"I was always entrepreneurial. When I was 10 I started my own golf ball business. I grew up by Mallow Golf Club and collected and sold stray golf balls. I could collect up to 40 an hour. I’d wash and bag them and got 50p a ball, or a pound if you were an American!
"By the time I was 12, I asked my mother to drive me to Cork City. I went around all the secondhand shops until one owner agreed to pay me 20p a ball. I had thousands of them by that stage. At school, I collected the highest amount of money ever for charity and, each year at the school fete, I found I’d a knack for selling things.
"My biggest challenge was losing my father when I was 10. He died in acar accident. He was larger than life and adored by everyone. He was a successful entrepreneur and businessman and young as I was, I felt I had to take on being the man of the house as I had two sisters of 11 and 12 and a six-year-old brother. Ultimately it made me a stronger person.
"I went to college to become an economist but then turned to marketing and did a Masters in the Smurfit Business School. I adore the real principles of selling. I genuinely try to be decent and to listen to customers to find out what they need.
"My first real job was with Dairygold, but it was in accountancy. Then I moved into working in marketing, which I much prefer. I worked for the Kilkenny Design group and for the American apparel company Cutter and Buck before I took over at the Fota Island Resort, where I’ve been for 14 years.
"I was hired to create the FotaIsland Resort brand and the idea was to open five more across Europe,but then the recession hit and the company went into receivership and was eventually sold to the Chinese hotel group, Kang Family Worldwide Group, who are wonderful people to work with.
"My idea of bliss is taking on new projects. Our Christmas event at Fota is a good example of this. Every year we change it and rewrite the storyline. My idea of misery is having to repeat the same thing, day after day. That’s one of the reasons I got out of accountancy.
"My biggest weakness is that I’m not a political animal at all. If I’m your friend, I’m your friend. The thing that irritates me most about others is those who play politics, who are always trying to get one up on you. If I could change one thing in our society, I’d get us all to treat each other equally, without judgement. If I could be someone else for a dayI’d be David Attenborough. I love wildlife and nature.
"I’m quite a Doubting Thomas. I like to have a lot of evidence and facts,as opposed to taking things on faith. I’m on the fence about whether or not there is an afterlife. I’m not particularly religious. But, I suppose I do believe in fate. I first met my wife Gillian when I began lecturing in UCC over 15 years ago.
"She was one of my students. She always has my back, she doesn’t have to understand all the ins and out of my job, but I always feel she is there to support me. I used to get nervous about speaking in public until I began lecturing. Now, I love it. My advice is to always be prepared. Once you know your subject, you will be fine.
"So far life has taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with happy people."
Seamus Leahy is director of Marketing at The Fota Collection