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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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Directing the industry Back  
As director of the Financial Services Industry Association, a typical day for Aileen O’Donoghue involves preparing for the association’s participation in the US/Ireland Business Summit and investigating industry issues such as the British Inland Revenue’s CFC legislation.
6.45am I wake up to Lyric FM and the sound of a barking dog - unfortunately the dog’s noise level wins hands down and I reckon that this noise is going to set the tone for the day. It is my last day at work before I head off on holidays for two weeks so I know it is going to be a busy one - there are a lot of loose ends to tie up and quite a few things to be set in motion for development over the fortnight whilst I am away. There is nothing for it but to surrender to the dog and get moving.

7.00am As it happens it is a lovely sunny morning so I go for a very quick walk in the local park which is a stones throw away from where I live - there haven’t been too many sunny days this summer so I may as well make the most of it. Being so close to the park has advantages on a day like this - the downside is that there is no excuse for avoiding exercise. There are quite a few other people out and about taking in some fresh air so I don’t feel so eccentric. I eventually make my way back to the house to have breakfast and get ready for work.

7.50am After watering a few plants that look like they are on their last legs and saying goodbye to my husband, Alan, who is busy contemplating ways of silencing the barking dog, I hit the road. Traffic is very light this morning and I get into the office in double quick time, arriving to get a message that my 8.30 meeting is pushed forward to 9.00 - this gives me a chance to do a few bits and pieces. I scan my email and the newspapers - as usual the state of the public finances dominates the Irish newspapers. I get an opportunity to talk to a couple of colleagues about some ongoing work before making my way to the IFSC.

8.30am I never really know how much time to allow travelling from Baggot Street, where I work, to the IFSC - sometimes it can take me up to 40 minutes. If only we had some effective traffic management in Dublin - I live in hope. As it happens Pearse St is clear this morning so luck is on my side and I am early for my meeting.

10.00am Meeting over and I head back to the office. It’s decision time for the new corporate identity for the Financial Services Industry Association (FSIA). Some weeks ago we commissioned the design of a new corporate logo and since then we have received a range of options that we managed to narrow down. The design options have been the subject of some lively debate amongst the team and amongst an informal focus group. The final proofs have landed on my desk and with the Consigia/Royal Mail re-branding fiasco fresh in my mind, I weigh up the options. The decision is made. The die is cast.

10.15am Time for a quick cup of coffee before I meet the rest of the FSIA team at 10.30. We have a lot of issues to discuss. The FSIA has undergone a period of strategic review and since my appointment a couple of months ago the team has been busy implementing change. Our agenda over the next month or so is fairly tight. Re-branding, FSIA Members Survey, participation in the US/Ireland Business Summit, our Annual Golf event, Annual Dinner, Budget 2003, IFSRA, British Inland Revenue CFC legislation, Post-PPF issues, etc, etc. Regular reviews of progress are essential to ensure everything is on target and that all is well.

12.30pm Team meeting over and I have time to catch up on the morning’s email and return some missed calls. Without doubt, playing phone tag is one of the cruellest forms of office torture - it is right up there with server shutdowns.

1.00pm Time for lunch and a chance to catch up with some friends over a bite to eat.

2.00pm Back to work. The FSIA is a membership organisation and our members drive the agenda - our job is to represent the financial services industry effectively, deliver relevant services and achieve change. Having discussed, at the team meeting, some of the tax and regulatory concerns being raised by members, I settle down to following up on these issues. This involves sounding out a few members on their precise areas of concern. This process is driven by the need to achieve consensus on what needs to be done and how to do it. FSIA membership covers the broad spectrum of the financial services sector and is an invaluable network of expertise. Having both institutions and service providers in membership allows us to really reflect the broad spectrum of views within the industry. This also presents a challenge when trying to reach a consensus view - it is time consuming but it is almost always possible to achieve. The bottom line is that having this broad range of membership ensures that our voice is listened to when we speak to government and its agencies. Having worked previously in other areas of business representation I know that this access and trust is a real asset.

4.00pm I review my ‘Must do before you go’ list - it is the small things that seem to take the most amount of time. I have one last cup of coffee (I have a two a day maximum, otherwise I begin to feel edgy!) and brace myself for the final hurdle.

5.00pm I break for a short meeting with a colleague about some recruitment issues that need to be set in motion - the pressure in the labour market certainly seem to have eased and it appears that candidates are beginning to have more realistic expectations.

5.30pm I have one last chat with the team to wrap up any outstanding issues - no problems so I can look forward to a worry free break! We also discuss why it is that nearly everyone from outside Dublin feels duty bound to support the GAA team playing against Dublin. We don’t come to any conclusions on the issue.

6.00pm I return to my outstanding list of things to do - which I now regret drawing up! I get a call from some of my ex-MBA college pals about meeting up for a quick drink. Al is meeting up with some friends so I have a night pass! By 7.45 I am finally finished (not before time), I leave the car in the car park and head off for a few well deserved drinks.

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