Brendan McGurgan, managing director, CDE Global

Photo of Brendan McGurgan of CDE Global at the IoD Director of the Year awards

Every day during the Christmas holidays we are profiling the winners of the recent Director of the Year Awards. Brendan McGurgan, managing director of CDE Global, won the awards for both the Young Director and Overall Director of the Year

A leading provider of washing equipment for quarries and mines, CDE Global has come a long way since McGurgan joined as financial controller in 2003 – when the business had 20 staff and 85 per cent of revenue came from the Irish market.

Today the company employs 290 people directly and as many sub-contractors, it trades in more than 80 countries and turnover for 2014/15 stood at over £60m. McGurgan became managing director in 2007 and faced a tough challenge when turnover fell to £12m in the recession.

But he held on to core staff, recruited talented engineers released by other firms, redesigned products and pursued new business. In 2016, CDE Global was named on the London Stock Exchange’s “1000 Companies to Inspire Britain” list. Here he ponders the essence of good leadership…

What makes a great leader? In my opinion – and I’m learning every day – authenticity, positivity, ability to challenge, good communication skills, being a good listener (I’m working on this one!), a willingness to learn and a passion for the brand; being trustworthy, being approachable, being decisive and of course having a very clear vision.

How do you think business will change in 2017? To be honest, while we stay aware of the macro and geopolitical situations, we focus on our own business and what ‘winning’ means to us. Every change brings with it opportunity. We export more than 70 per cent of what we make, so, right now, Brexit means we’re approximately 20 per cent more competitive in key markets than last year. For the moment, we will try to capitalise.

What’s the best talk you have seen? Jack Welch at the IoD Annual Convention (in 2013). He asked the audience how many thought people were important to their business and of course 2,000 people raised their hands. When he asked how many people have a ‘head of talent’, I think three raised their hands. I came back from that and appointed our then engineering manager, a great people person, into the role of head of talent!

How do you unwind? I love sport and the importance it plays in wellness. I’ve been doing martial arts for about 20 years, recently gaining my third-degree black belt in taekwondo.

Brendan McGurgan is a member of IoD Northern Ireland.

Director of the Year Awards – our coverage starts here.

Photo of Brendan McGurgan of CDE Global holding a sign saying 'Didn't I do well' at the IoD Director of the Year awards

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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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