The Lighter Side
Dee Ahearn, chief executive, Barretstown
Dee Ahearn, chief executive, Barretstown: I take my inspiration from the seriously ill children we serve at Barretstown – on a daily basis they amaze me by rising to overcome their individual challenges.”
What businessperson do you most admire?
Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from two great leaders, Maurice Pratt and Pat Gunne.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Pouring a glass of wine, putting in my headphones and listening to The Doors.
How do you unwind?
I like walking and recently I have taken up cycling. It is a great way to see the local countryside and get some fresh air.
How much money is in your wallet?
Not a penny, I have been compared to the Queen in that I never carry cash. You may find some dollars in there as I travel to NYC for work quite a bit.
The last book you read?
I read What I know For Sure, by Oprah Winfrey. I enjoyed it, especially the chapter on resilience and the importance of removing the element of fear when faced with difficult decisions.
What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
Trust my gut instinct, not to be afraid to make mistakes and by surrounding myself with good people the risk of making mistakes is lessened.
Who is the most famous person in your contacts list?
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. I had the honour of welcoming Secretary Clinton to Barretstown for our 25th anniversary. She was so lovely and spent the afternoon meeting our campers and staff at Barretstown.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
I am not very good at this. I do tend to bring work home with me. I love what I do so it can be difficult for me to disconnect but it is something I’m working on.
The last film you watched?
The last film I went to see in the cinema was Bohemian Rhapsody, I loved it and thought Rami Malek played an excellent Freddie Mercury.
What is your favourite possession?
A video of me dancing with my dad in my kitchen. Dad passed away in 2019 and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him – he was a huge influence on my life.
What’s your most memorable holiday ever?
There are two holidays that stand out for me – one was Universal Studios in Orlando, many years ago when my daughter Millie was eight years of age. I refused to go on a roller coaster and she called me a scaredy cat in front of everyone in the queue! Last year, I went on a cruise, it was fabulous, and the best part was no mobile coverage on days at sea, I got very used to not being glued to my phone.
What social media do you use?
Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I use these platforms to share the work we do at Barretstown.
If money were not an object, what would your fantasy purchase be?
I should probably answer this question by saying I’d clear my mortgage but in all honesty I know I would go out and buy a fully loaded Range Rover Vogue.
What is the first website you look at every morning?
Generally, it’s the news websites closely followed by checking my emails.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Unfortunately, I am an early bird, try as I might I generally can’t sleep past 6am.
If you were Taoiseach for a day, what would you do?
I would look at the real impact of charities like Barretstown, the invaluable services provided to communities all over Ireland and calculate their value to the State and fund this work where possible.
What person do you most admire?
I take my inspiration from the seriously ill children we serve at Barretstown – on a daily basis they amaze me by rising to overcome their individual challenges. I am so proud of our campers, their resilience and hope.
What’s your favourite place in Ireland and why?
The west of Ireland, the rugged west coast and that howling wind coming in off the Atlantic – there is nothing like it.
Anything you would like to plug?
Inspired by the strength and resilience of our campers, we’ve launched a Rising to the Challenge fund to help us deliver our therapeutic residential and outreach programmes to over 8,000 seriously ill children and their families currently on our waiting lists when it is safe to do so. To make these extra programmes happen, we urgently need donations. If you can, please donate today and help us to Press Play on childhood via our website barretstown.org. In the meantime, we will continue to serve our campers virtually through our online interactive platform, ‘Barretstown Live’, delivering our programmes safely into our campers’ homes.