured: Michael O’Hara, Group Managing Director, DataSolutions

Michael O’Hara is Group Managing Director of DataSolutions, a value-added distributor of transformational IT solutions in the UK and Ireland.

What was your first job? 

Working in the family pub! From an early age, I’ve been packing shelves and sweeping the floor. 

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

My parents pushed me to work in the pub, but I ended up going in a rather different direction in the end. In terms of the career I have today, I studied and qualified as an accountant and was working for an accountancy firm in Dublin. I was sent out on a nine-month secondment as the acting financial controller in a tech firm and that’s what got me started in the sector. I haven’t looked back since.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Outside of my wonderful family, which is my greatest achievement, my greatest business achievement is building up DataSolutions to be a successful company. When I say successful, I am not just talking about financial success, I’m referring to building up DataSolutions to embrace and behave socially and responsibly. We are not there yet and there will always be room for improvement, but starting that journey to being a responsible, sustainable business is very satisfying. 

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

I have no major regrets other than we (DataSolutions) should have entered the UK market several years before we eventually did. It is such a huge market opportunity – 15 times bigger than the Irish market – and Irish people and businesses are well regarded in the UK. 

In one sentence, how would you define success?

Happiness, contentment, and enjoying the journey through your business career.

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

I have received and receive so much good advice. In fact, it’s practically on a daily basis. This is one of the major benefits of building a business and surrounding myself with good people.

If I was to pick one piece of advice, it would be to “have an ambitious vision”. You can’t overstate the significance of aiming high as this requires you to think beyond your current capabilities. When you offer people a new way to see the world, this leads to a different mindset. It is this mindset that ultimately led us to entering new markets in 2016, expanding into the UK and outside of our traditional business. Today, the UK accounts for two thirds of our business revenues. 

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

Good communication and openness with your team. I’m far from the finished article but when you connect with people and their emotions are engaged, they work harder and bring more creativity and energy to their jobs. 

How do you handle adversity? 

I would like to say that I see challenges as opportunities, but that’s not entirely true. However, I would say that I believe that having a positive attitude helps us get over issues that little bit quicker.

How do you relax?

By spending time with my family, trekking with friends and, more recently, founding and leading Techies Go Green. It is a not-for-profit movement focused on helping businesses to become more sustainable. It is a labour of love which means it’s not really work, more like therapy.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

Currently, our business goal is to continue growing DataSolutions from its current annual revenue to €200 million by 2025. Looking to the future with my ‘ambitious hat’ on, I see tremendous opportunities for DataSolutions. We know we offer a world-class service and that when we bring this knowledge and service to new markets, we are successful, so we will continue to do this. All our growth to date has been organic. Hopefully, in the future, there will be merger and acquisition opportunities to continue to allow DataSolutions to deliver service that powers success and grow exponentially.


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