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Word from the Wise: Aidan Flynn

Ulster Business speaks to Aidan Flynn, managing director, Flynn

How did you start out in your business?

I started with the family construction business at the age of 17 as a working labourer/plant operator but strived to push myself into the role of supervisor, then further into management side of the business. I managed contracts through my early 20s and progressed into property development and other business opportunities outside of construction. I was made a director in 2003, and appointed managing director in 2010.

What have you found the most challenging during your years of business, so far?

The most challenging years in business so far have been the last three years. The Flynn company has been maintaining public service assets for 30+ years and with the collapse of devolved government and no set departmental budgets this has had a direct impact on the company’s continuing success. We have had to quickly restructure the business in line with the reduced activity and revenues which had a direct knock on impact on a loyal workforce that has suffered as a result of the paralysis at Stormont.

How would you describe your management style?

My style of management is very focused and driven, I expect results but will roll the sleeves up to help the team achieve this. I treat people as how I would like to be treated being with respect and dignity but must always have a laugh along the way. My strength is reading people and negotiating a situation. By having these two natural gifts you can convert to manage a problem or provide a sound solution to the team.

What would you change if you could go back and do it all again?

I would have probably worked harder at my study years to achieve a degree qualification something I have always regretted not achieving. If I had hindsight for the pre-2007-bust years, I wish would have been more astute with the big property deals and not have accumulated as much financed related debt. I would also try to be less aggressive in my approach and listen to others more intently when sound advice was given.

Have you done it all on your own?

I would like to say I have but to be honest nobody does it their own way. To succeed in business, you need to be able to take heed of sound advice. It is very important to get sound professional advice/opinions at that crucial decision moment. In the end you must make the final call. As second generation in a family run business, I was lucky to have the luxury of my father’s guidance in the tricky decisions in a growing business. I believe that no matter what sector you are in, business is all the same, people do business with people and that’s always been my approach. The digital era has fragmented the ability of direct one to one business engagement.

How would you like your business to be remembered?

I would like to think that the in years to come the Flynn brand will be synonymous with the company ethos of a caring honourable hard-working family run enterprise. We rebranded the business in 2016/17 and there’s real pride when I see the Flynn staff in the yellow jackets delivering a quality product for our clients and end users. 

What piece of advice would you give to a 20-year-old you?

From a personal perspective eat less, exercise more would be the first thing. From a business-related perspective, I would have to say that you need to use your natural senses better, listen more, speak less. Study harder and don’t be so bullish in your attitude and approach to things, as this has caused undue irritation to others along the career journey. Concentrate on your family, time flies and you will only miss them when they’re not there. π

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