What’s it like running one of Ireland’s biggest and best outdoor adventure centres? Robert Carmichael, Managing Director of Magherafelt-based The Jungle, talks paint balling, paragliding, paramotors and much more in today’s Irish News High Flyers.
What was your first job?
My first paid job was working at Larne Golf Club when I was at school. I did a bit of everything – helped out on the greens, collected glasses and washed the dishes. This gave me a great grounding for hard work. I also helped out on our family farm from a young age too.
What qualifications do you have?
I’ve got a Degree in Biology. I’ve also taken part in dozens of training courses and gained qualifications required for anyone who works for a successful outdoor adventure centre.
What do you attribute your success to?
Grit, determination and hard work.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
I’d say I’m friendly, ambitious and a go-getter. I think my friends and colleagues would say I’m a good laugh as well!
Who do you look up to in business?
I have enormous respect and admiration for Dean Kaman who invented the Segway. He is a fantastic advocate for science and technology. I also read Peter Jones autobiography a few years ago and a number of things stuck with me. The “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” ethos is a very blinkered way of thinking. If you want to create a successful business you are never going to be able to do everything yourself. You must invest time in good staff – nurture them, delegate responsibilities to them and allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
We work in a friendly, laid-back environment. People have the freedom to express themselves but there are also boundaries. I think we all have a great working relationship at The Jungle and there’s a real family feel about the place.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
The level of VAT.
What website or app could you not do without?
What was the last book you read?
What car do you drive?
A Landrover Discovery.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
A few years back, I was in Nepal paragliding. I got caught in what’s called ‘rotary turbulence’ and fell out of the sky at 400ft. I was wearing a GoPro camera on my chest and looking back on it now, I was lucky to walk away virtually unscathed.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
I’m one of a few people in Northern Ireland that Paramotors. It’s like gliding with an engine on your back. It’s a great release from work.