Spearline Risk & Compliance is passionate about creating software solutions that are customer centric, prioritising ease of use. Their software solution, Spearline Data Protection, is a simple to use, comprehensive, one-platform product for organisations to manage their GDPR and privacy compliance programmes. Spearline Managed Service is a Data Protection Specialist outsourcing service, which provides highly skilled professionals to implement Data Protection Compliance programmes in part, or in entirety for global brands from start to finish and this growing data protection company is headed up by Managing Director Ciara Lucy.
What was the key driving force behind you going into business for yourself?
Running my own business has been a lifelong ambition of mine; in fact, it is in my blood! Both my parents were self-employed, so I had great role models, who instilled a very hardworking ethos in me. My father had a veterinary practice, so I was very involved in the secretarial side of that from an early age. My mother was ahead of her time in terms of female entrepreneurship. She established a highly regarded craft shop in Skibbereen and built up a great trade. I was exposed to the realities of business; no such thing as clocking off at 6pm or switching off for the weekend, they happily lived and breathed their work. I feel proud to have established a business in my home town of Skibbereen; creating employment locally is incredibly rewarding.
What was your vision for Spearline Risk & Compliance from the beginning?
From the outset, my vision was built on people. While we have an incredible product and service offering, without the talented and accomplished team we have put together to run the operation, we would have floundered. Flexibility at work is a key fundamental here at Spearline Risk & Compliance. The balance of work, family and personal time is something we strive to get right. There’s no point in working in one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland if you can’t get out and enjoy it. There is nothing stopping you if you fancy a swim in Lough Ine on your lunch break!
To what do you attribute your success?
My parents gave me a great start in life. Not only did they lead by example, they provided me with all the support, advice and confidence I needed to pursue my ambitions. I really appreciate how privileged I am to have such strong cheerleaders, who will back me 100% and always steer me in the right direction.
As a business manager, a lot of the burden must feel like it is on your shoulders; how do you manage stress?
Humour and transcendental meditation are what keeps me going. I enjoy reading articles about people who fit 10k runs and swimming into their daily grind and have energy for triathlon at the weekend – that lifestyle is very admirable.
However, what works for me is finding the funny side of life. If you can find a spark of humour in a situation then it will work out fine – afterall, we are not saving lives, nothing is so serious that we need to get stressed out.
Transcendental meditation is a real gamechanger. At the age of 15, my Mum brought my brother and I to Schull to learn how to meditate. Our teacher, Maor Finn, told us: “Today I am giving you a gift that will stand to you in your life.” She was not wrong.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and what would you hope to learn from them?
Coco Chanel is an icon of mine. She was an entrepreneur, far ahead of her time and made a huge impact that reached far beyond the fashion industry. I had a picture of her on my desk for a good while! A great saying if hers is: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” I couldn’t agree more!
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I spend as much time as possible with my son, Adam. He is a mini-me and at nine-years-old probably won’t want to hang out with his mom for too much longer! I am blessed with great friends and family and to live in West Cork, one of the most beautiful parts of the world. I make sure to embrace all the benefits of living in such a special place and love to get down to Inchydoney every weekend to get in a good walk to blow away the cobwebs.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
I feel like a bit of a fraud claiming that I am an entrepreneur!
Since I started at Spearline Risk & Compliance, I feel that reclaimed my life. Prior to this I was on the road for about three hours a day commuting to Cork and so didn’t have much life quality. Now that I work in West Cork I feel that I have far more flexibility. My last work environment was very 9 to 5, so I appreciate the variety in schedule that comes with entrepreneurship. You work any time of the day when you need to work, but you can take off early if you need to as well.
Placing the focus on productivity rather than clocking in, I find you hit the right balance and work very effectively and efficiently. It also means not having to feel guilty if you leave early, which is often a cultural stigma in the workplace. In today’s world, people wear how hard they work as a badge of honour; we have gotten very like the US in that respect. I am guilty of it myself in the past. However, now that as I am working on my own company, it doesn’t feel like work.
What trait do you most value in a business connection or partner?
Trust, support and collaboration. It pains me that so often in business women do not support one another. They see each other as a threat and go out of their way to put each other down. I have worked in places where you knew people were threatened by you, so they did their best to get you out of the business. You could almost feel the knife in your back! One place I worked had a particularly toxic environment and it really got me down. At the time I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that I didn’t like, I just felt uncomfortable every day I was there. We had a management consultant come in to work with us all. They did personality profiles and when it came to my one-to-one with the external company, I was told that I should leave this company, as my skills were far too innovative for that particular company. I handed in my notice a week later and took some time to reflect. It was at this point I identified what I would like in a company and a team and I am delighted to say I have created that here in Spearline.
How do you define success?
Success means very different things at different stages of life. Right now I am responsible for employing several people in West Cork; that is a great achievement for me. We make a software solution to easily manage and demonstrate GDPR compliance from a single platform. I am proud to stand over this as a best in class product that can outperform our competitors.
In 2019, I will be President of Network Ireland West Cork, which is an organisation supporting the personal and professional development of women. This is very close to my heart and in the last year I have seen individuals and organisations reaping the benefits of a peer support network.
What piece of advice would you give to college or course graduates who want to go into business for themselves in your industry?
Identify a person or organisation who emulates your idea of success and learn all you can from them. No one succeeds in a vacuum; build yourself a support network and ask for help in areas where you need to improve and grow.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs of this type should invest their time in?
The time I spent developing my people and team building skills have really stood to me. The people you surround yourself with are key to both the personal and professional aspects of your life. Be proactive on clamping down on any negativity in your environment and praise and reward those who have your back. Having a positive team atmosphere will pull you through the tough times.
What would you do with your company if you had unlimited resources?
I would scale up the number of employees and speed up our route into global markets. We operate out of Skibbereen in West Cork and are amazed about the huge interest in people who want to move home or relocate here to work in challenging professional roles. I heard a person on the radio recently claim that the majority of people want to live and work in big cities and have already voted with their feet in doing so. This is absolute nonsense; rural Ireland is an incredible location to live and work, and a great place for family life. Skibbereen is a perfect example of how much employment can be generated once an area is serviced in one gigabit broadband. It’s great to see this happening more across the country.
Spearline Risk & Compliance
North Street, Skibbereen, Cork