“I hadn’t run a business before,” she adds. “I wanted to engage with the clients I wanted to engage with and refine the level of service I gave them. I wanted control over the quality of work that I accepted. Working in large agencies meant I was exposed to some work that was fantastic but some work that was less so.”
O’Connor says the most important task in the early days was to build credibility: “That was very important, particularly as I was young. I needed to be able to go into business prospects and say ‘we know what we’re doing, we’ve done it before, we’ve done it well and we’ve got these particular skills’. It was about building up a set of references and networks of people.”
In 2006, O’Connor sold Fuse to US firm Racepoint Group, which is led by PR guru Larry Weber. O’Connor says Fuse wasn’t for sale initially but she soon bought into Weber’s vision for the “next generation of public relations consultancy where digital is embraced into the DNA of the business”.
She’s now managing director for Racepoint in Europe. “We still have our local flavour and I’m still leading the operation but I have the added benefit of US colleagues I can call on, which was another reason to join the group.
“I think as an entrepreneur you can sometimes be very isolated in your role. It’s nice to be able to reach out to other people.”