Twenty minutes with… Sheena Conolly

The Journal brings you its popular column, getting up close and personal with well known members of the community. This month it is the turn of Cayman Islands Sotheby’s International Realty Owner/Broker Sheena Conolly.
What was your ambition, career-wise as a pre-teen and why?
I was certainly very fortunate to have attended one of the leading schools in Northern Ireland, but the career guidance in those days was abysmal. Even from an early age, my school groomed us to become doctors, lawyers or accountants–and I was clearly not going to become any of those! When I was younger I used to tell people that I wanted to be a vet, but I had so many diverse interests including horses, squash, hockey and music, I seemed to shine in the extra-curriculum activities rather than the academia!
Who was your greatest influence apart from your family?
I had the privilege of working for a very important and influential board of directors when I joined Mullet Bay Resort’s management and I got involved in many different projects with them that were extremely interesting. We took over a property of 172 acres that was very run down and turned it around to become one of the top incentive and high profile resort destinations of that time. 
Is there one specific event that you would consider had a profound impact on your life?
I can think of several, however, through the resort management experience in St Maarten, I was accepted to Cornell University as a mature student, which really was a powerful experience for me. I was a much better mature student than I had been when I was a strong headed young adult. The option of studying hospitality was never open to those attending Sullivan Upper and it is such a fantastic subject with so many varied opportunities. I really loved it and was so lucky to travel and embark upon the hotel trade in the Caribbean.
What is your biggest professional achievement to date and why?
Hosting the worldwide Sotheby’s Realty Forum in Cayman in 2007 was a significantly important event for me. It was the first time they had ever come offshore and we were very proud to have been selected as host country to such a savvy group. I had to give a presentation to them on the welcoming morning.  Burns helped me put it together and we included all kinds of interesting current and historical information on Cayman. It was very rewarding.    
How do you like to spend your free time?
I have been really poor at carving time for myself in the last few years, but I have recently started back playing squash, (I was an Irish Junior many moons ago!) and I also would like to rejoin the choir and to ride horses occasionally, but these days only for fun.
What are you reading right now?
The Purple Cow by Seth Godin and also Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.  I invariably reach for motivational, marketing or business books that I can take bite sizes from.  I also like poetry.
What is your favourite television programme?
Well, I don’t really take much time to watch the TV, but I do love Samantha Brown’s Travel Programmes,   I think she is a master of communication, she is so fun and easy to watch.  I am sure that she writes her own programme as she is so comfortable with her delivery and subject.
Do you enjoy listening to music? If so, what is your favourite type/band/performer?
I truly love all forms of music, which was one of my early specialist subjects!  I just love soul and R&B, jazz, classics and enjoy Kiss radio on Sundays. I also treasure watching American Idol with my teenage daughter Lara–and also listening to her playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano.
What keeps you awake at night and why?
Thankfully, I sleep like a baby.  I work really hard and rest easy at night that I have done my best.
How would you sum up your attitude to life, in one sentence?
Surround yourself with positive people, learn from the past, have fun, and choose opportunities wisely for the future.


L-r Burns, Lara and Sheena Conolly