Kieran McKeown is delighted his daughter Elaine has joined him at work, but his IT skills and typing drive her mad!
Elaine McKeown has been strong and independent from an early age. Her independence was such that her dad Kieran recalls her burning her hand on a hot oven when she was only four, and running upstairs with her blistered hand rather than to her parents for help. Later, when she was eight, he got in trouble with her when she caught him having a crafty fag at 3am while on holidays, having pretended he had quit smoking.
The oldest of four, Kieran (61) grew up in Belcoo, Fermanagh. His mum, Rose, was a primary school teacher and taught him for three years, which meant that certain standards of behaviour and performance were expected from him.
She’s 94 now and in a nursing home. His bookmaker dad Laurence died in 1981.
Kieran’s dad’s death meant the cancellation of his first date with his wife, Cathy, whom he had just met at Jet’s nightclub. When they eventually went on the postponed date a few weeks later, love blossomed.
Cathy had lived in New York until she was 16 and still retains the accent. They have three children, Lauren (31), Elaine (29) and Steven (20). “Cathy is a very good listener,” he says. “She’s always been able to offer solutions to family issues, and I’ve used her as a sounding board for ideas around the business.”
Elaine says her dad was good fun and she recalls great family days out at the beach. Her mum was a bit stricter, although she is very kind, thoughtful and understanding. Elaine studied contemporary culture and society at DCU, and then joined her dad’s recruitment business, which she had worked in part-time since she was 15.
Kieran did a degree in business studies at the University of Ulster and then trained as a chartered accountant, working in various positions in Dublin, up to financial controller level. When Elaine was two, the family decided to move to Waterford, and in 1998, he joined forces with a friend, David Walsh, in Walsh Business Solutions (WBS), which did a lot of recruitment.
David was subsequently made an offer he couldn’t refuse, so Kieran kept the business going and eventually rebranded as Matrix Recruitment Group. Having survived the recession where staff had to go on part-time hours, the business is thriving again. It has offices in Dublin, Waterford, Carlow, Athlone and Galway and employs 25 staff. With 20 years of experience behind them, they have a proven track record and great credibility, and Kieran says they have a huge knowledge of the industries and companies they’re dealing with.
MD Kieran is based in the head office in Waterford and says he has a great team in all five branches in whom he has great confidence. Elaine is the company’s marketing and IT co-ordinator. It’s an exciting time, she says, as social media and online is changing the face of recruitment.
“I was delighted that Elaine joined the business,” Kieran says. “I thought it would be great for her as you can learn so much from the recruitment industry, and she’s a marketing guru, which benefits the company.”
While some people would baulk at the idea at working for a parent, Elaine likes it. She is based in the Dublin office, and they don’t discuss business at home. “You work too hard while you’re there and it’s stressful enough without bringing it home afterwards,” Kieran says.
“Elaine has an incredible appetite for work and is very responsible and I rely on her very much. I would be over-reliant on her at times because my skill level at Microsoft Word and Excel is very poor, and she gives out to me about that. My writing is very bad too – very tiny and hard to read.”
“He types with one finger,” laughs Elaine. “We’ve a very good relationship and we don’t see each other a huge amount outside work, so it’s good that we speak every day and are in each other’s lives through work. I go home every four to six weeks and we go out for dinner and go for walks, and when Dad comes to Dublin, we go out for lunch. It’s a very exciting time to be working in the company as there is a lot of opportunity to do new things and a lot of change happening.”
Kieran’s eldest daughter Lauren is also in Dublin, working as an account manager at Spark Foundry and her dad says she’s very outgoing and personable. Youngest child Steven is studying IT at WIT and is a “very bright young fella”. They have a close family bond and enjoy spending time together when they can.
Kieran unwinds by playing golf and going for walks. He retains a huge passion for Fermanagh GAA and his heart’s desire is to see them winning an Ulster title. To unwind, Elaine loves the gym and yoga and anything to do with food.
“Dad is very supportive and caring and has a great sense of humour,” she says. “He has taught me never to give up on anything and to be optimistic and always look on the bright side of things. He also taught me to be compassionate around others and to be good at listening.”
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