Marie Herlihy

Principal Executive Search Recruiter, HubSpot

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were you, who were you with and what were you doing?

I was lucky to grow up on a farm in Kerry on the south-west coast of Ireland. Some of my happiest memories are of long sunny days running around the fields and camping in hay-bale dens with my siblings and best friend. I feel blessed to have grown up in such a beautiful part of the world.

2. When did you first stand up to your parents… what was the issue and...were you right?

20 years ago, at the ripe age of 15! My parents told me I wasn’t allowed to get a mobile phone, they felt I was too young. But I was determined to get one so I could text a boy! I went against their wishes and bought a Nokia 3210 anyway with money earned from my part-time job.

Yes, I still believe I was right – not having a mobile would have really isolated me socially. But I also recognise that my parents’ intent was positive and came from a place of love, they were just trying to protect me.

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

In the past 2 years I’ve started practicing better self-care. I had got into some pretty unsustainable habits when it came to work-life balance, which weren’t serving me, either in my career or personal life. Nowadays, if I get the urge to work on a Sunday – to “get ahead of the week” – I instead prioritise doing other things that aren’t work but which still help set me up for success the next day e.g. laundry, the food shop, cleaning the house etc. Now that I’m working from home because of Covid, I try to be disciplined around leaving the house everyday – I live near the seafront which I’m so grateful for. The sea brings me calm and perspective.

4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

Unsung Hero by Michael Smith – a true story about an Antarctic explorer from Kerry – Tom Crean, he was on the Shackleton expedition. It’s a gripping tale of resilience, bravery and survival in the face of impossible odds but also humility – which I feel has become an increasingly rare trait.

The Governor by John Lonergan – this book are reflections of John Lonergan, who ran Ireland’s largest prison for many years. He emphasises the need for kindness and compassion in how we treat everyone – including those in the prison system. He also shines a light on the heart-breaking cycle of deprivation which leads to generations of the same families coming through a prison system which ultimately fails them.

Asking for It by Louise O’Neill – a fictional story of rape and public slut shaming which draws loose inspiration from several high-profile cases in Ireland and how female victims were treated by their friends, the community and loved ones. It is heartbreakingly well written and will prompt debate irrespective of your gender.

5. If you wrote a ‘user manual’ for how people should interact with you, what would be the most important point in the manual?

Demonstrate humility, respect and compassion for everyone – irrespective of your or their position, social status, job level, skin colour, gender, ethnic background or class.

6. What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?

Poor timekeeping (outside of work of course!) with friends and family. I am an abysmal time-keeper. Even when I set aside extra time to avoid this, something invariably happens which still makes me late. Thankfully it no longer gets me in any real trouble. Those that know me well have learnt to suggest a start time of at least 20 minutes before they actually expect me to show up!

7. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/how did you learn?

I felt like an outsider at my last in person yoga class back in January 2020. Every few years I resolve to make exercise classes and the gym part of my routine – but the truth is I hate every minute of the experience. Group exercise makes me feel self-conscious, out of place and uncoordinated.

I have finally accepted that I’m never going to be a gym bunny, and that’s okay. I cycle everywhere and get out for walks every day. Hence, I still consider myself to be quite an active, healthy person which is what’s most important in my book.

8. What is that thing which is OK to ask you about, but which other people are wary to do so?

Today’s relentless focus on sending everyone to university – regardless of alignment with their career or life aspirations. School leavers are fed a toxic narrative – that’s going to university is the “best, most desirable” path, and that other avenues are barely, (if even) worth consideration to “succeed” in life. This isn’t okay. I wrote an article on this topic a while back which you can view here.  It feeds into a wider societal lack of respect, dignity and regard for those that work in the caring industry, trade professionals, service workers etc. David Goodhart has written a fantastic book on this topic – “Head, Hand Heart – The Struggle for Dignity & Status in the 21st Century” which is well worth a read.

In the future I think requesting university degrees for roles that simply don’t require them will become less acceptable. Companies like Google and Salesforce are starting to move the needle by offering low cost online training courses for job seekers that help them meet basic requirements for roles.  This democratisation of access to online education will help change things and I welcome that.  Education is important but a degree is only one very narrow aspect of what it means to be educated.

9. What app or tech product have you most recently fallen in love with?

TikTok – it’s so addictive and very easy to lose an hour (or two) on there! It’s given me so many laughs during lockdown(s) and is a tonic for these tough times.

