Over 50 business professionals graduated from Waterford Chamber’s Regional Leaders Programme at an inspiring lunch in Faithlegg.

Having worked with mentors over the past six months, the graduates now join an elite alumni of over 500 leaders who have completed the programme to date, a very powerful network of people who are driving forward business development in our region.

Opening proceeding, Eadaoin Carrick, Vice-President of Waterford Chamber spoke about her own time on the programme and how she will now use her professional experience as Executive Chairperson of the Cantec Group to help others by becoming a mentor for the next programme, which begins in September.

Speaking to the graduates, she said: “The very basis for this programme is to develop a cohort of future leaders...that is you. Your job now is to go out there and lead - strengthen our business community and be a voice for that community.

“That is what we do in Waterford Chamber and as Vice President, I have seen first hand the difference strong voices can make. A core part of our business is to lobby and represent the business community, to support our colleagues and make things better. Your role is no different...because if you lead, others will follow. Be bold and brave, grasp the opportunities in your career and don't ever be afraid.”

Before a sumptuous meal, the programme participants and their mentors heard from guest speaker and Waterford native Margaret Morrissey, HR Director for Ireland with Abbott, with responsibility for over 5,500 employees.

Margaret spoke about her own journey to success, the belief she had in herself and others had in her and the importance of having the right people around you.

“For me it’s around following opportunities. There have been people at different points in my career who showed me they had faith in me and I couldn’t and didn’t disappoint them.

“Now as a leader, my advice is to do really good work, focus on the quality of the work, aspire to be great but not perfect. Develop skills of resilience, you’re going to need them and find the right support network. Work with people that inspire you, surround yourself with capable people. Know your own values and be clear on what those values are. It’s really about knowing yourself.

“Leadership is not about power, it’s about people. Great leaders recognise the potential of people. They have ambition for other people to thrive. Good leaders have more ambition for their teams than they have for themselves and they create the environment for that to happen.

“Brave leaders like you are empathetic, they have connection with others and they recognise that leadership is a journey and not a destination. I would congratulate all of you for taking this journey of the Regional Leaders Programme and wish you every success into the future.”

Closing proceedings, Waterford Chamber’s Lynda Lawton thanked programme partners Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Bausch + Lomb for their continued support. She also recognised the commitment of all the mentors, particularly paying tribute to Michael Walsh, Chief Executive of Waterford Council, who has been a mentor on the programme since its inception seven years ago and who is set to retire in the coming weeks.

There has already been significant interest in the next Regional Leaders Programme, which commences in September and expressions of interest are now been taken. To do so, please email Lynda.lawton@waterfordchamber.ie or see www.waterfordchamber.ie for more information.