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Galwayman is one of Guinness’ top men in California

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It seems like a lifetime ago since Aidan Fallon, now the Senior Sales Director for Diageo in California, was working at Higgins Hardware store in Shantalla.

His grandfather had helped set up the business and his father ran the manufacturing plant so it was only natural Aidan would follow in their footsteps working there as well.

Even at 18, Aidan had his eyes set on higher things, so when a better job opportunity opened up in the business, he took initiative and applied for the sales representative role.

“I told my boss I was really interested in the role and he was shocked. He said promotion is not based on talent, but on tenureship and that blew me away,” said Aidan.

Aidan requested a year of absence and told his boss that he was going to go to America, a bold decision for any 18 year old to make.

“He said you’ll be back in three weeks and that was it. I never came back.”

The second youngest in his family, with no job set up and no immediate contacts, Aidan arrived in Boston in the early nineties with nothing but an address book and a few quid in his pocket.

“I had just turned 19. I had $400 and a dream. I had a little address book full of numbers just to call people up and hope that somebody would come to the airport to pick me up.”

Aidan was among several Galway soccer lads who had moved to Boston, and eventually tracked one of them down, a young man called Jimmy Nolan.

“Jimmy’s was the first floor I slept on. I slept on his floor for about two weeks before I got my own place and job and then obviously when you get a new job you get a new bunch of kids and rent an apartment.”

The Mervue native managed to secure a job in construction and landscaping for two years, and it wasn’t long before he was faced with a similar situation as he had while working at Higgins’.

“I was on a roof in Brookline and we had stripped the roof and if you know anything about roofing, it was just a bare shingled roof, easy to strip.

“A normal roof would take you two or three hours to strip, but this roof took us two days, that’s how big this house was.”

The young man was all fired up to learn how to lay a new roof and gain a valuable skill, but it didn’t go exactly as planned when on the third day, three lads arrived on the scene with carpenter belts.

To Aidan’s disappointment, he was informed that he would not be laying a new roof but rather, his job would be to gather up all the old shingles he had just helped strip and put them in the dumpster in less than a week.

“That was a shock to the ego and to me. In those four and a half days of filling barrows of shingles, cleaning around the flower beds, I just thought is this really what I want to do for my life?

“Did I really leave Galway for this? I left family, friends, should I go back? I’m not legal. Is it truly a dream to become a full time labourer? This isn’t what I want.”

Ever the opportunist, Aidan decided to avail of his soccer skills he had honed at home and earned himself a soccer scholarship at Mount Ida College studying business.

“Once I graduated, got my legal student papers, everything changed because I was allowed to work.

“During that process, six months after college I got my green card and about two months after that I got hired by Guinness.”

Because his scholarship was just education, Aidan worked nights for the Green Briar to pay for room and board and a car and later, the Harp Bar in downtown Boston where he met his future wife, Lori.

The two of them shared high aspirations and a powerful work ethic, with Lori working in the bar to support her Masters Degree in biology from the University of Massachusetts and Aidan working to make ends meet to support his Business degree.

While working at the bar Aidan believed he could be a good sales representative and sure enough, after ten interviews and ten months he was hired by Guinness PLC as their first ever Draught Specialist in 1994.

It was an experience that allowed him to travel all over Canada and the United States promoting Ireland’s favourite alcoholic beverage.

“As I became successful in that group that grew from 1 to 45, I too grew within in the company and moved on to a different role within Diageo, to run the Boston sales team and I’ve done many more roles since then.

“I always knew that I wasn’t ready for a role until I had the right toolkit or skills in place and a lot of people try to rush up the corporate ladder and then they get to a point or role where they’re not really successful because they just haven’t developed the skills.

“I was more methodical, going width.”

Aidan’s career skyrocketed, going from a marketing role in Boston, to Director of the New England Region for seven years to now where he lives in California running all 13 states of the Pacific Region.

“The advice I give to the team that work for me is you get to dictate your own destiny. You work with your manager to help him manage your aspirations and help you get there but if you’ve got the motivation to be successful, you will be successful.

“It doesn’t matter how smart you are, it’s what your work ethic is like. If you’re willing to learn, you’ll learn and if you’re not, you won’t.”

As part of his job, Aidan brings his colleagues to Ireland on a business trip to two cities in Ireland (one of which will always be Galway), to showcase the history and culture of the brand and how big it is.

“I just had a party of 28 over here and the majority of them came up to me and said, ‘Aidan, the Galway people are so friendly and this town is buzzing.’

“That means a lot to me when I hear that and I hear it consistently. Their vision of what Ireland must be like is walking down Cross Street and Quay Street and the cobblestones and that’s what we give them.

