Belfast Telegraph

'It's a nervy season for me as a Liverpool fan'

Advice: The late Tommy Rodgers
Advice: The late Tommy Rodgers

Q&A: Seamus Leheny

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

A: Don't hide bad news from the customer. I once had the pleasure of working for the late Tommy Rodgers who was a brilliant Belfast businessman and owned several logistics businesses. Tommy was always direct and honesty with customers was key - so if things should ever go wrong, never shy away from it, tell the customer about it and what you're going to do to fix it.

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

A: Network. It's too easy to stay within the relative comfort of your industry silo but you need to get out there and forge relationships with other organisations.

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

A: My favourite subjects at school were geography and history, so possibly a political historian would have been a good fit.

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

A: Donegal is our natural destination for short holidays. We ended up enjoying Denmark so much that for our holiday this summer we're continuing with the Scandinavian theme and going to Sweden.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests?

A: My wife Moira and I have three sons aged eight, seven and three, so that definitely keeps us busy.

I coach under-eights Gaelic football at St Enda's.

I also enjoy running, and in addition to being a regular Parkrunner at the Waterworks in Belfast, I enjoy doing 10Ks and half marathons.

Q: What is your favourite sport and team?

A: I enjoy football and Gaelic games. I support Liverpool and Donegal, each giving lots of highs and lows. This season in particular is proving to be a little nervy as a Liverpool supporter.

Q: Have you ever played any sports?

A: I loved playing football and Gaelic football. While at university in Scotland, I played football for my university and up until a few years ago I still played for fun.

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

A: I love reading but in recent years I'm more likely to be reading a Roald Dahl book to my boys but I still try to find the time for an occasional book. I really enjoy and recommend local author Glenn Patterson and have read most of his books.

Q: How would you describe your early life?

A: I grew up in Buncrana in Co Donegal and I was lucky to have a great childhood with a great family and circle of friends. It was the kind of town when on summer holidays you would leave your house after breakfast and not go back home until dinner time.

Q: Have you any economic predictions?

A: A lot hinges on what happens with Brexit this year, economic growth forecast for Northern Ireland is sluggish and a no-deal Brexit I fear would have real detrimental outcomes for our local economy, especially in manufacturing and the agri-food sectors.

Q: How would you assess your time in business with the FTA?

A: FTA has been a great organisation to work in and one that has developed me since I joined. I started out in a commercial role 10 years ago and began to understand the industry and the members. My predecessor in the policy role, Tom Wilson, was an excellent mentor and helped me in the transition from a commercial role to a policy and public Affairs role.

One of my priorities when I became policy manager was to build bridges with other sectors, transport stakeholders and local government.

I'm proud to say that I've achieved these goals as well as highlighting the transport industry to a wider audience.

Belfast Telegraph