THIS week’s High Flyer is Damian Hughes, managing director of Fleet Financial, Northern Ireland’s leading contract hire and vehicle management provider.
What was your first job?
Immediately following my graduation from Queen’s University, I took a job as a trainee accountant with Grand Metropolitan (now Diageo) in Halifax on the site of Webster’s Brewery.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a BSc in Economics from Queen’s University in Belfast and am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
What do you attribute your success to?
If you are looking for opportunities and prepared to take a chance on them then somehow you always seem to be in the right place at the right time.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
I am a family man who tries to stay calm in all situations, passionate about football and a bit of a “Techie”.
Who do you look up to in business?
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX and others. He’s controversial and ballsy, a visionary who isn’t afraid to take on challenges that other people – sane people! – would simply walk away from.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
It is vital to ensure they know they’re part of a team and are working with you. We are all cogs in a big wheel and, like an efficient vehicle, every part is needed to work in unison.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would that be?
The fact that we can’t achieve a functioning government provides a negative perception of us to the rest of the world, yet we also need to shake what can be a very insular view of the world and embrace it.
What website or app could you not do without?
Twitter. I don’t tweet, but the targeted news stream means I can find out what’s happening in everything I have an interest in very quickly.
What was the last book you read?
The Target by David Baldacci.
What car do you drive?
Working within the motor industry, we need to have a broad knowledge of the brands and models we deal with, so this changes frequently, three or four times a year. I began this year in a Range Rover Sport and now drive a Jaguar F-Pace.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I was lucky enough to have lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton as part of a work trip once, a real honour.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
I play 5-a-side football every week as part of an (unofficial) over 50s group on the Antrim Road in Belfast and I am a big fan of Tyrone GAA and Manchester United. As a Techie, I also love a good gadget.