1% Better S2,

Dermot Mannion on the Art of Listening, Developing Talent & What to do in a Crisis! EP065

June 15, 2018

Dermot Mannion has been the CEO of Aer Lingus, Deputy Chairman of Royal Brunei Airlines and President of Group Services at Emirates Airlines. He now runs his own consulting and coaching business, Dermot Mannion Consulting.

I was lucky enough to have Dermot as a classmate during the Executive Coaching Diploma we were on together at the IMI in 2016. Right from the start, Dermot was someone I, and everyone on the course, was impressed by. So, when I started the podcast in 2017, he was one guest I really wanted to get on the show. I was delighted that we could make that happen.

During this hour long conversation, Dermot brings us through his career and shares valuable insights and lessons he’s learned along the way. From his early career with Ulster Bank, to the CEO position with Aer Lingus, going toe-to-toe with Ryanair, and then holding the role of deputy chairman with Royal Brunei Airlines. He has had quite the career so far.

It’s a fascinating show. I know you’ll enjoy it.

A high-level summary of the topics discussed are listed below:

  • Dermot’s interest in Coaching & Mentoring During his Career
  • Developing and Nurturing young talent as a key interest all through his career
  • Citing Sir Maurice Flanaganas a huge influence and mentor to Dermot during his time with Emirates.
  • Key Leadership skills – Listening & Humility as two key attributes
  • Growing up in Sligo and how moving to Dublin for College was a huge change
  • In Trinity in the 1970s, Dermot was one of the first wave of students from the West of Ireland
  • Being an innocent country boy moving to Dublin and being somewhat overwhelmed by the place for the first 3 years
  • Remembering Joe Duffy and Gerry Ryan as students in Trinity at the time
  • Beginning to feel comfortable in the University just as the course was coming to an end
  • First exposure to the Airline Industry while working with Ulster Bank
  • Finance was a good stepping stone to be successful in the Corporate world!
  • Always enjoying the soft skills and finding Finance a difficult solitary pursuit
  • Taking a role with Emirates and moving to Dubai
  • Dermot sensed that both the City and Airline were going to grow and develop into something very special
  • Describing his time with Emirates as experiencing a real time PhD course in the industry
  • Standout moments during his 15 years at Emirates
  • Learning a lot from taking on a lead role in the IT Department
  • Success, Mistakes and Learnings from both!
  • Coaching Young Managers to Present Projects & Business Cases in simple ways!
  • The power of PowerPoint when used correctly and distilling a business case to one page/slide
  • Max of 20 slides for PowerPoint!
  • The power of culture in organizations
  • Experiences of different cultures in Dubai and Brunei
  • Creating a space for individuals in organizations to be as creative as they can be
  • Working at Brunei Royal Airlines, Dermot was giving time to listen
  • Taking a measured approach to leadership in his first 100 days
  • Presenting yourself in listening mode is sending a huge message
  • Experiences during the CEO Role with Aer Lingus and spending 4 years that were the most tumultuous during the Airlines history
  • Selling skills and how this developed and connecting this to Presentation skills
  • Big takeaways from the CEO Role with Aer Lingus
  • Dealing with the Media as a big challenge
  • It wasn’t just enough to be doing the job itself. The External dimension was key too.
  • Managing the internal & external challenges as a huge challenge
  • Learning to turn off the radio on his commute so he could not hear about the AerLingus privatisation
  • Praying and how this helps to unclutter and still the mind!
  • Work-life balance and having the ability to switch off!
  • A typical day now for Dermot working in consulting and as an advisor
  • Working with ExpertDealCloser.com as an advisor
  • Two Guests that Dermot would bring to dinner – Oprah & Pope John Paul II

Key tips:

  • Coaching & Listening skills
  • Finance as a good stepping stone to be successful in the Corporate world!
  • Asking the dump question is almost the most intelligent question to ask!
  • Keep things very simple
  • With PowerPoint – One message on One slide!! Tell the Story!
  • As a Leader, bring listening and presence to your work and role
  • Stand out advice – The first thing to do in a crisis is nothing
  • It’s much better to make no decision than a bad decision
  • Join Toastmasters as a great skill to develop public speaking skills
  • Turn off your Radio in the Car – Get used to the Silence – an opportunity to think!
  • Always have Hope!


  • The Shawshank Redemption – Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and good things never die!


Connect in with Dermot:

Just a quick note to say thanks for listening. With so many to choose from, it’s great to know you value this one. 

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