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All the best: Catherine Toolan on her favourite things

 

By Kerry McKittrick

The managing director of Belfast's Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall is in her early 40s and lives in Belfast.

My best moment

Flying back to Ireland and seeing the coast, having been away. I love to travel, but I love coming home and anticipate catching up with people when I get there.

My best song

I'm an avid Bruce Springsteen fan so my favourite song is his Tougher Than The Rest. I'm a big music fan though, so I like Walking on Cars and John Martin too. It's a real plus being a music lover in my job. You get to hear bands on their way down and real up-and-coming artists.

My best way to relax

I really like to cook, so nothing is better than preparing for a dinner party for up to 10 people. I love cooking authentic Asian food. When I'm not doing that I particularly like walking anywhere there's water, particularly the sea cliffs.

My best job

I started as MD for Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall about 10 months ago and I've loved every minute of it, coming to work in two buildings that are so different but really iconic. I've been really lucky in my previous roles - I spent eight years working in China and I worked on some of the Olympic Games, which was a great feeling.

My best advice

I have two pieces. My parents always taught me to see the best in everything and to be positive, which is something that has stayed with me. Also, when I lived in China I had a really good mentor who always told me that you can't eat an elephant in one bite. It means that if you're faced with a really big project then you should break it down into smaller pieces - easier to swallow and they'll seem less daunting.

My best movie

I'm not a huge movie buff so it was a bit of a struggle to pick one, but I really loved The Commitments. It's such a funny film with great music, which has stood the test of time.

My best gift

My family gave me a big book of WB Yeats's poems. It's a great heavy tome, but I've carried it with me all over the world. It's dog-eared now, but I pick it up and read it about once a week. It's good for curing the mind.

My best achievement

In 2011 I did a big trek with a Chinese-Tibetan guide to the base camp of Mount Everest on the Tibetan side - I reached 6,200 metres above sea level. It was a tough, scary and surreal experience, but I loved it.

My best buy

Probably my Canon camera. I have a DSLR with a long and short lens that I bring everywhere I travel to, even if I have my iPhone with me. It enables me to capture moments in time and amazing landscapes. I've been lucky enough to have had a career that has brought me all over the world, so it's given me lots of memories.

My best book

I much prefer reading books to watching TV and I like both business books and reading books for pleasure. My favourite business book is a selection from the Harvard Business Review and it's their 10 must-reads on leadership. For something a little lighter, I like Paul O'Connell's book, The Battle.

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