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Meet the SCA Director Ciarán Breen

  |   State Claims Agency

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

Well, I joined the State Claims Agency in 2001 and I was the first claims professional to join the Agency at that time. Prior to that, I had been Managing Director of a nationwide firm of liability adjustors with a staff of about 100, and that company carried out functions quite similar to the Agency’s, indemnity/insurance functions concerning claims and litigation.

As I said, I joined the Agency in 2001 when I was appointed Head of Claims. A year later, I was appointed Deputy Director and in early 2007, I was appointed Director.

Q: Describe your typical day?

Typical day is out of bed at roughly 5.15 a.m. I read every morning for at least three quarters of an hour before anything else and then I do the usual things, like getting breakfast and showering before heading for work and I am normally behind my desk at about 7.00 a.m. I can have many different work commitments during the day such as attending internal meetings, external meetings, Court and so on and I normally finish up at around 7.00p.m., drive home and then begin the process all over again. Some days it’s a bit later when I leave the office but that is generally the average working day.

Q: What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning?

A number of things. Public service is very important to me and the role of Director of the Agency is a very important role because you get to do a huge variety of things. Some involve policy issues where you are advising Government Departments concerning legislation and other matters. It is one of the most interesting jobs in the country in my view. There is no other job in the claims and litigation world quite like being Director of the State Claims Agency. I love coming to work most days but there are some frustrating days as well, as you can imagine.

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

The best advice I was ever given was that your intelligence will carry you a certain way along the road of life and career but hard work will guarantee you success. So, if you work really hard it will take you that extra distance that you need to go if you are ambitious and if you want to achieve the best that you possibly can. That advice was given to me by my late father.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

The position of Director of the State Claims Agency really inspires me. I am not sure that there is any particular person in the world that I would say is an inspirational person for me. I think there are very many inspirational people in the world. What I really like is the job and the people I work with. I work with a terrific group of people, who are all dedicated professionals, who provide excellent public services to our State Authorities and Health Enterprises. Working with those colleagues and being supported by those colleagues is a terrific everyday experience and sometimes I get praise for what the SCA does well but actually that praise properly is attributable to the SCA team because it is the team that accomplishes much more than I do. Ultimately, the Agency is the sum of its parts.

Q: What are your passions outside of work?

Outside of work my big passion is sport; particularly Gaelic football and rugby. I am mad about both and that includes hurling, going to Croke Park and to the Aviva and, of course, supporting my home county, Leitrim. I am constantly of the view that Leitrim will win an All-Ireland quite soon! My other big passion is poetry and attending poetry readings and listening to poets read their work.

Q: Who is your favourite poet?

My favourite poet is Derek Mahon, a Northern Irish poet.

Q: What is your favourite poem?

My favourite poem is probably a poem by Seamus Heaney called the Conway Stewart and it’s a poem about a fountain pen and his leaving his community and going elsewhere. The poem is filled with tremendous symbolism.

Q: If you could tell your 20-year old self something, what would it be?

That’s a really difficult question. I think I would probably advise that 20-year old to try and get a greater work/life balance. Hard work is a powerful thing but sometimes work can become something other than it might be in terms of that work/life balance. So that is what I would tell myself, probably work a little less hard and play a little bit more!