60 Seconds With

“It’s human nature for us to fight or flight if we don’t: Feel Safe, Feel Valued, Feel we belong and Feel in Control,” — 60 Seconds with Gary Orr of XDS Brand

By Business & Finance
25 April 2023

Gary Orr is the Chief Commercial Officer and Global Head of ESG at XDS Brand, a multi-disciplined branding and packacking creative agency.

What was your first job?

Tea Boy in a Graphic Design agency at 17 years old.

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

Well, faith I suppose. When I received my Leaving Cert results, I fell just 5 points short of qualifying for the Computer Science which was my 1st choice. At the time, I made the decision to not accept my second choice out of stubbornness. However, this setback ultimately pushed me to pursue a job opportunity, which unexpectedly led me down a career path in the agency world. Looking back, while it was not my original plan, I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that have come my way as a result.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Well apart from the obvious which is my daughter Clara, my greatest career achievement to date would be the founding of Link Design in 2008 with my life long friend Tom Fitzpatrick. Together we grew from his kitchen table to an agency with a seven-figure turnover and employing twenty people. We then successfully sold the business in 2013 to a Global player.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

I would do lots of things differently with the benefit of wisdom and hindsight. However on a simple level I should have enjoyed and marked our wins along the way.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

Striving to be better everyday, finding out who you really are and being grateful for every lesson that has helped you to date. Being someone you would admire.

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

A former boss told me that it’s human nature for us to fight or flight if we don’t:

  • Feel Safe
  • Feel Valued
  • Feel we belong
  • Feel in Control

These four elements if embedded into your people will create colleagues/employees that will go to metaphorical war for you and vice versa. 

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

Have a clear vision competence, care, contribution and calm. 

How do you handle adversity?

Much better than I used to! I suppose I have matured and have learned to be calmer and more aware of the situation at hand. A wise colleague told me years ago, that you have two ears and one month, so we should be doing twice as much listening as speaking. This has certainly helped me make better decisions, which has improved the outcomes. 

How do you relax?

I have a few favourites that always help me unwind. One is to play golf. There’s something about being out and surrounded by nature that just helps me clear my mind and forget about things for a moment. Another way I like to relax is by spending time by the water. Whether it’s at the beach, by a lake, I find the sound and sight of water very calming.

Good food is always a great way to unwind too! Whether it’s trying a new restaurant or cooking up a delicious meal at home. And last but certainly not least, spending time with my daughter Clara is one of the most relaxing and favourite things to do.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

As a global agency with studios in Ireland, the US, and India we have lofty aspirations over the coming years. Some of these aspirations include:

  • Expanding our reach
  • Offering more services that are driven by technology and a customer need
  • Leading with the latest technology
  • Developing a strong reputation
  • Continuing to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace
  • Creating positive social and environmental impact.

Overall, our agency’s aspirations will be focused on our continued growth, innovation and making a positive impact in the world through design and actions.


Claire Carroll of Claire Carroll Coaching

Mike Lillis of Storm Technology

Emma Early Murphy of Network Ireland