In the spotlight this week is Olivia Meehan, legal services director at JMK Solicitors, the personal injury and road traffic accident law practice which has offices in Belfast and Newry.
What was your first job?
A shop assistant in my family’s supermarket business Fiveways. I started in my early teens and worked there for at least 10 years. This experience proved to be as important as education to my development and allowed me to learn the key working life lessons early on.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a degree in law and politics and I am a qualified solicitor.
What do you attribute your success to?
Firstly my mother, who instilled in me that work is something to value, to be enjoyed and to thrive from. Secondly, I grew up one of seven sisters, so I was born into a team. I learned that many hands (and perspectives) make for light and better work!
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
Direct, energetic and positive.
Who do you look up to in business?
My first professional role model was my sister Marie Claire (who also works at JMK Solicitors). I unashamedly copied her education and career path and (she will say) her handwriting! Secondly, I look up to my dad Colm, who started his first (construction) business 40 years ago and opened Fiveways 30 years ago alongside my mum. I respect his commitment to the needs of the customer and the responding evolution and improvement of his businesses. I also love his energy and the enjoyment he takes from all tasks he undertakes, from packing out the fruit and veg aisle to planning a new housing development site. Finally, I admire both of my co–directors in JMK Solicitors, Jonathan McKeown and Maurece Hutchinson, who are equally impressive in very different ways and who have shown me there is more than one way to make things happen.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
Proper communication with more focus on listening than talking hopefully.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
At present the uncertainty of Brexit and the future implications of it.
What website or app could you not do without?
WhatsApp allows me to stay connected with the people I care about.
What was the last book you read?
I read seven fiction novels on my holiday this year the titles of which I do not know. I like the author Lesley Pearse and This Charming Man by Marian Keyes made me laugh but I read it so long ago I can’t quite remember why.
What car do you drive?
Mercedes A Class.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I don’t have any social media accounts (as I am not very interesting).
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
Music – particularly 90s rave remixes, Tammy Wynette, and hip hop.