Belfast Telegraph

'Empower and trust your team to deliver'

Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol
Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol

Q&A: Chris Flynn

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

A: Always surround yourself with good people. This is a really true piece of advice, given to me by my manager many years ago. If you recruit and train your people well and have a team who are passionate and share in your vision, your business will definitely be more successful. It's really important to empower and trust your team to deliver their part of the plan.

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

A: Treat everyone with respect, from your suppliers to the CEO. This definitely creates a better atmosphere, which feeds into the experience delivered to your customers. You want colleagues to work for you, rather than some remote head office.

Q: What was your best business decision?

A: Relocating to Dublin from Belfast in 2007. Debenhams had just acquired the Roches Stores business in the Republic of Ireland. Suddenly there were vast opportunities across nine new stores. I was three months into a year-long management training programme in Belfast. Next thing I knew, I was a sales manager managing 35 people in Debenhams' new flagship Dublin store. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, but really allowed me to progress my career.

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

A: I always wanted to be a journalist. I was offered a place at DCU studying journalism but decided to study German at Queen's instead. I was definitely bitten by the retail bug, and love what I'm doing now. You sometimes hear negative views about a career in retail, but the opportunities to progress and meet new people are vast.

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

A: I visited Lithuania with my wife Eileen. We always like to try different places. The capital Vilnius was really beautiful, and it was a lot cheaper than other European city breaks. We have a big family holiday planned for Italy next summer. My brothers are living in Sydney and London and we are all meeting up together. It's been a long time since we were all on holiday together.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests?

A: I love going out for a nice meal. Clenaghan's in Aghalee is one of my favourite restaurants. I also go to the theatre quite a lot with my wife. We've seen the really hilarious 'Driving Home for Christmas' at the Lyric, starring Grimes and McKee. My brother in law also got me tickets for the NI Music Prize a few weeks ago. There was a live performance from Snow Patrol at the Ulster Hall. It was a great night out.

Q: What is your favourite sport and team?

A: To be honest, I dip in and out of football, so don't really follow a particular team. I have been to the Belfast Giants a good few times with my nieces and nephews. It's a really good atmosphere.

Q: And have you ever played any sports?

A: Not since I left school. I am a member of a gym, but definitely need to go more often. I'll make that my New Year's resolution.

Q: How would you assess your time in business with your company The Junction?

A: It has been really positive so far. The Junction's £30m redevelopment plan recently reached its second major milestone with the unveiling of new road infrastructure and a public square, so I've joined the team at an exciting time. It's great to be involved in the opening of a new Starbucks drive-thru and a Nando's restaurant, which is set to open early next year. My team are very passionate about what they do. I'm really looking forward to a strong 2020.

Q: How do you sum up working in the retail sector?

A: It is fast-paced, with no two days the same. I really enjoy the buzz of measuring my decisions.

Belfast Telegraph