Mary McKenna, founder of the multi-award winning Tour America travel business has overcome huge physical challenges, as well as worked through two recessions and the tragedy of 9/11 to become one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs, a keen sports woman, mother and mentor to other business women. At the IMAGE Networking Breakfast on Tuesday, January 20 at The Marker Hotel, she shares her story. We caught up with her in advance for a quick chat.
Your life took a turn in 2004 when you had that awful car accident, what happened, and how did you recover?
I had life threatening injuries and, at the time, was given a 50/50 chance of surviving. I was knocked down and run over by a Jeep, and broke all my ribs, which in turn punctured both my lungs. I also tore my liver, fractured my pelvis and my hip.
I have always been very positive so, once I knew I was alive, I went straight in to survival mode. I was also very sporty and had played (up to this time) top division hockey. After the accident I constantly worked on recovering; that was my mindset from about 7 days after the accident. I worked physically on getting my body strong, but to this day I have continual physiotherapy on my body.
How did you then run the NY marathon?
I have always written down my goals in life, and have always achieved them, but the one that kept coming up was get fit and lose weight. In 2011, for some reason, I put down on my list to do a marathon. I have no idea why as I don’t even like running! I then mentioned it to someone who mentioned our company charity Bernardos, and then I became accountable, as I raised €5000 for this wonderful charity. The training was gruelling – 6 months, I lost 1 stone.
Do you apply the same thinking to business? You’ve survived two recessions and 9/11, what sort of thinking/acting did you have to do?
Yes, I apply the above to business, that the only way you can grow is to go outside your comfort zone, and that you can do what ever you want in life.
What are your goals, personally and for Tour America in 2015?
My goals for 2015, is to do Platinum Pilates 3 times per week, running 3 times per week, I always do a course a year, to continue to develop myself, so this year it is NLP. I am the coach of my son’s rugby team (under 7’s), completed all my training, and the only female coach in Belvedere where there are 120 coaches.
For Tour America, we have invested in an entire back office system to ensure we grow online. We’re the first travel company to have a department set up to sell holidays through social media and digital marketing. We are already 40% up for 2015, and this is down to our repeat business and the service we provide, we have invested hugely in the motivation of our team, and with a focus on emotional intelligence. We have new products on offer, and will continue to be different in what we offer versus our competitors. 2015 also sees us celebrating 20 years in business in October.
What drives you forward every day?
I want to be the best that I can possibly be in life, personally and professionally. I want to continue to develop and learn, and drive myself. I have tremendous fun in life and I want to ensure I have absolutely no regrets.
Your favourite holiday?
It has to be the USA! I am going there with my family in June, and we are going to do all the attractions, Universal, Disney. I also love the shopping in the US.
Mary McKenna joins food writer, entrepreneur, cook and mother of two, Domini Kemp and Terry Prone, best-selling author and leading advisor on reputation management and crisis handling at the next IMAGE Networking Breakfast. Tickets are just €45 and can be purchased here. For more information on the event, email [email protected], call 01 271 9653 or click here.
When: 7.30am – 10am, Tuesday, January 20
Where: The Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2
Tickets: €45 each