“You have your high end restaurants, high end hotels, you’ve got everything.”

Diageo sell many different beer brands, with Guinness being just a small part of the company in the US, so it’s trips like these that really highlight its significance in Ireland.

“To see how big that brand is and to experience and see and learn about the history and culture of the Guinness family and what they’ve done for the Irish people, it just blows them away.”

Aidan and Lori have a 17 year old son Jack who’s getting ready to part take on a fundraising trip to help schoolchildren in Cambodia while their daughter Cara is a successful cheerleader for her high school varsity team and isn’t too keen on leaving sunny California.

“My wife is a Bostonian so she’s going through what I went through when I arrived in the US – she’s struggling with it but we’re committed to getting the kids through high school.”

With three years left in California, he’ll hope to find a post back in New England so his son Jack can study medicine in Boston.

The next role for Aidan would potentially be a vice president role, or perhaps he’ll veer away from the beer side of the company working with spirits, but he’s comfortable knowing there will always be an opportunity waiting for him.

“I would love to stay with Diageo and in the 22 years I’ve been with them they’ve been a wonderful company. It was like going back to school working with them, they’ll teach you, manage you, stretch you and when you get comfortable they’ll come knocking on your door with more opportunities.

“What I love about my job now is the managing people aspect, developing new talent, and watching them grow and realize they can do what they thought they couldn’t do.

“It’s been really fun and I feel now it’s my obligation to give that back. I’ve had some tremendous managers that got to know me personally so my goal right now is simply to create memories, develop people and have them exceed their career aspirations.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Glass roof over Latin Quarter among raft of proposals to Galway City Council

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to put a roof over the Latin Quarter – with outdoor heaters to combat Galway’s changeable weather – is among a raft of suggestions that will be considered by the Council as it draws up the next City Development Plan.

The widespread use of outdoor theatre and extended opening hours for retail and cultural attractions are also on the cards as members of the public and lobby groups push for a city that offers the broadest range of tourist attractions.

As part of series of measures put forward to improve the outdoor offering in the city, one submission – which is understood to have been noted by the Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath in his report on plan, which is at ‘pre-draft’ stage – is to put a glass ceiling on the city centre’s main commercial thoroughfares.

Planners are currently considering the proposal as part of more than 500 submissions made to Council in the first public consultation for the document, which will shape development in the city for six years after 2023.

It’s proposed that by covering the length of Quay Street/Latin Quarter in high retractable glass panes ‘mounted on decorative supports’, and installing street heaters, ‘a comfortable outdoor ambiance could be created’.

This is one of almost 50 submissions made in the area of economic development, where the theme of improving the city’s night-time economy and tourism offering feature prominently.

In another submission from Fáilte Ireland, the tourism authority expresses its desire that the next City Development Plan should have a chapter dedicated to tourism, such is its importance to the city’s economic success.

As well as developing Galway’s growing reputation as a ‘foodie destination’, developing the night-time economy is identified as being ‘an important aspect of ensuring a vibrant city centre and means more than just developing a bar and restaurant culture’.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

100 new jobs for Galway City Sports Direct outlet

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Sports Direct retail giant is set to create up to 100 new jobs when it takes over the former Debenhams department store in the Corrib Shopping Centre.

And the company’s sister outlet Heatons looks set to make a return to the city – possibly in the same building, although management are remaining tight-lipped.

Sports Direct has taken a lease on the Debenhams premises, which has been vacant since before the pandemic, and it will open in June.

“The 65,000 sq ft store will comprise four floors and will consist of Sports Direct, USC and Brand Max. 100 jobs for the store will be created,” a spokesperson confirmed to the Galway City Tribune.

The spokesperson could not confirm that the Heatons brand – which is also owned by English billionaire Mike Ashley – will also be opening as part of the move. The group is currently advertising for staff to work at a new Heatons store in Galway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Forty firefighters tackle major blaze at Galway golf shop

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Up to 40 firefighters from across the city and county fought a major fire at the GolfStyle superstore off the Tuam Road for around six hours on Thursday morning.

Gardaí on routine patrol in the Liosbán Business Park shortly before 3am noticed smoke coming from the roof of the building and immediately alerted the fire service.

The building, which was unoccupied at the time, is understood to have suffered major structural and roof damage in the fire that started in the first floor.

At one point, 11 fire engines from the city, Athenry, Loughrea, Carraroe and Gort fought the blaze, using water tankers and aerial ladders, as well as having a command unit in place.

Firemen equipped with breathing apparatus also had to force their way into the building to tackle the source of the fire, that possibly could have been caused by an electrical problem.

The fire was brought under control at around 7.30am, but the Fire Brigade remained at the scene for a number of hours afterwards in case of any secondary outbreak.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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