Insight: Fintan McGovern

NDRC's Helen Fullen spoke to Fintan McGovern, former CEO of Firmwave, about his views on business.

Fintan McGovern, is a former CEO and co-founder of Firmwave. Firmwave was acquired by TaoGlas in 2019. McGovern served in the Irish Defence Forces as an Army Officer for 15 years, with overseas service in Kosovo and Chad. Since retiring form the military, he served in senior executive roles in telecommunications, mining and technology in UK, Africa and the Caribbean. Fintan holds several non-executive directorships of technology companies. He is also a founding director of Cavan Digital Hub. Fintan holds an MBA (2012) from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Business Studies (2004) from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. In October 2019, Fintan graduated from the prestigious ‘advanced management and leadership programme’ at the Said Business School, University of Oxford. Fintan is a former inter-county Gaelic footballer and has represented his county, Cavan, at all levels.

Why do you support The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition?

The Ireland Funds Business Plan competition is a great way for entrepreneurs to go through the process of preparing a business pitch and delivering on that pitch to secure funding form the Ireland Funds for their business/enterprise. It is my way of giving back by being part of the Ireland Funds and imparting my knowledge as part of the competition.

What are three books that have greatly influenced your life?

  • The Star of the Sea- Joseph O’Connor
  • The Ascent of Money- Niall Ferguson
  • Shoe Dog – Phil Knight

What purchase of €100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?

Life coach lessons to reflect on the journey so far.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

I didn’t pass the Special Forces Selection Course in the Irish Defence Forces, thus I ended moving into a life in Business. That moment in 2008 was my ‘red line’ moment.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

Carpe Diem- Seize the day

“Bounce back, be resilient, tomorrow will be better than today!

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

My MBA at UCD Michael Smurfit School of Business and undertaking the Advanced Management and Leadership Programme at the Said Business School, University of Oxford in 2019.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Bloomberg Channel

Financial Times Weekend Newspaper.

In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

Keep negativity and negative people out.

Be kind to people.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”?

Listen to the elders and learn from their life experience.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

As an entrepreneur I hear a lot of investment advice, right now with business models so different and so many new business springing up, sometimes the advice given is not really applicable to that new business. Entrepreneurs must find a way to be able to communicate effectively.

In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to?

Meetings where there is no outcomes and there must be an agenda, however simple it is, it helps use the time well. A cup of coffee with a new acquaintance is never wasted though as there will always be a two exchange of information and both parties will always learn something new.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

I think back to really difficult challenges in my life and remind myself that I will get through the next stage!