September Interview

Lucy O'Donoghue

Taking control of one’s destiny

 A WeRin interview with Lucy O’Donoghue, CEO and business mentor

 Sarah Davis, Senior Researcher at the Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence in Munster Technological University, Ireland spoke to Lucy about her successes and challenges as an entrepreneur.

Sarah: How did you become an entrepreneur?

Lucy: In September 2012 I set up my business, Lucy O’Donoghue Consulting. It was in the middle of the recession, and I realised it was time for a change. I didn’t let the general economic scene influence my decision. I left behind a very successful career to become my own boss and I took a leap of faith in my abilities and my personal brand as I was then responsible for all the decision-making, sourcing clients and keeping my own morale on track. I really had to focus on the positives, to be in control of my future destiny whilst staying true to my core values of honesty and integrity.

Sarah: To what do you attribute your success over the last ten years?

Lucy: Believing in myself will always be key to my journey. Having the confidence to set up the business and be resilient when the knocks and frustrations could have brought me down. I have a supportive network of family and close friends who listen, guide and mentor, which is vital as I navigate the daily tasks and challenges of running my business. I make a conscious effort to surround myself with positive people who lift me up. I feel energised and motivated when I spend time in their company.

Sarah: How did the mentoring come about?

Lucy: As my own client base grew, mentoring other business owners and female entrepreneurs soon became part of my professional offering. With over 25 years of experience in the business world, I am regularly asked to share my experiences, tips and insights. I enjoy the process of building a rapport with a new client, identifying their goals and challenges, and bringing focus and attention to open and honest conversations. Words I associate with my mentoring include active listening, support, advice, question, encourage, motivate, inspire, confidentiality, building trust, showing empathy, being objective and making a difference.

Sarah: What is different about mentoring women entrepreneurs?

Lucy: Whilst mentoring many female entrepreneurs, I notice trends in our discussions. Many lack the confidence to take that leap of faith in themselves whilst staying true to their values and personalities. The fear of taking a risk with a new business idea, the fear of making mistakes, the worry about not being good enough, and taking random negative comments by others to heart. I have observed how others place obstacles in women’s way and suddenly the desire to go in a new direction is stalled.

Sarah: How have you overcome the challenges of being a woman entrepreneur?

Lucy: I believe that looking for inspiration and support elsewhere is essential. The professional membership organisation, Network Ireland, promotes diversity and equality, entrepreneurship and leadership development and provides a forum where women can exchange ideas. For many, the lack of female role models is a challenge, yet membership of Network Ireland broadens the reach of business contacts and enthuses us to move forward. For others, entrepreneurship programmes offered by our Universities and Local Enterprise Offices also provide professional women with a confidential space to get a clear mind on a new business idea or issue.

Sarah: If you could sum up in one sentence, what would you say to other women who want to start their own business?

Lucy: Find a mentor. Learning from each other is a win, win process.

Lucy O'Donoghue

Lucy O’Donoghue is founder of Lucy O’Donoghue Consulting, a boutique agency offering expertise in public relations, business mentoring, project management, business development and social media. An experienced business mentor with the Local Enterprise Offices in Cork City, South Cork and West and North Cork, Lucy has held senior positions as Membership Development & PR Manager at Cork Chamber, Alumni Officer at University College Cork, Information Officer at the Cork Euro Info Centre and as Manager of the Exxcel Female Entrepreneurship Part-time Programme at Munster Technological University. She holds a BA in European Studies from UCC and a Masters in European Integration from the University of Limerick.