Catherine Duffy, the general manager of Limerick and CEO of fiduciary business at Northern Trust. Image: Northern Trust
Catherine Duffy, general manager and CEO of fiduciary business at Northern Trust Limerick. Image: Northern Trust

‘We went from 19 staff in 2007 to 1,200 today’

21 May 2018

We spoke to Catherine Duffy, general manager of Northern Trust in Limerick, about her career journey and the company’s growth in the region.

As we’ve been highlighting this past month, Limerick well and truly has an abundance of opportunities that you may not even know about. Did you know, for example, that financial services giant Northern Trust has a thriving operation in the Munster city?

Northern Trust was first established in Chicago in 1889 and, as of the end of March 2018, has $10.8trn in assets under its administration. Worldwide, the company has been growing its employee headcount year upon year, and Limerick is no exception.

We spoke to Catherine Duffy, general manager and CEO of fiduciary business at Northern Trust Limerick, about the company’s growth in the region and how she got to the position she’s in today.

What first stirred your interest in a career in finance?

In school, I always had an inquiring mind about business studies. I’d wonder how companies work, who is in charge, who makes the decisions, how salaries are paid, who minds the clients etc.

What education and/or other jobs led you to the role you now have?

Once I finished second level, I completed a certificate in European law at night while completing an administration course by day. As I entered the workforce, I completed many internal courses and continue to do so, the latest one being on GDPR.

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?

We went from 19 staff in 2007 to 1,200 today, and from one floor in Hamilton House to two full buildings in a relatively short period. It’s a great success story, with super hiring of graduates and experienced staff. But we now all need to work harder and ensure we get to know our staff and keep in touch with them.

For every 10 we hire in Limerick, we take in about five or six graduates. So, it is imperative our training is relevant and current. We have invested in our training team and this pays off for us big time.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

Not one person, but many people. I have reported to a number of senior leaders in Ireland and abroad and each one has taught me something – all different traits and different management styles but all very interesting.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I really enjoy the people aspect of the role, seeing staff move through the organisation either by promotion or taking internal opportunities elsewhere with us in the world. I also enjoy seeing happy clients.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

I am firm but fair and I enjoy getting to know people. Although this is a funds business, it is also very much a people business, and that is why I like to know the teams and the players.

I am a people person and the one rule I have is, try to put yourself in others’ shoes.

How did your current company support you on your career path, if at all?

I have been given so many opportunities and I decided early in my career to take all opportunities as they arose.

I also am still learning and have great training resources available to me when needed.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?

Get to know the business well and your clients well. Ask loads of questions when you start and take on all training opportunities, even if you think you know it all.

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