Making meaningful connections was the clear takeaway from the first Regional Leaders Programme panel discussion, which took place at the Garden Room in the Medieval Museum, as the South East’s future leaders gathered for the event entitled “What Makes a Leader”. 

Opening proceedings, Waterford Chamber’s Lynda Lawton spoke of her firsthand account of the strength of a business community coming together in Midleton, Co Cork, following the recent floods. 

“What I have witnessed over the last week has been extraordinary. The floods have had a devasting effect on my hometown but what has shone through is the resilience and collaboration of the business community to get things done. As business leaders, there is nothing you can’t achieve if you work together.” 

Introducing the panel, Michael Stafford of Futureneerz and Chapter Coach Training said being a great leader isn’t just about the title, it’s about how you get the balance right to show up as the best possible version of yourself. 

The panel, which featured Laura Mongey, Former Senior Director at Twitter and Executive Coach; Des Whelan, Managing Director at WLRfm; James Cawley, Business Development Executive, Irish Centre for Diversity and Deirdre Lacey, Senior Manager Operational Excellence, Bausch + Lomb, strongly concurred and spoke of what they enjoy to ensure they are in sound mind for the day ahead, be it exercise, writing lists or listening to music. 

They also discussed the importance of respect for colleagues, not being comfortable with titles, using their position to make conditions better for their team and how a positive mindset is vitally important. 

Before the audience were set a networking challenge by Michael Stafford, the panel spoke of the importance of building meaningful connections and how it doesn’t always have to be about getting something from the other person or selling to them.  

With that in mind, the Regional Leaders Programme participants were tasked with making one solid connection within the room and to grow that relationship before the next event. 

Speaking after the event, Gerald Hurley, CEO of Waterford Chamber said: “It was fantastic to see so many people engaged in this event and wanting to grow their network and collaborate as a business community. This programme is the perfect example of that, it’s Waterford Chamber, Bausch + Lomb and Waterford Chamber Skillnet coming together to support the development of the business community and we are looking forward to many more meaningful engagements over the coming months.”