Donna Ahern talks to Edward Fagan, commercial lead, Compass Group Ireland.
How would you describe your role?
I am ultimately responsible for the procurement function of Compass Ireland, managing spend of circa €50 million across all categories of food, non-food and services.
Interestingly, I manage a procurement function that doesn’t actually buy anything – we set the framework from which our sites can procure, enabling our operational colleagues to innovate, win, and retain great business.
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
When I was very young, I earned some pocket money posting leaflets to houses.
I learned that handing them out at the local petrol station was a far more efficient way of distributing them.
My first official job was with Compass Group Ireland in the Aviva Stadium, where I worked part time while I was studying in university.
I didn’t know when I started that it was the beginning of a long career at Compass Group.
There is a great team in the Aviva, and I really enjoyed my time there.
What do you enjoy most about your current job?
Leading our sourcing strategy and promoting great Irish food.
I also enjoy the fact that every day is different, as well as developing and growing supplier relationships and working with fantastic and passionate people along the way.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Inspiring a team of fantastic people to deliver exceptional results, and preferably in an environment where there is no mention of inflation, Covid-19 or Brexit!
I can see Compass Ireland continuing on its growth trajectory and firmly establishing itself as Ireland’s top contract catering business.
What is your advice to people starting out in the industry?
Come work for Compass! Any job is a potential start of a career.
Building good relationships is hugely important, and you never know what opportunities may arise.
What was your worst job, and what was so bad about it?
I did some work with an IT firm in the accounts department, as a placement during my degree. Let’s just say it was not as exciting as buying food!
What three business people do you most admire, and why?
I have worked with many great Irish businesses, and the people I admire most are those that have built a business from the ground up. I find that to be very inspiring.
What advertising campaign have you most enjoyed in recent months?
If you could bring back one product that is no longer available in Ireland, what would it be?
It would have to be Mars Delight – no debate. Mars, please bring it back!
What was your favourite grocery brand when you were growing up, and why?
I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so anything Cadbury/Mars would have been a treat, growing up.
Who would come to your ideal dinner party (living or dead)?
Sir Alex Ferguson, to talk sport and leadership, [Sir] David Attenborough, to talk about the environment and sustainability, and Kevin Thornton, for his food expertise. I’ve already had the pleasure of working with Kevin, and I’ve no doubt that he would be a great addition to the party.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Eating out and checking out new restaurants. I am a big fan of Hang Dai, in Dublin, at the minute.