Get ready to get inspired (and maybe a little envious), because these Irish women have gone international, and they've brought their adventurous spirit and opportunistic way of thinking along. Have no doubt, the diaspora is all the better for them.
Including game changers, world savers, creatives (and even a woman who was once in charge of the famous Red Chair on The Graham Norton Show), these women are shaking things up in their respective home-away-from-homes, and showing us that the road less traveled can lead to the most exciting destinations.
1. Holly McGlynn, Fashion Photographer, London
Originally from Dublin, fashion photographer Holly McGlynn has been in London for nine years now. She first moved there to pursue an MA in Photography at Goldsmith’s and then spent a couple of years working in fine art photography, before making a side-step into fashion photography six years ago. Her clients include Chanel, Levi’s, Mulberry, Elle Australia, and Glamour USA, to name a few. Holly has previously won a gold medal in the PX3 Paris Photography Prize and has been shortlisted twice for Irish Fashion Photographer of the Year.
“Nothing beats seeing my work in print, be that in the pages of a magazine or in-store. Although going to Paris to shoot for Chanel was pretty cool too!”
2. Evanna Lyons, Co-Founder of Dunia Designs, Tanzania
Evanna first went to Tanzania in May 2014 to work in a mental health clinic as a Counselling Psychotherapist. She was baffled by how polluted the area was and after two years, she and a friend decided to do something about it. With that, Dunia Designs was born (dunia means earth in Swahili).
Dunia Designs hires unemployed individuals in the area to gather up the plastics off the streets, and from this plastic the company makes everything from couches and beanbags (filled with cleaned, shredded plastic bags), to tables, chairs, decking, beehives, and school desks. Focusing on environment, education, employment and enterprise ("The Four E's"), the company aims to support local businesses, education initiatives, the protection of indigenous forests, and the employment of local women.
Now into their third year, things are looking good for Evanna and her partner Alexis, “I want to expand to markets where people consume a lot more than they do here and facilitate employment from back-to-work schemes in some capacity. Poverty is a problem all over the world, obviously not only in the developing world.”
3. Aoife Byrne - Commercial Manager at Peckham Levels, London
Aoife Byrne is the Commercial Manager at Peckham Levels, a project that transformed an old empty 7 storey car park into an incredible hub of food, drink, continuous events, as well as providing a creative, affordable workspace for independent businesses and artists.
“As Commercial Manager it’s my responsibility to source and curate the best mix of talent for each of the 90 units we have on site. I originally came to London three years ago and was working a regular 9-5 office job until I decided I needed something that didn’t give me such Sunday night fear each week. Now I work in a carpark where I can eat, do yoga, take a ceramclass,ss , get my hair blow-dried and have a cocktail all in the one place! And then maybe do some work after…It’s really amazing and an incredible project to a part of.”
4. Brona C Titley, Comedy Writer and Actor, London
Brona Titley is a brilliant comedy writer and actor, working in television in London. She has written for the likes of the BBC BAFTA Awards, '8 Out of 10 Cats' (More 4), The Lodge (Disney Channel) and many more.
Brona moved to London after a degree in Trinity, to train as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), “for some reason my careers' advisor at school never mentioned the option of being a 'professional gag writer', but luckily I managed to trick lots of producers into hiring me as one anyway. (Must have been my Irish charm. And all the bribes)”
5. Anna Kiersnowska, Personal Nail Technician To Neil Young, Worldwide
It was a real case of “right place, right time” for Anna Kiersnowska. In 2008 she was working in Mink Hand and Foot Spa, Ballsbridge, when a call came in from The Four Seasons requesting for a nail technician to come and assist a resident. The resident was Neil Young.
Neil’s acrylic nail for guitar playing had broken, with only a few hours to spare before his gig in Malahide Castle. Anna fixed his nail and before she had even made it down the hallway, a member of Neil’s team called to see if she would go on tour as Neil’s personal nail technician. Within 24 hours Anna had joined Neil’s 2008 world tour team, and for the next ten years, Anna traveled with Neil for tours and individual shows, progressing to become a production assistant.
“I can safely say it was the best experience of my life, meeting friends and colleagues I now consider family and seeing some of the coolest places on earth. I can only advise other people who may get one such once-in-a-lifetime-chance to do the same; accept it and think about it later!”
