Monday 25 June 2018

Our 'most powerful women' to be celebrated at awards

Dr Nora Khaldi
Dr Nora Khaldi
Tetlanyo Lekalake
Rita Shah
Ann Kelleher
Liz Cunnigham
Pamela Quinn
Eleanor McEvoy
Ramona Nicholas

Patrick Edwards

Four-hundred of the country's business, economic and social leaders will set aside their business rivalries tonight to celebrate this year's Top 25: Ireland's Most Powerful Women awards.

The event is a showcase to recognise successful women across a range of fields - including entrepreneurs, business leaders and emerging talent and trailblazers in politics and society. It also makes headlines in its own right.

At last year's event, the founder and CEO of the WXN Network, Sherri Stevens, rounded on the then newly appointed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the lack of gender diversity in his Cabinet.

In 2016, Rose Hynes kicked off a national debate when she backed the idea of formal gender quotas, including on Irish corporate boards.

Tonight's WXN award winners are set to drive that debate further at the event at the InterContinental, Dublin.

Senator Joan Freeman, founder of Pieta House, will make a key note speech; also on stage 2017 WXN award winner Bronwyn Brophy - an executive at Medtronic - will interview Ramona Nicholas, a 2014 award winner and joint managing director of the Cara Group pharmacy and home ware chain.

Ms Brophy will also interview Tetlanyo Lekalake, a Facebook executive based in Ireland who is also co-founder of the non-profit African Professional Network Ireland.

Winners on this year's list include:

● Dr Neasa Hardiman, an award-winning director and screenwriter who won a Best Director IFTA and BAFTA for her work on crime series 'Happy Valley' was also nominated for the 2017 Best Director IFTA for the Amazon series 'Z: The Beginning of Everything', about 1920s' artist and writer Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.

● Joy Neville, the former Ireland woman's rugby international captain and ground-breaking rugby international referee.

● Corporate head hunter Ruth Curran, MERC Partners' managing partner and a 19-year veteran in executive search and leadership consulting, who focuses on placing senior executives, C-level and general management candidates.

● Scientist and entrepreneur Dr Nora Khaldi, founder of Nuritas, one of the fastest-growing biotech companies in the world. The company is a rarity as an Irish start-up led by a woman that has attracted significant funding - $28m (€23.7m) - for its research.

● Sinéad McSweeney leads both Twitter's public policy and communications team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as serving as the managing director of Twitter's operations in Ireland. She was previously director of communications for An Garda Síochána.

● Oonagh Murphy is a theatre director who has worked with companies such as the Gate Theatre, the Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre Company in Ireland and Donmar Warehouse, Royal Shakespeare Company, and Playful Productions in the UK.

● Carol Andrews is global head of service directors, client experience, asset servicing, at BNY Mellon.

Since 2015 she has been responsible for client service for alternative clients for fund administration and custody globally.

● Google's Liz Cunningham is the internet giant's EMEA finance director, responsible for developing the strategic direction and future growth of the company as it relates to finance, investment and tax planning for 100-plus entities in EMEA.

● Lisa Dillon is general manager of the EMEA Digital Sales Centre at Microsoft, a newly established team of more than 700 people, based in Dublin.

She has over 25 years of experience with blue-chip companies like Oracle, BT, Motorola and Accenture.

● Anne Dooley is managing director of Winthrop Engineering and Contracting, a qualified mechanical engineer, and director and shareholder in the business where turnover will be around €275m in 2018.

● Ann B Kelleher is senior vice president and general manager of the technology and manufacturing group at Intel, responsible for corporate quality assurance, corporate services, customer fulfilment and supply chain management, as well as strategic planning for the company's worldwide manufacturing operations.

● Pamela Quinn joined the global logistics giant Kuehne & Nagel in 2001 as managing director.

In 2010, she took full control of its all-Ireland operations, overseeing a dramatic three-year growth cycle to take turnover above €275m.

● Fiona Muldoon joined the FBD Group in 2015 as group finance director and was appointed group CEO later that year. She was previously an outspoken regulator as director of credit institutions and insurance supervision at the Central Bank of Ireland from 2011 until 2014.

● Margot Slattery is country president at Sodexo Ireland with corporate governance and directorial responsibility for all its operations in Ireland and Northern Ireland, overseeing 3,700 people and turnover of €118m. She has grown the Sodexo business in Ireland by 11pc year on year since 2012.

● Entrepreneur Rita Shah is the founder and CEO of Shabra Plastics & Recycling Limited, the first plant of its kind in Ireland for recycling, reprocessing of waste plastics and manufacturing of plastic bags from waste collected in Ireland.

● Marie Whelan is chief information officer for CRH in Europe, Ireland's biggest corporation, where she shapes the IT strategy for CRH's €13bn business across over 2,000 locations in 18 countries in Europe.

She led the mammoth programme to deliver the simultaneous IT integration of CRH's newly acquired businesses in 10 countries following completion its 2015 completion of the largest deal in Irish corporate history.

● Entreprenuer Eleanor McEvoy is the CEO of Budget Energy, a leading supplier of electricity in Northern Ireland. She has successfully built and sold two companies: Pembroke Distributors Ltd, a vending company which was sold in 2001, and Phonecard Warehouse, which achieved a £50m turnover before being sold in 2006.

● Scientist and entrepreneur Evelyn O'Toole is the founder and CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS). CLS is the largest privately owned contract laboratory in Ireland and supplies microbiological and analytical testing, and fully trained analysts on contract to clients in the food, environmental, medical device and pharmaceutical industries.

● Emily Logan, head of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, was previously Ireland's first Ombudsman for Children and was also appointed president of the European Network of Ombudsmen for Children, across 47 Council of Europe member states.

● Tara McCarthy, Bord Bia's CEO, has over 20 years' experience in the food industry. Her current role puts her on the front line of the State's response to Brexit, including leading the Irish food push into China.

● Dr Susan O'Reilly recently retired as the CEO of the new Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, a position she held from November 2014 to January 2018.

Her role encompassed leading, planning and developing clinical service delivery, both acute and elective patient care, across our hospitals.

● Lynn Ruane is an independent senator serving in Seanad Éireann, a former president of Trinity College Dublin's Students' Union. She left school early and returned to education through a programme for young mothers at An Cosán.

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