Helen Waldron from Sydney received a surprise at the end of her time at Loreto College, Foxrock. "To my horror, at our last meeting, they called me for a price in religious education because they thought I would become a nun. [Maybe it was because] two of my aunts were nuns.
"That summer I got a pound per hour to watch tennis courts in case someone wanted to rent them, I think it was their way to see if I had a calling, they would send nuns with cups of tea and sandwiches. # 39;
But Waldron did not have a religious calling and initially did not have a business vocation, studying English, history and philosophy at UCD. "I was just 20 when I finished my studies, so I knew I had a bit of time to figure out what would happen next, but I had no idea of a career as a company."
After working in the United States for a few years, teaching English for three months in Hong Kong and backpacking through Asia, Waldron arrived in Sydney in 1988. "It was only the next English-speaking country where I could get a work visa, I did not know much about it, and I have never been particularly tempted to go there."
But in the three decades that followed, Waldron made an almost light-hearted decision to great success.
"The first job I got led to everything that followed, it was one of those food and accommodation – buy one, get one for free – publications that turned out to be a bit of a scam, even though I did not know it then. $ 390 sell three-year subscriptions to this guide, but I left when a TV show exposed it like a sham, my boss pushed a cameraman back up and said & # 39; No comments & # 39; when I arrived at work .
Fortunately, the last person I tried to sell a subscription said: "I am not interested in what you sell, but you are brilliant at it. I rent you & # 39 ;, so I worked in sales for a computer company. & # 39;
After he got bored with this, Waldron led the expert opinion business for the commercial department of the University of New South Wales. "My role was actually as a connector or translator for very close academic subject matter experts who try to enter a market." (So, if you've ever wondered where "independent, objective experts" used in lawsuits come from, ask me no more.)
When she went to work, the company had sales of $ 100,000 and grew to $ 10 million by the time she left 11 years later, after expanding his reach outside of Sydney to the whole country and to other universities.
For the past 16 years, Waldron worked for the Australian Industry Group (similar to Ibec in Ireland). "The business that I ran was financing the commercialization of technology and gave academics an extra income stream, while AIG is about representing industries such as production, construction and defense, we are very well balanced. unions, agree on some things and disagree with others, we are considered very practical, independent and well-researched. "
Waldron's title at AIG is somewhat unusual – business connector. "That's my role in one word, it's about connecting, it's about pulling together the wires and making sure we talk to the right people about the right issues."
Waldron says that the view of Australians in itself is not always the reality. "They have this whole laconic, partner ship, I find that baffling, to be honest, I think some of the characteristics they claim are not necessarily visible.
"Learning in business, from my understanding and involvement with them, is much more transparent, open and progressive." Australians claim to be more laconical, but they are not, they are more shielded, and it costs Australians a little more time to warm up. "
Being Irish has never been an obstacle. "In almost all situations it's an advantage, I used to hope that people noticed that I was not just this outgoing Irish woman, I was hoping they also noticed that I was smart, but I realized that it's not necessary to I work with matter experts who are often introverted and they can not do what I do, what they see as my ability is mercury, the ability to enter a room, make contact and communicate, and that is absolutely based on the fact that I am Irish and feminine. "
The success of Waldron has led to close collaboration with the Irish consulate in Sydney and the embassy in Canberra when there are government or business delegations. She is also involved with the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce as a judge in their awards and guidance to young Irish business women in Australia.
Bertie Ahern spoke with Waldron in Sydney Opera House after one of those Irish functions in 2000. The then Taoiseach had just given a speech about Ireland, which wanted to leave emigrants to a thriving economy. But looking at the harbor on a glorious sunny day when a spring horn blew, he said, "But why would you want to leave this?" Waldron knew she did not.