10. What’s the last image on your camera roll? Care to explain?

My new kitten and housemate – Liath! Anyone that knows me will have heard me bleating on about getting a cat the past few years. Shortly before Christmas I finally took the plunge. She is a little angel and brings me so much joy!

11. If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?

It would be full of wood, stone-work, and open fires – with lots of little snugs for a cosy drink. The vibe would be traditional Irish pub – similar to Dick Mack’s in Dingle or Sean Óg’s in Tralee, two pubs that I love in Kerry.

12. Aside from family & friends, if you could invite any 3 people - living or dead - to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?

Tommy Tiernan – my favourite comedian. If it’s my final dinner party I want to have a laugh.

Damien Dempsey – (my favourite Irish musician), so we could have a sing song after!

Shani Silver – a podcaster and writer based in New York who does great work helping women re-frame their mindset on life and relationships. She is an incredibly interesting, thought provoking person but also sounds like she’d be a bit of craic!

13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?

The talent business is all about relationships – prioritise building and nurturing strong relationships at all levels and you will go far. This includes relationships with peers, cross functional business partners, admin teams etc – which I feel can get deprioritised sometimes. Hiring leader relationships will help you grow and are certainly important, but strong relationships within your own team and across other support functions are key to drive bigger impact.

14. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?

Staying in some of my previous roles too long after my learning plateaued. Its human nature to stick with what feels safe and comfortable but it’s a dead end. My mantra now is “get comfortable being uncomfortable” – that’s how you grow.

15. What’s the one bad quality you wouldn’t mind in a colleague? Why?

Hastiness. Many of us in this industry (myself included) tend to have a bias towards haste at times. I personally empathise with hastiness due to the pressure recruiters often experience to fill seats yesterday. The intent behind haste is usually positive and a sense of urgency is important in our profession.

However, as Becky McCullough (VP of Recruiting) here at HubSpot recently reminded our team: “Two things can be true at the same time – and be a paradox”. Haste can be positive in some contexts but doesn’t always lead to the best or most inclusive business and societal outcomes. I address this by actively supporting and helping my colleagues to step back and see the bigger picture and they do likewise for me.

16. Have you ever been the weakest member of a team? How did you handle it?

When the 2008 financial crisis hit, I was still a relatively new graduate consultant at Page Group in London. The collapse of Lehman Brother’s hit the financial services division – where I worked – pretty hard and I was moved to a business development role. Despite consistently exceeding activity targets, my efforts weren’t converting to placements. For over 6 months, I didn’t generate a penny of revenue for the business.

I’d be lying if I said I handled it maturely. I was in my early twenties at the time with a lot of growing up still to do. Thankfully my superiors – Simon Lindrea and Tom Smith – were very supportive. White wine also helped! I kept plugging away and in time the billings came. I learned so much during that time about resilience, persistence, listening and the importance of asking the right questions.

17. Name one person from your professional life who has had an extraordinary impact on your career. What did they do and what did you learn from that person?

Mona Elsamahy, my manager when I worked at LinkedIn. Mona is a master at reading a room. She has helped me develop my emotional intelligence and become more attentive beyond the words being said in the room, to the dynamics at play beneath the surface.

18. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?

No, just consistent hard work and always striving to go the extra mile. I think the old saying that success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration is very true. I also believe a growth mindset and appetite for learning new things is critical. In 2018, I attended a compelling talk by Kelly Monahan, who at the time led The Future of Work initiative at Deloitte. She shared a statistic about how 65% of current students will one day end up in jobs that don’t exist yet. Her message was stark, those that don’t prioritise continuous learning will get left behind in the future of work. This was an important aha moment and wake up call for me.

19. If you could add a question for the next person to answer, what would it be?

What drives and inspires you to continue working in the talent industry – what are you in it for?

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Jeanine Francis. Jeanine leads Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging for LinkedIn across EMEA and LATAM. She is also a member of HubSpot’s Black Advisory Board. Jeanine is an absolute gem in the diversity and inclusion space – she has a real depth of experience and expertise in this area, from long before it came into more recent mainstream focus. Her stories and perspectives from the many industries she’s worked in – the public sector, financial services, retail and now tech – are so valuable. I’m recommending her because she is a leading voice that more people in our industry need to hear from and listen to.

Thank you to Marie Herlihy for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune.

Read more stories from the Brainfood community...

Previous Next
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this