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The Most Powerful Women In Ireland Part I

By louisejohnston

December 20, 2016 at 12:18am


I've made two previous lists similar to this one: The 50 Most Influential People On Twitter In Ireland and The Ones To Watch For 2015, and the feedback I got from both was that I didn't feature enough women. And they were right. In business and especially in Ireland, we have quite an obvious imbalance of male-female ratio in senior roles. But not all love is lost, there are hundreds if not thousands of women given men a run for their money in the boardrooms. So here is part one of a two part feature which will include the 50 most powerful women in Ireland. Some are empire builders. Others are hired guns. So here they are in no particular order:

1. Louise Phelan- Vice President Global Operations PayPal

She was the last president of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, is a non-executive director of Ryanair and the Vice President, Global Operations EMEA at PayPal- its clear Louise wears many hats.


2. Cathriona Hallahan- Managing Director Microsoft Ireland

Not only is Cathriona the MD of one of the world's biggest tech companies, she's also the secretary/treasurer of the DanceSport Federation of Ireland, a non-executive director on the board of the National Children's Hospital. She's been with Microsoft for 29 years now and started with no professional qualifications. Inspiring journey.


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3. Siobhan Talbot- Managing Director Glanbia Group

Part of Ireland's largest food company that employs over 5,000 people worldwide. She's one of the few female board directors of an Irish listed company.

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4. Caroline Keeling- MD & CEO of Keelings Ltd.

Caroline was the winner of Image Business Woman of the Year 2013. Keeling's Fruit and Technology Group employs over 2,000 people across five divisions with operations across the globe and and has a turnover in excess of €300M.


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5. Geraldine O'Leary- Commercial Director RTE

Geraldine is responsible for commercial revenue generated across RTE Television, previously Media Director from Saatchi & Saatchi. A wealth of knowledge, highly respected and known for her brilliant client relations.


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6. Jane McDaid- Founder & MD of Thinkhouse Youth Communications Agency

Jane heads up one of Ireland's best PR agencies. Thinkhouse was co-founded in 2001. Known for executing some of the best experiential events, creative content and campaigns for global brands such as Coca-Cola, Three Mobile and Heineken. They've a UK office which opened in 2013.


7. Norah Casey- Broadcaster & Publisher

Publisher and broadcaster Norah Casey works between radio, TV and her own business Harmonia– Ireland's largest magazine company. She is currently working on a range of TV and radio projects and until recently co-anchored Newstalk Breakfast. She most recently published a book Spark. There's nothing Norah can't seem to do.


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8. Katherine Zappone- Senator & Social Entreprenuer

Katherine Zappone is a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission and an independent member of Seanad Éireann. She is extremely passionate and committed to bringing about progressive change, rooted in an appreciation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all people.

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9. Lorainne Tuhill- Head of Marketing Google

Over the last decade Lorainne's job has been to tell the evolving story of Google to the world by bringing the magic of Google's many products to customers in a simple way. A lot achieved from this DCU graduate.

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10. Margaret Heffernan- CEO Dunnes Stores

Margaret inherited the family business Dunnes Stores from her father Ben Dunne. Margaret is responsible for making Dunnes Stores one of the most successful retailers in Ireland with over 150 stores in Ireland and Europe.


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11. Lucy Gaffney- Chairperson Communicorp

Lucy is the most powerful woman in media. She's chairperson of Communicorp and board member of Independent News and Media (INM), Lucy Gaffney is the most powerful woman in Irish media. Communicorp is a communications group that owns and operates radio stations across Ireland, UK, Europe and the Middle East, which includes well known Irish national stations Today FM and Newstalk FM.


12. Joan Freeman- Founder Pieta House

Pieta House is the most respected service for those in suicidal and self harm distress in Ireland. Joan a former practising psychologist founded Pieta House in 2006. 90% of their income comes from fundraising events that are held across the country on a regular basis.


13. Gervaise Slowey- CEO Communicorp

Gervais was made CEO and director of Communicorp in 2013. The DCU graduate has had a colourful career in advertising, PR and media working for the likes of CPC Foods, Ogilvy & Mather Dublin and BBDO Germany.


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14. Caroline Downey- Director & Co-Owner MCD Promotions

The most powerful woman in the music industry in Ireland, Caroline is responsible for Hozier's recent successes, Ireland's best gigs and festivals and is a former Dragon for the Irish Celebrity Apprentice. Not only this Caroline has worked to raise nearly €40 million for the ISPCC and Childline.


15. Orla Kiely- Fashion Designer

Orla Kiely is based in London and is most famous for her early career designing hats, and has moved on to design handbags, clothes and other items. Her designs have been seen on the likes of Kate Middleton afirmming her as a go-to for classic 60's inspired designs.


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16. Kelli O'Keeffe- Director PSG Communications

With the recent merger of Slattery Comms and Pembroke Comms, Kelli is now the Director of PSG Comms. These guyshave just gained a couple dozen new clients in the past 12 months and are chasing the youth communications area with their ever growing team on social media and data experts.


17. Anne O'Leary- CEO Vodafone Ireland

Anne has a fondness for triathlons and exercise and she exercises this competitive streak in Vodafone. Her appointment as CEO in 2013 marked the first appointment of a native Irish to lead the mobile operator in this role since it came to Ireland with the acquisition of Eircell over a decade ago.


18. Katie Taylor- Olympic Athlete

Katie boxes and trains with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, she is the current Irish, European, World and Olympic Champion in the 60 kg division, the best female boxer in the world and our nations sweetheart.


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19. Catherine Day- Secretary General European Commission

Former UCD graduate Catherine has been Secretary General of the European Commission since 2005 during the Barroso Commission, having previously been the Director General for the Environment.

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20. Susan Denham- Chief Justice Irish Supreme Court

Dublin-educated Susan is the first female Chief Justice of the Irish Supreme Court. As Chief Justice, Judge Denham is a member of the Presidential Commission and is also an ex officio member of the Council of State.


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21. Noirin O'Sullivan- Garda Commissioner

Noirin is the first woman to run the Garda Síochána in its 93 year history. O'Sullivan's qualifications also make for impressive reading. She has completed an FBI executive leadership programme designed for chiefs of police worldwide and holds a First Class Honours Advance Management Diploma from the Michael Smurfit School of Business in UCD. (source)


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22. Iseult Ward- Co-Founder & CEO FoodCloud

Iseult a Business and Economics graduate and winner of Trinity Business student of the Year 2013. FoodCloud specialises in preventing food waste through charity. Iseult featured on our Ones To Watch for 2015 post.


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23. Una Foden- Singer The Saturdays

Una rose to fame in 2008 as 1/5 of the girl band The Saturdays. Una is a judge on The Voice of Ireland TV talent show alongside Niall Breslin.

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24. Miriam O'Callaghan- Broadcaster RTE

TV presenter, radio host and super mum and highly entertaining character. Miriam is best known for her current affairs show Prime Time and has submersed herself in charity fundraising hosting several events annually.


25. Dr. Lydia Foy- Transgender Rights Activist

Dr. Lydia Foy has been campaigning for gender recognition in Ireland for over two decades, and has recently seen her huge effort beginning to pay off with the Irish government preparing legislation to allow for equal gender recognition for all citizens. Although the prepared legislation has been suggested as being too conservative, Dr. Foy's hard work in ensuring Ireland meets its obligation arising from European and international human rights treaties has been widely acknowledged.


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