Pictured: Laura Dillon, Managing Director, Waterland Ireland
Laura Dillon is the Managing Director of Waterland Ireland, specialising in supporting high-potential small and medium sized enterprises who wish to expand. Dillon recently raised €2.9 billion in funds and is interested in supporting and growing businesses with turnovers between €2.5 and €50 million. Dillon believes there is a strong entrepreneurship in Ireland, especially in manufacturing, retail and hospitality. With Brexit in action, Laura believes many Irish companies will need increased backing and guidance over the next few years.
What was your first job?
My first part-time job was delivering newspapers and leaflets in our local area. I delivered the Northside People around Sutton in Dublin.
My first full time role was working as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company. I had just graduated from Chemical Engineering in UCD and decided I wanted to work in business to educate myself on how companies grow and what makes different businesses successful. I learnt a huge amount, deciding I wanted to start my own business one day – which I later achieved.
What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?
I am extremely proud of co-founding and running a company with my Dad. I really enjoyed setting up, building and running a company in Ireland and having the opportunity to do that with my Dad was great. It is both the hardest and more rewarding thing I have achieved.
I am also an extremely passionate sailor and I am very proud to have won medals for Ireland at Junior and Youth World Sailing Championships, also winning The Irish Sailing’s Junior and Senior Helmsman’s Championships.
In three words or less, how do you define success?
Happiness, excellence and passion.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Follow your passion and remember to enjoy the journey and be happy – when doing what you truly enjoy, you will simultaneously thrive and attract success.
How do you motivate yourself and your staff?
I think it is really important that everyone understands the bigger picture, the overall company strategy and understands how their individual role is contributing to the overall growth and success. I think transparency, openness, honesty, trust, a continuous learning culture, listening,
adapting to change and being open to doing things in new ways are essential values. I am a big believer in making sure that everyone understands the end goal and works together to collectively achieve more than the individual sum of the parts.
As a sailing team, it is critical that everyone has full trust in each other and understands the tactics and the strategy. I believe these skills are cross-transferable when working in teams, regardless of the situation.
How do you relax?
I love sailing and I love competing in inshore and offshore races and regattas. When I am racing, I focus solely on sailing, forgetting about the rest of the world. I focus on the wind, the waves, our crew, where the competitors are, etc. I find it a great way to relax and focus on the current moment. I find running beside the water enjoyable, generally a good way to switch off and relax.
What’s your motto?
Enjoy each day and enjoy the journey! Life is too short to be doing something that you don’t enjoy. I am a big believer in creating your own luck – essentially, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
What are your aspirations for the future of the business?
My aspirations for Waterland in Ireland are to partner with Irish business owners, family run companies and management teams, helping them grow their Irish companies to be as successful as possible. We want to partner with Irish businesses to help accelerate their growth both within Ireland and internationally. For me, success is about working with great Irish companies that we invest in and partner with, supporting them to grow strongly and expand faster than ever before. We believe we are the right partner for ambitious Irish companies who want to accelerate their growth and expand faster than they are able to independently. We have a strong track record throughout Europe of partnering with over 700 companies over the past 20 years, assisting them in growing and achieving continued success.