“It’s important to trust your teammates to deliver and not go down into the weeds,” — CEO Q&A with Pat Phelan of Sisu

CEO Q&A, Interviews | Thu 1 Sep | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Pat Phelan, CEO & Co-Founder, Sisu

Pat Phelan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sisu, a doctor-led cosmetic clinic. The company was founded in 2018 by Mr. Phelan along with Dr. James Cotter and Dr. Brian Cotter.


What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

This is quite an easy one, and for me it’s broken down into a few segments:

  1. People and culture: This is always number one for me. Hiring is a particular challenge at present, and therefore a lot of my time is spent ensuring we have the absolute best in class people at Sisu Clinic. We have spent quite some time, especially over the past 12 months, ensuring we get our internal culture correct. It was a challenge but the rewards coming already from it are quite incredible.
  2. Growth: Obviously startups like ours live or die on growth. This is split into two subcategories – new business models and services, and we have an incredible leadership team who assist me in this.

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

I think my particular one is knowing when to step back, with the incredible bench of proven leaders now at Sisu.

It’s important to trust your teammates to deliver and not go down into the weeds or second guess people.

How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

Last year we brought in a few healthcare and contributory pensions where we pay a very large percentage to match the employee. This year we launched OfficeVibe, a tool where people can provide feedback to the management anonymously, and the benefits from this have been staggering. Also, regular updates and town halls are absolute key, information is everyone’s friend.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

I think the non-medical proliferation is certainly a worry for all of us, and we watch this closely but hopefully with new regulation being talked about we will see an end to this.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

I believe the “softer look” is back in vogue, and we are seeing a move away from this almost “overdone” look that Sisu never subscribed to. The aesthetic space is back to an almost “best version of yourself” look.

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

Definitely regulation. The non-licensing of fillers is very worrying, and my partners Dr James Cotter and Dr Brian Cotter are at the forefront of pushing for change on this.

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

Not at present. I think there are excellent people and opportunities available right now, and I think salaries/packages are incredibly important to attract the type of people we want at Sisu Clinic.

How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

I guess we are lucky right now in that we provide a phenomenal patient experience and are in a services sector  that is growing rapidly worldwide. In one of my former companies, remember we were hand-to-mouth during the crisis (the Great Recession) but the key learning for me was cash flow management.

I am still a huge advocate of a very strong CFO who is able to manage cash flow on a day to day basis.

Probably the strongest effect on me personally from the crisis was to insure I understand the KPIs of the business on a day-to-day basis

Has Brexit affected you?

No; a few issues on shipping but on a day to day basis, not really.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector?

I think we have seen a huge movement in our sector. During the pandemic, people spent an extraordinary amount of time staring at themselves on a screen, and this certainly led to what was coined as the “Zoom Boom”.

We worked really hard to insure survival as a services/retail driven business and came out the other side even stronger.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

I think success is a movable feast for me but mentoring people and growing our business globally are probably two of the highlights. On a personal level, it’s pretty simple — spend as much time with those you love.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

I think to ensure I know the daily KPI’s of the business has been a key piece of advice for me.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Without a doubt opening our first Sisu Clinic in Miami, followed by our first Sisu Clinic in London. The level of complexity around this expansion, especially in the USA, has been challenging for all the team.

What’s next for your company?

We are in the midst of opening our next 5 clinics in the USA, as well as 3 clinics in London.

I think a regional HQ in Waterford will be a proud moment too for all of us.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

In the past couple of years the business has doubled every year so we would like to maintain that. A successful launch of our brand in Miami, NYC and Texas would be an incredible moment for Sisu.


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Ed Rositer of Phoenix

Ben Betts of Learning Pool

Lisa Boissel of Miss Jones