Pictured at the GMIT Student Enterprise Awards 2016 is Maria Staunton, iHub/EMPOWER Programme Manager. Pic: John Mee Photography
I GET up at between 6am and 6.30am as my five-year-old boy is an early riser.
Then we have breakfast. I listen to Newstalk on the way to work or iRadio when I’m dropping my little man to school as he likes music.
At work it’s the day-to-day running of EMPOWER Programme. I have been iHub Manager in Mayo since 2006 and I’m currently seconded to do the EMPOWER Programme.
The EMPOWER Programme addresses specific challenges that hinder females and help fast track female-led businesses.
iHubs based at GMIT Castlebar is a centre that houses start up businesses that are looking to grow. I was there from day one with three start ups. We provide office space whether that’s virtual for someone needing an address, desk space for a person researching an idea or in the early stages in business and office space then for companies. The centre has always been busy and in the last number of years it is fully occupied.
Just last week Cloudstrong, a company with us the last few years, was acquired by a Dublin company Arkphire. Cloudstrong provides cloud consultancy services and solutions to SMEs and employs 12 people in the iHub. This is wonderful to see and proves Mayo is a great place to start and grow a company of any size. All the supports are here.
Last year we set up the EMPOWER Programme. There was a call from the Department of Justice and Equality for female entrepreneurship. We decided to apply, as we hadn’t enough females coming through the centre.
We interviewed lots of past females that had come through and then put a programme together based on their needs. There are two elements to the Programme – EMPOWER Start (early stage ideas) and EMPOWER Growth, (female led businesses looking to grow and scale).
It’s going very well. Last year we had over 90 females apply to the two programmes and we selected 33 females (12 on Growth and 21 on Start).
I organise training, check emails, chat with clients at the centre or female entrepreneurs on the programme. Some days I would be going to meetings with other agencies.
I check social media channels making sure they are up-to-date and look at current news stories, especially those for entrepreneurs. Then I would also be touching base with staff.
I would often be on the road travelling as the programme runs between Mayo, Galway and Roscommon. Depending on the week I could be involved with other organisations as part of my overall role.
I get home usually after 6pm as I have to collect the little man out in my parents’ house in Ballintubber. I unwind by doing exercise and reading books. I like to read the paper every day. At the weekend I like to spend time with my husband, as he has a busy job too, we like to go to parks, have lunch or cook and watch sport.
Also at weekends I like to support local events such as Mayo Science and Technology Festival.
In conversation with Ciara Galvin
Name: Maria Staunton
Occupation: iHub/EMPOWER Programme Manager
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Go all over the world to see beautiful places.
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I’m allergic to chocolate
Where’s your favourite place in the world?
Italy most definitely
What makes you angry?
Name three things that are always in your fridge?
Grapes, natural yoghurt and milk
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Playing sport and having fun
What’s your most prized possession?
Best advice you ever got?
Everything in moderation
Describe yourself in three words?
Impatient, happy and caring