Getting ahead: My story so far
Each week, the Sunday Business Post profiles one of Ireland’s corporate leaders, tracing their career to date and exploring the lessons they have learned along the way. Read Naoise Cosgrove’s story and his approach to his managing partner role in Crowe.
Tell us about your career to date.
I did a BComm in UCC, after which I joined Deloitte as a trainee accountant. When I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I joined Crowe as part of their Corporate Finance team. I am with Crowe 20 years this year, having joined in June 1999. I became a partner in the firm in 2004 and managing partner in 2015.
Are you where you expected to be in your career?
Growing up I always had an interest in business and finance so becoming a Chartered Accountant was a natural step.
When I first joined Crowe, I didn’t think I would still be there 20 years later, but I was very fortunate to work with great clients and great people, which helped me grow and it maintained my interest. I was also lucky to have some wonderful mentors who supported through the development of my career. A career in Corporate Finance offers a huge variety, which is one of the aspects I’ve enjoyed most.
To an extent, my career development has been partly about being in the right place at the right time. But it is also down to seizing the opportunity when it was presented and throwing myself into the role.
What was the best career advice you got along the way?
I have always valued Warren Buffet’s quote “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” As a professional adviser, you cannot compromise when it comes to trust and integrity.
Based on your own experience, what are your top career tips?
Find a job that you are passionate about. If you enjoy your role, you will find it rewarding and you are much more likely to succeed.
Hard work beats talent. I am a firm believer that you get out of something what you put into it. With hard work and endeavour anything is possible.
Henry Ford once said, ”whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”. Having a positive outlook and mindset is critical to success and decision making.
How would you define your work style, and how has this evolved over the years?
I have a collaborative style with a strong focus on teamwork. There is an old African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together”. As a firm we are focused on building lasting value, and the strength of our people is key to this. We pride ourselves in having a friendly, open and collaborative approach to everything we do.
I take great satisfaction in seeing our people develop and fulfilling their potential, but I sometimes struggle with letting go and delegating tasks to others. While I am getting better it is still a work in progress!
In terms of managing teams and individuals, what are your insights?
You need to create a positive environment where people enjoy their work. That doesn’t mean people don’t work hard, but they should be trusted and respected and feel that they can be open and straight with you in return.
Colleagues often set their own limitations. As a leader, I encourage our partners and staff to stretch themselves and see beyond their perceived limitations. By taking a step back, you can challenge whether there is a better way to do things or a way to achieve more.
It is important to show appreciation for a job well done and to thank colleagues for their contribution. Even small gestures can have a very positive effect on building team spirit and performance.
What about communication and negotiating the typical ups and downs of working life?
An important part of communication is listening to feedback from your team and from clients. Being very busy we don’t always get this right. Younger colleagues want much more feedback than ever before. This needn’t be time consuming and is really about giving constructive comments.
While it isn’t easy to give negative feedback, failing to address performance issues only compounds the situation. It is much better to be straight with colleagues, agree areas to work on and check-in to monitor progress.
Has networking played an important part in your career?
Networking is an integral part of my role. Referrals are our number one source of new opportunities, so it is important to maintain contact with clients and colleagues and meet new people.
Networking is not about sales, it is about developing relationships, sharing knowledge and creating common touch points. People do business with people that they like and trust, so networking is about nurturing those relationships so that you are front of mind when an opportunity does arises.
If you had to choose another career tomorrow, what would it be and why?
I’m happy to say I am very content with my chosen career, but if I had to choose a different discipline it would be in the area of data analytics and business intelligence. I seen enormous potential to help businesses analyse data to identify and predict trends and to provide timely insights to change and shape the their future.