‘A good work-life balance is vital,’ says the Student Director of the Year 2019

Director of the Year Awards Sarah McAnallen

Every day in the approach to Christmas, we’ll speak to winners from the recent finals of IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Sarah McAnallen, founder and CEO of McAnallen, who won the Student category

McAnallen set up her eponymous mobility-aid company in 2018 after developing the Ezi-Sock – a device that enables people to put socks on without bending down – while she was studying product design at Ulster University. Having developed two more products since then, she has patents pending, distribution deals agreed and pre-orders booked.

Who has been your biggest inspiration? “My mum, who took a stroke when I was young. I was able to see the types of products she needed but couldn’t find. I designed them for her and then took the opportunity to help others.”

What has been the toughest challenge you have surmounted? “Building my confidence. As a 21-year-old entrepreneur with no commercial experience at the start, I doubted my ability to build a business. I overcame that by educating myself; speaking to experts in a particular area before making a decision; and then learning to trust my gut.”

How would you describe your leadership style? “Encouraging – I want to ensure that everyone is passionate about what they do. I want them to have pride in their work and strive to be better.”

Your biggest lesson? “A good work-life balance is vital – I burnt myself out by constantly working. I’ve learnt to be precious with my time by scheduling breaks and being more productive when I am working.”


Entries are now open for the 2020 IoD Director of the Year Awards – click here for more info and to nominate


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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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