Entrepreneurial words of advice: Egan O’Callaghan

Egan O’Callaghan is a Non-Executive Director and Board Chair, and an expert in advising on and delivering cross-functional business turnaround and growth strategies for global SMEs and mid-sized organisations to drive profitability. NEDonBoard interviewed Egan to hear his entrepreneurial words of advice. His insights and bio can be read further below.

1) How have you developed in your non-exec roles and what 3 key elements have you learned along the way?

Over the various roles across the non-exec sector I have become an avid listener. Understanding the business and its personnel, thoroughly, through investing many hours with all members of the team and finding out what makes them tick and understanding their issues.

With over 50 experience years in and running businesses I have come to rely also on my emotional intelligence (gut Feeling) in supporting my decisions, having listened to, and understood issues and problems in the business.  The vast majority of times my emotional intelligence has proven insightful and accurate.

The three key elements I have learned along the way which have brought me the most benefit are:

  • Listen to all and understand and if you do not understand keep asking until you do.
  • Understand the detail and be visible.
  • Ensure the Executive are meeting their objectives and accountabilities in line with the agreed business strategy.

In my view, a wide experience of businesses, roles and sectors are the key contributors to a good non – exec or non- exec chairman, together with strong interpersonal skills.

2) You’ve held positions ranging from exec board level, to mentor, non-exec and non-exec chairman.  What for you has connected these different roles as well as separated them?

People are the key across all roles in business, especially through their motivation and commitment to succeed in building a successful business, no matter what the discipline or sector or whether on the shop floor or in the boardroom.

Entrepreneurs are always the most focused in their willingness to commit every ounce of their time and effort to having a successful business and on many occasions they have to be encouraged to stand back a little and have a look down the mountain to understand how far they have climbed. It’s not the financial gain that excites, but growing a successful business they can be proud of and what it stands for in their eyes and those of others.

Executive board level personnel have much insight to offer. However, they are more risk averse in their roles which reflects in the amount of detailed information and discussion required on many points.

Unlike entrepreneurs (mentees), they are not as ‘agile and speedy’ in the market when wanting to achieve, being significantly more risk averse in many situations, with caution being important. A clear win must be in sight before a move forward. If, however, the opportunity falls away, there is much more sole searching, whilst the entrepreneur will have moved forward, having quickly taken stock.

In connecting these different roles it’s always the people and the stakeholders who bring so much to the table and their willingness to contribute to ensure the business and themselves can grow. On this basis they feel fulfilled and pride in being part of a successful team.

3) As a mentor for The Princes Trust, what advice do you have for young business professionals?

In setting up your own business with the help of The Prince’s Trust my advice would be:

  • Building a start-up business is a ‘marathon not a sprint’ and it will take time to build, so try not to become frustrated;
  • Find out as much as you can about the business and market you want to be part of;
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it happens and you will grow from them;
  • Have confidence;
  • Take up the offer of a mentor who understands mentees and starting up a business with the help of The Trust;
  • You cannot fail with The Trust alongside, only learn build your confidence and succeed;

And above all, enjoy.

Egan O’Callaghan – Executive Biography

Contact: +44 7798 624 733 Email: egan@thepenngroup.co.uk

I am a Non-Executive Director, Board Chair and expert in advising on and delivering cross-functional business turnaround and growth strategies for global SMEs and mid-sized organisations to drive profitability. My key value proposition includes: guiding major corporate transactions for companies with T/O of up to £250 m, as Founder/MD of the Penn Group and NED for several businesses; deep knowledge of the global needs of multiple sectors, including Technology, Engineering & Services, to drive strategic business expansion; a proven track record of credibly challenging the development and implementation of complex business growth and turnaround strategies to increase stakeholder value; and rapidly building rapport with key stakeholders across all levels, to clearly communicate the company vision and win buy in to business change.

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