Getting To Know You: Conor Pierce

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 Pierce tells us how how he went from selling socks on a market stall in Dublin to heading up the manufacturer’s business in the UK and Ireland

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A farmer. Whenever I can I spend time out in the West of Ireland cutting turf and fishing, which is about as much “farming” as I get to do these days.

What was your first job?
I had a stall selling socks in an outdoor market in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. I did this to help fund my Masters in International Marketing at University College Dublin. It was not the most glamourous of starts but it taught me a lot about people and more importantly how to get on with folk from all walks of life.

What made you seek a career in telecoms and where did it all begin?
As I am a bit of a self-confessed gadget geek, I always aspired to work in consumer electronics. I jumped at the opportunity to work with Ericsson as the product marketing manager in Ireland in the late 1990s. It was a great start for me in the industry, they were a good company to work for and at that time the products were sound.

What was your first-ever mobile handset; favourite all-time device, and what do you choose to use now?
My first device was a Panasonic, a great big beast of a phone – all battery and aerial! In contrast, my favourite device of all time was the stunning Nokia Sirocco 8800. Currently I am using a bright green Nokia Lumia 930 which, with Windows Phone 8.1, is a lot easier than that early Panasonic to live with.

Proudest and lowest moments in your career?
I am most proud when I see people or teams exceed their own and other’s expectations. My proudest moment was when the IDC figures showed that my Nokia UK and Ireland team had managed to secure the “tipping point” of double-digit smartphone market share in December 2013. My lowest moment was when I was working for Avaya in Saudi Arabia and a bomb exploded close to where I was working. It was the worst of times – luckily it became the catalyst for my move to join Nokia as account manager for Vodafone Ireland.

Biggest wow/innovative moment you’ve experienced?
I am fascinated by future technology and I have been lucky enough to visit our research labs where I have seen examples of technology that is five years away. It is mind-blowing what is ahead of us, which really excites me.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
An easy answer, it’s working with brilliant, passionate people who make the right things possible.

Funniest and most entertaining moment/experienced during your career?
Doing a TV interview to launch the Nokia N96 on the top of an active volcano called Mount Damavand (5,671m) in Iran. At that altitude there was very little oxygen and there were also clouds of sulphur in the air. We had to lie down on the ground in order to avoid the toxic air to complete the interview.

Who’s been your biggest inspiration/ role model during your career?
My father. I had the pleasure of working in his business¸ a hosiery factory in North Dublin called Glenross, at the start of my career where I learnt plenty. He has always been a source of inspiration and counsel during my career. He often says to me, ‘Don’t let work work on you, your job is to work on work’. In other words, live a balanced life – a lesson that I hope to learn one day (and so does my family).

If you hadn’t taken a career in mobile, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
Sales is in my blood and with marketing qualifications early on I had aspirations to build my own business. Maybe I still will do one day, after all, life is full of opportunities.

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