Belfast Telegraph

'Opening Bishop's Gate was my best decision'

This Week: Ciaran O’Neill

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

A: Do all the small things in business well. If you fix the small problems, the big problems tend not to be an issue.

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

A: Be clear about what it is you want to achieve from the business and set yourself short, medium and long term targets. Speak with others and learn from their lessons. It is critical that you are passionate about what the business is and recruit people with the skills that you don't have. To be successful in any business you will have to learn to let others succeed in their respective roles.

Q: What was your best business decision?

A: Leaving the big corporate world of a hotel management company and taking the opportunity to open Bishop's Gate Hotel in my home town of Derry.

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

A: I have never really thought about it… But whatever industry I chose, I would have to be in charge.

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

A: We are just back from a family holiday in Florida with all the grown-up children. The next one will just be me and my wife, Anne Marie, sneaking away somewhere warm and booking a nice hotel.

Q: What are your hobbies/interest?

A: Golf is my Sunday morning penance and our new Great Dane puppy Wilbur fills any chance of ever having another interest!

Q: What is your favourite sport and team?

A: The Ryder Cup and Europe every time.

Q: And have you ever played any sports?

A: I have tried my hand at most sports and was pretty good at most of them. I played a lot when I was a teenager but I just play golf now and represent my club at competition level when the opportunity arises.

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

A: I would recommend to anyone who leads a team or is starting a new role in management to read 'The Iceberg is Melting'.

Q: How would you describe your early life?

A: I grew up in Canada so I was always outdoors playing sports 24/7 and had a really happy childhood.

Q: Have you any economic predictions?

A: We need to be very careful as Northern Ireland has never prospered or had the booms our neighbours have experienced. Brexit will bring opportunity for Northern Ireland to position itself as a unique place to do business from. But in the world of tourism which my business operates in, we could really do without it at this point in the journey, as we are seeing real success in our sector over the last number of years.

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

A: I am in my fourth year of the Bishop's Gate Hotel journey from conception to reality, and most of all stability. We employ over 100 staff between the Hotel and Soda and Starch in the Craft Village.

Q: How do you sum up working in the hotel and hospitality sector?

A: I love hospitality and working in hotels. We are in the job of making memories and helping people enjoy life's journey. Not many industries can say that.

Belfast Telegraph

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