Leadership

Be brave, be flexible

Enterprise had not long been in the UK when Professor Diane Mulholland, now Scotland and Northern Ireland’s GM, joined the company. Sarah Knight finds out how she has been part growing and developing the business ever since.

Diane graduated from Trinity College in Dublin with MA Honours in Business and Economics. The people and their passion for business attracted her to work for Enterprise.

Like many Enterprise leaders, Diane joined the Management Training programme: “I started in U3 with only 100 cars, blue and green Nissan Micra Hollywoods and Corsas. Khaled was my group rental manager and drove a blue Corsa. We hand wrote rental agreements and spent our days marketing to local bodyshop and dealerships, learning about their business so we could figure out how to rent cars to them and their customers.”

Within six months Diane was promoted to branch manager of Bolton and grew it from nought to 50 cars in less than a year. She then ran two more branches before setting up the U3 non fault department.

Six months later Diane was promoted to area manager of Manchester City Centre, then to group rental manager, followed by assistant vice president of rental for UK and Ireland. While in this role, Diane was the first British officer level employee. She was also ranked in Management Today’s listing of the Top 35 Business Women under 35. In her current role as GM, she became the first ever British vice president.

Learning to be an authentic leader is what drove Diane to where she is now, although she faced challenges along the way.

“I wanted everything done the way I would do it and ended up doing too much myself. This stunts team development and the scalability of your business.”

Being a female leader also had its issues: “The higher I progressed I realised I was going to get results differently to my male peers. Their solutions would not always work for me. I’ve had occasions where business partners have assumed I was the PA which was uncomfortable.”

Outside of work Diane has the support of her husband, two teenage boys and two dogs. She enjoys keeping fit, in particular military style boot camps, and travelling through the Greek Islands. “Running a business helps me balance my work and personal life. It helps me to be a role model to my children. Like your business they are always evolving, so the solution you have today may not work tomorrow.”

I wanted everything done the way I would do it and ended up doing too much myself.

Mentorship is key to Diane’s success, and she was lucky to have excellent mentors such as Brice Adamson, Khaled Shahbo and Gary Palmer. As an assistant vice president, she worked alongside Chrissy Taylor for two years, which Diane describes as a fantastic experience. “It was great to see how she balanced her working life with her family commitments and the work ethic and flexibility she has.”

Recently named Professor of Business Management at Scotland’s Stirling University, Diane’s advice to other females in Enterprise is to not be afraid: “Having business bravery and flexibility is essential to succeed in any business. There is never a perfect time to move your family, so be open to new opportunities, and be consistent in communicating to your family about their role in them.”

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