Donal Mulryan, founder of Rockwell Property, is not someone that you can know inside out from a simple Google search. Although his 25 years of career achievements, architecture awards and financial successes speak for themselves, we were more intrigued by Mr. Mulryan’s personal development: how he made his way to the top of his field, and why he gives so much back in the process.
From our research, Mr. Mulryan had an extremely impressive resumé. Before founding Rockwell in 2015, he held directorate positions at Ballymore and West Properties, the latter of which he established in the early millennium, following the desire to run his own business. Reflecting on this decision, Mr. Mulryan acknowledged the risks he faced, leaving a comfortable and well-paid position to start from the ground up. He cited the effort it took to achieve his goal, but recognised he had no regrets about his journey. Talking about his early years as an entrepreneur, he emphasised the necessity to fail, telling us “You have to learn as you go”, which felt reassuring as many of us have just started on our career journeys, and will no doubt encounter challenges and setbacks along the way. Understanding and conquering those failures, especially in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, has definitely proved a fruitful tactic, with Mr. Mulryan’s companies winning several design awards and securing more developments across cities.
During our briefing, it was clear that the group was curious about Mr. Mulryan’s charitable efforts. Indeed, a property developer and entrepreneur from West Ireland does not have any immediate connection to Patchwork, or us young people and our political aspirations. When I asked about the reasons for his charitable nature, Mr. Mulryan simply explained that he loves giving back, whilst drawing on his own proud and normal background in order to emphasise the privilege of his position now, and how he uses it to bring capital to more disadvantaged areas. This is especially evident in his architectural projects, wherein he uses his developments as a way to invest in the local communities, through employment, training and housing. Mr. Mulryan’s selflessness is inspiring, but also grounds him in a way that may be unexpected for such a successful business owner, and is certainly something that we as Patchworkers aspire to be.
In essence, the Masterclass was different to our previous experiences as it showcased the benefits of an entrepreneurial, self-employed career: a thoroughly developed passion for your field and the freedom of direction, which can certainly be of assistance when challenges roll around. I am truly grateful to Mr. Mulryan for sponsoring our cohort and giving us his time, as well as his assistant Ms. Vince, and our own brilliant Yolanda Dixon for her excellent chairing skills.
Written by Zara Overton, 2021 Masterclass Programme Participant