Jacqueline reveals to IIBN that O’Donovan Waste Disposal is a multi-award winning, family-run waste management business with over 60 years’ experience in the industry, recycling 100% of the waste we process and delivering an efficient, compliant and first-class service to our valued clients.

Our business actually crosses over a number of different sectors as not only are we operating in the waste sector, servicing our clients in the construction and demolition industries, we also operate a fleet of 95 HGVs so we are also in the transport and logistics sector.  It all makes for a varied and interesting working life as you have to be fully versed in the legislation and regulations that apply to each industry.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

Safe working practices are part of the culture at O’Donovan, so as soon as you join the team, it becomes apparent very quickly that this ethic is as much a part of the role as any of the employee’s duties.  I am a real advocate for training  My main priorities are to ensure our clients are getting a first rate service and my team are operating in a safe and compliant way.  We have 165 staff including 95 HGV Drivers that are trained to the highest level, as the safety of our team and those around them is of paramount importance.  It is vital that everyone understands and takes ownership  of the part they play in the safety of all.

What are your biggest challenges?

My personal challenges are few thankfully but the main one would be time – or lack of it.  I would love to have more time to work on all the plans and ideas that I have as well as managing to do all I do at the moment. I sit on a good number of boards and committees and whilst it is important to be involved in change and innovation at an industry level, that does take up a lot of the time away from our day to day business.  It is a real juggling act but I love it.

What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

In recent times, the biggest major industry challenge has been BREXIT and the ambiguous atmosphere it has produced.  A lot of the larger construction projects have been on hold or investors are just holding off to see what will happen in the future.

In relation to our own sector the skills shortage and the lack of HGV drivers has been tricky but luckily, we attract a lot of applicants due to our reputation and the awards we have won.  We have a reputation as an employer of choice due to our dedication to training and staff welfare so that helps us to be first choice for a lot of candidates looking to move in the sector.

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

In general, I would like to see a greater focus towards more reusable materials being utilized in building projects at the outset and with sustainability also firmly in mind for the end of life.  There is still so much material being used in building that is not sustainable so when 30 years has passed, we will have plastic waste to deal with even then.

There also needs to be more common sense applied to the waste sector as it is bogged down in a lot of pointless regulations and legislation that is out of date and of no benefit.  There needs to be more collaboration between business and government to drive the sector forward and have a clear vision for the future.

How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

My strategy developed very quickly as it was a shock to the industry.  Having been through two recessions already, it was a case of battening down the hatches and all unnecessary spend was immediately cut.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

I define success in different ways. At work, it is having a clear picture of what we, as a family business, want to achieve; be it growth or innovation etc. and taking the steps to tackle that challenge is what drives me on.  And it is not only my effort, but the work of my team also – so in order for us to be considered successful, the team and myself included, need to achieve both our individual and our team goals.

Another thing that drives me on is my aspiration to improve the status of the industry as the waste sector has had a bad reputation and is seen as low hanging fruit when actually it is a huge contributor to the infrastructure and economy.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

It is very simple and something my father taught me well – listen.  So my advice to anyone else is  just that – listen and never presume that you can’t learn something from others.  The day you think you know it all is the day you stop growing and learning.  Also, just have confidence and believe in your capabilities and follow your instincts.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

We are celebrating 60 years since our late father started out on his own business journey so there have been plenty highlights this year to celebrate and remember him including donating to various heart-health centered charities and having the library in the London Irish Centre named after him as well as a room in the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith.

Another huge highlight was winning the Urban Delivery Operators of the Year at the Motor Transport Awards.  They are known as the ‘Oscars’ of the industry and despite really stiff competition from the likes of DPD to name just one, we took home the prestigious award.  We were absolutely delighted with that!

What’s next for your company?

We are continuing to grow organically all the time and that is down to our hard work and reliability.  We will also continue to focus on our contribution to cleaner air operations and there are exciting plans to introduce robotics down the line.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

We will maintain our work to improve the industry and share knowledge with our colleagues across the sector in a bid to encourage safe working practices and of course as a business, we want to continue to be a premier waste management company, operating at the highest level for our clients.

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