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The lighter side

Joanne Hession, founder of the Entrepreneurs Academy and of LIFT (Leading Ireland’s Future Together)

Joanne Hession: “All my best possessions are either memories of growing up and my family, or my incredible group of friends.”

Joanne Hession: “All my best possessions are either memories of growing up and my family, or my incredible group of friends.”


What business person do you most admire?

Over the past two years I have come to know John C Maxwell, a US-based philanthropist and speaker on leadership character. I admire his vision and integrity and his commitment to the importance of developing individuals to effect wider societal change.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Stationery! I tried using an iPad for notetaking at one stage, but give me a nice hard-back notebook any time!

How do you unwind?

I love playing tennis and cycling. Great exercise and an even better social outlet!

How much money is in your wallet?

I never carry much money. Probably less than €10.

The last book you read?

I am forever reading books on what it means to lead. The last book I read was The Heart of Leadership by Mark Miller.

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

The most simple yet incredibly important lesson that I have learned is that leadership is not a title. You don’t become a leader because you sit in the corner office; anyone is a leader if their character is such that others are inspired to follow them.

Who is the most famous person in your contacts list?

My friend, media star, fashion guru, tech entrepreneur and collaborator on LIFT, Sonya Lennon.

How do you manage your work/life balance?

I have to diarise time away. I can find it difficult sometimes to switch my brain off, especially when we are in the throes of a new project. I schedule time off each week, whether that be to go cycling, meet my parents for lunch or play tennis for an hour and I journal daily, which keeps everything in harmony.

The last film you watched?

I’m not much of a cinema or TV person. My brother David, who is involved in LIFT with me, is trying to turn me on to Danish arthouse cinema (a film called After the Wedding particularly – I’ve never heard of it), but with three young kids I’m more of a Disney girl!

What is your favourite possession?

I try not to get too caught up with material things. All my best possessions are either memories of growing up and my family, or my incredible group of friends (and I think it’s really important that you never be too old to make new friends).

What’s your most memorable holiday?

A few years ago I shattered my leg in a skiing accident in France. It may not have been memorable for the right reasons, but I’ll certainly never forget it!

What social media do you use?

I’m a Facebook and WhatsApp user socially, but I also use Twitter and LinkedIn for work.

If money were no object, what would your fantasy purchase be?

My husband is an avid ski lover, so maybe a chalet in the Alps.

What is the first website you look at every morning?

Always the news sites, to see what Mr Trump has been up to while I’ve been asleep.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Very definitely an early bird! I need my sleep and am in bed at 10pm most nights, if I can manage it. I’m usually up by 5.30am though.

If you were Taoiseach for a day what would you do?

I would commit my full support to LIFT (Leading Ireland’s Future Together), a programme aimed at transforming Ireland into a global beacon of character-based leadership.

What person do you most admire?

I’m not going to differentiate between them – my parents are the people I most admire. They have a quiet depth and an integrity that I hope I have inherited to at least some degree.

What’s your favourite place in Dublin and why?

I love Smithfield. My business, the Entrepreneurs Academy, is located here and the area has an amazing sense of energy and reinvention.

Anything you would like to plug?

February 15th next in Dublin Castle will see the official launch of the national LIFT movement, involving the first visit to Ireland by Dr John C Maxwell, one of the world’s pre-eminent speakers on leadership. Leading Ireland’s Future Together (LIFT) is a movement to drive forward authentic leadership in Ireland. If any companies would like to get the opportunity to attend and be known as an inaugural founder of the LIFT movement, just email joanne@entrepreneursacademy.ie.