Insight: Fintan McGovern

NDRC's Helen Fullen spoke to Fintan McGovern, founder of Firmwave and supporter of The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2019.

Fintan McGovern is a director, founder and former CEO of Firmwave, an Irish technology company that has successfully scaled and built teams in Ireland, Poland and USA. Fintan is a former Irish army officer and has served overseas in Kosovo, Chad and the Central African Republic.

After a career in the Irish Defence Forces, Fintan worked in Mozambique for Kenmare Resources and in the Caribbean for Digicel. Fintan holds an MBA from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business and a bachelor of business studies from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

Fintan will attend the advanced management and leadership programme at the Oxford Saïd Business School later this year. A former inter-county Gaelic footballer, Fintan has represented Cavan at all levels. Fintan has been a member of The Ireland Funds Young Leaders since 2013.

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 from 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 and 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 coaching lessons to reflect on the journey so far.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a 'favourite failure' of yours?

I didn’t pass the special forces selection course in the Irish Defence Forces, thus I ended up 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 — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — 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.

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

The Bloomberg Channel and The 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.

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 businesses 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? What new realisations and/or approaches helped?

Meetings where there are no outcomes. There must be an agenda, however simple it is. It helps to use the time well.

A cup of coffee with a new acquaintance is never wasted though, as there will always be a two-way 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!