Where are you from, and what was it like growing up there? I was born and raised in the suburbs of Dublin, Ireland (as opposed to Dublin, Ohio, which is also a lovely place, albeit without the famous brewery). While it was a difficult time economically, as a child, I remember the fantastic sense of freedom to wander and explore every nook and cranny as far as my bike could take me.
What is your Hometown famous for, and what do you think about it? Guinness! I once heard it called ‘Mother’s Milk,’ and I felt that about summed it up. Jameson is also delicious and very well-known. Dubliners are famous for their lyrical way of speaking, which probably lead to the city producing a disproportionate number of literary greats (e.g., James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Maeve Binchy).
Does your Hometown have a famous dish, and do you like and why/why not? I’m not sure if Dublin is famous for any particular dish, but anything with seafood will be extraordinary there. Many of our recipes are for hearty, homestyle cooking but the local ingredients are so fresh that the flavors explode on your tastebuds.
What brought you to NYC? One of my college friends was born in the US and suggested I apply for the diversity visa so we could go over after graduating and explore America. Without thinking more, I sent in an application, won the lottery (although I’m still waiting to win the PowerBall), and a year later, I landed at JFK. New York City was the only place my family knew anyone who could meet me at the airport and help me get set up.
What inspired you to pursue your chosen career path? Random happenstance. I studied History and Philosophy in college but regularly played in rock bands for fun. In 1993, one of my NY friends showed me how he recorded music on his laptop and fixed performance mistakes without rerecording. I was blown away, so I saved up and bought a PC, and that started my computer career.
What was a defining moment in your career? In 2001, I switched from a technical role to a sales role. I complained to my boss about the poor quality of the salespeople supporting my area and requested that we recruit new ones. Instead, he suggested that I become a salesperson. I resisted at first, but he made a compelling case about how we are all salespeople in one way or another, so I may as well make the commission on closing the deals. That first year was a humbling experience where I learned just how hard it can be to sell and what separates success from failure.
What about NYC has made you stay? NY has given me so much, and it continues to, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. My family, my friends, my career. Every time I catch a view of the skyline (particularly when flying into La Guardia from a southerly direction while sitting on the left side of the plane), I’m lost for words. This city is astonishing and inspiring, and it’s obvious why so many people want to be here.
What’s the biggest cultural difference you’ve noticed between America and your home country? You don’t just pop over to a friend’s house in the US; you wait to be invited. Your host plans food and drinks, and you bring a gift. In Ireland, you generally just pop over and make yourself a cup of tea if everyone else is busy.
What do strong European-American relationships mean to you, your life, and your organization? Since my parents and siblings live in Europe, and because it is a fantastic place to vacation, and thanks to 25% of my business coming from there, there is no more critical an international relationship for me.
Thank you Feargal for sharing your story !