Sunday Business Post Profile Article on Eishtec CEO Heather Reynolds
Each week, the Sunday Business Post profiles one of Ireland’s corporate leaders, tracing their career to date and exploring the lessons they have learned along the way. The Sunday Business Post recently met with Eishtec CEO Heather Reynolds for their latest profile piece.
Included below is the profile piece article by the Sunday Business Post.
Heather Reynolds is co-founder and chief executive at Eishtec, the Waterford-headquartered call centre company employing 1,500 people in Ireland and Britain. Established in 2011,
Eishtec offers inbound customer management services to companies in the mobile, telecoms, healthcare and fintech sectors.
Are you where you expected to be in your career?
When I left school in the early 1990s, I would never have imagined that I would one day become chief executive of my own company. I initially went to Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) to study Applied Science, but it was not for me.
When I dropped out of college, I had no idea what I wanted as a career. I guess some people have a great sense of clarity from a young age about their career. I wasn’t one of them. While I did over the years complete a degree in business and an eMBA, I realise that my work ethic and competitiveness all stem from feeling the need to over-compensate for not finishing college.
What was the best career advice you got along the way?
I have always been my own biggest critic, telling myself to do better, work harder. Early in my career, I used the mantra ‘always know more than your team’. As I progressed, though, that eased, and I realised that investing time and effort into relationships was far more beneficial.
Ultimately, the best career advice I received was to be responsible for my own development and be selfish about what I wanted to gain from the employee/employer relationship. I absolutely did that through studying part time for my degree and eMBA which I found incredibly rewarding.
Based on your own experience, what are your top career tips?
Do something you feel passionate about. Sometimes I think people think that means they need to love their job every day and it should not feel like hard work. We all have bad days, but that’s what should keep us motivated.
Surround yourself with people who complement your skills. I certainly know from setting up a business as a trio of individuals, it would be pointless if we didn’t each bring something unique and specialised to the table.
Deliver results. It’s quite a simple formula, to channel all effort into delivering results and allow that to showcase your true capability. I never once sought out a promotion in my career – it always came to me!
Ask for help. You absolutely do not need to have all the answers, all the time. Being humble is a key attribute of being a good leader.
In terms of managing teams and individuals, what are your insights?
Invest in the right people. You cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to people management, no matter what level you operate at within an organisation. We should all be comfortable working to the high standards we set for ourselves, but it is also important to adapt your style to get the best from everyone within a team.
Never settle with consistent poor performers. An uncomfortable topic to open up about, but assuming all attempts to upskill have failed, make the tough decision. It’s the fairest approach for all involved.
Take time to reflect. It is so easy for everyone to be busy being busy, which creates a ‘norm’ of busyness. Taking time out with your team to reflect, recalibrate and re-energise is essential to a healthy team environment. Build teams on an ethos of integrity. It’s important to lead by example, as behaviour breeds behaviour.
What about communication and negotiating the typical ups and downs of working life?
I have always used - and find effective - a direct communication and negotiating approach. It doesn’t work 100 per cent of the time, but what approach really does?
I have had some tough decisions and actions to see through in my career from site closures, redundancies and performance management, but I have stayed true to my core values at all times: Remain honest. Don’t shy away from the truth. Be present.
In some of my roles, I had geographical responsibility across multiple cultures, which does require a very deliberate effort. It does make you very aware of what you say and how you say everything.
Has networking played an important part in your career?
Do network. The reality is that when we interact with other people, we take ideas from people we’ve learned from, from people we run into in the coffee shop, and we conceptualise them together to create something new.
Ultimately, that’s how innovation happens. Don’t over-network. You could keep very busy attending events and networking every week. I wonder sometimes how people get any work done. Choose wisely.
If you had to choose another career tomorrow, what would it be and why?
A difficult question for me, as I didn’t plan my career ever! To have an intelligent career takes effort to truly understand who you currently are and how the people around you and your network can influence your future career. A journey I feel I am only beginning to reflect on.
If I had the option today, I think I would continue my studies to PhD level with an ambition to enter the world of education. I would also intensify my efforts to support the spirit of entrepreneurship from as early as possible within the education system.