Michael O’Hara, Group MD at DataSolutions, takes the Business & Finance 60-second interview.
Q. What was your first job?
My first job didn’t pay, as I worked at home in Granard, Co. Longford in our family bar and grocery and also on the farm from a very young age.
The wages were non-existent – maybe some pocket money every now and again – but the craic, the stories and the quality time spent with my family and our customers was priceless.
I know from having three teenage children myself that they do not have the same chance to spend quality hours most days with their parents as I did when I was their age, which is a pity.
Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?
There are loads of both personal and business achievements that I am very pleased and proud to have completed.
Every year at the start of January I write down a list of goals that I want to achieve that year; these can range from getting to a certain weight or fitness to hitting set revenue targets in DataSolutions. I firmly believe that if you really put your heart and mind into achieving a goal there is pretty much nothing that you can’t do!
I would have to say that my greatest achievement is helping to create a happy family home for my wife, Margaret and our three children.
If I were to select my greatest business achievement, I would say it is to have managed to build the best team of IT professionals working in the distribution industry in Ireland today. We truly have a fantastic team of sales and marketing specialists working in DataSolutions and this has been recognised by the company winning the Distributor of the Year Award for three of the last four years at the IT industry’s annual Tech Excellence Awards.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Never discount a young person, because they will not be a young person forever.
This is particularly true in the IT industry and we see it all the time in DataSolutions as major new technologies are launched each year and it is usually the younger, eager-to-learn people who, more often than not, are willing to embrace them.
As these technologies mature and become more accepted the young guns who were first to recognise the potential become the champions for these technologies and vendors.
Q. If you could step into the shoes of one business person for the day, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Steve Jobs. He did an amazing job with Apple, not once but twice to make it the largest company in the world.
He had amazing self-belief and determination, even in the face of serious detractors and finally he had great vision and understanding of human nature to build brand new products, like iPhone, iPad and iTunes, that captured the imagination of the public and then become multi-billion dollar sales lines.
Q. In three words or less, how do you define success?
Zest for life.
Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?
I motivate myself by imagining the outcome I want to achieve; I imagine how good it would feel to achieve that goal and this generally motivates me to go for it.
The best way to motivate work colleagues, I find, is to engage with them and empower them as much as possible around the tasks they must complete.
It never ceases to amaze me how much work colleagues can contribute to their jobs once they feel they have some ownership and respect for the job they must do.
Nearly all the good ideas and suggestions that we have taken on in DataSolutions over the 26 years we have been in business have come from fellow work colleagues.
Q. How do you relax?
I’m a regular gym goer, which helps to de-stress. I enjoy trekking with friends when I get the chance. I also love supporting my children in the various sports they participate in.
Q. What’s your motto?
I don’t really have a motto, but I am a positive person, so if I was to pick one I would say, ‘the cup is always half full!’
Q. What are your aspirations for the future of your business?
DataSolutions is going through a very exciting stage of rapid expansion. Last year we opened an office in the UK, in Bracknell, which is both challenging and satisfying at the same time, as it’s like being a startup again.
Our goal for DataSolutions is to grow the business from €30m revenues to €80m in the next three years.