All-Ireland joy for high-tech ‘solutions focused’ company

Marie Clifford is managing director of Smithstown firm Advanced Technical Concepts, a company founded by her father Noel in 1993

Tell us a little about Advanced Technical Concepts

We are a solution focused company, particularly in the supply chain, and engineering domains. We work on a business-to-business basis essentially, in particular with a lot of medium to large sized companies including a lot of the multi-nationals, across a wide variety of sectors. We are based in Smithstown, but we also have a facility in Drombanna. In total, we would employ approximately 30 people.

What does your role entail?

I am the managing director, and it was actually my father Noel who founded the business back in 1993. My role is really to get the best out of our team, supporting them so they can do their job every day and get the best out of their own team.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in Shannon. Now I live just outside Ennis.

What is your educational background?

I completed an arts degree at the University of Limerick, with a lot of it abroad, going to Germany for Erasmus, where I went again for my work experience. Then I stayed in Germany for a while before moving to Strasbourg in France. I was based near Düsseldorf.

How did you get to where you are today?

After I graduated, I got a job with the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg, France. I worked there for around 13 years before returning to Ireland in November 2008. My dad’s health was not great. But I also wanted a new challenge. Little did I know what I was getting into! Obviously when I came back, everything was going south, economy-wise, so it was a difficult time. I took over the reigns as MD at Advanced Technical Concepts in April 2010. The focus was on surviving the recession – there was a lot of firefighting at the time. Then I went back to do an MBA in around 2015, completing this in 2017. Since then, my focus has been on getting the right team on board and growing our business.

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What made you join Advanced Technical Concepts?

I’d been with the European Science Foundation for around 13 years and I wanted a new challenge. I had been given an opportunity to come in and make a real impact. So that was enticing. I felt it would be good to try it out to see what I could add.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

It’s to continue to scale up and grow the business. We have a target we want to reach by 2025. A lot of what we want to do over the next 12 months would be getting the right systems and processes in place and support our team to be able to deliver on that.

In business and life, who do you look up to?

I would say my own father Noel. It is always very courageous to start your own business. Another person I admire is Warren Buffett.

His humility and way of letting his people get on with what they do best while also supporting them, I think that is a great way to lead.

Are you guided by any particular motto?

I don’t have any one motto. I would have different mottos at different times depending on what is going on. But I’d probably come back to one or two. That would be, if you do your best and have the right intent, then things should work out. That’s all you can do, is your best at a particular point in time, your best.

Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?

I love reading and walking, and being with friends and family. I have two teenage girls, so most of my time is spent taxi-ing and helping them to pursue their own passions for the next couple of years while they are still with me.

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