What is your career background?
I worked with the Sligo County Enterprise Board for 17 years, firstly as a business advisor and then as Assistant CEO. I joined the council in 2014 as Senior Enterprise Development Officer when the LEOs were established and integrated into the local authorities. Overall, I have been working in enterprise development for 24 years.
What does your role involve?
Every day is different. The job revolves around helping businesses to solve problems and exploit opportunities so that they can excel and thrive. The range of business supports is broad, ranging from dealing with business enquiries, developing and implementing training initiatives, selecting and assigning mentors and consultants to meet business needs, providing targeted financial supports and the ongoing promotion and administration of all of these supports. The job also involves a high level of reporting and budgetary management, all with the aim of implementing government policy in supporting business.
We liaise closely with other sections of the local authority, given the council’s role in economic development. I work closely with stakeholders and business representative groups in the County. For example, the Chamber of Commerce, Sligo BIDs, Sligo Tourism, Sligo IT etc.
There is a particular focus on implementing digital and green initiatives, such as digital training, trading online vouchers, and the Green for Micro sustainable business programme.
We are also involved in wider economic development projects that the Sligo County Council is progressing for example the Digital Manufacturing Futures Centre which is a partnership with IT Sligo, Leitrim County Council and industry to develop a centre of excellence in Industry 4.0. It will be based in the centre of Sligo in a council building and will support businesses in developing digital manufacturing technologies.
What are the most rewarding things about working for a local authority?
The most rewarding thing is knowing that the supports you are providing are making a difference. We are helping businesses start and expand, and facilitating the creation of jobs, which is our core objective.
It is also rewarding to know that the LEO is central to the local authority’s economic policy and has an input into the more strategic economic development activities for the county.
We work as a team and all of our achievements are shared. I was proud of our response to the unprecedented challenges that were presented by Covid in 2020. Businesses were suffering considerably and the local authority was front and centre in the government response. We had to adapt our existing supports to match the needs of businesses and deliver on a range of new supports. We rolled out over €1m extra in supports in the second half of 2020 and to do these new administrative structures had to be developed and staff worked tirelessly while having to deal with their own changes in work practices. I am very proud of my involvement in the management and implementation of that.
Why should someone consider a career with a local authority?
The Local Authority will give you an opportunity to develop management and administrative skills in a variety of areas. But its more than that; it is all about providing the infrastructure and supports to help the local community thrive economically and socially and there is great personal reward in knowing that you are contributing to that.