The Changemakers: Sinéad McSweeney (MD at Twitter Ireland) on respect and taking risks
In this month’s issue of IMAGE magazine, Orla Neligan talked to the Irish women who are making a big impact in their respective fields.
Managing director, Twitter Ireland
What’s the difference between a good leader and a transformational one? Vision, integrity, respect, empathy, and the ability to take risks and remain curious. Having advised two attorney generals, headed communications for the PSNI and the Garda Síochána, Sinéad McSweeney is well versed in solution-based thinking. Since taking the helm at Twitter Ireland, the forward-thinking MD has been committed to progress, as always, propelled by her idealism and belief in the power of imagination and change.
Photo credit: Barry McCall
“In forensics, there is a principle that ‘every contact leaves a trace’, the same is true of the impact we have on others. We are all agents of change, the question is whether we change the circumstances and people around us for good or bad.”
Her decision to ban smartphones and laptops in meetings is part of her philosophy of “resilience and respect”. She believes that, whilst technology is wonderful, meetings are about creativity, self-expression and human contact.
What do you fear the most?
“The absence of hope.”
Respecting people’s whole lives, not just their work life, is a fundamental part of the culture she’s trying to create at Twitter. The result is a more productive office and workforce. Her advice for anyone trying to instigate change or challenge injustice? “Spend time trying to understand whose minds you are trying to change and what they believe. Open the dialogue rather than force the debate,” a premise that echoes the theme of her TED Talk, which embodies that notion of “growth”.
“We are never finished learning – a day without learning is a day not living life to the full.” Success, she says, is not about a title, but knowing that you are being the best version of yourself through constant development. If she had to choose how she’d like to be remembered, it’s as someone who “cared, listened and acted”.
Of that, we have no doubt.
What does success mean to you?
“Securing high office or a promotion is worthless if in doing so you have impeded, hurt or damaged the health, wellbeing or potential of others. The how is always more important than the what.”