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The Lighter Side: How ALDI Ireland’s boss keeps things in perspective

Niall O’Connor, group managing director, Aldi Ireland, on hard work, perseverance, and why his piano lessons finally paid off

  • What businessperson do you most admire?

I think there are two – I’ve always really admired Michael Marks, who demonstrated how hard work and perseverance pays off. As a Belarusian immigrant, not speaking a word of English, he set up a market stall in Leeds and went on, with the help of Thomas Spencer, to create one of the UK’s most successful retailers.

Similarly, Karl Albrecht started the ALDI business with nothing other than the philosophy of ensuring consumers had access to great quality, inexpensive food, which he achieved by running his business as efficiently and simply as possible. By staying true to this philosophy, ALDI has grown to be one of the world’s largest and most successful grocery retailers.

  • What is your guilty pleasure?

Fast, open-top motoring!!

  • How do you unwind?

I’m a massive sports fan, and in particular have a real interest in equestrian sports. That’s something we enjoy doing together as a family most weekends.

  • How much money is in your wallet?

I mostly pay for things with my phone these days, but I always like to keep a few coins in my wallet for the trolley on trips to the supermarket!

  • The last book you read.

The Monk who sold his Ferrari, by Robin Sharma

  • What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given?

Always keep things in perspective. If you can do that in moments when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, it will certainly make things easier.

  • Who is the most famous person in your contacts list?

I’m not sure they’d thank me for telling you! But it is full of unsung heroes who are just down to earth, great people.

  • How do you manage your work/life balance?

No two days are ever the same and my role with ALDI keeps me very busy, including a lot of travel to the UK, but in my spare time I enjoy spending time with my wife and my children, cooking, equestrian sports, and a bit of golf, if I have any spare time left.

  • The last film you watched.

Fast X

  • What is your favourite possession?

It would have to be my piano – little did I know I would be thanking my mother for sending me to piano lessons all those years ago – it’s a great way to relax!!

  • What’s your most memorable holiday ever?

I think it would have to be when my parents took us to Cuba for a family holiday in the late 80’s. We were fortunate enough to travel around the country and really experience true Cuban culture, the music, the generosity of its people and of course, the amazing climate.

  • What social media do you use?

I have been known to dabble in Facebook and Instagram, but I use Twitter for the latest news, and LinkedIn has emerged as an essential tool for building professional relationships.

  • If money were not object, what would your fantasy purchase be?

Bringing the family and friends to theafter-match party this autumn to celebrate with the team when Ireland wins the Rugby World Cup!

  • What is the first website you look at every morning?

RTÉ and Sky News Apps – to see what the latest developments are here and abroad!!

  • Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I’m an early bird – mainly because I’m either running to catch a flight or because it’s the only time I can get to the gym to stay fit!!!

  • If you were Taoiseach for a day, what would you do?

I don’t think I’d get much done in a day! I’ve seen firsthand the challenges food poverty presents for many children and families in Ireland through our work with Barnardos. No child in Ireland should see through the day hungry – if we really put our minds to this as a nation, we could put an end to this very quickly – I don’t even think we need to be the Taoiseach to achieve this.

  • What person do you most admire?

I really admire Rachael Blackmore. In what is a gruelling sport, she has risen to the top, impressing everyone she interacts with along the way, and becoming the first female winning jockey at Cheltenham.

  • What’s your favourite place in Dublin and why?

I’m a big rugby fan, and you can’t beat the Aviva Stadium on a big international matchday. At ALDI, we’re a proud partner of the IRFU and ensuring we encourage young people to eat healthily and exercise as part of the ALDI Play Rugby programme across communities with the IRFU is incredibly rewarding.

  • Anything you would like to plug?

ALDI, of course and the great range of quality products we offer at unbeatable value! We’re in the middle of an ambitious expansion plan, both in Dublin and around the country, and will open six new stores this year.

For more information, please contact the following:

ALDI Press Office: 01 637 1777 or aldi@finnpartners.com

Corporate Responsibility or Community Grant Queries: CR.Ireland@aldi.ie

General Customer Service Queries: Contact Form Product (aldi.ie) or call 1800 991 828