A support network key to success

HAVING a high-powered job, raising and cherishing her family and having a real appreciation of how important one’s health is are all key components in Siobhan Talbot’s life. The mother-of two and Group Finance Director at Glanbia explained that while she ‘juggles a lot of balls’ she wouldn’t have it any other way. After a cancer scare last year she now realises what is ‘ultimately important’. “I wouldn’t like to go through it again and it has undeniably changed me and made me realise what is ultimately important. In truth people will always sweat the little stuff but at the end of the day your health is everything and when you have that combined with family and friends you really do have everything,” she said. Siobhán is originally from Kilmoganny and is the daughter of the late Johnny and Moira Hickey. Her father, a  farmer passed away over thirty years ago and her mother Maura taught at Tullahought ? National School and then at Windgap National School and she has two sisters, Breda and Geraldine and a brother John – all except Geraldine, who lives in the UK, live locally. Tragically her youngest brother Seamas died in a road accident when he was 21. “My mother was 41 when my father died and she had to rear five children. She is a very remarkable, resilient woman. When Daddy died I was 15 and the others were 17, 19 and 8 and Seamie was only 2. She was working full time. Mammy is a fantastic inspiration. It was a big challenge losing Daddy and then later in life she had to bear the huge burden of the loss of my brother Seamie. She had a great network of friends and interests. She has a very strong infrastructure which makes her very resilient,” she said.

HAVING a high-powered job, raising and cherishing her family and having a real appreciation of how important one’s health is are all key components in Siobhan Talbot’s life. The mother-of two and Group Finance Director at Glanbia explained that while she ‘juggles a lot of balls’ she wouldn’t have it any other way. After a cancer scare last year she now realises what is ‘ultimately important’. “I wouldn’t like to go through it again and it has undeniably changed me and made me realise what is ultimately important. In truth people will always sweat the little stuff but at the end of the day your health is everything and when you have that combined with family and friends you really do have everything,” she said. Siobhán is originally from Kilmoganny and is the daughter of the late Johnny and Moira Hickey. Her father, a  farmer passed away over thirty years ago and her mother Maura taught at Tullahought ? National School and then at Windgap National School and she has two sisters, Breda and Geraldine and a brother John – all except Geraldine, who lives in the UK, live locally. Tragically her youngest brother Seamas died in a road accident when he was 21. “My mother was 41 when my father died and she had to rear five children. She is a very remarkable, resilient woman. When Daddy died I was 15 and the others were 17, 19 and 8 and Seamie was only 2. She was working full time. Mammy is a fantastic inspiration. It was a big challenge losing Daddy and then later in life she had to bear the huge burden of the loss of my brother Seamie. She had a great network of friends and interests. She has a very strong infrastructure which makes her very resilient,” she said.

Siobhan attended secondary school at the Mercy Convent in Carrick On Suir and met her future husband Billy Talbot from Mooncoin at a dance in Mullinavat in 1987 when she was studying for her Leaving Cert. After finishing school Siobhan did a commerce degree at University College Dublin and then a postgraduate programme in Accounting before joining PWC to qualify as a chartered accoutant.

After finishing at the garda training college in Templemore Billy moved to Dublin and was stationed in Pearse Street. Siobhan joined Pricewaterhouse Cooper in 1985 and then moved to Waterford Foods in 1992. During her time with PWC Siobhan moved to Sydney, Australia with Billy (who took a career break from An Garda Siochana). “There was a huge expat community over there and we had a lot of fun. I worked very hard during the week but we had some great times at the weekend. The climate allowed us to plan things like going camping and it was fantastic,” she said. Siobhan came back to Dublin to PWC where she worked as a manager with them. “I suppose we always intended to come back down the country. Billy applied for a transfer and a job opportunity came up for me in Waterford Foods and we moved back down South within a week of each other. Initially we rented a house in Waterford city and then built one in South Kilkenny.” Waterford Foods merged with Glanbia in 1997 and Siobhan was involved in a number of finance roles, including that of Group Secretary until she was appointed Group Finance Director and on to the Board of Glanbia in 2009, having been deputy FD since 2005. 

“I love my job. My role involves looking after all areas of finances in the group and working with my executive colleagues on the board. It can be long hours but in truth in any role at this level you would have to be flexible. It is not a nine to five job but I would never have expected it to be,” she said.

Holding down a senior management position and raising children is undoubtedly challenging but Siobhán wouldn’t have it any other way. “There is no doubt that it was a juggling act when they were small and in the early years I was travelling a lot but I had great support from Billy and my mother. It’s all about support networks and managing lists. It was not always easy but I have always loved what I do and it was never a challenge to get up and go to work. Glanbia is a great organisation in terms of loyalty and that probably originates from it’s agricultural roots. People are willing to step out of the box and it is a very humane place to work,” she said. Her two children Thomas (17) and Alice (15) go to St Kieran’s College and Presentation Secondary School and are both ‘mad into GAA’. In August 2010 Siobhán was diagnosed with breast cancer ‘completely out of the blue’. “It was a routine health check. The mamogram was clear but the doctor who was conducting the health check was not happy and recommended Siobhan consult her GP. The GP also recognised something was amiss and organised an Ultrasound

I feel very lucky that I caught it then otherwise there would have been a major problem,” she said. Siobhán is full of praise for the health service. “Once I went into the health service it was fantastic . If you get diagnosed in the early stages the chances are good. The diagnosis came as a complete bolt out of the blue as I was feeling great at the time. Hearing the word cancer is distressing but it wasn’t as absolutely horrible as I would have feared. There were days when I felt a bit low but they are plenty of days when you function as normal. All you can do is listen to your body and just get on with it. Work helped me to keep a positive frame of mind and gave me a sense of normality,” she said. When Siobhán  started to lose her hair she went to the hairdressers and shaved her head and started to wear a wig. I remember when I took off the wig and showed it to my children and they had a good joke about well I looked without hair. Initially it was daunting to say it to the two kids but I was able to tell them the prognosis was good and they were great. I think I have the right combination of work and family. If I told my family I was going to retire they would worry a lot more. It is all about flexibility and understanding and juggling the balls as best we can,” she added.