Business – Catherine Duffy

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Photography by: Tarmo Tulit

Charming, professional and a woman on top of her game, Catherine Duffy is president of the Limerick Chamber and General Manager of Northern Trust Limerick.

Originally from Terenure in Dublin, Catherine came to Limerick in 2008 to manage Northern Trust’s operation here. Back then, the financial services firm employed just 19 people. Now, it has 650 employees and staffed by a growing dynamic and vibrant workforce – a truly positive tower of strength for employment in the region. The Limerick Magazine chats with Catherine about her work and her life in Limerick.

Tell us a bit about your background?
Well, I was born in Dublin and have seven brothers and two sisters. Back in the day, my mum had to retire from the Central Bank once she got married, and my father was a Garda Sergeant before he retired from the force. I married Eugene McWey, a farmer from Laois in 2000 and we have four adorable children ranging in age from 5 to 12 years old. My children are very involved in the local GAA club, so that keeps me busy going to matches!

Can you tell us more about your role in Northern Trust?
I am the General Manager for Northern Trust in Limerick. Northern Trust is a leading global financial services institution, proving investment management, management, asset and fund administration, banking and fiduciary services to corporations, institutions and affluent individuals worldwide. When Northern Trust acquired Ulster Bank Investment Services in 2000, I joined Northern Trust as part of that acquisition. We opened the Limerick office in 2006 with 19 employees, today we have just over 650 employees across two offices. I love the job – no two days are the same.
Northern Trust’s Limerick offices, together with our Dublin office are key centres of fund administration and are at the core of our business activities. We support global multi-national clients and fund managers with complex and sophisticated regulatory, reporting, fund accounting solutions. My role can be as diverse as working with the University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology to source talented graduates, dealing with client enquiries, meeting with staff, attending board meetings, hosting all partner meetings, attending Chamber forums, and meeting with other financial market participants.

What is your work environment like?
I have to say we have a fantastic work environment in the office, and it is one we are very proud of. Work is about people and an integral part of my role is to know our employees, know what they enjoy doing, where they require support and what motivates them. Our workforce in Limerick is young and dynamic and as much as my role is about leading our operations here in Limerick, it’s also about listening, engaging and being actively involved in the local community. Ireland is a dynamic hub of investment, research and education, and Northern Trust is committed to engaging and giving back to the communities in which we live and work. We offer each employee two days out of the office each year to engage in corporate volunteering projects and I always encourage all our employees to take up this opportunity.

Most crucially, it’s important to enjoy what one does. It was my father who taught me that work isn’t 9-5, a career is about far more than that and is enjoyable and rewarding.

What tools do you use to get the job done?
It is all about communication. Communication is vital – and never is it more vital then when it goes wrong. I was helping my husband Eugene move cattle recently, with our four children, and needless to say a communication breakdown whilst following instructions resulted in the animals ending up everywhere except where they were supposed to be! It’s times like these when things go wrong an assertive approach can be needed, but vital as always is listening and understanding. Aside from the obvious written and verbal communication approaches, the key is an ability to see the non-verbal aspects of communication. It is often what is not said that needs to be acknowledged. The ability to recognise and act upon this kind of communication is an intuition that comes with age, being a mother and listening to my gut.

With such a large staff, how do you do your recruiting?
These days there are many tools to help with recruiting LinkedIn, Facebook etc but in my opinion nothing beats an internal referral. Having LIT and the University of Limerick on our doorstep solve all of our graduate needs.

Is Limerick a good place for companies to invest?
Yes, most definitely. In 2014 a significant international business report rated Limerick among the top ten metropolitan areas of Western Europe to invest in. The 6th Global ‘Best to Invest Report’ was compiled by Site Selection, an international magazine focusing on corporate real estate strategy and area economic development. The report cites Ireland as the best Western European country to invest in and includes a list of the top ten metropolitan areas which includes Barcelona, Birmingham, Dublin, Madrid, London, Vienna, Erfurt, Athens, Limerick and Antwerp.

How do you manage your time?
I prioritise my tasks each day according to the time and urgency required. I like to see tasks/projects through so I can see the impact and the results they produce. I like to keep myself busy and believe we all need to be productive with our time while recognising a need for time out. To achieve a healthy life work balance is important.

What is the one piece of advice you would share?
Say “yes” to any opportunities they arise – some will work out and some won’t, but each experience offers a unique learning experience. You may uncover something you enjoy, something you are good at or something you can expand your skills in. Sharing these experiences and remaining focused on continuing to learn will position you well both in life and in your career. Also, put yourself in others shoes – trying to understand the challenges, the goals, the aspirations of those you interact with every day offers a different perspective and an opportunity to grow as a leader and inspire others to achieve their goals.

We are blessed with two ears and one mouth – the importance of listening, really truly listening, cannot be underestimated, especially in our business. Listening to our clients and working with them to deliver solutions that fit their unique requirements is at the heart of our role.

What is the best advice given to you?
Coming from a family of ten children, my parents Patricia and Gerard Duffy were leaders and managers. They taught us all to “give it a go”. You may not always succeed or end up where you thought you would be, but the most important thing both in life and in a career is to be honest, be fair and try new things.

Article by : Michelle Costello
Photography by: Tarmo Tulit

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