Wednesday, 08, March 2017

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The River Lee

International Women’s Day at The River Lee

Celebrate with these inspirational women

Celebrate International Women's Day with these inspirational stories about women in hospitality and business at The River Lee.

L-R Lisa O'Callaghan, Helena Haliniak, Louise Chawke, Paula Cogan

Today is International Women’s Day, and it should come as no surprise to learn that there are some incredibly talented and inspirational women working within The Doyle Collection. We spoke to some of the female members of the team at The River Lee in Cork, to find out who inspires them, who has helped them, and how they think we should celebrate International Women’s Day.

Which woman do you find inspirational? 

Helena Haliniak (Business Excellence Manager)
For me, it’s Billy Jean King, the legendary tennis player. She took on Bobby Riggs in a tennis match and won, after he said men were the superior athletes.

Paula Cogan (Director of Sales & Marketing)
My inspirational figure was my grandmother.  She was a most driven and genuine person who made everyone feel welcome.  As one of the youngest in a farming family she was not able to continue in further education, as once married was tasked with running a farm and raising 8 children in difficult circumstances. It was imperative to her that her own 5 daughters were provided with the opportunity to further their education and receive the financial independence that she did not enjoy.  Despite economic difficulties in life, her home was always so welcoming. She was incredibly well read on all matters local and international, she had a wicked sense of humour, and loved just to spend time with people. Her motto in life was to treat others as you would like them to treat you.  I try to put this into practice. 

Louise Chawke  (Financial Controller)
Michelle Obama. 

Lisa O’Callaghan  (HR Manager)
I had a friend called Tara Sheridan who passed away 3 years ago from cancer. She was first diagnosed in 1995, but continued to battle cancer on and off for the next 20 years. Despite that, she was the ultimate warrior, she never let her life become all about cancer or let it define her. She was determined to make the most of each and every day - she moved to Australia with her husband John for 2 years, travelled, established her own holistic therapy business, amassed a huge collection of friends from all walks of life, learned to play guitar, joined Cork Dragon Boats (who named one of their boats after her) and did fundraising for cancer charities including establishing the Cork Dip in the Nip.  Her joie de vive was infectious and I will always remember her wide smile and laugh. Her motto was Live, Laugh, Love – something we can all aspire to! 

Is there a woman who has helped you in your professional life? 

Lisa O’Callaghan:
I would have to say my mother. She was kept busy raising 4 raucous boys and myself as well as running a small business from home. We all had to help out and were taught from a very young age about having a good work ethic and teamwork. From when we were young she instilled in us the important of learning and education – although we didn’t always appreciate that at the time! She is never afraid to stand up for what she believes in and has a strong sense of justice. 

Paula Cogan:
Thankfully I have had some amazing mentors in my career. The first was Mrs Geary, my English teacher, who exposed me to debating, art exhibitions, theatre and all things that you could never learn from a book.  I am also exposed to a range of business women every day in Cork, who are making it happen not only in their professional careers but also by giving back so much to the community.  They are a hardworking bunch, but let’s not forget that some of my best mentors were men and continue to be on a daily basis. Women do not have to be mentored by women only. 

Louise Chawke:
Unfortunately, for most of my career I have worked in very male dominated industries, until last year when I joined The River Lee. I am so glad to see that there are a number of women in core roles within the management of The River Lee. 

What is your favourite book written by a woman? 

Helena Haliniak:
The Lovely Bones by Alice Seybold 

Paula Cogan:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and any book of poems of Maya Angelou

Lisa O’Callaghan:
Chocolat by Joanne Harris 

Louise Chawke:
It’s difficult to pick a favourite book, but two that I found had a profound effect on me are “Room” by Emma Donoghue, and “Asking for it” by Louise O’Neill. 

How do you think women should celebrate International Woman's Day?

Paula Cogan:
By remembering the females that impact our lives on a daily basis, and not the pop idols and personalities who are false and ultimately destructive.  Think of the 65 million girls globally that do not receive any form of formal education, and appreciate how lucky we are.  We have a lot a long way to go yet.

Louise Chawke:
I think men and women should celebrate International Women’s day together. I don’t feel it should necessarily be a women’s only event.  For me international women’s day is about embracing inclusiveness and equality therefore coming together to acknowledge the on-going efforts to progress these ideals throughout the world should be done in an inclusive and equal manner.

Lisa O’Callaghan:
I think we should give special recognition to those women who are campaigning for equal rights in their own societies and looking to educate the young (male as well as female).

Helena Haliniak:
Like we do every other day of the year… by running the world!