Articles - Finance & Financial Management - Leadership & Change Management

From Banking To International Development To HEC Paris

Flor Healy is a committed life-long learner. A double-MBA degree holder, 10 years ago he undertook the Consulting & Coaching for Change program at HEC Paris, and has returned this year to complete an MSc in Finance. For him, constantly updating his skills is one of life’s safest investments in a rapidly changing world.

 

Based on an interview with Flor Healy, Managing Director & Senior Management Consultant, ADAPT Management Consulting.

 

Flor Healy

 

Lessons learned over a 32-year career - never stop reinventing yourself!

 

If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, it is that nothing can be taken for granted, so adaptability is critical. 32 years into my career, this insight continues to form the basis of my ongoing commitment to never stop reinventing myself.”
– Flor Healy, Managing Director & Senior Management Consultant, ADAPT Management Consulting

 

The eldest of 10 children, Flor grew up on a cattle and dairy farm in Ireland. When the family farm fell on hard times in 1984, he took a leave of absence from his European Law program at the University of Limerick to begin working at AIB Bank in retail banking. He never went back to law school. In 1990, he moved into commercial banking at Hill Samuel Bank and then, in 1994, into Corporate Banking at the Bank of Ireland. “I worked for 11 years in banking before my interest in politics pulled me in another direction. In 1995, I took a leave of absence from Bank of Ireland to become a Special Advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture until the Government ended in 1997. By accident or by chance, while waiting to return to Bank of Ireland, my Government Advisory role led to a consultancy assignment in international development in Moldova to establish a Policy Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture there ”.

Flor remained in international development, concentrating on the EU pre-accession program in Eastern and Central Europe. Today, he works independently as a consultant, based out of Pretoria in South Africa. “When I first left AIB Bank to move into corporate banking, my family and relatives asked me how I could give up a job that was ‘for life’. But no job is for life anymore. If my career has taught me anything, it is that we cannot stand still.”

 

Lessons learned from the Consulting & Coaching for Change program - change is a constant

As a specialist in international development, Flor engages in high-level interventions with government agencies, which he explains creates the need to be a catalyst for change. “Government agencies are politically driven and conservative, so I often need to convince them that change is a constant - adaptability and management of change are therefore critical.”

This focus on change in his work is what encouraged him to undertake the Consulting & Coaching for Change program in 2006. “Undertaking the program provides me with greater legitimacy in my interventions with government agencies and has strengthened my ability to argue effectively about why change is a constant and what that means for my clients. By deepening my understanding of the factors of change and teaching me a structured way of thinking about how to manage change, the program gave me a stronger leg to stand on in my work. I was able to incorporate what I had learned into my consultancy and managerial ‘toolbox’; in other words, I practice what I learned and have been able to make it my own.”

 

Lessons learned as he earns the MSc in Finance at HEC Paris: creative, interdisciplinary solutions are the way forward

I update my skills in a scheduled way by seeking out new qualifications about every 6 or 8 years. This year, I chose to return to HEC Paris to earn my MSc in Finance. In the post financial crisis world, it feels more important than ever to understand how to secure our financial futures. From a personal perspective, my thesis is on how to transfer my pension into a property investment rather than just defaulting to my current managed pension fund – I know I can get a better return on the investment.

 

From a professional perspective, my primary motivation in entering the program, however, is to update my financial skills and apply them to the international development sector, which tends to be quite traditional. In other words, overlaying the cutting-edge thinking of the private sector onto traditional development principles opens up the potential for coming up with more creative solutions to development sector issues, such as stimulating investment, responding to endemic poverty and promoting strategic partnerships between public, private and philanthropic concerns, including the involvement of civil society and NGOs.

 

While the academic qualifications are important to have, it is more important to me to update and to refine my thinking and insights in a structured manner periodically, ensuring that what is learned is practically applied and refined over time.” This investment in continuous education is serious evidence of his commitment to life-long learning. “If I could communicate one message to other professionals, it would be to never stop investing in yourself !"