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‘If I were taoiseach, I’d make the move to electric transport more accessible’

The Lighter Side: Klair Neenan, managing director of SSE Airtricity

Klair Neenan

Klair Neenan


What business person do you most admire? 

I admire Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft Ireland. I think she demonstrates great empathy and passion for what she does. I have had the opportunity to meet with Cathriona, and our teams have collaborated on some exciting projects together; and you can see that she brings people along with her. I really admire her approach to business.

What is your guilty pleasure? 

I love weekend mornings, watching children’s movies or YouTube with my kids before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. It can be equal measures of interest and intrigue to see what they want to watch … and I can secretly enjoy it too!

How do you unwind? 

I make sure to fit in time to exercise every day. That can be anytime from once homework is finished or after dinner and other chores are done, but I always ensure I carve out the time. I find listening to a good podcast helps me unwind at the end of the day, too. I really enjoy This Week in Tech and the Business Post’s Five Degrees of Change.

How much money is in your wallet? 

I rarely have cash in my wallet these days, what with contactless payments and being cautious due to Covid-19. Though I always try to make sure we have some cash for the delivery driver if we order a takeaway.

The last book you read? 

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate by Naomi Klein. An excellent read, which talks about embracing radical change when it comes to climate rather than waiting for radical change to be visited upon the world.

What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given? 

Life is about the choices that you make, and business is the same. When faced with challenges, what matters is how we respond to the challenge, learn from it and become stronger and better as a result. The past 15 months have certainly shown the importance of responding to challenges and learning to change approach or direction if needs be.

How do you manage your work-life balance? 

Like so many people, I’ve really been conscious of this since we moved to remote working last year. In our house things were certainly a little hectic when it came to my husband and me juggling the 9-5 as well as home-schooling and parenting, but we got there, and we learned what worked for us. Some key things for me have been planning – with a young family I try to be organised and mindful to prioritise family time. Supporting and trusting my team – the nature of our business means we need to be ready to respond to customers’ changing energy needs and demands. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a great team and we work collaboratively to deliver green energy solutions for our customers.

The last film you watched? 

At my son’s request we watched Guardians of the Galaxy, and then I watched the classic 1990s movie Runaway Bride.

What is your favourite possession? 

My engagement ring and a photo of my family on our fridge.

What’s your most memorable holiday ever? 

One of my favourite holidays was when we went to Lahinch and spent every day enjoying the waves, building sandcastles and eating ice-cream.

What social media do you use? 

For business I use LinkedIn and find it is a great way to stay connected. During lockdown, my daughter made me join TikTok so that we could practise whatever the latest dance craze was. I’m still not up to her standards but enjoying it all the same.

If money were not object, what would your fantasy purchase be? 

It would be anything that brings my family together – a holiday, or maybe a private island.

What is the first website you look at every morning? 

I’ll generally scroll through The Irish Times for any updates on politics, renewable energy or climate change. Depending on the day, I’ll find time for a quick scout of fashion too.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? 

Early bird – I find it hard to lie in, plus I like knowing that I have the whole day ahead of me.

If you were taoiseach for a day, what would you do? 

I would roll out a national incentive campaign making the move to electric transport more accessible, along with a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure to further support people as they move to electric transport.

What person do you most admire? 

My parents. They have supported me through every decision, every twist and turn and every opportunity I have taken – and are still doing so to this day.

What’s your favourite place in Dublin and why? 

Dublin Zoo always brings up great childhood memories, and now I enjoy getting to make new memories there with my own family. There’s an added bonus of SSE Airtricity working closely with Dublin Zoo through our sustainability partnership, so there is a personal and professional connection there for me.

Anything you would like to plug? 

SSE is a principal partner to COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference that will be held in Glasgow in November. This conference, combined with the impacts of Covid-19, means our individual and communal behaviours will continue to change, and change fast, as hundreds of global leaders and businesses come together in November to agree the best path to a sustainable future. 

COP26 represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something about climate change, to get this right and build a cleaner, more sustainable economy for generations to come.  It’s being billed by many as our “last best chance” to tackle climate change, and I’m really proud that SSE has a role to play in delivering it as the whole world moves towards a net zero future.