Anyone with even the most basic business acumen will appreciate the power and value of a strong network. But despite his illustrious career in finance, even Ronan Shally was a bit surprised by the series of events resulting from a chance email to a former colleague back in 2014.
Ronan had just spent 11 years in the Channel Islands working on the administration of offshore investment fund structures. He’d spent seven of those in the private equity space at the Aztec Group.
By 2014, he was looking for a new challenge back in his native Ireland.
“It was obviously a shot in the dark motivated by my desire to explore all options. But I figured I had nothing to lose so I fired off an email to a former colleague at Aztec, asking if any of their clients were looking for an accountant with a skillset that matched mine.”
The recipient of that email had no immediate ideas, but he did know of a colleague in London who had met with Highland Europe a few days earlier. Promptly that person offered to connect Ronan to Laurence Garrett.
A cordial exchange between Ronan and Laurence ensued. Laurence was forthcoming about the fact that Highland wasn’t immediately looking to hire, but encouraged Ronan to stay in touch and drop by the London offices when he was next in town.
At this point, Ronan recalls relying on instinct. “Laurence had of course been very open and honest about Highland’s situation, but I decided to make a trip to London regardless, just to see what would happen.” It proved to be absolutely the right choice.
Just a few months later, after a series of successful interviews and lunches with Laurence and several other members of the team, Ronan was appointed chief financial officer, at a pivotal and exciting time for Highland Europe.
While serendipity certainly played a role in Ronan joining the team, his success at Highland so far is attributable to far more than just luck. Ronan shares the same passions as Laurence and the other partners: he’s committed to a strong culture of collaboration and openness, and is excited by the challenges as much as he is by the opportunities that lie ahead.
“I’ve been able to bring a vast amount of experience and knowledge to the role, but I’m constantly learning too and that’s what really keeps me on my toes,” he says.
“It just goes to show that a small decision, like writing a spontaneous email, really can lead to great things. Perhaps that’s something we should all take to heart.”