THIS week’s High Flyer is Paolina Hawthorne, managing director of Diversity NI, the largest interpreting and translation service in Northern Ireland.
What was your first job?
It was in promotions and sales; I was hired to promote a Bulgarian chocolate brand in supermarkets.
What qualifications do you have?
I also went to the New Bulgarian University (NBU) to study computer science biomedicine, and hold an IoLet level 6 Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Linguistics in Public Service Interpreting in the Criminal Justice System.
What do you attribute your success to?
My determination and independence. I travelled to Belfast for new experiences and met my husband!
I feel that my commitment, self-belief, enthusiasm and fantastic team have been the key to success for Diversity NI.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
I am independent, determined, loyal and have a strong sense of justice. I am a positive person who is always smiling, my glass is always half full.
Who do you look up to in business?
On a global level it is Sir Richard Branson; I admire his values, and how they translate throughout his businesses; locally it is Gary Irvine, the founder and CEO of 4c Executive. I respect his drive and ambition and how successful he has been in establishing a highly successful business.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
I believe it is important to invest in the ongoing development of your team; I invest a lot of time in personal and professional development and am very open to staff approaching me with ideas that will further their development.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
There is nothing that I would change; business is very well supported here and there is a strong sense of the business community working together to help each other succeed. There are a variety of business networks available, and through these I have met many friends and colleagues. This is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest strengths.
What website or app could you not do without?
I have to choose two – Amazon and Headspace. The perfect balance I think!
What was the last book you read?
Wild by Cheryl Strayed – a story of a young woman’s journey following the death of her mother.
What car do you drive?
A comfortable one with a big boot!
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
When I was 23 I was a TV presenter for bTV, National Bulgarian Channel, which was very daunting at the beginning, However, it was a great life lesson and taught me how to think on my feet.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
I love skiing, sport, and working with people and their communities.