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Damian Devine

Damian Devine Best Manufacturing Technology Lead

Be Inspired Series

Kieran McGarrigle

Business Development Manager
Playball, NICSSA

Beginning as an engineer, Kieran soon moved to engineering management, specialising in customer service. Having coached his local junior soccer team, his new role provides a perfect marriage of his skills.

What does your job involve?

My role is extremely varied and changes every day. The PlayBall facility is preparing to open and that presents a lot of challenges on a daily basis.

Essentially as business development manager, my main duties are customer relationship management, development and implementation of business initiatives, developing and managing all our information systems and the recruitment, management and motivation of staff.

PlayBall is the new sports facility at the Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association (NICSSA) facilitated at Stormont which will provide eight multi sport all- weather pitches and a water based hockey pitch for the local community, businesses, and sports groups.

How did you get into sports development?

One of my passions in life has been coaching my local junior soccer team so I guess you could say it's in the blood! Throughout that time I have realised and experienced at first hand the necessity for the provision of good facilities to develop participation in sport.

The new PlayBall facility allows me to be involved with something I love, while giving me the opportunity to use my business management experience to help produce an end product that will deliver on the development needs of the local sporting community and at the same time enhance my professional development.

What are the main qualities you need to be successful?

Enthusiasm, commitment and drive, I see as the three main qualities, backed up with the right skills and training which will see you through any challenge and enable you to be successful in everything that you do.

What's the best bit about your job?

It's very difficult to highlight just one!

My job allows me to engage with enthusiastic people of all ages which I find extremely enriching.
NICSSA is also a very forward thinking and energetic organisation which ensures each day is fun and challenging, but ultimately, knowing that I am helping to promote health and wellbeing through this fantastic service gives me great pleasure.

Professionally, what has been your biggest challenge to date?

Definitely getting PlayBall up and running as it has required me to essentially set up an entire business from scratch. I've managed two construction sites, developed and implemented all the operational processes in order to deliver the product on time and on budget -- what a challenge!

What are your aspirations?

To deliver our promise to our customers by offering a sports facility that is openly available to everyone for ball game sports and training. I aspire to achieve continual capacity usage were all nine playing surfaces and our indoor multi-function room are maximised by people of all ages involved in sport.

Who inspires you?

Leaders such as Martin O'Neill who has shown exceptional people management skills with the ability to transfer his determination and passion to team members and achieving the best from individuals while delivering on team performance ... and I'm not an Aston Villa supporter ... honest!

How do you make sure that you stand out from the competition?

Because of the nature of providing sports facilities we choose to work with our competitors, but we do offer a number of advantages such as; 'Best in class' playing and changing facilities, the provision of bar and restaurant facilities, our positioning in a very unique and safe environment and the fact that we have introduced a customer focused online booking system.

How did your background prepare you for the career path you have chosen?

I began my career as an engineer and then moved into engineering management, my skills and ambitions drew me into the customer service side of business. This love of working with the end user and my own personal love of coaching has combined perfectly to give me all of the skills I require in my chosen career path -- it's the perfect marriage.

What advice would you give someone keen to work in your industry?

The sports industry offers a huge range of career and personal development opportunities whether it's competing or managing.

It is also a growing industry with the realisation that our health is something that we all need to actively manage.

There are endless opportunities for committed individuals to achieve both physically and professionally. As with any worthwhile career development opportunities, the sports industry requires hard work but the rewards are worth it. In short, get involved and work hard to get that job you want.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself ...

We never know where we might discover hidden talents. A few years back I had a long overdue reunion with some colleagues who were meeting at a clay pigeon shooting competition.
I went along as a spectator but was persuaded to take part as walking around the two hour course provided the opportunity for us all to catch up.

Having never handled a gun I was quite apprehensive but soon settled into the course.
To my amazement I won the competition. It may have been a fluke as I haven't been involved in any further competitive shoots to verify this talent. Instead, I prefer to keep the happy memory.

What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?

A past mentor of mine told me that we should never assume to know all there is to know about any given task or issue without consulting others -- conference is not a weakness but an asset.
Important decisions should only be made when we have all of the facts. I live by that statement and I value my team enormously because of this.

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