Sinead McNamara lawyer at FitzGerald Solicitors Cork

 

Getting Ahead: My Story So Far As featured in the Sunday Business Post on 4th of September, 2015

 ”I have two roles. The first is as Sheriff for Cork County. The second is as partner in the Commercial Property department of FitzGerald Solicitors, Lapp’s Quay, Cork.

 As Sheriff for County Cork, my role involves the recovery of Civil Debt, Revenue debt and the execution of Repossession Orders.  I also act as Returning Officer in Referendums and Elections.

 As partner in the Commercial Property Department of FitzGerald Solicitors, I advise Banks and Receivers in relation to distressed properties.

 I am one of five partners in FitzGerald Solicitors.  Apart from the five partners, there are 21 employees.  I have seven employees in the Sheriff’s office.

 I graduated from UCC in 1995 with a BCL Degree.  I then commenced my apprenticeship with Sean O’Riordan, who is now one of my partners.  I was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 1999 and was made a partner in FitzGerald Solicitors in 2005.  I was awarded a Diploma in Employment Law by the Law Society of Ireland in 2009.

 I was appointed Cork County Sheriff in March 2013. “

Sunday Business Post:  Are you where you expected to be in your career? What were your goals starting out and how have these changed over the years?

“Once I qualified as a solicitor, my next goal was to become a partner and I achieved this in 2005.  Having become a partner, the next objective was to grow the firm.  This objective hit a stumbling block when the recession hit in 2009 and the main aim then rapidly became to preserve the business.  Fortunately, with the upturn in the economy, the objective of growing the firm is once more a priority.

 The biggest lesson learned from the recession is that when there is no certainty around income, outgoings have to be controlled and reduced, where necessary.

 When I saw the position of Cork County Sheriff advertised, I felt that my skills set and experience fitted the criteria for the role very well.  I, therefore, decided to apply for the role and was honoured to be appointed to the position in March 2013.

 My current career objective is to constantly pursue excellence and be the very best I can in both roles.”

Sunday Business Post:  What was the best career advice you got along the way?

 ”The best career advice given to me along the way was that, as lawyers, the only things we can charge for are our time and expertise and that if we don’t value our own time, it is very hard to expect Clients to.”

Sunday Business Post:  What are your top career tips?

“I think it’s very important, as early as possible in your career, to decide what you want “to be when you grow up” and just go for it.

Set-backs will come along the way in any career.  It’s only human nature when a set-back hits to want to lick your wounds.  Do this, it’s cathartic.  However, don’t wallow in the situation, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and learn from the experience.

I think women can sometimes be their own worst enemies in terms of career progression in that we are often our own greatest critics and put obstacles in our own way.  If you feel you’re up to it, then go for it.  I’m a firm believer that if you’re good enough, you’ll get it.”

 Sunday Business Post:  How would you define your work style, and how has this evolved over the years?

 ”I think earlier on in my career, my approach was a “little red hen” one in that I wanted to do everything myself.  Two factors that have changed that are an increasing workload and also building up a highly qualified and experienced team around me that I can delegate to when necessary.”

Sunday Business Post:  In terms of managing teams and individuals, what are your insights?

‘Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí’ (Praise a youth and she will come) is, in my view, an important approach in terms of managing a team.  Feedback is very important.  Sometimes, our focus can be on pointing out how something could be done better.  However, the most important type of feedback is to communicate the fact that a job has been well done. 

 I think in building up trust within a team, it is very important to acknowledge that everyone is human and that mistakes can happen.  However, when they do, people need to highlight the mistake, take ownership of it and work with the team to find a solution.  The sooner a mistake is discovered, the sooner is can be rectified. “

Sunday Business Post:  What about communication and negotiating the typical ups and downs of working life?

“In my view, the most important thing in communicating with colleagues is to be straight at all times.  The business community is very small and what goes around comes around.  In my experience, it has certainly been of great benefit to me to build up a reputation as someone who plays with a straight bat.”

 Sunday Business Post:  Has networking played an important part in your career?

Networking is very individual in my view.  I don’t like being on the receiving end of a hard sell and it certainly wouldn’t be my own approach to networking.  In my view, networking is all about relationship building and while it may sometimes by a slow-burner, once the relationship has been established, the business will follow.”

Sunday Business Post:  If you had to choose another career tomorrow, what would it be and why?

“I spend a lot of my day, working with and, sometimes, mentoring the other solicitors in my firm.  I really enjoy this and if I had to change career in the morning, I would consider a role in education.”

 

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