Twinterview

New Year #Twinterview with Denise McQuaid

Denise and MaryI haven’t made any resolutions again this New Year but I do always start the fresh year by taking a good look at my own network & figuring out who I haven’t seen for a while & who I need to see over the next 12 months.  See my #100people blog on this topic here.

I’m conscious that I need to write more than I have been doing recently.  2019 was a very busy year for me (and I’m now making excuses … ).  I had a few new important pieces of work kick off early in the year & in addition I calculate that I spent altogether 10 weeks of 2019 in the US & a further 12 weeks in Brussels & Europe.

Twinterviews are such fun that I’ve decided to run a new series of them featuring people from my own business network.  My first of the New Year happened on 8 Jan 2020 & was with my good friend Denise McQuaid.  I met Denise in 2012 when I moved to London for the 3rd time.  Remember that time I went to London for 6 months & stayed for 5 years … Denise and I quickly became firm friends as we share many similar interests.  Anyway, here’s the transcript of what we were musing upon this week:

MM OK everyone (& Denise) – ready to go here with Q1 – This is the first of my new series of 2020 Twinterviews with @DeniseMcQuaid – Denise – do tell us what’s top of your agenda for 2020? #Twinterview

DM Travel! Having bought a house in London in 2019 my travel plans slightly got put on hold. Travel feeds my soul & I have been living vicariously through you, @SusanHayes_ @GimmeACamera – Sri Lanka, Slovenia & Nuremberg on are my hit list! What city would you add to my list Mary?

MM Well – I was in #Nuremberg in 2019 & really loved it so that’s a great choice – Q2 You’ve had a very interesting & global career to date Denise but what’s been your favourite job & what do you hope to be doing 5 years from now?

DM Good question! All my roles have given me something different, but my early publishing days in Boston were by far my most exciting. I love multidisciplinary teams, from sales to creatives, I love joining the dots, people, process & technology that is what really makes me tick.

5 years from now, a question my Dad would ask over Christmas dinner! I think having another global role, using all my international experience & network. Over the past number of years not using my Asian network & experience has made me a little sad given how hard earned it was!

MM I can truly see how that is important – recruiters – take immediate note now!! Q3 Following on from that last question, if you could live and work anywhere in the world Denise, where on earth would you choose?

DM My career is now in its fourth country, but I think the one city that still holds massive appeal is New York. I have a strong network there & I think the speed of NYC would suit me. It’s a city that feeds my curiosity so working there would be a great challenge and opportunity.

MM I like that answer … #NYC would suit me fine too & I’ll be there for a week early March prior to #SXSW20 – Right – Q4 You’re a legendary networker Denise – any top tips for experienced networkers wanting to improve the quality of their own network?

DM For me improving the quality of your network is about making a difference, make sure your network knows it’s we, we, we not me, me, me! And if the answer is no then say no! Don’t compromise your network or yourself & always do what you say you will. And never send blank LinkedIn requests!

MM I hear you on those awful blank #LinkedIn requests Denise – I always ignore those too – Q5 Your article about choosing to remain #childless went viral & created quite a stir a couple of years back.  Was there any fallout – good & bad?

DM The reaction to the article was staggering, it has presented me with some amazing opportunities, to speak more publicly about the topic & to help remove the stigma. The bad side, it highlighted further people who have a very strong unconscious bias about my & others decision.

It made me realise that as we fight for equal rights for women, for education, for a place in the boardroom that against the background of these ‘acceptable’ causes, a woman’s right to choose whether to procreate, or more specifically to choose not to procreate, is questioned.

MM Yeah – that is indeed a challenge that all of us as #womeninbusiness have to bear – Q6 You’re a champion of #diversity … How can others move beyond paying lip service to this important challenge Denise and take small steps to making a real impact?

DM I struggle that we put people into pots & label them, for me the Diversity & Inclusion agenda should focus on divergent perspectives not the label & the one step an organisation can take is to enable different perspectives to be heard to create a safe space where everybody can be themselves.

If you want to have a truly diverse company, you can’t remove the right to offend. We have to be tolerant of all views – the only thing we shouldn’t be tolerant of is people enforcing their views on others.

MM Very true – ok – onto something I was asked myself at a recent @winwomenuk event – Q7 – When you’re recruiting, what are the key qualities that you look for in a person?

DM I always look for curiosity, humility & through the interview I like to understand if the person is teachable and if they are willing to share their skills & knowledge with others. A good sense of humour helps too! A bad hire can destroy a team so easily.

MM Love it Denise – although my answer was different – I look for #kindness as I think delivering that takes a person a long way – curiosity, humility, a sense of humour & teachable are good too – onto Q8 What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever avoided (or ever made)?

DM Not sure I could pick just one! I have made many mistakes and avoided many. The mistakes I have made are when I don’t trust my gut, overthink and in some cases when I am worried about other people and the impact of my choice on them. But my gut is never wrong.

MM Yep – I think a lot (me included) will relate to that answer – it’s sickening when you have that feeling & somehow let something else rule you – onto Q9 – As an Irish person living in London, have you noticed any changes since #EURef & also the recent General Election?

DM YES, very much so. I have spent a lot of time explaining the Irish Border. I felt awkward/grateful I could vote in the referendum & election. I have been subjected to being told to go back to Ireland, that the Irish are no longer welcome. I am hopeful that things will improve.

MM Very sad for the many #irishinbritain – ok – onto something I really struggle with myself – Q10 – How do you choose what to say Yes to & what to say No to?

DM I always think of @TheSineadBurke’s excellent questions from her podcast with the amazing @rizmc.

  1. What’s the purpose?
  2. Does this fill my goals and ambitions?
  3. Does this pay the rent?
  4. Does this give back?
  5. Does this bring other people with me?

This is a real challenge as time is precious. I say yes to time with family & friends as a priority. Then I work on the basis will it feed my soul, will it help someone, what would my dad do! I throw my Dad into my decision making as he always asked the right questions before reacting.

MM I love that Denise – my dad’s been gone for 32 yrs but I can still hear his voice when I “ask” him important questions & need an answer – last one folks for tonight’s #Twinterview – Q11 If I could grant you one single wish to be used on Christmas morning 2020, what would it be?

DM Heard a great quote on a podcast with Heston Blumenthal recently that he saw on a pub wall ‘Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there.’ My wish for Christmas 2020 is that I can say I was behind the door & I faced any fear, challenge or opportunity head on.

MM Wow – well that’s a great quote to finish with this evening Denise – thank you for being my first #Twinterview guest of the New Year & thanks to everyone for joining us this evening – @DeniseMcQuaid & I will now turn our attention to any questions you’ve sent us on the hashtag.

DM Thank you for having me Mary, your questions really made me think and it was a great start to the New Year!