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Meet the Deputy Director Pat Kirwan

  |   State Claims Agency

Q: How did you get your present role as Deputy Director?

After graduating with an engineering and mathematics degree from UCD, my first job was in the insurance sector as an Engineering Risk Manager. After that I did various consultancy and advisory roles eventually ending us as a Group Environmental Health and Safety Manager with one of the semi-states.

I joined the State Claims Agency in the first year of its operation as a Senior Risk Manager. Subsequently, I was promoted to Head of Risk, Operations and IT and sometime after that as the Agency and my role expanded further, I was made Deputy Director.

Q: Describe your typical day?

Thankfully I don’t have a typical day; that’s what keeps me doing this job. I don’t like routine. The work is multifaceted and we have a diverse body of clients so I tend to be always dealing with something new or different. My days are a bit hectic. I commute so I tend to get up at quarter to five and leave the house at quarter past and don’t get home until half eight or nine o’clock at night.

Q: You have a hectic schedule, how do you keep on top of everything?

Well the answer is that I don’t or certainly I don’t as much as I would like to. I prioritise and I am lucky in that I have a very good and supportive teams around me that help me carry the load.

I do wear many hats, risk, operations, business development, administration and the various internal and externals group that I’m involved in as well as a number of projects which are always on-going. I have learnt a couple of things over the years, crisis and problems always past, it is very rarely that anybody requires something as urgently as they would like you to believe and once you start working at something the problem generally diminishes.

Q: What do you like about your job?

Two things, the first is the variety, the State is a big machine and somebody somewhere is doing something unusual and we’re sometimes part of that. My own role, I could be doing anything from Governance issues, indemnity queries, legislative change, financial issues, IT development across 144 different State Authorities. Secondly, I do feel that in totality the State Claims Agency does contribute positively towards the State and its citizens.

Q: What do you think is your biggest achievement in your career?

Elsewhere in this eZine, we reported that we asked our clients using an independent consultant what they thought of the Agency, our effectiveness and our contribution to their organisation. We got very positive feedback overall, it is satisfying to feel that the SCA is highly rated by our clients and that we have built positive relationships.

One of the findings I particularly liked was that our clients described the State Claims Agency as thought leaders in the area of Risk Management. I interpreted that as a compliment to myself and the people involved in Risk from the early stages. Secondly, I was Project Sponsor for the upgrade of the NIMS and had the vision to see what a single end to end Risk Management system could do to improve the management of risk across all areas but in particular Healthcare in the State. There is still a lot of work to do but fingers crossed to date the system is there and the engagement is improving week by week. It is already producing better Management Information reports than could have been available previously at State level.

Q: What is the best advice you have ever been given?

GB Shaw hated speaking in public so he forced himself to do it again and again and become good at it. Best orator of his time. He didn’t give me the advice directly himself but I do force myself to do the things I dislike or I am bad at again and again to try and get better at them.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

I am not really the type to be inspired by people or concepts, I’m too much of the pragmatist for that. In fact I think there’s too much gushing about leadership in today’s management theory. I’m driven by a sort of curiosity and a need to fix things if I see them broken or to make them better if I see gaps. My parents were both very hard working honest people, who believed in being good citizens and positively contributing to your community. I try to emulate them as far as I can and like the fact that my role puts me in a position to contribute to the State at both local and sometimes national policy level. I do believe that there is no reason why the State Sector can’t be best in class in everything it does.

Q: What are your passions outside of work?

My wife and my family. I love working outdoors in the garden, cutting timber, small builds. I love sport, I am chairman of Clonegal/Kildavin Juvenile GAA Club and I love following my children around the country watching them in their endeavours at Club or County level in camogie, football, rugby and basketball.

Q: If you could tell your twenty year old self something what would it be?

To put everything he’s got into Google stocks.