Limerick Business Leader: ‘Hard work beats talent if talent does not work hard’

Azon Recruitment has just opened new offices in the heart of Limerick. We speak to Keith O’Donovan, a consultant at the firm

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Keith O’Donovan pictured at Azon Recruitment’s new office at the Riverstone Clock Tower on Henry Street

Keith O’Donovan pictured at Azon Recruitment’s new office at the Riverstone Clock Tower on Henry Street

Tell us a bit about Azon Recruitment:

Azon Recruitment Group is an award-winning recruitment agency with offices in Limerick and Dublin. We are one of Ireland’s fastest growing talent providers, making us an ideal partner to help convert your business growth goals into reality. We aim to connect employers to the perfect people they need to grow their business. We are not just recruiters, however. Our advantage lies in the deep sectoral expertise and industry backgrounds of our professional team, which positions us above other recruitment providers in the market. All of our consultants are hired for their first-hand experience in their respective sectors, guaranteeing that our offering is as professional, knowledgeable and seamless as possible. 

Our Group comprises of four brands to offer complete recruitment coverage for our clients: AES International is the executive search brand, Azon is our contingent recruitment business that provides recruitment solutions across accounting and finance, funds, legal, banking, aircraft leasing, construction and engineering, HR and office support. Elsewhere, Azon digital practices in emerging technologies, transformation and change and creative and design. Finally, Azon Capital Markets is Ireland’s only front office financial services dedicated recruitment business run by front office banking experts.

Tell us about the company's expansion to Limerick?

We recently announced the opening of our new Limerick offices at Riverstone Clock Tower, Hartstonge Gate, Henry Street with capacity for 35 people. Our investment in the Mid-West is a testament to the renewed employment activity in the region and to the attractiveness of Limerick as a location to base from for both Irish indigenous corporates and multinationals. With the economic recovery, the Mid-West is now a location of choice for many of our clients.

What does your own role entail?

I am an accounting and finance recruiter in the Limerick office, with my jurisdiction covering both Munster and Connacht. With my own background training and expertise, having worked in practice for 11 years, I specialise in roles for both qualified and part-qualified candidates in practice and part-qualified candidates in industry.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born on O’Callaghan Strand in Limerick and have lived there all my life apart from the four years I spent in college. Having loved the area so much, its proximity to all amenities in the city and closeness to work, I moved into my own house in the same area back in mid-2016. I didn’t move too far from the nest but it’s such a lovely area with some beautiful views of the Shannon, I wouldn’t change it for the world!

What is your educational background?

I attended John F Kennedy primary school on the Ennis Road, after which I went to Ard Scoil Ris until the end of transition year. I completed fifth and sixth year in Bruce College here in Limerick and completed my Leaving Cert in 2003. After this, I attended Waterford Institute of Technology where I studied for a bachelor of business studies majoring in accounting. I graduated in 2007. On my return to Limerick, I commenced my three and a half year accountancy apprenticeship with Horwath Bastow Charleton at Henry Street where I began the process of completing my professional exams towards my Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification.

How did you get to where you are today?

I was a trainee in Horwath Bastow Charleton in Corporate Recovery and Insolvency under the guidance of Brian McEnery and Stephen O’Flaherty until April 2011. After which I joined my father Jim and his fellow partner, Pat Lavin in O’Donovan Lavin in a similar role and in time moved back towards the business advisory side of things. Over the years, I have built up extensive knowledge in dealing with small firms, limited companies, partnerships, start-ups and sole trades under the heads of business advisory, corporate recovery and insolvency, corporate finance, tax planning and working capital requirements.

Why did you decide to join the company?

After working for 11 years in practice, I decided that I wished to progress my career, albeit in a different direction. I engaged the services of a careers coach, who over a period of time worked with me in order to identify the perfect role to which my existing skill set was best suited. I can’t underestimate how helpful this process was in helping me find the role that I now find myself in today. For anyone out there who may find themselves in a similar mindset, I cannot recommend this process highly enough. I consider myself extremely fortunate to now be working with a fantastic team, both in Limerick and Dublin within a rapidly expanding company that is the Azon Recruitment Group.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

As Azon are a new player in the market, not only in Limerick but in Munster and Connacht, my goal for the coming 12 months is to firmly establish both Azon and I as one of the market leaders in sourcing quality candidates for clients and identifying the best suited roles for candidates in the accounting and finance sphere.

Who do you admire in business?

I have been very fortunate to train and work with quite a number of highly respected individuals in their fields since I started my professional journey in 2007. However, none more so than the person who has had the biggest influence on my career to date and who has always been on hand for advice and guidance along the way – my father Jim. Managing partner of a well-established practice and one of the most reputable in the Mid-West, O’Donovan Lavin, he has passed on a lot of invaluable expertise over the course of my professional life.

In business and life, are you guided by any particular motto?

In Azon, people who are naturally competitive work well in our environment but the team ethos must always prevail. We recognise that hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.

In life, as a recent career changer, “Follow your Dreams.. They’re worth the chase..” In a society where the topic of mental health awareness is so prominent, I would encourage anyone who is generally unhappy in what they are doing in their career, to take that leap of faith and pursue finding that dream job that you have always wanted.  

Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?

I am an avid Munster and Manchester United fan. When I can’t be found roaring on the men in red in Thomond Park, I am often trying to lower my handicap on the golf course or playing tag rugby.

I am also a keen lover of the sea, spending time in Kilkee, I enjoy scuba diving, fishing and boating.