Interview - Coirle Butler
Sometimes you meet someone and instantly warm to them. Coirle is just one of those people.
he is a mother, successful businesswoman and someone who just packs a lot into her day! She also loves shopping for clothes - what's not to love about such a woman? Find out what happened when we met for coffee ...
Good morning Coirle - can you give me a wee bit about your background and how you ended up doing what you’re doing now?
Ok, well my background is I trained as a nurse in the Royal [Victoria Hospital Belfast] and then after that we moved to England with my husband’s job. It was much more difficult to get jobs within the nursing profession because we were moving quite a bit so I actually applied for a job in the pharmaceutical industry. I did it for two years and then we were moved back to Northern Ireland and at that time I applied for the job with the current company I’m with, which is Napp Pharmaceuticals, and I’ve been there for 18 years. I’ve worked as a representative calling on GPs and hospital doctors and now as a Healthcare Development Manager.
In terms of the whole journey, what do you think would have been a significant move for you - was it was all driven by family choices or did you plan your career?
No, it was very much family choices and I was able to fit my career around my family so, for example, I chose to do a management diploma at one time but I did it at a time when my husband was working flexible hours and he was able to do more for the children at that time. Every move I’ve really taken has been dictated by both family and nice opportunities have come up for me and if I was able to take them I would but it wasn’t necessarily always the case.
Has anybody inspired you, has anybody challenged you?
There are a lot of people out there I admire - the people that balance it all and who are great mums and also manage to balance that with a career as well. Within the organisation I work in, when I first started it was quite male-orientated and that has completely changed now. There are a lot of females that work within the company that I would say I would like to model myself on them.
Any big challenges along the way in your career? What lessons did you learn from them?
Just that sometimes things happen for a reason and disappointments sometimes happen, but it’s very often there’s a very valid reason why and then you reflect back you think, ah that’s what happened.
Are there any areas where you think ‘I’m a stronger person now’?
Yes, I think in my attitude, very much so and I learned as I have matured my whole way of thinking has changed and I think now gosh I thought like that as a 25/30 year old - how much differently things might have been. I think you learn so much through not only mistakes you make but the challenges you have to overcome and you also have to sometimes just take the attitude ‘well do you know what - nothing’s going to change that’ and I’m just going to have to get on with it. I think a big learning point is how to cope with things when it doesn’t necessarily go your way and how to overcome that.
Coirle you’ve alluded to the fact that you might have had a personal challenge as well, can you tell me anything about that?
I’ve had a serious illness in the last three years which makes you take stock and reflect back on everything. Thankfully it’s been completely resolved now but it was a challenge at the time and it wasn’t easy but got there in the end.
What kind of things helped you get through that illness?
Friends and family – and work colleagues. I would say we’re a team where I work in Northern Ireland, there’s a team of seven of us and not only are they my work colleagues, but they’re my friends as well. The company I work for was so supportive through the illness that I really couldn’t have done it without them. They allowed me to dip in and dip out as I required. If I needed space they gave me the space. If I felt I wanted to work they just made it all possible. I could work remotely and nothing was too much bother for them.
Fantastic. Would you think that would be quite normal or do you think they were exceptional?
I think they were exceptional, I really do, talking to other people who have been in similar situations I don’t think I could have been treated any better by any other organisation.
That’s a great commendation for them, it’s fantastic.
They were absolutely fabulous.
What are the things in your life that inspire you and give you energy?
Yes, family itself - I’ve got two teenage boys who are 16. I have three dogs. I’ve a big house to keep running as well and you know there is never a dull moment in my life. When I sit down and have an hour to myself to maybe watch something quietly on television I almost feel a bit guilty about it! I’ve made myself do it now and I am also very active in our local sailing club. For example, last week myself and a couple of the girls provided supper for I think, in the end, it was 50 adults and 50 children on Friday night so they all got their homemade stew and sausages and chips for the kids. I’m always involved, I’m always doing something and I’ve another project now as well to get organised and up and running.
Would you consider yourself an extrovert?
I think so yes. I think you don’t know yourself, other people would be better to tell you that.
It sounds like it to me whenever you get a lot of energy from just doing big events, that would be a very extroverted thing. You talk about the sailing club, do you sail much?
I don’t sail at all. My husband sails, my kids sail, I don’t sail. I go out on the rescue boat occasionally and I plan to do my power boat course this year but I’ve no desire to sail. My husband tries to talk me into it so many times and I’m just sort of a bit adamant but you never know I might go out sometime. I’ll do the shore side stuff and the fast speed boats!
Tell me about goals for the future. Is there anything you would like to do?
Travel! When we got married first we travelled a little bit and then we had our family. I want to go to New Zealand for example, I’d like to go to Australia as well so there’s things ahead that I really would like to do, mostly on the travel front and I don’t see myself working till I’m 65 either! I would like to think that I can finish a bit earlier and we plan to do some nice things then. We’re also seriously considering building our own house at the minute. We live in a big old house that in time will need more and more things done and do you know what? We’re getting to the stage when the kids leave home that it would be quite nice just to have a completely new build that is easily maintained and easily kept clean, so that’s a project and that’s something we’re looking into at the minute.
Where do you find balance in all of this because you sound quite busy?
I don’t really know to be honest, I’m very organised in that I know exactly what I’m doing week to week and I know a window of opportunity where I can throw something in that needs done at different times. If I know I have had a really busy week and have something urgent I’ll give it an hour at the weekend, but I tend not to do that. I do try and close down on a Friday and not do anything until Monday. I think the balance of the whole thing is just time management, and that sounds very businessy focused but do you know what, you have to be when you’re doing it.
Yes, it works and I’ve always got ‘things to do’ lists and I’m always planning ahead and thinking about our summer holiday; we booked it last September. Having valuable family time is very important to us too so when the children are off school - not that they’re really children anymore - we try to have family time and do things until they no longer want to do things with us.
Just to finish off, two silly questions. What’s your greatest vice and your greatest virtue?
My greatest vice is probably that I get too involved in too many things! I maybe get involved in too many things and also I need to know when to keep quiet. That is something I learned in the past so you know when to cut it and say no more. And my greatest virtue is I’m a good listener and a good friend.
Thank you so much Coirle for a lovely chat.