Name: Marie Walsh
Lives: Kilnamartyra, Macroom
Job Title: Operations Manager at Cronin’s Centra and Cronin’s Home Value Hardware, West Cork
Salary Bracket: €45,000 - €50,000
Education Background: Completed Second Level.
Hobbies: Love to go on walks with beautiful scenery. Enjoy doing FIT classes.
Describe your job in five words: Fast- paced, customer-focused, fun, exciting and rewarding.
Describe yourself in five words: Hard working, positive, motivational, responsible, successful.
How long are you doing this job? I started working at Cronin’s Centra, Ballylickey, 10 years ago and I am now the Operations Manager of the Cronin Centra group, overseeing operations at three stores in West Cork (Ballylickey, Leap and Union Hall).
What personality do you need for this job? You need to have a variety of personalities for this job for example….
Openness: learning new things and new ideas.
Positive: to help motivate your team
Friendly: to all your customers.
Competent: getting the job done.
How did you get this job? Although I was offered my first choice in college, I just knew college wasn’t for me. After my Leaving Cert, I got a job working in the bank but I was also working part-time with my sister Gillian, who ran a shop at the time. I really enjoyed the shop work and continued to grow my skills there.
My contract in the bank was up for renewal and around the same time, my sister’s business was expanding to a new store in Bantry. She gave me the opportunity to run the new shop there and I jumped at the chance. I gave up my pensionable job at the bank.
I spent eight years running that with my sister, unfortunately, it closed in October, 2011, and I was made redundant.
Three weeks later, I received a call from Keith Cronin from Cronin’s in Ballylickey, Bantry, to ask if I was interested in joining their team. After a successful interview, I started work with the Cronin’s family business the next week. I was hired as store manager.
Coming into a family business can sometimes be a challenge as you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Keith is the 4th generation of his family to be involved in this family-run business, so the Cronins know how to do business. But I must say, I’ve always had great support from all of the Cronin family, as we were all vying for the same thing. The success of the business.
Keith and I work very well together, as we are both straight talking and if I didn’t like something he was doing I would say it and vice versa.
The store in Ballylickey expanded over the years and moved to the Centra brand in 2014. Keith expanded the business further in 2019 when he purchased another store in Leap. At this point, I took on the role of Operations Manager to oversee operations at both stores. I jumped at the opportunity for a new challenge.
Earlier this year, the Cronin group expanded further with the addition of the Centra store in Union Hall. I now run the operations of the three stores with the help of an amazing team.
Do you need a qualification for this job?
Qualifications in business are always beneficial but I don’t have one so the answer is no. Hard work and dedication is what you need here.
How many hours a week do you work? 45-50 hours a week.
What do you wear to work? I wear the Centra uniform to work, which is black trousers, shirt and a black fleece.
Describe a day at work: I leave home at 5am as I live about an hour from Leap and Union Hall which is my base. I start at the Leap store and check in with the manager Kornelia to see how everything is running. We discuss any issues and go through plans for the week.
I will catch up on emails and paperwork and balance the cash. I will then give a buzz to Kathleen, manager at the Ballylickey store, to see how they are getting on and if they need any help.
I will then go to the store at Union Hall and catch up with Mike and Chris there. Again, I go through the process of paperwork, emails and balancing the tills. I will always walk through the shops to see how it is set up, is it tidy? Are there any hazards? Or to look for opportunities to improve the customer experience.
All this can change in a second if a staff member calls in sick and then I may have to cover tills or deli, or if there is a big delivery I’m packing stock for the day, but I will still need to catch up on the back office work at some stage.
I will have a call daily with Keith, its important to keep him updated on what’s happening in all three stores. No two days are the same for me, which is a lot of the reason I love my job.
Is your industry male or female dominated? The management industry in retail is mainly male dominated but females are definitely making more of an appearance which is great to see. I welcome the shift to see more female managers.
Does this affect you in any particular way? It doesn’t affect me but when I started out in the job, when someone would come into the store and look for the manager and I would say “that’s me”, you could tell they didn’t believe in me. If you are good at what you do, then it doesn’t matter if you are male or female.
Is your job stressful? No is my answer as I enjoy doing the job I do.
Do you work on your own or part of a team? I work as part of a large team. There are 30 employees in Centra Ballylickey, 20 in Leap and 14 in Union Hall. The whole team brings different qualities and ideas, which we can implement across the three stores. Having this amazing team makes my job so much easier. Everything we do is a team effort.
When do you plan on retiring? Never, I will have to be pushed out the door.
Best Bits: Job satisfaction. Working with an amazing team. Meeting new people. Very supportive boss who saw my potential when I joined the Cronin family business.
Worst bits: In retail, it is quite hard to find new staff members. There is a high turnover of staff due to retail having large numbers of students on the payroll, who will eventually move to their chosen careers, so we are always on the look out for good people to join our team.
Advise to those who wants your job: You need to be motivated, flexible and willing. Retail is not easy and you don’t have a 9-5 job so you have to be committed to the job, but when you receive recognition from your peers and, say, the likes of Musgraves, this makes it a reward for a job well done.
Any other comments: No matter what career you choose in life, make sure that you love it. It makes the day go by so much easier.
Wake up in the morning and want to go to work like I do. It’s never too late to choose the job that makes you happy.