Speaker Insight Series - Claire Millar

Claire Millar, Assistant Vice President, Barclays Bank Ireland PLC

In an effort to get to know our speakers ahead of Adminovate next month we’ve borrowed the format from Tim Ferriss’s new book ‘Tribe of Mentors’. You can read about the book here and buy it directly here.

Throughout the book, Tim poses 11 questions to his interviewees with the request to respond to 3 to 5 questions.. or more, if the spirit moves them. Claire has kindly supplied her responses below:

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

“If all your dreams came true, would it change the world or just yours?” I like to apply this concept to all aspects of my life. Working in the financial services is never going to have the same meaning as a vocation such as nursing or teaching but I think following this mantra is a good place to start and every little helps!

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

I have two very different answers to this question.

1. The investment in my friends and family. I genuinely have the best group of friends and family I could ever wish for. It’s incredibly important to appreciate your loved ones and to invest your time and energy in them the same way you would with other passions in your life.

2. Through an organisation called AfID (Accounting for International Development), I spent some time out in Ghanzi, Botswana, working with a charity called the Windows of Hope Centre. I went completely alone and was the only non-local volunteer at the charity. The experience was incredible. The sense of independence and being able to use my skills as an accountant to really make a change to the organisation was hugely fulfilling.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I have a weird thing about odd numbers – radio station has to be on an even number volume etc. On that wavelength, my strange habit is with car reg plates – I have to be able to able to manipulate the numbers to round off to zero – can use addition, subtraction, multiplication or division – it’s not always possible and I’m not happy when it doesn’t work!

In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

“Nothing exciting ever happens in your comfort zone” – I used to live my life constantly thinking about the future – I had the five-year plan down to a tee! I reached a point (my dad likes to refer to as my quarter-life crisis) where that just didn’t work anymore and I adopted a whole new view on how I wanted to live my life. I have no idea where I’ll be in five years’ time – work-wise, personally, location – anything! And while it can feel somewhat uncomfortable, taking that stance has allowed me to take chances and have experiences I otherwise wouldn’t have had. I no longer make decisions based on a future that may or may not even happen – living in the now and not being afraid to take risks has done me the world of good!

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

Bright, ambitious, young people entering the workforce are full of energy and enthusiasm and want to succeed. This often means they will work all the hours under the sun and while it’s great to give it your all, my advice would be to slow down. Otherwise, trust me, you will burn out. There’s no rush – you’ll be hitting 30 before you know it and guess what, there’s still all the time in the world to progress and get to where you want to be. You need to make sure to enjoy yourself in the process. Life and happiness is about the journey and not the destination – there’s no point killing yourself to be CEO by 35 and having regrets about not doing other non-work-related things with your life. Slow down, breathe and take your time and enjoy – you’ll be working for long enough!

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

I try and ask myself “Will this matter in 5 years’ time?” If it won’t, then don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it.

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