Chamber News

An honest account from the ‘accidental entrepreneur’

RLP Lunch Michael Doherty

"Inspiring", "honest", "fascinating" are just a small selection of the descriptions that flooded social media following Conor McCarthy’s lunchtime talk as part of the Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme.

Described by Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley as a “true friend of Waterford and Waterford Chamber”, Conor, a native of Dublin, has holidayed in Dunmore East for the past 25 years and was a mentor on the inaugural Regional Leaders Programme.

Returning as a guest speaker for the second programme, Conor spoke to the mentors and programme participants on being “An Accidental Entrepreneur”, with a refreshing honesty and transparency that allowed the audience to walk away with an understanding of the true meaning of an entrepreneur.

According to Conor, “The term entrepreneur is a misnomer as it refers to an individual, whilst there is no such thing as an entrepreneur who did it all on their own - it’s about a team effort and team building. An entrepreneur is someone who no longer can or wants to work for someone else. However, if you chase the money, you might not ever reach the goal. Money is not a goal. Use your knowledge and experience – don’t plan on success in an area you have never worked in.”

Offering sound advice, Conor said the key to success is “adapt, adapt, adapt”. That coupled with his mantras of “Discover the supremacy of sales” and “Never say die – find a way”, you can see why Conor is considered one of Ireland’s most successful Executives.

Co-founder of AirAsia and current Executive Chairman of Dublin Aerospace, Conor has been in the aviation business for 41 years, having started on an apprenticeship with Aer Lingus.  He was appointed CEO of Aer Lingus Commuter in 1991 until he left to become Director of Group Operations at Ryanair in 1996.

In 2000 he established his own consultancy firm ‘Plane Consult’ which specialises in Low Costs and Start-Up airlines. In 2001 he joined Air Asia and is credited with transforming the airline into the most successful Low Cost Carrier in the region.

When SR Technics closed in Dublin in 2009, Conor spotted an opportunity and established Dublin Aerospace where he remains as Executive Chairman. He was awarded EY Irish Entrepreneur of the Year (2011) for the success of Dublin Aerospace, which recently announced the recruitment of another 150 aerospace professionals.

And he shows no signs of stopping or slowing down. As he says himself, “Keep planning because once you print it, it’s out of date.”

The third Regional Leaders Programme is now open for expressions of interests and will commence in September. Again, with the support of Waterford Chamber Skillnet, Bausch + Lomb and Waterford Institute of Technology and over 40 of Waterford’s key business people as mentors, the programme is leading the way in supporting the business community in terms of leadership, succession planning and sustainable growth.

Commenting on the programme Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “Getting access to people of Conor’s calibre, makes the Regional Leaders Programme a must for anybody looking to grow their business or for individuals who are determined to enhance their career prospects. The programme enjoyed a 40% growth from year one to two and we envisage further growth this year, if early expressions of interest are anything to go by. From the one to one mentoring sessions, to group sessions, speaker lunches and networking opportunities, the Regional Leaders Programme is a cost effective way for business owners to maximise the potential of their internal talent pool and cement the future of their leaders.”

To register your interest in the next Regional Leaders Programme, please contact Kelly Cummins on 051 872639 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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