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'I was so fortunate to enjoy a really happy upbringing'

Q&A: Angela McGowan

Q: What's the best piece of life advice you've ever been given?

A: I like: "It is better to bend with the wind than break".

Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to someone starting out in business?

A: "You should always try and employ people that are smarter than you"

Q: What was your best career decision?

A: Leaving the public sector for the private sector.

Q: If you weren't doing this job, what would be your other career?

A: I'd like to have my own business.

Q: What was your last holiday? Where are you going next?

A: We went to Cork and Kinsale last year. Our kids had never been - it was beautiful and the food was far too good. But for the last 10 years we have gone to the same place in Spain - it is on the French border and really quiet - never hear a word of English spoken when we are there, only Spanish and French holidaymakers.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests?

A: I like to read science-related books in order to relax in the evening. I cannot believe all the new developments in science. Sciencedaily.com is my daily read in the evening. But I like to walk too, even in these dark winter nights, my husband Peter, our boys and I put on big coats and hats and we walk along the coast on most week nights for at least half an hour. It is really great for clearing our heads.

Q: What is your favourite TV programme and TV genre?

A: I like comedies - it really helps me switch off a busy mind - especially the American ones like the Middle, Modern Family and Will and Grace. I enjoy documentaries too. Louis Theroux never lets you down.

Q: And have you ever played any sports?

A: Yes - when I was young and fit at university I was actually quite good at squash. My best friend Fiona forced me into it and I ended up really liking it. She made me go to netball too - but I hated it - I didn't like all that pushing and shoving people out of the way! I still like the odd game of tennis though, in the summer. These days I tend to only have time for going for a walk or using the exercise bike.

Q: If you enjoy reading, can you recommend a book?

A: Currently reading Sir Ranulph Fiennes new book Fear. It is brilliant, I think all school kids should read it, as he is so honest about school bullying. I had lunch with him once when he was in Belfast - he is an amazing person!

Q: How would you describe your early life?

A: Very 1970s - my parents worked hard, we had a modest income and were very happy. I was the youngest of four children, my mother was a nurse and my father was in the civil service. They saved for what they wanted - that generation born in the 19030s after the Great Depression believed in living within your means. I was lucky to have had a stable and loving family, and I appreciate that not everyone has been that fortunate.

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