7 Questions with Dara A Meath

Name: Dara A Meath

Current title: Divisional Chief Information Officer, Head of Digital / Ecommerce

Current organisation: Conair Corporation

Dara Meath is the Divisional Chief Information Officer, Head of Digital / Ecommerce at Conair Corporation.

Dara provides executive leadership as the Technology Leader. Responsible for all aspects of strategic IT planning, implementation and support worldwide as an integral component of business the plan. She is also leading the Digital and Ecommerce planning and development.

Before devoting her work fulltime to Conair Corporation, Dara served as Vice President of The Camuto Group LLC. Re-engineered, developed, and advised technology platforms globally. Specializing in Wholesale, Retail, Digital and Analytics.

Dara is also the owner of Destiny the Skye, a local CT accessories business designed to give back the majority of sales to local and global organizations in need. The business was started for her two children, Destiny and Skye with a simple goal to always be passionate in what they do and always give to those in need!

In addition, Dara sits on the VCP Advisory Board of Pace University and is actively involved with over 15 organizations in technology and business such as Project Management Institute (PMI), Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC). She is also an adviser of Guidepoint. Dara continues to write for various magazines like CIO Review. She has also won numbers awards for her Global IT Leadership.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

Staying agile within technology to keep up with global business and consumer change with forecasting, developing and deploying in 90 days of less.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I’ve worked for a mixture of organizations in the past and felt that my background and skills would fit well for Conair's current and future needs. A CIO It is not a 1-size-fits all role. Depending on how the company defines

Technology within their business, determines the importance and need of the team. I am a Hand-On Leader who dives in at all levels of the operation.

The company was looking for someone to not only make decisions, but dive in work within the groups to support their visions. With my strong background in applications, digital, hardware and network, I'm able to understand the business and take time to partner with each area to stay ahead of their technology requirements.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I get up early in the morning and check 1st on any overnight notices that may be pressing/ require my immediate attention. When you are in the technology space and digital, you don’t have the luxury of just ‘turning everything off’. If you are down, the business is down.

Following, I take time to work out and mediate. It’s important to clear my head to be ready for the day. I then take a little time for my family. That was not always the option, but now that we all have more time at home, it has been a part of my routine.

Kicking off the business day, I start by reviewing my checklist. I always have a list! Each day I check something off, more is added. It’s important for me to balance by always reviewing and prioritizing. Guessing what I read in my 500 emails last Thursday won’t work.

Through the day, I take time to check in with critical leaders and where they are within the day. I want to ensure the teams know I am here for them, even when we are not down the hall. I work on critical things while always leaving time for smaller tasks. Making sure you make the most out of every moment is key to staying on top of the 1001 tasks at hand.

Towards the end of day, I follow with touching base and working with partners that have as little time as I during the day and still need a touch base following the ‘9-5’. I am either working with a vendor, in-house partner, etc… There is never a moment of closing the day, just one where things are as balanced as when you started so tomorrow should open on a good note.

Late evenings are spent with the groups or events I am a part of. Notes for local events, community needs and family requirements are added. Keeping the business flow to manage the rest of my life keeps me in balance and on task. I try and fit in some cooking and education for the kids. I always follow with a quick read, quote or audio book to keep the mood light.

If someone in work needs me, I am anyways shifting gears and ready to help...

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Always listen and learn. It is critical for you to understand those that work for you, with you, and the business around you.

Listening will allow you to forge an open understanding of what is being presented and help you gage where you can be effective.

Learning will allow you to always stay one step ahead so you can continue to lead with knowledge and passion.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

"Make Your Bed"

Reading this during parts was a reflection in the mirror on things I try to achieve and remember each day. Routine is good and on some days, it is very good. It reminds us that no matter how difficult or challenging the day becomes, we can all have big achievements with little things. I remind my team constantly that little wins will impact us much more in the end then big wins. Big wins are always memorable, but little wins make each day gratifying and those we interact with, thankful.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

Great question!

The main thing is to not over build the top. Set the right team for those within the IT organization to have someone they can learn from, grow with, and want to replace one day. Keeping people passionate about the work they are achieving is key. You can always build in more management, but starting with too much will not allow management to keep learning and that is always important. Map out your key IT areas. Example: Security, Network, Application, Digital, etc… Then map out the global areas you are supporting and what level of support each requires.

Give the management team a lot of encouragement, training and responsibility – the combination will pay off and the team will feel empowered to make decisions and do more. Continue to have open conversations and at any time a Director, Manager or Supervisor has too much or something new they aren’t ready for, talk it through and map out the next steps together.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

A High moment that stands out recently was the collaboration of our Team to get all users home in support of Covid-19. The team came together in a calm, collective manager to understand the business needs, network requirements, equipment needs, and develop training plans. The Global Plan was based on a phase approach to get all users home at a point of: 72 – 48 – 36 – 24 - 12 hrs. of execution. Plan, Develop, and Executive with success to ensure each user could perform their role at home with confidence. It was a success for the company and team. Thousands of users were able to move from a traditional setting of in-office to their homes while adapting to the change in business and communication.

The first few weeks were challenging as the team were constantly working with users as they faced new challenges working from home. The core thing we remember as a team, keep the associates calm and let them know we are always here to help! I was extremely proud of the team and all of the hard work they completed. It was a Leadership moment I will never forget!