Cork Profile - Ciara Byrne
When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?
General Manager of a five star resort in West Cork.
Tell us about your career progression to your role today:
I started out as a reservation sales agent in Sheraton Hotels and moved across the globe with them in different roles like in Austin Texas as complaints agent, Braintree MA as property reservations systems trainer and back to Cork as group rooms revenue manager and then opened the first Sheraton in Ireland as director of sales and marketing for Sheraton Fota Island Hotel and Resort. I moved to Choice Hotels for a few years as group rooms revenue manager. Then I shifted gears and moved into tech working for PGi Premiere Global Conferencing, an audio and web conferencing platform. I did approximately seven years with them in contracts pricing and and moved into sales. I worked for Capita as general manager of their largest client in Cork - then Voxpro as director of the Airbnb account and now I’m the MD of Beacon AI and I’m also President of Network Ireland West Cork.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?
I thrive on people, so for me it’s all around them, both the employees and the customers and the other people you meet along the way. Everyone has something to offer and I love meeting new people and connecting people together. I am the ultimate networker. I get energy from people.
What motivates you?
My family and giving them a great life as well as working and living in West Cork.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self?
Don’t worry about what people think about you and be yourself. Be happy in your own skin and don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is different and it is okay to stand out from the crowd and be different. Be confident and stop worrying about the small stuff - it is not important.
If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?
General manager of a five star resort in West Cork so I could bring new people to this region and show it off!
What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?
I am proud of all my accomplishments, but I guess creating Beacon AI out of nothing and seeing the success it is today. Being President of Network Ireland West Cork in 2019 is just amazing. I love helping other women achieve their dreams, encouraging them and helping them along.
Homelessness is something I feel very strongly about, so being able to choose Cork Simon as charity of the year during my tenure as President of Network Ireland West Cork 2019 is a dream come true.
Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?
My parents and my uncle Charlie. My mother as she opened a business that was ahead of its time and she included me in all aspects of the business. I got to be involved in the opening, go on business trips with her, do our homework in the back of the business and also work in the business when we were old enough. I did my homework while she did the books and it taught me that strong women are great and there is no-one stronger than her. My dad was also self-employed, he was a veterinary surgeon and during calving season he could work 24 hours. I got my work ethic from them as the doors never close on a business. I also learnt my sales skills from uncle Charlie who is a well known estate agent in West Cork. He and my mum could probably sell anything to anyone and I would imagine that is where I get my sales skills!
What is the life dream now?
To continue to live and work in West Cork and help to drive more jobs to our region. Growing up I had to move away as there were no jobs here certainly no jobs in STEM, so if I could help to create a company that continues to employ people in the region, I am happy. Also I would love to see Network Ireland West Cork to continue to do the great work it is doing as I feel we are helping women to develop and grow professionally and personally and this is enabling them to have the confidence to go for it, grow their businesses and in turn create more jobs. I adore our region and the more I can do personally to drive work here the more I will do.
How do you switch off?
I do transcendental meditation (TM) twice a day. My mother had been doing it for many years and thought it would be good for my brother and I to learn this when I was 15 and he was 12. I remember the lady who was training us in how to do TM said at the time that my mother has just given me a great gift - the gift of TM. She was absolutely right. I do this every day of my life and I think it’s why I have so much energy and am so positive.
What is your favourite Cork memory?
The Welcome Home Week & Maid of the Isles annual festival that used to happen in Skibbereen the week prior to the August Bank Holiday every year. It was an amazing festival and even when I moved abroad my friends and I would always return for this week every year. It was a real community effort and just wonderful memories and was probably the highlight of my year.
What is your favourite place in Cork?
Lough Hyne Rapids near Skibbereen and Inchydoney.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto?
‘Be who you are not who the world wants you to be’ - Coco Chanel
When are you at your happiest?
When I am with my family at home in our house in Skibbereen.
What is your hidden talent?
I don’t have any - I am an open book!
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I am the ultimate extrovert, but sometimes I crave solitude as I think that is very important for reflection and forward planning.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Network Ireland West Cork is organising a sleepout in aid of Cork Simon Community in Sherkin Island on Saturday 5 October. Our objective is to generate support and raise awareness of homelessness in West Cork.
Further details will be posted on Network Ireland West Cork’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts.