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Here’s what our IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year 2022  judges had to say about our winners 

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By Sarah Finnan
22nd Apr 2022
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Here’s what our IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year 2022  judges had to say about our winners 

Back after a two-year hiatus, the IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year Awards got underway at the fabulous Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Wednesday night.

Our first ceremony since 2019, we celebrated the return of in-person events with a room of the country’s most inspiring female innovators, and safe to say it was a night for the ages. 

By far our most exciting ceremony to date, our highly esteemed judging panel – who you can find out more about here – had the unenviable task of whittling an impressive shortlist down to just a handful of winners. 

An unquestionably difficult job, they managed to come to an agreement in each of the categories and we had 12 extremely well-deserving winners on the night. Ranging from social entrepreneurs to sustainability champions, young businesswomen and start-ups to CEOs and empowering entrepreneurs, all of our winners impressed for their innovation, determination and dedication to making positive changes. 

Here’s what our judges had to say about the IMAGE PwC Businesswomen of the Year. 

Overall Businesswoman of the Year

Eva Pau, commercial director, Asia Market

Sometimes we are amazed as judges to find a business with a low profile that quietly goes about its business can be an absolute powerhouse when one looks under the bonnet. The Asia Market has a turnover of €56 million and is Ireland’s largest Asian food importer, distributor and retailer. Eva has worked in the business from a young age but more recently has spearheaded the growth of the business by expanding the retail footprint, diversifying into the restaurant business and creating a substantial online business. Operating in a challenging sector over the last 2 years Eva’s drive , ambition and tenacity are a credit to her and she is a most worthy and deserved winner of Image Businesswoman of the year for 2022.” – Bobby Kerr

“Eva Pau’s entry leapt off the page- every single judge on the panel was utterly blown away by her story. Her hard work, quiet determination and above all, laser focus, grew a modest family business into an enterprise with 56 million turnover and over 2 million profit p.a. We feel honoured to have discovered her massive talent and to award her BWYA.” – Laura George

Social Entrepreneur of the Year 

Caoimhe de Barra, CEO, Trócaire

“Caoimhe de Barra stood out for her extraordinary leadership in the most challenging of times, operating globally in some of the most difficult regions of the world across hugely diverse teams while maintaining the core values, culture and mission of her organisation.” – Sheelagh Daly

Social Entrepreneur Start-up of the Year

Dr Suzanne McClean, psychologist and founder, Rosabel’s Rooms

“Dr Suzanne McClean was a most worthy winner of the Social category. Born out of the sudden and tragic loss of her baby girl  Rosabell age 16 months Suzanne has created a unique service in “Rosabell’s rooms” that provides compassionate support to grieving parents who suffer the loss of a child regardless of the cause. She is an amazing example of someone who has turned personal tragedy into something positive and compassionate to selfishly help others.” – Bobby Kerr

Management Professional of the Year

Debbie Byrne, managing director, An Post Retail

“Debbie Byrne is an exceptional management professional, successfully leading a highly complex and diversified organisation through an extremely challenging period of change, while managing the expectations and needs of multiple stakeholders across the public and private sector.” – Sheelagh Daly

Sustainability Champion of the Year

Iseult Ward, CEO, FoodCloud

Iseult Ward has been at the forefront of sustainability on a global scale since her co-founding of Food Cloud in 2013. Her breathtaking agility in addressing the challenges of Covid gave birth to a new platform, Foodiverse, which will help eliminate waste even further as it streamlines the connection between people, NGOs and supplies. We loved the way she thinks so big, and just gets on with it.” – Laura George

Creative Businesswoman of the Year

Roisin Keown, owner, The Brill Building

“If you didn’t know her name before the pandemic well, now you do. The commercial creative industry is fierce competitive and Roisin is a very talented person, deserving of every accolade she has won on her career journey so far. She has gone and built something that puts her talent at the heart of the Irish and International creativity space. Even with so many years experience, it feels like this is only the beginning of a great story. We need more women like her demonstrating the immense value women bring to this industry. Can’t wait to see her influence and success over the coming years. Truly well deserving of this award.” – Stha Banks

Start-up of the Year

Denise Kenny Byrne, CEO and co-founder, The Head Plan

“In the Start-Up category, we were looking for an enterprising businesswoman, who has founded her own start-up business since January 1st 2020, which shows significant success to date and potential for growth. I was already a big fan of Denise Kenny Byrne’s wellness and personal development brand The Head Plan, but was even more impressed with the full overview of the brand’s success story. Inspired to launch the business after her husband was diagnosed with Leukaemia (while on their honeymoon!) Denise poured her energy into creating a wellness tool to support herself and others. What began as a wellness and productivity journal in early 2020 has developed since into a range of 20 products, a number-one ranking app and thriving online global community of over 30,000 members, with a full social reach of 100k+ followers. The combination of Denise’s personal drive, financial success (The Headplan increased its turnover by 100% in its first year with international sales now accounting for 46%), and promise of great things yet to come made her my number one choice.”  – Lizzie Gore-Grimes

Young Businesswoman of the Year 

Aimee Connolly, founder and CEO, Sculpted by Aimee

Aimee is a self-made entrepreneur who personifies resilience, passion, intelligence and creativity. And she’s done all of that while championing other women and generously sharing her learnings with others. While other make-up brands struggled during the pandemic, Sculpted thrived, entering more markets, launching new products and rapidly increasing turnover. Aimee has proven that risks and leaps can pay off when you steadily build a business on your own terms.” – Áine Kerr

CEO of the Year

Julie Ennis, CEO of corporate services, Sodexo UK & Ireland

“Julie Ennis of Sodexo took an unconventional career path – starting off life as a ballet teacher – to rise to the most senior levels of corporate life. Taking up her current role at the outset of the Covid 19, she showed incredible leadership during the pandemic, in addition to being an LGBT+ role model and gender equality advocate. Leading a business division that employs 10,000 people, Julie’s world class skills are undeniable, demonstrated by how she has adapted the company to meet the fast-changing needs of workplaces, with a strong focus on sustainability.” – Samantha McCaughren

Digital & Technology Businesswoman of the Year

Angela Bergin, senior vice president, Global Payments

“Angela is an inspiring role model for young Irish businesswomen. She is extremely accomplished, a proven senior leader in a global blue-chip organization. She stands out as one of a handful of female SVPS within the business, and her desire to mentor other young women in business is commendable. As an Irish businesswoman, she is making an impressive impact on a global stage.” – Caroline Kennedy

Entrepreneur of the Year

Dr Lisa Creaven and Dr Vanessa Creaven, CEOs, directors and co-founders, Spotlight Oral Care

“Dr Lisa Creavan and Dr Vanessa Creavan have shown how dynamic founders can take a business idea from a Galway base and put it on the world stage. They have developed an oral healthcare brand which is competing in the world’s most competitive retail space – the US – and the judges couldn’t help but be impressed by their success to date and the scale of their global ambition.” – Samantha McCaughren

Photography by Kieran Harnett