Sean Coyle, Chief Financial Officer, Aer Lingus
I joined KPMG from Trinity College and studied chartered accountancy while working as a tax adviser in the business development section. Rather like my degree, my workload at KPMG varied greatly from week to week; being able to get a handle on new subject matter quickly was of enormous benefit.
A key milestone for me was being asked to join Ryanair by CEO Michael O’Leary in 1997 as his Executive Assistant. I subsequently progressed through a number of managerial positions at Ryanair over the following ten years before being appointed to the board of Aer Lingus Group plc as Chief Financial Officer in 2008.
Advice for graduates
It’s important to continue learning through practical experience, and listen to those around you, both inside and outside the company. Take every opportunity to stretch yourself and your talents outside your comfort zone, and be prepared to work hard for less money than you expected in a company where you will learn the most. Don’t settle for a better-paid job where you are learning nothing new.
Skills for future leaders
Flexibility and hard work are crucial to progressing up the ranks in any organisation. A leadership quality is an ability to listen, analyse and respond in the right way.
Sean Coyle has a BA (Mod) in Management Science and Industrial Systems Studies from Trinity College Dublin.