EMEA Recruitment Podcast podcast

EMEA Recruitment Podcast #146 - Make Change in the World – Mairead O’Callaghan

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To celebrate World Smile Day 2022, the EMEA Recruitment podcast welcomed special guest Mairead O’Callaghan, Executive Director at Operation Smile UK

Speaking to Paul Toms, we find out the last two things that made Mairead smile. The first being the kick-off call following a project that involved the global Operation Smile organization coming up with four key values: resilience, impact, compassion and integrity. When the call was taking place, Mairead was also in the queue to see Queen Elizabeth II’s lying-in-state. 

The second was having the chance to host an Ethiopian plastic surgeon in London, who Operation Smile had helped to relocate and escape civil unrest in the north of the country, along with his family. He now works at the Operation Smile hospital in Jimma.

We find out that Mairead has been on four medical missions with Operation Smile. She initially travelled when she managed volunteers, but Mairead later took a break due to a fundraising role, in which she found herself much more useful in understanding the voices that contribute to the organization and amplifying them further.

Paul congratulates Mairead on her promotion to Executive Director and the 11 years she has spent with Operation Smile. She shares the inner culture of the charity and explains that it’s not unusual for people to be with the organization for so long. She emphasizes that, when you enjoy your job and are passionate about what you do, it doesn’t feel like a job at all. 

Mairead shares insights into her role as Executive Director. She enjoys watching mastery in action and helping other people shine. Further credit is given to the medical volunteers for their years of training. All this work ultimately allows the patients to shine, which Mairead insists everyone should be entitled to, regardless of background. 

Mairead reveals her motivations for charity work and how she eventually joined Operation Smile. 

She also discusses the adaptations of Operation Smile’s business model during the pandemic. She stresses the fact that, every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft – therefore, care must still be provided. The charity focused on improvements to nutritional care and speech therapy programmes, which could be carried out remotely. Operation Smile was also able to leverage its global supply chain relationships and provide PPE to partnering hospitals. 

Coming out of the pandemic, Operation Smile is now celebrating its 40th anniversary and has set itself a target of treating one million patients globally. 

Towards the end of the episode, Mairead shares the two important pieces of advice for people who would like to follow in her footsteps. 

If you can help make change in the world by supporting Operation Smile, please donate: https://www.operationsmile.org.uk/donate-to-operation-smile/donate-to-operation-smile-emea-recruitment/ 


If you’re looking for a particular part of the episode, please use the timestamps below:

00:45: The last thing that made Mairead smile
05:20: Going on an Operation Smile medical mission
07:10: 11 years with Operation Smile
09:35: Mairead’s current role as Executive Director
11:40: Mairead’s motivation for charity work
14:55: Changes during the pandemic
18:00: Operation Smile’s 40th anniversary
20:35: The mental and emotional challenges in charity work
23:30: Advice for anyone who would like to follow Mairead’s career footsteps
26:00: The mentors in Mairead’s life
27:00: How you can support Operation Smile

This episode is hosted by Paul Toms, our Founder, and Rose Jinks, our Marketing Manager.

You can find out more about EMEA Recruitment through our website: https://www.emearecruitment.com/

You can also keep up to date with us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/emea-recruitment-limited/

If you’d like to reach out to Paul, find him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paultoms/  

Or follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/paul_toms

If you have any suggestions for future episodes of the EMEA Recruitment podcast, please get in touch with Rose: [email protected]


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