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Image / Editorial

Leading The Way

09th Oct 2013

Entrepeneur of the Year Award winner Margaret OConnor of Quigleys Bakery at the Image Busineswoman of the year 2012 Award

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SUSAN WHELAN, group senior executive vice president, King Power International Group, and chief executive of Leicester City Football Club Winner of the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year and winner of the Overseas Businesswoman of the Year (Extract from interview with Jennifer O’Connell)?In a career that has been largely conducted away from the limelight, the Dublin woman has risen to the top levels of the international duty free retail industry, to become senior executive vice president of the Thailand based King Power International Group and – more recently – chief executive of Leicester City Football Club. One of the first things I want to ask her when we meet on a bright, cold morning in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel, the day after the awards, is why she wasn’t at the famous Farmleigh summit, which saw people like Joyce, Dermot Desmond and Denis O’Brien descend on Dublin for a kind of governmentsponsored brainstorming in 2009. ?Nobody invited me to attend,? she laughs, slightly surprised by the question.

Entrepreneur of the Year

?MARGARET O’CONNOR, joint MD, Quigleys Bakery Margaret began working in sales, marketing, HR and product development with husband John at his family bakery in Tipperary since 1988. What began as a small bakery and shop with three staff has grown into a multi-million-euro business. Quigleys now employs 150 members of staff across nine counties, at 17 different sites. Margaret oversees the management of 14 Quigleys Caf? Bakery Stores and two Caf? Q shops, as well as the bakery in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and is proud to say the company is 100 per cent Irish.

Creative Businesswoman of the Year

ANN-MARIE O?NEILL, joint MD, O’Donnell O?Neill Design Associates Ann-Marie has designed some of the most prolific hospitality venues in Ireland and America. Over 30 venues in Belfast have her creative name to them, including the luxe five-star Merchant Hotel in Belfast, which has won numerous design awards in itself

Management Professional

Businesswoman of the Year

DEIRDRE O’BRIEN, director of sales and marketing, Carton House After joining Carton House in 2005, Deirdre began cultivating a worldwide brand for the resort. Now, having secured the Irish Open 2013 to take place at the hotel, she has established it as one of the leading luxury destinations in Ireland and the world.

Young Businesswoman of the Year

SOPHIE MORRIS, director, Kooky Dough The woman behind the delicious Kooky Dough brand has brought the ready-to-bake product from farmers? market to global market in just three years. Sophie has won numerous taste awards, including a Blas na hEireann and a UK Great Taste Award, and Kooky Dough is now retailed in Ireland, the UK, France, and the United Arab Emirates

Social Entrepreneurship

JOAN FREEMAN, founder and CEO, Pieta House Psychologist Joan Freeman had a vision to provide a unique counselling service to those suffering from self-harm and suicidal ideation. In 2006, she opened the first Pieta House Centre in Dublin and has since expanded; four centres are currently open in Dublin and one in Limerick. This year, a further four centres will open in Roscrea, Cork, Galway and Kerry, helping realize Joan’s ambition of providing a service within 100km of every person in Ireland.


GRAINNE BARRON, founder, Foxframe technology Media industry expert Grainne Barron has worked in digital media technologies for 15 years. She holds an MBA from UCD and a BS in Business Management from Fordham in New York, while professionally she has worked with NBC, Midas Television and Animo Ltd. Last year, she was a finalist in the Irish Technology Leadership Group Technology Awards in Silicon Valley and was awarded for her work in cloud-based media technology.

Last year’s IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards were sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, who continually look for ways to help and offer support to new businesses, enterprise-ireland.com.