“I wish I had focused on the planet sooner” — 60 seconds with Donal Daly of Future Planet

60 Seconds With, Interviews, Thought Leadership | Tue 26 Apr | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Donal Daly, Founder, Future Planet

Software entrepreneur, Donal Daly is founder of Future Planet, an Irish-developed artificial intelligence (AI) based sustainability transformation platform that is a world first in enabling businesses to tackle the challenges of climate change. He is a five-time serial software engineer and the author of three Amazon bestsellers on AI and digital transformation. 

What was your first job? 

I graduated in Electrical Engineering from University College Cork and had my only real engineering job as part of a large team building the Aughinish Alumina plant, just outside Limerick. 

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

Electrical engineering never really excited me after college, and I was intrigued by the early advances in artificial intelligence that paralleled the broader availability of computers. The prospect of building smart applications that could help businesses transform, based on embedded knowledge and AI, was fascinating. In fact, that is the foundational principle on which I built Future Planet – so I got into software and started my first company at a very exciting time in technology. 

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

I’ve seen many of the employees who joined me early in their careers grow and develop and go on to do great things for customers, in my companies and in others. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing someone reach their potential and knowing that you had a part in it. If we can help companies address the challenges of climate change, that would surpass all achievements to date.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

I’ve made lots of mistakes that I could possibly have avoided but I’m not sure there is anything fundamental that I would change, except of course I wish I had focused on the planet sooner.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

Leaving things in a better state than you found them. I think that applies to watching employees grow, customers succeed, and of course, going someway to helping companies address climate change.

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

From my father: “Always try to be respectful, and understand the other person’s perspective before jumping in. Listen to understand, not to respond.”

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

We all share an important vision of guiding sustainability – probably the defining challenge of our generation. Staying focused on that vision, and sharing achievements with each other is what keeps us moving forward. There is just so much to do!

How do you handle adversity? 

Remembering that no matter how tough it is to be in the place you are in right now, there are many others with much more difficult challenges. If we can keep our eyes on the prize, and focus on the benefit of the outcome, then we can get over the little bumps in the road.

How do you relax?

Music does it for me, and spending time with friends and family.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

We believe that Future Planet can have a material impact on the quality of life that will be experienced by future generations. We’d like to help people and businesses go some way to finding a better way to survive and thrive on this planet.