…even though he will deny it! Dr Bryan Keating (pictured above at Learning Pool’s office earlier this month) is one of the reasons I moved from London to Northern Ireland, 10 years ago at the end of this month. I left my safe job as FD of CIPFA’s commercial subsidiary IPF. I’d worked at CIPFA for what felt like 100 years or more. It was cosy & familiar and I’d recruited and collected a high performing team around me over the years. As an organisation, we hit all our targets & were able to predict with a high degree of certainty what we’d be doing for the next 3 – 5 years. Life was easy.
What could be stranger than leaving that environment to become a dotcommer – working for one of Belfast’s high tech VC funded start-ups? Drenched in uncertainty, constantly seeking funding, moving the goalposts every day, handling our tricky VCs, managing our quota of prima donnas (every tech start-up has them!)…Bryan was the person that calmly showed me how to deal with all of that & more. Take my hand & walk into the abyss – sometimes that’s what you have to do.
He coached & mentored me when I needed it with sensible advice and his practical and so friendly way. Bryan shared with me his wisdom and told me his stories – the kinds of stories every fledgling entrepreneur needs to listen to and hear. We had a few adventures & met some great people (and some not so great people) along the way, burned the midnight oil when we needed to and we had a lot of laughs.
Bryan gave me confidence and encouraged me to go on & become an entrepreneur myself and for that I will be forever grateful to him. It hasn’t always been an easy journey but it has been challenging and fulfilling. If I hadn’t met him when I did, that would definitely not have happened for me. He is a great man and over the years I have learned so much from him. Even now, when I have an important decision to make, I calmly ask myself what Bryan would suggest – and I’m able to think it through in my head. I usually carry a few of his crazy diagrams in my handbag, scribbled quickly on a napkin or the nearest scrap of paper as he explains something, and I look at them from time to time & reflect on the advice he’s given to me. I carry some of his words in my head and repeat them to myself from time to time like a mantra. I find myself saying some of those same things now to my own young team.
Bryan – thank you for everything that you’ve done for me and for everything you’ve done for the hundreds of other start-ups and entrepreneurs that you’ve helped and encouraged along the way – we appreciate you and I don’t know where we’d be without you!