Belfast Telegraph

'I was taught to see the best in every situation'


This Week: Catherine Toolan

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

A: My parents always taught me to see the best in everything and everyone 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 it'll seem less daunting.

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

A: Take risks and you will reap the rewards. Dare to be different.

Q: What was your best business decision?

A: Persuading the US executive leadership team to bid for the Asian Games - it was high risk as it was another complex China project but it was a very successful project in revenue and cementing our expertise in global projects in China.

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

A: I would love to say I would be managing a Premier League football team.

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

A: Vancouver and Whistler to visit my sister. Sligo for Christmas. Next year I am hoping to do the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu in Peru.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests? 

A: Mountain and sea cliff hiking, travelling, cycling, cooking, entertaining and theatre.

Q: What is your favourite sport and team? 

A: I love all sport... particularly soccer, Gaelic and rugby. I follow most Sligo teams and Connacht rugby.

Q: And have you ever played any sports? 

A: I played Gaelic football in college and in Asia. I have an All China and All Asia Gaelic games medal.

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

A: I am an avid reader and just finished Sheryl Sandberg's Option B.

Q: How would you describe your early life?

A: Fun-filled but focused on a good work ethic and strong values from my parents. Always pushing the boundaries that little bit more growing up as the oldest in the family.

Q: Have you any economic predictions?

A: The recent breakthrough in Brexit is to be welcomed as providing a level of clarity that most businesses require.

Q: How would you assess your time in business in Belfast?

A: I've loved every minute of it... Belfast is a city full of ambition, optimism and above all energy. I was very proud of the team when Belfast Waterfront recently brought home the award for the Best Event Space 2017 as the venue continues to place Northern Ireland on the map as one of Europe's most exciting destinations for conferences and events.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.