Fiona McCabe – In Very Good Company
7th January 2019
Some people might consider it quite an achievement to be Head of Investment Management at Ireland’s inward-investment promotions agency, IDA Ireland, by your mid- 30s. But, as Dubliner Fiona McCabe points out, while it is indeed a significant portfolio, she’s in “very good company” when it comes to having a lot of responsibility in IDA Ireland at a relatively early stage in her career.
Words: Áilín Quinlan
“Yes, it’s a big portfolio but IDA is full of very capable, dynamic and youthful people doing really good work, so I’m in very good company,” says the Castleknock native who graduated from UCD in 2005 with a degree in business and law.
After cutting her teeth in the recruitment sector, where she describes her experience as “an interesting and quite challenging sales environment where you learned very quickly,” McCabe set about establishing a business for her mother, a second-level teacher turned therapist. “My mother had re-trained as a psycho-sexual therapist and set up her own practice. I helped her set that up from a business, legal, tax, marketing and website point of view”. It was an interesting time, she says, and she learned a lot.
A year or so later, in 2008 she joined IDA’s legal department, to help support the business development side of the house in terms of property transactions and the EU State Aid programme. ”I started off on the paralegal side of things. The IDA has expertise in different disciplines which deal with various sectors of the economy, from pharmaceuticals across to high growth companies. “We work globally with offices around Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific to promote Ireland and connect with company HQs in these regions to raise awareness about Ireland’s positive business environment. Our main objective is to encourage inward investment to Ireland,” she explains, adding that she was very interested in the IDA’s impact on the Irish economy and its work in terms of job creation. “One of the great things about IDA is the diversity of work and I was very keen to try my hand at business development. I was drawn to the financial services division of the IDA. This division attracts companies in the financial services sector to invest in Ireland, an area that is heavily regulated. I thought it would be a good fit for my academic background.”
In 2011, McCabe moved over to the business development team. “In particular I was given responsibility for the aircraft leasing and the investment funds sectors.” Essentially, she explains her role was to help companies in these sectors to either set up operations in Ireland or expand an existing business presence here. “The interesting thing about it is that Ireland is a world leader in these sectors — and therefore, the IDA is a very exciting place to work because you are working with the best in the business!”
Moving from the legal department to business development was a very exciting move, she recalls: “I was helping clients to achieve their strategic goals.”
Eighteen months later, she took the opportunity to move to Paris and spent three years building business from European companies who wished to invest in Ireland.
This interview was first published in our recent annual WMB Print magazine.