How I Got My Job: Glenna Lynch, Interior Designer And Politician

From interiors to politics, one woman made the ultimate career change. We find out how.

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Tell us about about becoming an interior designer?

Well, I fell in love with interior design at a very young age. The idea of creating a space for people to live in has always appealed to me, I described it to my kids when they were growing up as ‘helping families decorate their own cave’. I always want my designs to reflect the person, I don’t want it to be formulaic,  I wouldn’t like each of the houses I design to look the same. My passion for interior design ended up with me setting up my own interior design business Mimosa Interiors and the rest is history really!

How do you run a successful interior design company, while running for office at the same time?

Well, I have certainly been kept very busy these past few months! I kept working full time in my design company right up until Christmas. I would go canvasing every evening after work and although the days were long and tiring, I thoroughly enjoyed them. However, after Christmas I dedicated all of my time to running for office as things have gotten very hectic post Christmas.

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What inspired you to make the transition from interior design to politics?

I’ve always had a huge interest in politics, even when I was working in my company I would always be engaged by it and keep up to date with political affairs. Then, a few years ago during the presidential election I was involved with a TV show and I just asked a question and from there I kept getting a little bit more involved. I started getting involved in political campaigns supporting different issues over the past few years, but I had never gotten involved with a specific party. The idea that you could still be living your normal life but step up and say ‘no, I’m not okay with what’s happening here’ really appealed to me. Politics effects everyone’s lives; I’m a small business owner, a tax payer and a mum, so political decisions effect every aspect of your life.

Is it tough being a female in such a predominantly male industry?

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Well, this election is extremely important because there are more women running than there ever have been before. After the voting next week, we’ll get to find out what the reaction is to that and the next government will be addressing issues of the eighth amendment, which is a women’s issue, so I think it is important there are more females in government for this. Its a very exciting time to be a woman in politics at the moment. In terms of the Social Democrats 42% of our candidates are women, so there’s no culture in our company that excludes women. I think it’s a much more modern environment and women are looked upon as completely equal to their male counterparts.

What would you like to see change if you were elected?

The eighth amendment is certainly something that needs to be addressed when the new government returns. The response of the previous government to this issue was far too slow and it is an issue that is effecting so many people, that I think it most definitely needs to be put to the forefront of the government’s agenda. I think the government will also need to look at sustaining a long-term vision and start working towards it.

What advice would you give to any budding female politicians?

Women seem to feel a bit of discomfort about joining a campaign or supporting a campaign and that’s where it all starts so it’s important for females to  get out there. I didn’t do it myself when I was younger and now looking back, I wish I did because I see so many 19-30 males getting involved and once you get involved in campaigns its a very natural path to government. More women should get out there canvasing, its sociable and great fun! So, what I’d say is find a party you believe in and just get involved!

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What’s the most challenging part of your job at the moment?

The worst part is definitely when you turn up at a door and someone says ‘no, I can’t talk to you, I don’t trust any of you anymore, you’re all the same and I’m not going to vote’. That’s really, really terrible because that’s somebody who just thinks Ireland has let them down. I always say to that person you have to keep voting, you have to keep looking for someone to support, or you have to be the person to change yourself.

What’s the best part about your job?

The best part of it for me is that I’ve gotten to speak to so many people across so many constituencies about issues that matter to them. When someone answers the door to you, some people can be very honest and share a little bit of their lives with you and by the time you finish you have a much better picture of what’s going on around you. You can also meet a lot of people who are still powering through no matter what life has thrown at them and that’s truly inspiring.

By Laura Somers.

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