Director of the Year Awards 2018 – Daniel O’Toole, CEO, Retail Merchandising Services

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Daniel O'Toole Director of the Year Awards

Every day over the Christmas period, we’ll speak to winners from the recent IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Daniel O’Toole, CEO of Retail Merchandising Services (RMS), who won the New director award

‘Pick your battles wisely and never give up’

O’Toole’s company helps a host of high-street brands to improve their customers’ shopping experiences. Under his new leadership, RMS has built on the legacy of his late father, who’d started the business in 2005. It now has contracts with Boots – for which it is working on a major store revamp – and Sainsbury’s.

Who has inspired you most in business? “My father. He was never content to settle, always looking for his next challenge and linking up with key people in his ever-growing network to create a commercial opportunity. A big fan of Only Fools and Horses, he transformed into the Del Boy character he loved: a true entrepreneur with constant positivity and relentless ambition.”

Whom do you turn to for guidance? “My network of mentors grew exponentially after I met the director of IoD Wales, Robert Lloyd Griffiths, at the Director of the Year Awards in 2015, when my brother and I collected a ‘highly commended’ award for our father. Both Robert and Jean Church, chair of IoD Wales, have been so supportive. I know I can turn to them if I need some advice.”

What’s the key to great leadership? “Values and positivity. Live and breathe the underpinning core values of the business and remain as positive as possible – even when things don’t go to plan.”

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt so far? “Don’t lose sleep over things you can’t control. Always begin with the end in mind. And embed the right culture, with the right people, in the business as soon as possible.”

Where do you get your best ideas from? “In my spare time I get involved in as many outdoor activities as possible. From skydiving to scuba diving, surfing to kayaking, climbing to snowboarding… I find when I’m not thinking about the day-to-day business I get inspired by random things in life, nature and new people – I often find it generates ideas to optimise our business and capitalise on new opportunities.”

What are your aspirations for 2019?  “My father’s last words to my brother and me were: ‘You have to keep the business going – and grow it.’ By the end of 2019 we will be market leaders in the UK and Ireland. Flex, our bespoke technology, will continue to evolve and enable us to explore other localities around the globe.”

The best piece of business advice you’ve ever had? “That was my father again. He told me: ‘Be patient, pick your battles wisely and never give up.’”

Entries are now open for the 2019 IoD Director of the Year Awards – click here for more info and to nominate

Click here for more winners’ interviews

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Director magazine

Director magazine

Director is the magazine for business leaders. Free to IoD members and available to purchase through subscription, each edition is full of insightful interviews with entrepreneurs and company directors.

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