Paul McElvaney, chief executive, Learning Pool

Paul McElvaney receives his Director of the Year Awards

Every day during the Christmas holidays we are profiling the winners of the recent Director of the Year Awards. Paul McElvaney, chief executive, Learning Pool, won the SME Company award

Paul McElvaney started Derry-based Learning Pool from his kitchen table in 2006. He has since grown the online learning company to a £6m-turnover business with 84 employees. In the last year alone, the firm has delivered learning solutions to 400 UK organisations and trained 1.5 million people. Here, he talks Brexit and business advice…

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever had? Bryan Keating [Learning Pool’s chairman] told me to focus all my efforts on the team and my customers and let everything else figure itself out.

Who is the most inspirational businessperson? I was blown away after hearing Dame Stephanie Shirley’s [November’s Director cover star] story at an IoD lunch recently. Creating a successful business is impressive enough but with the challenges she faced along the way, hers is an unbelievable achievement.

How are you preparing for Brexit? From a trading perspective, we’re fairly relaxed about Brexit because we’re confident in Learning Pool’s business model and believe our products deliver great value for customers – we don’t expect any real negativity in that respect. However, Learning Pool is headquartered in Northern Ireland (NI) and some employees commute to work from southern Ireland. Both the border issue and travelling to mainland UK, are very real issues that will influence our growth if they aren’t managed well by government.

What’s the key to great leadership? Authenticity. You will be forgiven for lots of things, but you have to try your best if you expect everyone else to do the same.

What’s the best talk you have seen? Simon Sinek’s TED talk on why customers buy products. I watch it at least once a month.

Paul McElvaney

is a member of IoD Northern Ireland

Paul McElvaney holds a sign reading Amazeballs

About author

Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker is deputy editor at Think Publishing. Previously she worked as a features writer and sub-editor for Director magazine

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