Colin Delaney, chief executive of Easytrip Picture: Fergal Phillips
Published Apr 23, 2017: Each week, we profile one of Ireland’s corporate leaders, tracing their career to date. This week, we meet Colin Delaney of Easytrip
Colin Delaney is chief executive of Easytrip, which was established in Dublin in 2005. Trading as Etrip, the company was the first independent provider of electronic tolling payment services in Ireland.
In 2008, it acquired Eazypass from the National Toll Roads, rebranding as Easytrip the following year. It has revenues of about €6.5 million, 30 staff and 220,000 customers.
Tell us about your career to date.
I hold a Master’s in business administration, a BSc in business and IT from Trinity College, and a postgraduate diploma in management strategy from the Irish Management Institute.
My early career was in IT, building and maintaining computer networks before moving into product development.
I discovered skills and a passion for commercial business, which is where my career has developed. I spent more than ten years at an Irish electronic payments business called Payzone, where everything was possible and boundaries were pushed, driving years of growth.
I subsequently joined MasterCard Payment Gateway Services (previously DataCash) where I was director of international business development for more than four years, working global markets.
In 2014 I joined Easytrip, a company with over 150,000 Irish customers at that time, a company representing enormous opportunity for growth.
Are you where you expected to be in your career?
We live life forward and understand it backwards. Careers are the same. Career plans typically evaporate during your early working years and it is difficult to know where any job will take you. Most companies are in a constant state of change and you must be, to succeed in competitive environments.
I’m perpetually driven to improve performance and operate where real change is possible. I have been particularly fortunate to have worked in exciting and rewarding industries, experienced diverse cultures and learnt from incredible leaders.
What was the best career advice you got along the way?
Early in my management career, I was introduced to the work of former GE executive Jack Welch. He stated that “when you become a leader, success is all about growing others” and this remained with me, particularly in recent years.
It taught me to use every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate and build self-confidence in my teams. Make sure people see and live the company vision.
Relentlessly promote candour, transparency and credit to establish trust. Probe and push, making sure each question is answered with action. Inspire learning and expand boundaries by setting the example.
Based on your own experience, what are your top career tips?
Exceed expectations. Deliver sensational performance far beyond expectations. Expand your role’s horizons to include bold and unexpected activities. Develop new concepts that don’t just improve your results but your department’s results and the company’s overall performance.
Change your job in a way that makes the people around you work better. Avoid predictablility, and at every opportunity expand your role beyond official boundaries.
Live your company’s values and behaviours. Cultural fit is important to success, generating energy and optimism. Champion your company’s major projects early. Push yourself and the company forward so everyone wins.
Begin with the end in mind. While career plans change, it’s important to have direction. Spend time working out your purpose in life and regularly review whether you are achieving this.
Seek out mentors. They will make you better, stronger. Look for shared sensibilities, those who will cheer you on and challenge you in equal measure, encouraging you to be the best version of yourself. Mentors can be young, old, specialists in particular fields, each with something valuable you can learn. Mentors are everywhere.
Hire the best. Invest heavily in hiring really strong people. Pay well, challenge and reward.
Spread positivity. Success is so much about attitude. If it’s not natural for you, fight to find it and wear it. When setbacks occur, work through them with your head high. Wellbeing is so important. To get ahead, you have to want to get ahead.
Constantly develop your skills through learning at work and outside of work.
How would you define your work style, and how has this evolved over the years?
I’m very results-orientated, analytical and adaptive. Positive and approachable, I’m a strong advocate of collaboration and regular communication to achieve the best results.
I promulgate meritocracy throughout Easytrip, building and rewarding winning teams. I’m a proponent of candour and I value my colleagues’ time, continuously seeking to eliminate bureaucracy, which results in smarter ideas, full engagement and faster action.
In terms of managing teams and individuals, what are your insights?
It’s important to adopt one’s style to the situation at hand. New teams and individuals need instructive, strong leadership. As expertise levels rise, you must increase coaching and motivational support to reaffirm commitment levels.
Delegate appropriately and communicate regularly to ensure clearly defined agreed targets are achieved. Surround yourself with authentic, smart, resilient people who will positively challenge and drive the company forward.
What about communication and negotiating the typical ups and downs of working life?
It’s vital to develop organisational structures with clear reporting relationships and responsibilities. Communicate often with energy and passion. Ensure everyone in your organisation can reach you. Reinforce your mission at every opportunity, with every new project, and provide regular business performance updates. Encourage creativity, innovation, strategic thinking and purpose. Celebrate wins, rewarding colleagues through praise, recognition and performance-related bonuses.
Tight controls with good internal processes, supported by a culture of integrity, are invaluable for negotiating working life.
Has networking played an important part in your career?
Networking has been important in my career. We are social species and networking builds social capital which in turn has a positive impact on careers and the environment around us.
My advice would be to reach out to people you admire and with whom relationships may prove to be mutually beneficial.
Ireland is such a small business market and globally there’s no more than three degrees of separation using online social networks. Get out and engage. Attend events, join groups and show honest appreciation of others. Don’t dive in with the hard sell. Take time to cultivate deep networks, building on trust and cooperation.
If you had to choose another career tomorrow, what would it be and why?
I’m happiest helping businesses and people grow. Another career would have to provide these opportunities, the work content must be meaningful, challenging and fun. I gravitate towards growth industries with a future, where evolving technologies and changing consumer habits have the potential to create significant positive disruption.
I’ve been given opportunities and tasted success across the world, working with indigenous Irish businesses and large multinationals. If I had to choose another career, it would be good to share the knowledge I’ve accumulated in a consultative capacity with organisations seeking a competitive edge.