“I would encourage people at all stages of their careers to persevere” – 60 Seconds with Sharon Barrett of Kroll

60 Seconds With, Interviews | Tue 21 Mar | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Sharon Barrett, Managing Director and Restructuring at Kroll

Sharon Barrett has recently been promoted to Managing Director at Kroll, a consulting company that offers finance and risk advice. In less than 9 years at Kroll, she has worked hard in her role, specialising in financial services and restructuring.

Kroll is based in New York City. However, it has offices worldwide, bringing business consultation to 33 countries, including Ireland, with substantial growth within its nearly 100 years of operation. 

What was your first job?

Waitressing in a local hotel in Enniscrone, Co. Sligo. I was terrible at it, but I learned a lot about good customer service.

 What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

I’ve always loved maths and economics, so I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something in the world of finance, although I didn’t necessarily envisage a career in restructuring!

When I completed university, I joined AIB as part of their graduate programme, where my role meant I was heavily involved with large-scale construction project financing and lending to various licensed and other businesses. 

In 2011, I joined Farrell Grant Sparks (subsequently acquired by Kroll) as part of their restructuring team, and the experience dealing with financing projects was invaluable to my new role. I really enjoy the variety of work that restructuring has to offer, as no two days are the same. Whilst it can be very challenging work, it’s satisfying to be able to bring expertise to a difficult situation to ensure the best possible outcome. 

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Playing midfield in the mini-sevens camogie match at halftime during the 1990 All Ireland Hurling final between Cork and Galway in Croke Park!  Professionally, being promoted to Managing Director in Kroll’s restructuring team in Ireland is what I would consider my greatest achievement to date. But more than anything, the birth of my little boy Tom in 2018 was life-changing in the very best way.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

There have been plenty of ups and downs during my career. However, I’m not sure there’s much I would do differently.  Each twist and turn has led me to where I am today, and I’m grateful to be here. I think this is why I would encourage people at all stages of their careers to persevere and view challenges as a way of improving their experience. 

In one sentence, how would you define success?

Accomplishing a goal and being happy with how you have achieved it.

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

Do what you say you’ll do. Simple, invaluable advice learned at an early age from great parents.    

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

It depends on the project and most importantly it depends on the team member.  Everyone has different motivations.  For me, solving a problem and achieving a solution to an issue motivates me.  I also think most people (myself included) appreciate sincere praise for a job well done. Of course, big deals need to be celebrated, but acknowledging small wins is important because most of the time they are the things that keep everything ticking over. 

How do you handle adversity?

Head on usually.  I will take time to think through options, but I like to act quickly and decisively because otherwise, you inevitably spend time worrying about the issue, which benefits nobody. 

In times of adversity, I find that a phone call or face-to-face conversation is absolutely key in trying to resolve matters because the nuances of human interaction are frequently lost in email or written correspondence.   

How do you relax?

Personally, being able to switch off from work is key for me to be able to relax, so I think it’s absolutely vital to disconnect from work life.  Modern technology is fantastic, but it means we are accessible 24 hours a day, which is simply not sustainable or healthy on an ongoing basis. 

To keep a balance I turn off my emails at weekends or when I’m on annual leave because otherwise I know I’ll respond to them, which defeats the purpose of time off.

I also read a physical book every night, and try to get as much fresh sea/mountain air as possible.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

Kroll has offices in 33 countries, and our teams are working with some incredible companies both here in Ireland and abroad. My ambition would be to continue to grow these opportunities both domestically and internationally. Because of the wide range of services, we offer globally, we can usually source an expert in any industry from within our employee base, so we are perfectly positioned to offer cross-jurisdictional advice to our clients around the world. I am ambitious in this regard and look forward to growing the Kroll business in the market in Ireland and abroad. 


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