Donna Ahern talks to Nikki Mullin, group HR director with the Primeline Group
How would you describe your role?
Exciting and fast-paced – it is about pushing boundaries and putting my colleagues at the heart of the business. I want to create the best place to work, where people choose to come every day, rather than looking to work elsewhere. I also want to create a place where we know and care for our people, so that they can care for our customers. Finally, I also see my role as helping to create a workplace that allows people to be at their best.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
While working through university, I set up a small company where I painted murals in children’s bedrooms – cartoon characters, Disney scenes etc. I learned that when you do something you love, and create delight for your customer, it creates a real sense of purpose and it’s not really work! It is a privilege to find that in life and I have found it.
What do you enjoy most about your current job?
I work with the most incredible and courageous team of HR professionals who believe in creating a great place to work. I also work with the most brilliant senior team, whose vision is to create a culture that cares about our customers and colleagues.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
If I am as happy then as I am now, both professionally and personally, I will be very lucky.
What is your advice to people starting out in the industry?
Get stuck in and open your mind to the art of the possible! Be empathetic towards others. Always start with what exactly it is you are trying to achieve, and stay focused on that, irrespective of the distractions or of individuals trying to steer you on a different course.
What was your worst job, and what was so bad about it?
The worst experience I had was with a particular line manager. A good line manager will provide a platform for a person to learn, grow, make mistakes safely, and shine. This particular line manager did none of that! It takes courage to realise when you are not being supported and to make a change.
What could the government do to help business in the current climate?
Empower and trust people to make the right decisions. Communicate, engage them wholly in the ‘why,’ and give them the tools to make the best choice
What three business people do you most admire, and why?
Firstly, Michael O’ Leary: he pushes boundaries, doesn’t accept the status quo, and fosters change. He doesn’t always go about it the right way, but he always asks ‘why not?’ Then Eddie Mullin, my dad: he has worked for himself for years and integrity is at the core of everything he does, which has resulted in lasting customer partnerships. Finally, Sharon Bannerton: a PR who has supported my exposure to marketing and communication in my current role, and previously, in B&Q, and who is another focused individual who weighs up what needs to be achieved and charts a clear path.
What advertising campaign have you most enjoyed in recent months?
I just love the Three campaign with the little boy and the grandad looking for monsters under the bed. It shows that people can still be connected, even if they are not in the same physical space.
If you could bring back one product that is no longer available in Ireland, what would it be?
HP Fat Frog ice pops for 15p. They taste like those care-free summers that I enjoyed during my teenage years.
What was your favourite grocery brand when you were growing up?
YR Sauce was a favourite in our house, as we are not into bland food, and 30 years ago Ireland wasn’t renowned for its spicy or exotic fare, so the YR went into soups and stews and on sandwiches and a fry. It was funny to arrive in Primeline this year to discover that we market and distribute YR Sauce across Ireland and the UK, and it is as tasty and versatile as ever.
Who would come to your ideal dinner party (living or dead)?
My family – my mum and brother are in the wine business, so we would drink well. My other brother is in food innovation, so we would eat well. My aunt is a chef and my uncle is involved in restaurants, so they would provide a first rate dining experience – and my partner is in DIY, so he could build a table extension!
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
You attract the bees with honey not vinegar. It’s nice to be nice to people – that’s the best advice there is because it is so true.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love cooking! I have an 11 year old daughter who is the light of my life and inspires me every day – doing anything with her is fab.
How much time do you spend on social media in an average week?
30 minutes a day.
Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?
All, to varying degrees.
Most likely to say?
I don’t know how, but I’ll find out.
Least likely to say?
Anything disengaging or rude!
© 2020 Checkout Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Donna Ahern.