What makes me buzz is a challenge.
Growing up, I was quite a shy, middle child of five kids. I gained confidence as I got older and went off to boarding school at Loretto in Rathfarhman. It was very strict and made me quite depressed as we only got out every six weeks. However, it made me more independent and resilient in the long run.
I studied marketing and finance and was keen as mustard to go to work in my father’s veterinary pharmaceutical business but I had to go and get experience elsewhere first. I began working as a sales rep in the UK and whenever I got a door slammed in my face I saw it as a challenge. I eventually came back and joined dad’s business, an animal drugs company that also now produces a number of drugs for humans. Even now, whenever I come across a barrier, or when one of my team says there is a problem, I always say there is a way around it.
I met my husband (champion jockey AP McCoy) in Punchestown 21 years ago. I didn’t have any interest in him at first and tried to set him up with a friend but he persisted and kept asking me out. I realised I loved his company but after six months of just being friends I was still saying we need to find you a girlfriend. Then thankfully I took my mother’s advice and gave him a go as my boyfriend. The grower, is what I call him.
The best advice I ever received was that when you are building a business, it is important that you hire the right people. And, the best way to make money is to solve other peoples’ problems.
The trait I most admire in others is positivity. Negative people drive me crazy. I’m quite intolerant of bitchy or cup-half-empty people.
I’ve been married to AP for 11 years. When we started trying to conceive, what with AP being a jockey and all, he’d had so many successive hot baths, to help him lose weight — that he’d boiled all his swimmers. So we had both children by IVF. Archie is three and Eve is nine.
Over the years, I was flattered whenever I was approached with media offers to build my own profile, but I didn’t have any interest in doing so. AP’s profile and his job was so all consuming. His career was more important than mine and I accepted that. In order to sustain his success, I ran the household, so that all he had to worry about was being out there riding the horses. But when AP retired and I was asked to do Dragon’s Den, it was the right time for me to step forward. I couldn’t resist the idea of being able to help people grow their businesses.
The one thing that turns people off investing is an over confident seller. People don’t buy from people like that either. They have no likeabiltiy and come across as a bit of a pain in the arse. They think they are fantastic and that their product is fantastic. People like the underdog. So lead with humility. I always ask — can I visualise mentoring the person and having them take my opinion on board?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to face was Archie needing heart surgery when he was six months old. We were blessed to be able to afford the best medical care.
I go to Mass every other Sunday. I like being able to sit there and reflect. I do believe in an afterlife.
I never did a bit of exercise until after I had Eve but now I have to workout to stay slim. I have a trainer who comes to the house three times a week and I do yoga.
If I could be someone else for a day I’d be Michelle Obama. She is grounded and smart.
If I could change one thing in society I’d make everything recyclable so that there would be no need for landfills. Twenty years ago there were 154 landfills in Ireland and now there are only five. I’m an ambassador for The Pakman Awards, powered by Repak: the awards champion excellence in waste management and recycling.
My latest idea of bliss is trampolining with the kids.
So far, life has taught me never to judge a book by its cover.