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6 must-have qualities you need to make it in the creative industries, according to Ultan Devaney

Devaney founded Appassionata Flowers, one of Ireland’s leading creative florists.

ULTAN DEVANEY FOUNDED Appassionata Flowers with his wife and business partner Ruth Monahan in 2004.What started as a cottage industry survived the recession and grew into one of Ireland’s most successful small businesses.

Their Westland Row studio supplies a host of high profile corporate businesses, hotels, restaurants and boutiques as well as catering for exclusive events and selling their exquisite, contemporary creations online and from their Drury Street store.

The company now employs 19 people and is set to expand. “We expect to hire another four or five people by the end of the year,” Ultan says, as Appassionata moves into their new retail store in Cornelscourt Shopping Centre this November.

Ultan has this advice for creative candidates.

1. Make your application stand out. For example, if someone had on their CV that they lived in South America for a year, that would raise an eyebrow. There’s no real hard and fast rules. I really do analyse a person’s CV and try to fill in the gaps. People look at CVs in different ways but I personally like to see, and go through and try to imagine the person.

2. Diversity is important. You’re always looking for an edge. Are they someone who has worked since the age of 16? Are they someone who has gone back to college several times? Education is important, but at the same stage, some of the best florists we’ve hired have been working as florists since the age of 17; they might never have gone to college or even studied floristry. What you want to see is that there’s an intelligence and thought there. Education is secondary.

3. Spot the opportunities. A lot of people become florists for a reason. They’re creative and they do not want to go into that management role. However, we’ve had a few, and some people surprise you. We had a driver who became a florist and he is now one of the best creative florists we have. People’s abilities just come through, and if they’re interested in something, or interested in changing career path, it tends to come out.

Ultan Devaney Source: Jason Clarke Photography

4. See the bigger picture. There’s a big mental shift between people who like to get told what their job is, and that’s what they do from one day to the next, and people who can see the slightly bigger picture. You might not be in that ‘big picture’ mode all day, every day, but you definitely see it in people. Some people are just happy – and it’s good, as an employer that some people are just happy – but you do find those rare people who can do their job, but you know that they’re also aware of the wider context of the business and they just make it flow a lot easier.

5. Be eager to learn things outside of your role. Have an interest in what everyone else’s role is too. If you show an interest and an understanding outside of what you do, and make it known that you could actually jump into another role if needs be. Wanting to learn and listening are very important attributes.

6. Know how to monetise creativity. One of my skill sets is knowing how to work with creative people, and help them monetise their skills. With creative people, it’s a rare quality that you get that combination. The joke in Appassionata would be that I don’t have a creative bone in my body – now, that’s not necessarily true!

You need to have a creative gene and an understanding of the process to work somewhere like this. You can’t just be an accountant working somewhere like this – it would drive you completely crazy!

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