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Image / Editorial

IMAGE Businesswoman Of The Year Awards 2016: The Winners!

22nd Nov 2016

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On Monday evening, November 21st, among 800 guests, the winners of the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2016, in association with Samsung, Eir, No7, and The Loop, and supported by Newstalk,, Enterprise Ireland and Marks & Spencer, were announced at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dublin, Burlington Road. Now in its tenth year, the much anticipated IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards champions trailblazing businesswomen’s contribution to Ireland’s economy and their vital role within the Irish business community at home and abroad.

Pamela Quinn, managing director, Kuehne + Nagel, was named as the Overall 2016 IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year


Pamela Quinn joined the global logistics giant, Kuehne + Nagel in 2001. Initially in a financial role, she succeeded in adding tangible value and was rewarded in 2002 by being tasked with setting up a human resources function. In 2007 and at 30 years of age, she moved to a general management role, controlling the Dublin branch, where she grew turnover and net profitability in a three-year period by almost 100%. In 2010, Pamela took full control of all-Ireland operations, again overseeing a dramatic three-year growth cycle, which firmly placed Kuehne + Nagel as the largest and most profitable Freight & Logistics company in Ireland. Further recognition came in 2013 when, aged 36, she was awarded the role of managing director for Kuehne + Nagel Ireland. In the interim period to date, Pamela has presided over outstanding growth, well in excess of the marketplace, strengthening Kuehne + Nagel’s position at the pinnacle of the Freight & Logistics sector in Ireland. She became the first female country managing director and designated top management resource in Kuehne + Nagel globally.

The nine category winners are:

Entrepreneur of the Year: Oonagh O?Hagan, founder and managing director, Meaghers Pharmacy Group


Trained pharmacist Oonagh O?Hagan is the founder, 100% shareholder and managing director of the Meaghers Pharmacy Group. Since buying the business in 2001, she now presides over a team of 100 employees working in eight (soon to be nine) pharmacy outlets and a successful online retail division. Oonagh is acting chair on the Preliminary Proceedings Committee of the Pharmacy Regulator, The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland; she sits on the strategic board for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Trinity College Dublin and also on the finance committee in the Royal College of Surgeons. Oonagh is passionate about supporting other female entrepreneurs and as such was selected as a lead entrepreneur on the Going for Growth Programme in Ireland.

Management Professional Businesswoman of the Year: Kay Connolly, COO St Vincent’s University Hospital


With 32 years? industry experience, Kay Connolly has received multiple promotions since joining St Vincent’s University Hospital – nurse, nurse manager, assistant director of nursing and director of unscheduled care, culminating in her current role as chief operating officer. Kay is known for driving change and quality improvements, which maintain the high-quality service offered to St Vincent’s Hospital patients. She provides leadership, management and clinical expertise to ensure the efficient running of one of Ireland’s largest acute level 4 hospitals with a staff complement of over 2,500. Kay works alongside the CEO and senior management in implementing the hospital’s strategic objectives. She is the first female appointment to this level within the management structure in 15 years.

Start-up of the Year: Kasha Connolly, director, Hazel Mountain Chocolate


Polish-born Kasha Connolly’s sense of product style and direction has seen her create award-winning luxury chocolate in The Burren Mountains, north Co Clare, since 2014. Hazel Mountain Chocolate, Kasha’s boutique bean-to-bar chocolate factory and shop, is one of the smallest and most remote chocolate factories in the world. Here, she produces very small batches of top quality chocolate using rare Trinitario cacao beans, raw cane sugar and Irish milk from grass-fed cows. Hazel Mountain Chocolate employs nine people, and in the same start-up period, Kasha has published two cookery books.

Creative Businesswoman of the Year: Debbie O’Donnell, series producer, Xpos?, TV3


TV producer Debbie O’Donnell, originally from Cork, has been at the helm of TV3’s Xpos? since its launch in 2007. Following a successful career on breakfast TV with Sky UK, Debbie first created the hugely successful Ireland AM, which remains a winner 17 years on. In creating Xpos? almost ten years ago, she created a show unlike anything else in Ireland. Her extensive knowledge of the Irish viewer and her skills in production and managing a high performing team ensured that the show quickly built up a cult-like status. The show has led to a number of successful commercial franchises, establishing it as one of TV3’s most valuable assets. A senior manager in TV3, in her current role as head of daytime, Debbie combines creativity with her astute business drive.

Social Entrepreneurship: Marian Carroll, volunteer CEO of Ronald McDonald House


Marian has been volunteer CEO of Ronald McDonald House since 2000. In that time, she has successfully steered the charity to support the families of over 2,700 sick children on the island of Ireland. Marian oversaw the building of the first Ronald McDonald House in Ireland, providing accommodation for 16 families of sick children attending Crumlin Hospital in 2004. In 2010, the charity expanded its accommodation facility by purchasing a local house and converting it to provide an extra four rooms for families. She is currently spearheading the capital campaign to build a new 50-bedroom Ronald McDonald House at the new children’s hospital site in St James’s. Working full-time in a voluntary capacity, Marian was also on the Global Advisory Council of RMHC and is a member of a number of global sub committees. The charity is represented in 36 countries.

