Celebrating being CEO of the Year: Breda Quigley, the Q Café Company
Breda Quigley, founder and managing director of the Q Café Company reflects on winning Image Magazine CEO of the Year 2018, how she got there and the advice she would give to other entrepreneurs
Breda Quigley, the Q Café Company: “I was at a meeting in Cork when I got an email saying I was shortlisted for the Image Magazine CEO of the Year 2018. I was so surprised, as I didn’t know anything about it.”
“In January, the Q Café Company will be 20 years old; hard to believe when I think back to the first day I started the company in the back of my house. I had worked in a number of large blue chip catering companies but had a vision for change and wanted to bring a cafe style service to contract catering in Ireland,” says Breda Quigley, as she reflects on her beginnings. This was a time when large global companies were dominating the market and the Q Café Company wanted to shake things up and bring great Irish food to corporates based in Ireland.
The business had a clear vision from the start focusing on great food, great coffee, great service and most importantly great people. "We have an amazing team, led by our business director Laura Olsen, who inspires our workforce every single day. Most of our employees have been with us from the start and they are the reason we are so successful. Their passion and enthusiasm drives us and for that, we focus on rewarding and recognising them for their hard work.”
The business grew through referrals and reputation but while enjoying success, the Q Café Company did face challenges from large corporate competitors. They addressed these business threats through their ability to improvise and diversify. “One way we did this was through Q Wellness, a total wellness programme developed by my daughter, Leah Moore. She’s a trained athlete and developed Q Wellness into an all-rounder, offering not only quality food that’s good for you but other support programmes covering lifestyle, exercise, motivation and goal setting. Employers particularly love Q Wellness as it constantly reinforces wellness for their staff.”
Support along the way, from Permanent TSB
“I started with Permanent TSB from day one, so have been with them for nearly 20 years. They have been an amazing support through everything from strategic cash flow to business guidance. The most important thing they offer me is openness; they are always available to speak to us and listen to us about all aspects of the business. Permanent TSB are a great support of small businesses and their interest in us as a business is crucial.”
The big win
“I was at a meeting in Cork when I got an email saying I was shortlisted for the Image Magazine CEO of the Year 2018. I was so surprised, as I didn’t know anything about it. I later found out that my daughter, Leah Moore and Laura Olsen, had nominated me. I was delighted and looked forward to enjoying the night and hearing about other successful Irish women in business.
On the night, there were so many inspiring women who shared their stories of success and showed huge passion, it was heart-warming to see such impressive women. I had settled into enjoying the night not thinking much about the possibility of winning. So, when they announced that I did win I was absolutely delighted – this was such a privilege to be chosen from the range of brilliant women in business in Ireland. I looked around the room and was proud of the loss of the glass ceiling in Ireland and felt extremely positive about the future of female entrepreneurs in Ireland.”
My advice for any entrepreneur
“After 20 years in business, what I would say to any young entrepreneur is to take your vision and believe in it. I encourage you to seize every opportunity – I remember being secure in a corporate firm but knowing deep down that I was uneasy about where I was going. I had a vision, a dream and an opportunity; so I took it! If you have a vision and a dream too, make sure to look for opportunity and go for it. You will of course meet obstacles on the way but if you hold on to your passion, work hard, look after your staff and believe in what you are doing then you too will succeed.”
Permanent TSB p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.