International Women’s Day: An interview with Máire Brookfield, Director of Project Management, HCI

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International Women’s Day is an important day to celebrate female achievements. The theme this year is #BreakTheBias and aims to promote a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

At HCI, we are proud to say we have 83% female staff working in Management positions and across the organisation we have a 70% female workforce. To mark International Women’s Day, we decided to chat to one of our female leaders, Máire Brookfield, Director of Project Management at HCI.

As Director of Project Management, Máire is responsible for consolidating and improving HCI’s existing business model for the delivery of HCI’s services and products. Maire provides strategic governance for all HCI projects by leading in the design and implementation of a common project management methodology, standards and tools to drive and facilitate the successful delivery of projects. Máire also supports the interdependencies and coordination across projects to ensure that information relating to project deliverables, risks and issues are effectively communicated between stakeholders and that key performance indicators are monitored and evaluated.

Today Máire gives us insight into some of the lessons she has learnt during her career and what she enjoys doing in her spare time!

Q: What leadership lessons have you learnt during your career?

During my career, I have learnt that leadership is about inspiring people to work towards a common goal. This requires taking the time to understand the individual goals, aspirations and strengths of each team member and supporting them to develop and align with the common goal.

For me, supporting means providing training, offering opportunities and space for development.  Generally, people need to feel that they are progressing in their role and appreciated for the good work that they do, to celebrate the successes and to learn when things don’t go as planned. 

Q: How important is it for women to support each other in the workplace and what does that mean to you?

As women, I feel it is important to build female leadership in the workplace so that we have a voice in decision making. We need to ensure that our colleagues are supported in developing their careers. We must encourage, train and provide access and support to further education, we must mentor, advise, give time, and lead by example.

Q: As a woman in a senior position what do you think are the characteristics most important to get you to that level?

I’m not sure that there are ‘characteristics’ – drive, enthusiasm, commitment are all useful and relevant but really I believe it’s about opportunities.  Decide what role you want and seek out the opportunities that lead to where you want to be. Don’t be afraid of a challenge or even to consider an unexpected opportunity.

Q: Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women looking to progress in the workplace?

Learn from your colleagues, build a support network both inside and out of the organisation – appreciate that progression comes with experience and learning from your experiences and from other colleagues.  Challenge yourself daily.

Q: Can you name one woman who has inspired you?

There are many great women – Emmaline Pankhurst, Countess Markieviec, Rosa Parks, Mary Robinson, Malala Yousafzai.  I’m inspired daily by the strong women around me and the generations of women that struggled to get us to where we are and the women that continue to speak out for equality and social justice.

Q: What have you enjoyed on Netflix?

Too much, thanks to lockdown!  Most recently I watched the mini-series ‘Bonfire of Destiny’ – well worth the watch, even though it’s in subtitles.

Q: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?

No-one – trading places would mean someone else being me, living my life, and I wouldn’t want that!

Q: If you had to pick one age to be permanently, which age would you choose?

I couldn’t pick one age ! Maybe I looked my best at 21, but with every year since I’ve learnt more, and I’m gradually becoming more enlightened(!)  Ok, ideally, 21 but with what I know now!

Q: What three words would your family/friends use to describe you?

I would say caring, resourceful and busy.

Q: What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend?

Mostly, spending time with my family – I’m from a large family so there’s a get together of some sort almost every weekend.  Also, you might find me reading, baking, cooking, knitting, playing the ukulele (badly, but with great gusto!) and maybe even running!

Q: If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

Time travel – I’d go back and say something else!

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