Her first form of work (“cheap labour”) was mucking in with the multiple tasks needed to keep the farm ticking over. She had no ambition to carry on like that indefinitely. Her academic interests at school led her in the direction of maths and to accountancy. She went on to read a BSc in Management at Trinity College, Dublin. The capital was a world away from her seaboard existence in the south-west of the country.
The late 1980s were, though, not the best time to be graduating. The bright, young things of that era frequently headed to London. Maeve did the same, even though she had barely visited the place before, never mind stayed there.
She did at least have the advantage of having made one crucial career decision already. She was sure that she did not want to be employed at one of the mega-accounting firms and disappear into audit. She wanted direct experience on the front-line of a company. Her port of call was Goldcrest Films as an accountant. The sector sounds cool and hip and to a considerable extent it was but that was not the only appeal of the role to her. The business was undertaking an MBO which was a fascinating experience to witness. It was very hands-on with, for an entry-level position, unusual exposure to cashflow operations and a direct line to the Finance Director. Intellectual Property was also central to the firm which would prove valuable when she switched into the technology space and software.
Which would prove, albeit somewhat accidentally, to be transformative. Maeve was encouraged to take on a project (introducing a new reporting system) which would involve a month in Paris then a month in Tokyo (an experience akin to that of “Lost in Translation”) and finally a month in Sydney.
A funny thing happened to those four weeks Down Under. They proved to have an elastic quality to them. She was asked to stay on for an extra six months, which she was very happy to do, a tenure which would be extended and extended and extended. She was appointed as the Finance Director of that subsidiary of the firm and without it being planned those four weeks morphed into five years.
Becoming an associate Australian was the most significant step-change in Maeve’s career and life. Australian corporate culture was extremely direct and there were also fewer internal barriers or boundaries. She acquired a host of willing mentors (including the original FD) and became involved in the commercial side of the company as well as its numbers. She also obtained insight in how to develop teams amidst a “work hard, play hard” approach to matters. As appropriate for someone who had landed as she had done, the Great Outdoors often beckoned.
The party came to an end when she was reassigned to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a six-month tour of duty. The Mid-West of the United States in Winter is not the place to attend beach parties. Just venturing out was an ordeal to be limited. An opening back in London would be her escape route.
She started out as the Vice President Finance of ATG (Art Technology Group) with responsibility for the entire EMEA region but reporting to a CFO based in the United States. It was an innovative software company who’s platform was an enabler of the e-commerce and dot-com boom (and bust). So a real rollercoaster of a journey with a lot of lessons on growing fast and the challenges of making changes when you get ahead of the growth. It was an immensely enjoyable time and a learning experience. With several scale backs though the EMEA role was no longer a challenge so Maeve looked for a European business to be the lead finance rather than just divisional.
So she joined Be Unlimited where she would have the full CFO role of a broadband start-up who were rolling out the fastest internet in the UK in 2006. It had charismatic founders with a record of serial entrepreneurship. It was burning cash in the manner of an arsonist as it acquired assets and customers. It was clearly either going to be a tremendous success or it would run out of runway. On the basis that the former was the more likely outcome, O2 swooped for it in a trade sale. With the sense that she had not been at a start-up for long enough (and still allergic to massive firms), it was time to find something else to get her hands dirty with (a mindset born of the farm possibly).
That would be Quiet Revolution, a clean-tech enterprise focused on small-scale wind turbines. This was a step away from the technology with which she was familiar. Although a knowledge of wind learned through sailing smoothed the education required in part, this was definitely an area “outside of my comfort zone”. The business ended up fundraising in 2008 (not a wonderful year for shaking the can by its end). The decision was made to align with a strategic investor (a large German utility firm) in the hope that it would bring something additional to the table besides the money.
Much change ensued: The original CEO and then their successor left, and she ran the business as the interim CEO but with no intention of remaining in that place as she wanted to return to software.
The wonder that is network then rode to the rescue. A former colleague at ATG contacted her and alerted her to an opportunity with Zendesk, exactly the right sort of software company for her. It then had 150 employees worldwide but was growing exponentially. She would be the VP Finance for EMEA and have a ringside seat at the circus. This booming business was to be the subject of an IPO in 2014 and head its way towards almost 6,000 employees as of today. After five years, however, it was time to think again.
The next shift would, as fate conspired to have it, be essentially a detour. Maeve became the VP Finance for Messagebird, a soaring software firm, which meant relocating to The Netherlands. Not long after she arrived, she had a serious health scare and needed to concentrate on her treatment and then her recovery. Work took second place as she took time out to re-establish her own well-being and then to think about what to do thereafter.
Which is how she has come to be where she is now, the CFO of Glofox. An Irish startup Glofox provides an all in one software solution built to drive success in fitness businesses of any size, anywhere in the world.
Maeve signed up in November 2020 with Glofox when its customers were overwhelmed by Covid-19. The company had quickly pivoted to remote working for its staff and enabled online delivery for its customers to continue to connect with their members. Serving as CFO during the stop-start of 2020-2021 was hard and there were stretches when business was frozen. A ground-breaking new CRM platform for gyms was of little use if no one was in the changing rooms.
The bounce back in 2022 has been spectacular. The strength of demand this year stimulated the firm to seek a Series B round of fundraising which in turn actually led to its acquisition by ABC Fitness Solutions (ABC), a leading, larger American provider of gym management and fitness software. One of the fastest-growing fitness management platforms, Glofox continues its growth servicing the boutique gym and studio sector within ABC.
This is a CFO who knows what she is good at, what gets her up each day and where she is going. Her corporate DNA is solidly in software. This could now be spotted all the way from Fastnet Lighthouse.