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Published in Commercial Property on 21/05/2020

Lunch with Sharon Lynch Hibernia Reit


CNI Editor reports

Sharon Lynch is Property Asset Manager with Hibernia Reit where she has worked for 5 years. Currently managing one of the most exciting office portfolios in Dublin City Centre, she was previously an Associate Director at Savills.

While she says she doesn’t want to be remembered for it, Lynch has an incredibly impressive sporting career – after taking up the sport late in life she represented Ireland at international level in rugby and played at the Rugby World Cup 2014.

At the Rugby World Cup in France she scored tries and was also part of the matchday squad that became the first Irish international team to defeat New Zealand. It was only the second time that the New Zealand Silver Ferns had been defeated in a Rugby World Cup.

As self-effacing as she is successful, we talked over lunch about the parallels between sporting & business success, what drives her, and why a road trip in Ireland is her ideal holiday.

How do you start your day?

I usually try and start with the gym, especially on a Monday morning – if I can do that then my week is just a lot more productive and I am brighter and in better form.

I try to cycle into work most mornings and we are lucky enough to have a gym on site in our office in the Windmill Quarter. I try to get that in as early as I can and then I shower on site and I am usually at my desk well before 9am.

Are you from a large or small family?

I am the eldest of four and we have an older half-brother. He is living in Dublin as is my youngest brother and the other two are living in Kerry.

My parents separated when I was 16 and my father’s  partner has three children, so it is a pretty big family all things considered. When we all get together it’s a mad house!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I think I wanted to be in the army! I liked technical subjects in school and decided it would be best to go to college and get a qualification before I joined the army. Technical drawing, construction, maths – I loved every subject where there was a right answer!

When I went to college, I fell in love with the property industry so that’s how I got to be a part of this industry.

Where were you educated?

I did my primary and secondary school through Irish, and the local national school was a small one – there were just two in my class, 20 in the entire school and I had the same teacher for 8 years.

I went to the secondary school in Tralee which was through Irish as well. I did my Leaving Cert when I was just 16 so I couldn’t go to college straight away, so I took a year out and worked in a Butchers, then went to do my degree in LIT.

Have you ever had a mentor?

Lots on my sporting side of course, but professionally Pauline Brady is up there. She was probably my first real boss in the industry. I worked for Liam Carroll and Pauline was his right-hand woman.

She is a genius and with her experience and expertise she could run any business in this industry.

Her depth of knowledge is immense, but she still has such a thirst for knowledge which is always impressive to me. She is a joy to talk to – you could talk to her for hours and you would never be bored.

I’ve never had to, but I know if I ever had a problem, I could pick up the phone and give her a call.

How physically fit are you?

I always would like to be more physically fit! It goes in peaks and troughs – there are times when I am flying it and then there are other days when I find it hard to get back to it. You just have to keep showing up to training and it will get back to equilibrium over time.

I have a real desire to have another competitive outlet, doing something bigger than just showing up to training every day. I like competition and team sports are great for me because it’s easier to be accountable.

What is more important – ambition or talent?

I would like to think that it’s ambition because any sport I’ve played in, I’ve never been the most talented. I started playing rugby when I was 26 so I was at a big disadvantage compared to the girls who had been doing it since their teens.

Every time I progressed to the next level from Club to Provincial, I was always starting at the bottom rung and had to work my way up.

The winning mentality, the challenge of competitiveness and the importance of teamwork are all things that my rugby career has helped me develop and I think have helped me in my professional career.

Where in the world are you happiest?

At home in Kerry. I do love a good road trip and I love seeing new things in Ireland, for me there is no other country in the world like home. We have so many amazing experiences and businesses in Ireland and I think it’s really important to shout about that and it’s important to support local businesses and to keep Irish villages and towns open.

What would you like to own that you currently don’t?

My own business. I am very happy in my job it’s a wonderful team and a wonderful challenge, but someday I’d like to run my own business.

I’m fortunate to have my own home, but the idea of building my forever home from scratch and having input into every part of the design is something that really appeals to me.

What drives you?

Professionally I am very driven, but my overriding goal is to be happy and I think that is something everyone should aspire to.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Not rugby! I think just being a decent person. In my job I have to make difficult decisions all the time and sometimes in business you have to be very tough, but it’s done from a point of view of maximising what the business can achieve and from a position of fairness as well.

What trait do you find most irritating in other people?

A lack of empathy. You have to acknowledge that other people you work with can sometimes be going through hard times and I think you achieve so much more if the people you are working with has your back and understands that you will be fair to them.

What would 18-year-old you think of who you are now?

At 18 I had no cares in the world, so 18-year-old me probably wouldn’t be mature enough to appreciate where I am at this stage!

The people who really mattered me then – my parents – still really matter to me now and I know that they are proud of me and of my siblings, so I’m really happy about that.

I think she would be impressed that she works one of countries leading property companies (Hibernia Reit) and is involved in being a part of transforming Dublin with their everyday standards.  

What is the biggest challenge for the industry right now?

From the perspective of office development, Dublin is sprawling a little bit too much and I think we need to make Dublin a smarter, better connected city.

A lot of people who work in the city want to live in the city centre and the lack of amenities for people living in the city centre is a real problem. We need to make the city centre a good place to live to keep the city vibrant.

Check out last weeks interview with Tom Parlon, Director General, CIF