60 Seconds With

“It’s amazing what people can achieve when you let them,” — 60 seconds with John O’Callaghan of Evelyn Partners

By Business & Finance
23 August 2022

John O’Callaghan is a Managing Partner of Evelyn Partners, a leading integrated and wealth management and professional services group.

What was your first job?

My first job was when I was in primary school. I worked in the local vegetable shop unpacking 25kg sacks of potatoes into 3kg bags. I was paid per 25kg bag. It was dirty work, but the faster you worked, the better your hourly rate!

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

I initially thought of going into medicine, but fortunately for potential patients, I was guided towards pursuing a career in business by my father, who was a public servant.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

My greatest personal achievement is having my three kids through college and making their own way in the world. 

On a professional level, it has been hugely satisfying to be appointed to the leadership role in Evelyn Partners in Ireland. The opportunities it presents and the current work on our growth strategy are exciting. 

Career-wise, would you do anything differently?

I’m no one to look back, as life has many twists and turns. Every career decision I’ve made to date and the experience I have gained has brought me to where I am today. 

In one sentence, how would you define success?

For me, it’s the satisfaction of achieving something after working hard to get there, both at work or personally. I like to run, and qualifying for the Boston, Chicago and New York marathons was a satisfying achievement. Success is built on preparation and tenacity. I bring that sense to my professional life, where preparation and teamwork are the secrets to achieving success.

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

A key piece of advice sticks in my mind. It was from an entrepreneur I worked with when I lived in Australia who said: “Know your strengths but also your weaknesses. Focus on your strengths and work with people who are strong where you are weak”. This is something I bring to life, making sure those around me are able to bring their unique skills, insights and strengths to make the team a success.

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I am naturally competitive – with myself for the most part – so chasing big targets motivates me.

As far as the team are concerned, it’s about genuinely developing our goals together, and then me staying out of the way and letting people find their own way. It’s amazing what people achieve when you let them – I’m not a believer in a “command and control” approach which feels very yesterday.

How do you handle adversity?

I think you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and just push through. I try not to let the overall situation overwhelm me but focus on what is controllable. After that, things generally unfold, and undue stress will more likely hinder decision-making. Importantly, I have old friends I can lean on for wise counsel; talking it through and getting it out there is often the key.

How do you relax?

I am a triathlon nut, competing up to the Ironman level. I was fortunate to represent Ireland in my age group at the European Iron Distance Championships in Germany in 2021. I was happy with my performance; however, the trophy cabinet was bare. I am also a competitive age-based marathon runner on a quest to complete the six international majors – four of which I should have completed by the end of the year. An entry to Tokyo would be gratefully received!

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

I believe at Evelyn Partners. We are in a great position, having completed our rebrand, started a new International Accountancy network with CLA in the US and now finalising our growth strategy. I see us building the practice and the team and being a multiple of our current size over the next three to five years.

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