We chat about how you can achieve big thing when stepping out of your comfort zones and the value of making a good go at doing anything.
I worked in London for nearly 10 years, first with BT Global Services, then with Pcubed. I moved to London on a bit of a whim. My good friend David Lloyd put the idea into my head, and shortly after this, a recruitment firm contacted me, and I ended up joining the BT Graduate scheme. Unfortunately no big strategy or plan, but I am very glad I made the move.
A social outlet for young Irish professionals
I was the first chairperson of LIBS. Initially the role involved a bit of everything: sourcing speakers; building events; finding sponsorship and venues. It was very much a start-up — we were learning all the time, and in a lot of instances, making it up as we went along. But the team were very smart, resourceful and hardworking and we got it off the ground. Karl Duffy was my right-hand man for the five years I was chair, and I was glad that such a safe pair of hands was able to lead it when I returned to Ireland.
I started the society mainly as I had spare time, and I wanted to do something that was new and challenging. I also wanted to create a professional and social outlet for young professionals that I felt wasn’t available in London at the time, so we decided to build one. For me, the great achievement is that we created a valuable and lasting society from nothing but an idea, teamwork and hard graft.
Beers with Willie Walsh!
Some people will say the idea started with me, but I got the inspiration from my good friend David Keane who set up the Business Society in NUI Galway. We sat in my kitchen and discussed how great it would be to have Willie Walsh as a speaker, and have some drinks with him after. Our dream came true after a few years. Willie had a good laugh at the original target we set ourselves after many pints following a very successful aviation focused event.
You can achieve big things from stepping out of your comfort zone
When we initially set up LIBS, I learned a lot of technical skills like event production and management, communications and how to attract and retain sponsors. More importantly, LIBS also made me reflect on different skills like my management and leadership style, how to speak in public and how to communicate professionally and with tact. These were things that I often ended up learning about by failing, and sometimes failing spectacularly! For example I once opened up an economics event with a set of figures that turned out to be incorrect. I learned two things from that: one, leave the detail to the experts, and two, prepare event openings well and bounce it off a lot of people!
LIBS also made me realise that by stepping step out of my comfort zone, I could achieve big things. As long as the idea was good, had the right people and the willingness to work at it, we could make a good go at doing anything.
A place to meet interesting people
There are many great groups in London. At the time we felt that there was a gap in the market to offer young (in age and at heart!) Irish professionals a place where they could listen to great speakers and network.
LIBS provided people with a forum to hear about great ideas, business leader’s stories, meet interesting people, create professional and networks and make new friends.
The most important thing I have taken from LIBS is the enduring friendships with the original board members and other founding members. I am immensely proud of what we achieved together, and I am lucky to still be very good friends with them all.
Darren has since moved back to Ireland, working in management consultancy roles with Grant Thornton and EY. He currently works for Novartis in their new management consultancy practice in Dublin. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.