THIS week’s High Flyer is Ian Parsley, one of two project officers working on behalf of the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership (NIRDP) on a new and one of a kind pilot project which has not been replicated anywhere in Ireland of the UK.
The three-year project offers outreach support, advise and sign posting to those living with and affected by rare conditions across Northern Ireland.
What was your first job?
My first job was delivering papers and leaflets at the age of 14; my first full-time job was as a public relations executive specialising in political communication.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a degree in Modern Languages, and completed a Masters dissertation in Linguistics.
What do you attribute your success to?
I think the challenge is to be the best you can be and not worry about where others are on their journey. “Success” is maintaining a good family, good friends and good health – everything else is secondary.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
Light-hearted, easily intrigued, and probably not as tall as you thought!
Who do you look up to in business?
I don’t really compare myself to others in that way. The person I admire the most is my own wife, Paula. She is very tenacious, a fantastic problem solver, and just never takes no for an answer; Paula works in the charitable sector and then went on to become an elected representative.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
I prefer to use the phrase “working with” rather than “for” as it is all about teamwork. I find teams function best when everyone works to their own passions and strengths, and as far as possible, in their own way.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
A more stable and open political environment.
What website or app could you not do without?
Definitely Facebook. I use it to keep in touch with what is going on and with family and friends.
What was the last book you read?
‘The Crossing’ by Michael Connelly.
What car do you drive?
A Lexus hybrid. I would definitely recommend hybrid or electric to anyone. It’s the future.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I am only 40, but had a grandfather who died before World War II.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
I am fascinated by languages; I lived in Germany as a child and speak German fluently; sadly my French, Spanish and Dutch are becoming ever rustier, but I have now taken up Italian to compensate. On a social level, I enjoy officiating sport (I lack the talent actually to play them!) I was a football referee and recently qualified as a hockey umpire. In some ways officiating is like learning languages – you hope your mistakes are not too embarrassing and you strive for perfection in the knowledge you will never really get there.