Cork Profile

John Smith CEO of Nano Nagle Place

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up? Lots of things like a doctor, teacher, phycologist. It changed many times! But I always had a sense I wanted to do something that made a difference.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today: I started out working as a logistics planner in EMC in Ovens in 1995. I also worked in roles as a contract manager and inventory manager while I was there. I moved on from EMC in 2002 and went back to UCC full time for 2 years and completed a master’s in social science in youth and community development, focusing on development education. From there I joined Trócaire in 2004 as a development education officer. I worked in many roles throughout my time in Trócaire, including development education manager, advocacy campaigns manager, head of outreach and community engagement, and most recently I spent 5 years on the executive leadership team, as director of public engagement. On 3 January of 2023 I joined Nano Nagle Place as CEO.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do? I am only 2 weeks into my new role but I really enjoy meeting so many different people with such rich and diverse experience. I am really excited to learn from all of these amazing people and to bring these insights to the work of Nano Nagle Place in the weeks and months ahead.

What motivates you? I am hugely motivated by being part of a positive, ambitious and respectful culture at work; everyone supporting each other and making a difference. I think everybody thrives in this type of environment, including me.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self? The same advice my dad always gave to me. Just do your very best at everything. That is good enough.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing? I think I might have been a teacher. I am hugely inspired by teachers. I have so much admiration and respect for them. I think if I had gone down that road I would have loved it.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date? I think it would have to be my 2 children, Oisín and Keela. Although, my wife Orla has to get the credit there too! I am really proud of them.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life? My mum and dad. I have 5 siblings, 4 brothers and 1 sister. She is the youngest and the boss! My mum and dad always did everything for us and guided us through life with love and wisdom.

What is the life dream now? To live every day to my very best and it would be nice to retire near the sea. Who doesn’t want that?

How do you switch off? I run, practice Ashtanga yoga and I like to cook and love listening to music. Lots of different types of music, but jazz (Art Blakey) when I cook.

What is your favourite Cork memory? Seeing my kids in the show ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in the Firkin Crane at Christmas. A close second, the Cork hurlers’ homecoming in ‘99!

What is your favourite place in Cork? Gougane Barra. Just so beautiful and peaceful.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto? “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

When are you at your happiest? Having a nice meal and chatting with Orla, Oisín and Keela.

What is your hidden talent? Chess, although my son Oisín is starting to beat me now.

What might we be surprised to know about you? That I did a sky dive over Arizona. One and only time!

Anything else you’d like to share with us? Just to say come and visit us at Nano Nagle Place. You will get the best welcome and have an inspiring experience. Look forward to seeing you there!


Name and position: John Smith, CEO of Nano Nagle Place

Age: 50

Lives: Blackrock

Family: Wife Orla, children Oisín (16) Keela (14)

Pets: No pets yet but I am holding out for a dog if I can convince my family

Favourite thing about Cork: The people

Least favourite thing about Cork: When it floods. So tough for all of the businesses affected

One thing you’d change about Cork: The weather