Be Inspired Series
Corporate Services Director
Laurence Lord sees his main challenges as ‘keeping things fresh’ and being proactive
What does your job entail?
I am the corporate services director for InterTradeIreland – a unique all-island organisation which supports SMEs across the island to identify and develop North/South trade and innovation opportunities.
I’m a member of the senior management team, taking responsibility for finance, ITHR and communications. In succinct terms, I think of my role as making sure we balance compliance and delivery in everything we do.
Is it 9-5?
I suppose it could be if I were prepared to restrict it to that – but I’m not. I believe that it’s how you manage the ‘softer’ elements, such as relationships with stakeholders, that can really add value. So if travelling, working late or taking on out-of-hours activities will contribute to InterTradeIreland’s goals, I do it.
In my own experience, it’s frequently those above-and-beyond times that prove the most satisfying. It’s often then that you nail a problem, develop a relationship, or service a need that really helps InterTradeIreland.
How did you get into this line of work?
My earlier career was very project management focused. I wanted to make a more strategic contribution to a worthwhile organisation. I applied to InterTradeIreland and here I am.
Outline your career to date?
Happy as I am in my current role, I didn’t set out with any master-plan. Both my wife – a teacher - and I are slightly touched with wander-lust. Just after I qualified as an accountant, we emigrated to Zimbabwe where I spent three years in financial systems development. I then moved on to Zambia for two years where I worked in refugee resettlement and rural development. It was a brilliant time.
Three sons later, we returned to Ireland. I began an MBA and spent three years working for the Institute of Public Administration in Dublin. I lectured on finance and accounting, undertook interesting consultancy assignments and ended up as course director on the CIPFA programme.
But Africa called again. So I took up a two year contract with Price Waterhouse in Botswana- restructuring a development bank – then moved on to Lesotho for another two years, leading a banking consultancy team in organisational development.
After that we moved to Perth in Australia for three years where I took on two very challenging assignments, firstly working for over a year for an American company on the acquisition trail and secondly for a large group on implementing general risk management Y2K remediation.
Back to Ireland in 2000, I again went into enterprise systems development this time in insurance. Over time I decided I’d had enough of systems development and moved to InterTradeIreland.
Tell us about your qualifications/training.
I have bachelors and masters degrees in economics and also have an MBA. I’m a chartered management accountant and hold a graduate certificate in information technology.
What qualities are required for your job - personal and professional?
On the whole, I’d list them as integrity, patience, objectivity, a good mix of people and process skills – such as empathy and analytical ability – and I’d also add pragmatism and good judgement.
What are the biggest challenges and rewards of your work?
InterTradeIreland does a tremendous job in a very complex and – to a large degree – uncharted environment. My major challenges are ‘to keep things fresh’ and be proactive. I’m helped enormously by my staff, who are all committed professionals and good company.
The rewards of the job are largely around the sense of purpose it provides. Ireland (North and South) faces enormous economic challenges. InterTradeIreland goes way beyond what might reasonably be expected of it in addressing those challenges.
Just to put a personal spin on that, two of my three sons are qualified professionally. One is working in Australia and the other in the USA. My third son is studying medicine in Ireland and is already taking the corresponding USA exams.
I’d like to think that what I do here with InterTradeIreland will help create an environment attractive enough for them to come back to, should they wish.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Besides travel and social or family occasions, I enjoy being outdoors and I like working with my hands. When it comes to DIY there’s very little I won’t take on. Over the summer I built a 50 metre dry stone wall in my garden.
I also feel that it is important to continue to learn and seek out new experiences. Courses that I have recently undertaken include sailing, philosophy, digital photography and mountain navigation.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
Before I started with InterTradeIreland, I set up two businesses – both now long gone. I sold one at a profit and the other, which was an internet based initiative back in the mid1990’s, wasn’t viable at the time.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
It’s difficult to nominate any one person. I find people who can go on to achieve their full potential with dignity and integrity after suffering setbacks and hardship very inspiring.