Young Businesswoman of the Year: Marissa Carter, founder and CEO, Cocoa Brown


Marissa is the founder and creator of the first 1 Hour Tan on the market. In less than four years, Cocoa Brown now comprises of 15 innovative beauty products and is sold in almost 10,000 stockists worldwide at a rate of four products per minute. Well known retail partners include Primark, Tesco, House of Fraser, Dunnes Stores, Boots, and Superdrug. Cocoa Brown’s largest markets are the UK, Scandinavia, Australia, Ireland and the US. Off the back of celebrity endorsements from Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian, Cocoa Brown will be listed in early 2017 in Walmart in the USA. Marissa won the IMAGE Start-Up award in 2013 and this year, the James Joyce Award from UCD for her contribution to female entrepreneurship.

Overseas Businesswoman of the Year Award: Fiona Dawson, global president, Mars Food


Fiona joined Mars as a graduate trainee in 1988 from Trinity College Dublin, and has held many different positions, including becoming the first female Irish GM in 1999, European marketing director, president of Mars Chocolate UK, and president of global retail. Fiona now serves as global president of Mars Food, Drinks, and Multisales and is a member of the Mars Incorporated Leadership Team, overseeing sales in excess of $35B USD. Mars Food is the fourth largest segment at Mars, Incorporated and is the proud provider of much-loved brands like Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio and Masterfoods; the Multisales business covers over 50 different markets from Israel to South Africa, Nordics, Central and Southern Europe, and of course, her beloved Ireland. The three very different businesses require Fiona to juggle many competing priorities at any given time, as well as requiring different leadership styles. She is based in Brussels, lives in the UK, and travels widely around the world. Fiona has a passion for the advancement of women’s entrepreneurship and human rights, especially in the developing world, where she has spent time in Ghana, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. She is a member of the Women’s Business Council and has served on the Economic Development Advisory Group to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Digital, Science & Technology Businesswoman of the Year: Fiona O’Brien, director, Lenovo


Fiona has a dual role within the Lenovo organisation. She has been the country manager for Lenovo in Ireland for ten years. Additionally, she is the EMEA business transformation director. In both roles, Fiona and her team act as the agents of change within EMEA and systematically manage projects and programmes to ensure that the company undertakes the right initiatives, drives execution and allocates critical resources appropriately. Running the Irish operation is a huge source of pride for Fiona, as she led its initial formation following the acquisition of IBM’s PC division. In her transformation position, she is responsible for the change management strategy within Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

CEO Businesswoman of the Year Award: Margot Slattery, country president, Sodexo


Margot Slattery has corporate governance and directorial responsibility for growing Sodexo’s business segments in the Republic and Northern Ireland. She oversees 2,100 staff delivering onsite integrated services that improve the quality of life for clients and their staff at 200 site locations. Under her leadership, the company has won Best Site Contract Caterers at the 2016 Keelings Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Catering; Total Facilities Management Service Provider of the Year at the 2016 Facilities Management Awards for Ireland; and the NSAI Overall Excellence in People Development Award in 2015. Margot has grown the Sodexo Ireland business by 11% year on year since becoming managing director in 2012 and country president in 2015. An active advocate, Margot represents Ireland on Sodexo’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and is a member of the leadership team for its global LGBT network.


The awards also presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Freda Hayes, CEO of The Blarney Group, who oversees the development of two iconic Irish brands: Blarney Woollen Mills and Meadows & Byrne. The Group employs over 500 people between three Blarney Woollen Mills stores and 13 Meadows & Byrne stores throughout Ireland. The Blarney Group additionally runs two online stores to support these individual brands. Dove Hill Irish Design Centre, Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel and Bunratty Castle Hotel also fall under The Blarney Group portfolio. Freda is a fellow of the Irish Management Institute and has sat on many boards throughout her career, including CTT (The Irish Export), Hibernian Insurance, Aer Rianta and UCC.

Clodagh Edwards, CEO of IMAGE Publications, says, ?I’m delighted that our tenth anniversary IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards has been such a stand-out one, both in terms of the calibre of entrants, and the brilliant event itself. We had more than 394 smart, successful women to consider in the judging process, and our Awards night drew 800 attendees from all sectors of the commercial, corporate and creative worlds. These awards really embody all that is positive about women in business – the support, inspiration, leadership and encouragement is infectious. It’s no wonder this is my favourite night of the year.?

The IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards judging panel included: in the chair, Ann Reihill, director at IMAGE Publications; Bobby Kerr, entrepreneur and presenter of Newstalk’s Down to Business; Melanie Morris, editor-in-chief of IMAGE Magazine; Sarita Johnston, manager of female entrepreneurship at Enterprise?Ireland; Orla Nugent, MBA programme director at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School; Rosaleen McMeel, editor of IMAGE Magazine; Lucy Gaffney, chairperson of Communicorp; Caroline Kennedy, founder of Kennedy PR + Brand; Nick Mulcahy, publisher and editor of Business Plus; Laura George, editor at large at IMAGE Publications; Dearbhail McDonald, group business editor, Independent News and Media; Clodagh Edwards, CEO of IMAGE Publications; and Breege O’Donoghue, brand ambassador, Primark.

The IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards are sponsored by Samsung, Eir, No7 and The Loop, and are proudly supported by Newstalk,, Enterprise Ireland and Marks & Spencer.