A Day in the Life: Kenneth Deery


FIGHTING THE FIGHT Kenny Deery believes businesses in the west have shown great determination and tenacity as a community during the Covid crisis.


Name: Kenneth Deery
Age: 39
From: Achill
Occupation: CEO of the Galway Chamber of Commerce

I have to be up very early most mornings, somewhere between 5am and 7am, depending on what’s on. Galway loves early morning events, so at least two days a week, there’s an early morning gig and typically I’m involved somehow.
I make use of the drive to Galway to listen to Today FM for the 6.30am news. Then I change to Morning Ireland at 7am. I find if anything is to be announced relevant to the west, it will be at 7am, so by 7.30am I’m comfortable to switch over to ‘Marty in the Morning’ on Lyric FM, with maybe a quick flip back to the business news at 7.50am.
Some mornings I may have media work to do, so that would mean I will get a call between 7am and 9am, so I need to be prepared for that.
LinkedIn and Twitter are important to my role, so I keep an eye on those throughout the day.
There is no typical day in this job really. At the moment, I will have an average of between six and ten virtual meetings a day, but I have to admit the team at the Chamber are excellent, they help me to be the best I can be. I am well aware that when we come out of restrictions, I’ll be back on the road a lot more. I’m looking forward to that though, as I find driving therapeutic.
I started my working career in AIB in 1999 in Ballsbridge, and little did I ever have a notion I’d end up where I am now. On reflection, relationship building and giving, without question have been important enablers to the development of my career. Decision makers see and value people who are willing to do more and are constantly eager. I’ve been lucky, some people took risks on me and thankfully I haven’t messed up totally yet!
My MBA thesis years ago focused on the plight of businesses in the regional periphery of Ireland, impacted by lack of infrastructure, seasonality and so on. My role now can be helpful in enabling those businesses be better served. I believe we have shown tremendous determination and tenacity as a business community in the west, we’ve helped each other, we’ve learned, and that has been even more prevalent in these Covid times.
However, the reality if that unfortunately not all businesses will make it through after what has been such a tough last 15 months. I do believe the shock of Covid will make the majority who do make it through more resilient, and businesses may be on a firmer footing for the future. Remote working is a double-edged sword for businesses, many leaders are wary. It’s been an interim solution in the face of a pandemic, but the jury is still out on whether it’s the most optimum for organisational culture in the long run.
We are calling for clarity from Government on the continuation of business supports, to help sustain viable businesses. With existing state supports in place until June, businesses must be given certainty, on how long these supports will be available for beyond then, and what the revised qualification criteria will look like, enabling them to then plan accordingly.
We have to remember many businesses have been funding 100 percent of their debt/rental obligations, with either a total collapse in income, or a significant reduction. Resources are being depleted day by day, just because they begin to reopen, does not mean things are back to normal. For some it will take years to recover from this. Government says there will not be a cliff edge, but what does that mean? Banks will rightly not accept that ambiguity, as they assess the viability of businesses at annual review or application stage, when additional working capital is needed, to keep the doors open.
Obviously helping businesses survive has been our main focus in the Chamber for the last 15 months, but now with things opening up and the vaccination roll out continuing apace, we are looking forward to brighter times ahead. Thriving SMEs are central to a successful economy. We must continue to invest in, and support our SMEs, to survive through 2021 and 2022, so they can thrive again.
I do find it very important to relax and unwind properly away from work when days have been stressful and mad busy. Music plays a big part in my life, particularly in enabling some switch-off time. At the end of a typical day my mind is always racing. During Covid times, music has been a lifeline.
In ordinary times attending a dinner, which I do a lot, is always a good way to unwind. I get into the food and the company, and put the phone where I can on flight mode. I am looking forward to things getting back to normal, getting out and meeting people, and doing my job to the best of my ability.

In conversation with Michael Duffy

Quickfire questions

If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Cook … I love cooking and hosting, my granny in Achill and Mary Weir of the Atoka Restaurant (where I worked as a teenager).

Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I would love to work for the United Nations … I look at situations they deal with and end up doodling the solutions in my own mind. I have no ego, so that is helpful in dealing with those who have!

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
I’ve eaten lots of unusual stuff, crickets, snails, crocodile, shark. My father describes me as a Crocodile because of what I eat … the one thing I’ve rejected is eel, I hate snakes and eels make me think of snakes!

Favourite place in the world?

Airports. I get such joy from being in an airport. The vibrancy, the optimism. Going somewhere new.

What makes you angry?
Slow drivers!

What three things are always in your fridge?

Real butter, white wine, and beetroot.

What makes you nervous?

The final countdown before I go live with a Zoom, or head for the podium on stage. I am terrified in those seconds.

What’s your favourite TV show?
Madame Secretary. I love politics and Barbara Hall has a crystal ball.  

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Being carefree.

What’s your most prized possession?
Pictures and paintings – they invoke memories

What’s the best advice you ever got?
You can’t fight every battle – advice from a wise AIB Banker in Westport.

Describe yourself in three words?
Optimist, Optimist, Optimist (there is always a solution).