6. Kate McLaughlin, Founder & CEO Of We Got POP, London
Kate co-founded We Got POP in 2014, the digital platform and marketplace that makes the production process more efficient, transparent and secure for film and TV production services. In creating POP, Kate wanted to revolutionise Film & TV production industry forever. With credits including Wonder Woman, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens and Bond film Spectre, and having raised a total of £2.5m from investors, the future looks bright for We Got POP as Kate launches the new U.S. office in New York.
Kate is an advocate for women in business and is involved in a mentorship scheme for young female entrepreneurs.
7. Doireann Larkin, Development Manager at Tender, London
Doireann Larkin’s job is one that seems particularly notable in today’s current social and political climate.
Tender is an organisation that uses arts and drama-based programmes to engage young people in the prevention of domestic and sexual abuse. As Development Manager, Doireann focuses on securing support, developing new projects which respond to the changing needs of young people. The organisation recently engaged with the British government in parliamentary consultations about relationship education at schools.
“I originally did a degree in UCC which was in Politics and Drama & Theatre Studies, then went to the UK to do my Masters in Arts Management in 2007. I knew I wanted to use my education in the arts and apply it to social change, but I didn’t realise how closely I’d be able to marry the two into the role I’m doing now. Tender has expanded a lot since I started working here in 2009 and I’m delighted that we’ll be delivering our first Irish project in a Dublin school this year as I’d always hoped I’d get the chance to bring my projects back home.”
8. Georgie Smithwick: Innovator at Diageo, London
Georgie Smithwick works as an Innovator at Diageo’s London HQ, which means she’s involved in developing new drinks brands and bringing them to market. Georgie recently lead the development and launch of Roe & Co Irish Whiskey, which she contends was “a total labour of love. When we launched it in 17 countries, words can’t describe the excitement I felt seeing it all come to life”. Georgie is involved in helping to drive every aspect of the business, including finance, sales and marketing.
“It feels like being an entrepreneur in a start-up business but with the support of some of the world’s leading experts. It is also so diverse. No two days are the same, one day I might be with a Master Blender perfecting the liquid in a distillery, the next I’ll be in one of the world’s best creative agencies working on brand design. This role has taught me so much about business – it never gets boring!”
9. Michaela O'Shaughnessy, Social Media Producer at Teen Vogue, New York
Michaela O’Shaughnessy lives in New York where she works as the Social Media Producer at Teen Vogue, a brand she’s loved ever since she was a teenager. Michaela manages the brand’s visual platforms, including Instagram and Snapchat. This has given her the opportunity to work at award shows “like the Met Gala, and I've been able interview some of my favorite celebrities and see what fashion week is really like behind the scenes!”.
Of course, every job has their downsides, "for me working in the social media industry means that there’s no such thing as starting work at 9am and finishing at 5pm, it’s literally 24/7. But like everything, you just get used to it and make the most of the opportunity you’re given.”
10. Vicky Taylor - Producer at The Graham Norton Show, London
Vicky Taylor is a creative producer with experience in comedy entertainment, live daytime, news, sport and chat shows. Having completed her MA International Journalism course in 2010, Vicky’s initial claim-to-fame came when she was put in charge of the infamous “Red Chair” when working as a researcher at The Graham Norton Show. During this time she showed her strengths and worked her way up the ranks to become producer of the BAFTA-winning chat show.
"My favourite part of my job is seeing my ideas come alive onscreen. Another incredible part is getting to meet some really amazing people. I don't often get star struck but meeting Hillary Clinton recently was a definite highlight."
11. Lara Briggs, CRM Marketing Assistant at Farfetch, London
From a young age, Lara Briggs wanted to a pursue a career in fashion but then decided she’d first need to get a grasp on business. Lara did BESS in Trinity and then completed a masters in UCD’s Michael Smurfit Business School. As soon as she finished her masters, Lara moved to London and after a few months of job hunting found her dream job in Farfetch, the online fashion retail platform.
“There are lots of parts to my role, it changes as the business grows, which keeps things interesting. I work on editorial, data-driven, personalised content, always aiming to create something new that is relevant and grabs the customer’s attention. I also enjoy the discount, last year’s company gathering/ festival in Portugal, and my fantastic team!”