“Don’t be afraid of failure – a winner is just a loser who tried one more time.”

Three Business Blog Team
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On: 5 Jul 2018
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Elaine Carey Three

As one of Ireland’s corporate leaders, Elaine Carey, Chief Commercial Officer at Three, was profiled in the Sunday Business Post, dated 24th June. She recalls her career to date, the best career advice she received and what her tips are, including insights into managing individuals and teams.

Tell us about your career to date.

I’m from Limerick and when I was a college student, I took a part- time job with Esat Digifone’s Limerick call centre. Little did I know that part-time job would lead me to a career of close to 20 years in the telecommunications industry.

I spent a number of years in the Caribbean working for Digicel as part of the original management team that launched the company in Jamaica in 2000.

I then moved on to launch in St Lucia, Aruba, Cayman and St Vincent before moving back to Dublin to set up Eircom’s ICT division. I joined Three in 2008 as Head of Sales and was appointed Sales and Marketing Director before taking on my current role in 2013.

Are you where you expected to be in your career?

You never really know what the future will bring. I certainly never sat back and put a roadmap together of where I wanted to end up career wise, but I grabbed every opportunity that came my way and worked hard to make the most of it.

My main focus was always to just do my best; that way you will never have any regrets. I’ve had a really interesting career, and I’m now lucky to say I’m doing a job that I love in an industry that excites me every day.

What was the best career advice you got along the way?

Li Ka-shing of CK Hutchison once said, “you need to be interested in your business. If you are interested in your business, you are bound to do well”. I think that is really sage advice. When you’re passionate about your career, you will always excel!

You should also never be afraid to put yourself forward for something, I think this is especially key for women in business, as we sometimes have a tendency to stand back.

Also, trust your gut because it’s probably telling you the right thing and don’t be afraid of failure – a winner is just a loser who tried one more time.

Based on your own experience, what are your top career tips?

Pick an industry that inspires and excites you. As I mentioned, this is central to developing a successful and fulfilling career. Also, don’t get too caught up in what level you enter the industry at – the cream always rises to the top and if you’re good, you will progress quickly.

Lastly, be aware of your ego; use it to your advantage rather than letting it hold you back. It’s important to have conviction and believe in yourself, but also be aware of the views of those around you.

How would you define your work style, and how has this evolved over the years?

I work collaboratively with the great team I have around me. This is the only way for everyone to reach their potential and for your team to produce its best work. When you start out in your career, you can have a tendency to want to make your mark and do everything yourself, but as you become more experienced, you realise how important it is to trust those you work with, empowering them to be the best that they can be.

In terms of managing teams and individuals, what are your insights?

Being aware of people’s strengths, and organising your team so that those strengths are maximised is really important. It’s also key that the individual knows what their strengths are and that they are coached on how best to leverage them in order to achieve their goals.

It’s also crucial to remember that people are not just members of your team; they have lives outside of work with a lot of demands on their time. For this reason, at Three we have flexible working policies so that people can balance their work life with their private life. The nine-to-five workplace is definitely a thing of the past in that regard.

Lastly, it’s not just important to trust those around you, but to build their trust in you too. When individuals are comfortable in their roles and feel supported to put themselves forward or suggest an idea, that is really beneficial – both for their individual development and for the team as a whole.

What about communication and negotiating the typical ups and downs of working life?

We work in a fast paced industry where things are constantly changing. Because of this, there is no time for bad communication or mixed messages. In this regard, it’s important to lead by example, being clear and succinct in communicating with your team and ensuring everyone knows the job that they have to do, while being aware of the bigger picture also.

Has networking played an important part in your career?

I would consider networking extremely important from the perspective of keeping up to speed with everything that is going on outside of Three. It’s also up to me and my colleagues to talk about Three to external stakeholders who are all ultimately our existing and potential customers.

My advice is to always be aware of everything that is going on around you, but don’t feel the need to participate in everything. Make sure there is relevance and benefit to you, your business and your customers.

If you had to choose another career tomorrow, what would it be and why?

I would love to work in the creative industry. In my job I regularly get exposed to some fantastic creative minds and I am fascinated at how they can take a brand like ours and communicate our story and our purpose in such innovative and engaging ways.