Meet the MD: Joe McKenna of Dragonfly Contracts

Meet the MD: Joe McKenna of Dragonfly Contracts

As a youngster, Joe McKenna had dreams of one day becoming a vet. Now, he finds himself as MD of North West interior firm Dragonfly Contracts. BQ caught up with him to find out what he believes makes a great leader and to see what his day-to-day job includes...

What does your role include?

To identify and develop the best in people, be open to new ideas and support them wherever I can. I want people to know I trust them and their instincts and they have my full support. My role is also to keep the business motivated and drive toward our vision. To succeed we must inspire each other and be innovators. We need to be different and to make a difference, and we need to make our lives and the lives of our clients, suppliers and the community better.


What is it the company does?

We offer leading interiors solutions including interior fit-out; furniture, fixtures & equipment and office furniture supply and installation across several B2B sectors including hospitality and leisure, property and construction, interior design and commercial contracting.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

After leaving University, I held a graduate role with Rockwell Group within various divisions and departments from marketing to sales, but ended up in the construction division where I was given professional  training which resulted in me being a technical consultant.

After a number of similar roles within the interior construction design and build industry, in 2002 I was offered the opportunity to set up a new business in Manchester for BKM Inc, where we offered interior design, fit out and furniture solutions to the commercial sector.

At BKM - myself and my business partner Simon Daffy, started to build a team and talk about creating something which built on our best experiences but didn't repeat the negatives.  

In 2005 we approached BKM and negotiated a management buyout of the north west division and in June 2005 Dragonfly was formed.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Having belief in your colleagues, belief in your vision and being open to new ideas.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Getting people on board to make a cultural shift from the kind of behaviour that is typical in our industry. Basically, getting the team, suppliers and clients on side to make Dragonfly a really nice company to work for, and with.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

We have one big family holiday a year and I completely switch off for two whole weeks.  It’s like pressing a re-set button and totally recharges me for the rest of the year. 

Within the workplace, we share concerns across the business. The whole team talks to each other and that also really helps. 


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A vet or anything else medical related. I’m fascinated by medical procedures. The gorier the better!


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

Cliques!  I can’t stand them and we work hard not to allow them in the business.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

I want it to be the ‘employer of choice’ in our local area. We were awarded Investors in People Gold in 2010 and we continue to work really hard to make Dragonfly a great place to work by making staff feel supported and making sure they are looking after each other. 


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

If you have a good idea, you can’t execute it soon enough. You’ll never feel ready to start a new business or try something new, but just do it. Just have a go.


What do you like doing outside of work?

Walking my dogs and generally spending time with my family and friends.


How easy do you find juggling a career with family life?

It can be tough but, fortunately, my position in the company allows me to work very flexibly.  If I have to pick up my daughter from school, for example, I can work during the evening to make up for it.  I’m also very fortunate in being surrounded by a brilliantly supportive team including a business partner who is one of the best people I know.