Pass It On: 8 Inspiring Irish Women On The Daring Chances They Took To Further Their Careers

Megan Roantree asks what advice they'd give to those looking for a push.

Debbie O’Donnell – Executive Editor, Xposé

“We have constantly evolved Xposé’s format over the last 10 years. The viewers were used to seeing the show like clockwork at 6pm daily but the schedule and format change certainly paid off. Since moving to our new home at 8pm, the show has doubled its figures. It may not feel it at the time but making a tough decision is key to progression and development.

For anyone aspiring to be a TV presenter, I’d tell them to become a researcher or producer first. Soak up as much knowledge as you possibly can about the industry you want to be part of. A great example is Karen Koster. She started as a researcher on Ireland AM, then became a weather presenter, and with the skills she had built up by the time Xposé launched, having her join the presenting team was a no-brainer.”

Caroline Crotty – Psychotherapist and Wellbeing Consultant

“I was in full-time employment while working with clients on a part-time basis when the time came to decide whether to give up my day job. Although therapists can be great therapists, we are not necessarily great business people! I’m fortunate that I have never looked back.

I would stress the importance of not under valuing the service you provide. It can be tempting to cut prices when nervous of income or taking work that you might not be wholly comfortable with but value your expertise and believe in yourself. Never be afraid to turn work down if it goes against your principles. Trust your instincts, value you and remember your time is precious – use it wisely.”

Caroline Foran – Author and Writer

“The biggest career risk I’ve taken was to leave full time employment at a women’s magazine, and try my hand at freelancing. There are so many insecurities about being self-employed, but I increased my chances of it not being a total disaster by building up my contacts and experience over time (while in full-time roles) so that when I finally made the leap, I was prepared. I spent a couple of months in advance getting my ducks in a row.

My best advice is to make meangingful relationships in your career, not fake ones, and to develop a strong work ethic. Working to your own initiative will set you apart.”

Elva Carri – Founder, GirlCrew

“Seeing people get out and have fun in real life together is absolutely my favourite part of GirlCrew so we’ve been really pleased to see our app supports that so well, but launching the app was actually unpopular with a number of members who’ve been with us since our Facebook group beginnings.

Now, founding members can continue to use our Facebook groups so we’re not taking away something they value, but with the app we’ve seen way more events created much more consistently. Neither Pamela, Aine (co-founders) nor myself are software engineers and we decided to start a tech company! That’s where an incredible startup community in Dublin became really helpful. Almost everyone we reached out to for advice said yes immediately. You can jump five steps ahead from one conversation with someone who’s done something similar before.”

Andrea Horan – CEO, Tropical Popical

“I was advised against Tropical Popical in general! People just couldn’t come to terms with the fact that people might be into the tacky paradise I had in my mind. There was always the option of watering down who we were to reach the middle ground but I’d no problem being a niche brand from the outset if it meant being true to what I was and what I wanted TropPop to be.

If I’m honest, there are challenges every week! If there wasn’t you’d get bored, right? You just always have to be flexible and ready to adapt to the situation to make it work for you. I think you have to lose all rigidity in business and be ready to do what you have to to make things work.

My advice would be to think about your brand as much as your offering. A er you launch, someone else could do the same. If you make your brand strong enough to withstand that sort of competition you’ll be in a good place. Always continue to innovate and never stop trying to be better.”

Lili Forberg – Photographer

“When I was studying photography in DIT a lot of my tutors were telling me that my work was too commercial and that I should be taking a different route with it. I always knew I wanted to do photography for a living, I kept working really hard on my portfolio while I was in college, and by the time I graduated, I was working full time as a commercial photographer.

I’ll never forget on my graduation day, I had my first huge billboard campaign all over Dublin. The best advice I could give to anyone starting out or switching careers is to follow your passion!”

Stefanie Preissner – Writer, Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope

“People tell you to ignore your haters, but for Can’t Cope Won’t Cope’s second season, I went back and looked at all the criticisms of the first season online. Some were useful and I took them on board. Let’s see if they work in my favour!

They say ‘be brave’ but I’m not brave. I’m afraid pretty much all the time. Afraid I’ll never be the best, or people won’t like me or my work, but I get up at 4:30am and I write. If I didn’t do all of the things that I am afraid to do I would never do anything. I stand in vulnerability every day and I operate from that place despite all the Instagram posts telling me to be “fierce”.

My advice is to get a mentor. I have one – she’s my ‘go back in’ person. When I’m complaining about having to do ANOTHER draft, or I’m ready to give up on my work day at 10am, or I’m just in a rut, she’s the person who listens and then says ‘Okay, but go back in’.”

Susan Daly – Editor,

“In the early years of your career, sign up to any task that might increase your skill set or your experience within an enterprise, even if it’s not the job you see yourself doing in 10 years’ time. You prove that you are fleet-footed, a quick study and pick up experiences that will stand to you later. Saying yes to most things, in the beginning, allows you to advance to positions where your priority will later be learning the value of saying no!

The three key turning points in my career have all involved taking a leap of faith (but do your research before you take the leap). The last one – the jump to pure digital with the then-unknown Journal Media was incredibly difficult. I was told by an acquaintance in newspapers that I would ‘never work in this town again’. I’m still here.”


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