Cathriona Hallahan spoke to Ann O’Dea about her 35-year career with Microsoft, her current work with different companies and key leadership tips she has learned along the way.

“None of us are the finished article, we’re always learning and developing our leadership,” said investor, adviser and Microsoft veteran Cathriona Hallahan.

Sitting down for a conversation with Silicon Republic CEO Ann O’Dea, Hallahan discussed her 35-year career with Microsoft, beginning in 1986 as “employee number 24” in Ireland.

By the time Hallahan left Microsoft last year, she had held several important leadership positions within the company and served as a country manager for close to a decade.

“I thought, could I take all of that leadership and experience that I had in a multinational for 35 years in an amazing industry, and bring that to Irish indigenous business and help other businesses grow?”

Hallahan currently has roles on five different boards and is involved with start-ups such as digital therapeutics company Beats Medical and social enterprise FoodCloud.

When speaking about tips for young leaders, Hallahan used the example of a plane, where the advice is to “put your own oxygen mask on first”.

“You need to look after your own health and wellbeing, you need to look after your own development,” she said. “So while most leaders focus on developing everybody else around them, I would say take the time to develop yourself and put your own oxygen mask on first. Lead by example.”


Words by Leigh Mc Gowran