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Keeping his finger on the pulse from Fermoy and Dublin, BUPA Ireland finance director Niall Devereux juggles product-launch reviews and planning meetings in an average day on the job.
6.15am: Alarm goes off. A quick shower and I am ready for breakfast by 6.45 am. My wife Ann and I discuss the day ahead from decisions in Ann’s bridalwear design business to the weekend’s social activity and of course my expected time of arrival home - which invariably proves inaccurate!

7.00am: Leave Naas and begin the journey to either Fermoy, the nerve center of BUPA Ireland or to the office in Dublin. Within an hour, I arrive in the Dublin Office, fully up-to-date on the business news for the day and with some early morning calls completed. Despite the vast difference in distance, Fermoy can be reached in just two hours, which allows more time for making calls and for planning the day and week ahead. A quick skim through the morning papers and the day’s work begins.

8.15am: The day begins with an update on the previous day’s trading. With our call centre in Fermoy taking over 1,000 calls a day, an update is always required. Since our entry into the market in 1997, we have consistently exceeded all expectations and now have over 170,000 members. When in the Dublin office, I like to have meetings in the morning and where possible leave the afternoon for correspondence, reports and planning ahead. Fermoy is completely different due in part to the completely open plan of the office. With over 120 people employed in Fermoy, the day inevitably tends to be more reactive rather than proactive.

11.00am: A meeting is held with the sales team to discuss our strategy for forthcoming presentations to number of group schemes. The annual savings for a group scheme upon switching to one of our mainstream products can be quite substantial, as much a 10 per cent to 20 per cent. Attending these presentations and meeting customers keeps me in touch first hand with what our customers want, what they think of our products and services as well as those of our competitor. Keeping close to our customers helps us greatly in formulating new product strategy. BUPA Ireland is a more innovative and forward thinking company as a result.

1.00pm: About once a week I would have a working lunch although I have become a great believer in taking a break, when as a result, the afternoon is more efficient. Lunch today is with an old friend from college in Maguire’s Pub which is only a stone’s throw from the BUPA Ireland headquarters located in Fitzwilliam Square.

2.00pm: Being supported by a strong finance team enables me to spend more time on the strategic direction of the business. This afternoon I get together with Martin O’Rourke, (managing director), John O’Dwyer, (director of operations) Sean Murray, (director of marketing) and Ann Broekhoven, (provider affairs) to review the status of BUPA Ireland’s recently launched product, HealthManager. HealthManager is a direct result of listening to what our customers want. It has in itself bred a new air of excitement in what is already a dynamic and exciting company. Thankfully, the PR to date has been excellent, which has given a great boost to our early sales targets. We also review the recent Health Insurance Bill and the proposed introduction of Risk Equalisation. The prospect of a not-for-profit organisation paying over ?20 million to a competitor 10 times its size is nonsensical and prevents meaningful competition.

3.30pm: BUPA Ireland is a part of an international healthcare group with operations in Spain, the Far East, India, the Middle East and the UK. The benefits of this include the exchange of a wealth of international healthcare knowledge and access to substantial reserves. As company secretary and being on the board of a number of BUPA’s overseas companies, much time is spent on planning and preparing for future meetings and subsequent follow-ups.

4.30pm: Phone calls to my colleagues, John and Mary, help to keep me up-to-date with the day’s activities. September is one of the busiest months as the key planning season take flight. We have a cohesive finance team and whilst we work hard we generally aim to do so with good Cork humour and spirit. Occasionally this leads to one of the infamous finance nights out when we party the night away. Who ever said that finance departments are boring!

5.30pm: The time between 5.30 and 7.15 is usually free of meetings and enables me to write reports and plan ahead (unless of course, my colleagues have better use for my time!). Again these vary from investigations into deviations from plan to examining new products and market opportunities. New product development in a highly regulated market can be a challenging task but success is always achieved and maintained by those who keep trying!

7.15pm: The day ends and as I leave the city I reminisce on the days when we were preparing the plan to launch BUPA Ireland and I can only smile when I realise how far we have come. At this stage, the traffic has calmed down and the homeward journey takes only 40 minutes. Usually I unwind with a glass of wine or a beer with Ann after which we have dinner. Definitely, al fresco in the summer, especially on a Friday when the weekend begins with a long barbecue.

9.00pm: Twice a week, I try to get to the gym for a work out, swim and sauna. Keeping fit is a favourite hobby and is a great elixir for a busy working life.

10.00pm: I am home by 10.00pm, refreshed and ready for the next day.

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