Mags Collins was our previous chairperson. She took time out from her hectic travel itinerary to talk to us about all things youth hostelling.
1. What makes our mission meaningful to you?
I would love to see all young people doing what I did when I was young, being outside, doing sports and interacting with other young people. I love the outdoors and hiking and in the evening getting back to a hostel, cooking dinner together and talking about the day is just one of the best ways to enjoy yourself and then doing it all again the following day. In a hostel people have time for each other and you hear amazing stories about peoples’ lives.
2. What are some of your prior board leadership experiences / What are you hoping to achieve on the An Óige board?
Prior to being on the An Oige board I had no board experience but I had managed teams in my professional work as an accountant. During my time on the board we were working mainly on the financial restructure and in the negotiations with the bank. I was hoping to get more volunteers recruited to run events and to take some of the pressure off the extremely hardworking employees within the charity.
3. What is your favorite hostel and why?
For me Glenmalure is my favourite hostel. When you stay there you are so close to Lugnaquilla which is one of the finest mountains in Ireland. There is so much history and it is such a beautiful setting. I volunteered to run the hostel for a weekend a few years ago and we had such fun. It is something I will do once I am back in Ireland again.
4. Where do you work and what are your responsibilities?
At the moment I am in Auckland, NZ. I work in Commercial Finance mainly with the Sales & Marketing Teams reviewing the sales performance, providing reports and comparing the actual results against the targets. It is a wine company and I do enjoy my role, however I have realized that I don’t want to work in an office all the time. So I do try to mix it up by travelling and then working (to fund the travelling!!). Soon I am heading off on a 2 months road trip around NZ and then going home in October 2017 for 2 months and then the plan is to head to Central America to teach English.
5. What kind of clients do you work with?
At the moment my clients are the people I work with. I am a business partner between the finance and commercial teams in a wine company.
6. Who is the most interesting person you met in a hostel?
I think it has to be Norman Campion, ex President of An Oige. During one of the volunteer weekends we went to the Glendalough Hostel and I sat beside Norman for dinner. He had so many interesting stories to tell and he told them in such an interesting and funny way that I could’ve sat there all night.
7. Do you have a childhood/defining moment when you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Not really. To be honest I never knew what I wanted to be and when I was young I felt a lot of pressure to decide what subjects to do for my leaving and then what course to pick for my CAO. I still don’t know what I want and I am nearly 50 years old. I enjoy being an accountant and it pays well but I do know that I don’t want to work for one company and spend all my time working in an office. I recently did a course called CELTA which is an English language teaching course and I loved it. I am planning on going to Central America to teach English for 6 months. I love interacting with people and having fun. After that I am hoping to be a guide in Ireland for the summer of 2018 and I have a job (I hope!!) confirmed with an Irish company which brings people on walks, hikes and bike rides around Ireland.
8. Tell us one place you would love to see again?
Dingle Peninsula on a day cold crisp autumn day. It is the best.
9. Tell us one place you never want to see again?
The inside of a confession box – they used to give me the jitters.
10. Favourite location in Ireland?
I love Killarney – there is so much to do there and it is just so beautiful. I especially like the Gap of Dunloe.
11. If you were going hosteling and had to bring three famous people, who would you invite?
Paul Theroux – writer, Adele – singer & the Dalai Lama for calm.
12. What does true leadership mean to you?
True leadership is being a person who people respect and who can engage people and bring them along the journey. A person who can listen to different views and can be willing to change course if necessary. A person people like and want to work with.
13. You can have one superpower, what do you choose?
To be able to transport myself from one location to another so I can move around the world more easily. Only one or two movements a year so that I don’t get too used to it and that travelling is still a novelty and not take it for granted.
14. Describe yourself using the title of a soap opera/book/film?
It’s a Wonderful Life – this is my all-time favorite movie. I watch it every year and it is such an uplifting movie and shows how we all have a part to play in the world – no matter how small and how much we impact other peoples’ lives without even knowing it.
15. What are the characteristics of a good board member?
The board needs people who are Team Players. People who are able to commit to more than just attending the board meetings. The An Oige Board is an operational board and not like many boards who are there to just review and ensure that the management are working to the strategic plan. An Oige is short a number of key roles and these are currently being provided by the board. In time these roles should be recruited but not until the financials improve and this may take some time to happen. Also board members need to be committed to the mission of An Oige and be people who have stayed in hostels growing up.
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