Deirdre Lyons of Examfly A Finalist in the Sodexo WMB Female Newcomer Award Category
8th March 2022
Over the coming weeks, we will be introducing you to our WMB Award Finalists. Ultimately there will be one winner in each of our five Award categories, to be announced at our Conference & Awards on May 16th. If you’d like to attend our Conference & Awards, you can book here>>
Title and company name
I’m the founder and CEO of Examfly
Sector & size of operation
We are a rapidly-growing education technology company. We are now a 4-person team (up from 1 person – me! – this time last year).
You originally hail from
Ballingarry, Co. Limerick
Single or relationship
In a relationship with my lovely girlfriend Fiona 😊
What is the best part of your job
•Using creativity to make life a bit better / easier for our users
•Exploring new technologies and new solutions to old problems
•Overcoming challenges with the team
•Mentoring other female founders and seeing them progress.
And the most challenging
As a solo-founder, there is a lot of pressure and responsibility and you wear many different hats, some of which may not be a good fit!
In the course of a single day, I’m often working across product development, sales, recruiting, investor relations, office management etc. etc.
There’s a bit of anxiety in being responsible for paying the team’s wages, delivering for clients, and using investor money wisely. I take these responsibilities very seriously, so it means that life is a little less carefree than when it was just me working on the idea (before we had a team, investment or customers).
I come from a family where there was a big emphasis on getting (and keeping!) a good, stable job. The world of start-ups was kind of unheard of, so it was a big leap to leave the corporate world behind and try something quite risky and with no guarantee of success.
Your definition of success
Making a positive dent in the universe, however small. Through the products we create, the people I mentor, or being a good role model for other female entrepreneurs.
Doing so with integrity, while enjoying the inevitable ups and downs of the journey.
Living each day with the words of Mary Oliver in mind: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?””
Biggest ‘win’ to date
Getting 2 of the “Big4” professional services firms on board as customers, with very early stage versions of our product. From this point, we knew we were onto something.
Who inspires you most
Many female athletes, writers and stand-up comedians. At the moment, I think Joanne McNally is a good example of someone who is succeeding massively while still having a laugh. Her one-woman show, Bite Me, which described her journey through severe bulimia and mental health struggles was a work of genius, yet she wears her intelligence so lightly. She also strikes me as someone with a high level of integrity, hidden beneath an irreverent and self-deprecating persona.
Name two things on your ‘bucket list’
Writing a novel or a play
Thelma and Louise-style road trip across America.
What does it mean for you to be a woman in business today
Being extremely grateful for the opportunities, supports and resources available to me compared to previous generations, and doing my utmost to acknowledge that by living up to my full potential.
Know that the work is not done, and doing what I can to serve as a role-model, guide and mentor to others.
Best advice to pass on.
All our lives, we receive many different messages about what a life well lived looks like. Above all,
learn to think for yourself, and to understand what type of life, work, routine would make you happy
(independently of what others are doing and the messages you’ve been given). Then go out and do your best to get it! 😊