60 seconds with: Evelyn O’Toole

By Business & Finance
06 July 2017
60 seconds with: Evelyn O'Toole

Evelyn O’Toole, founder and CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions speaks with Business & Finance about her advancement in the medical sector.

Q. What was your first job? 

My very first job was in a jewellery store in Clifden, but in terms of my career it would be at an industrial paints company in the UK where I tested paints for tractors, cars and tennis courts. The company had 38 men in production and three laboratory personnel and I was the only female member of staff, so that was good experience. I got on well and really enjoyed it and even assisted with the development of an anti-theft test kit for scaffolding while I was there. 

Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

From a work perspective it would have to be starting Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS) at the age of 25. We’ve grown from being just me, to 140 employees with two premises, so that’s a fantastic achievement for me and we’re still growing.

From a personal stance, I’m very proud to be able to say that I can sprint at 14KPH (30 second intervals) and can make people laugh!

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?  

It would be to nurture your relationships, both inside and outside of the workplace, and to empower people to excel in what they do.

Q. If you could step into the shoes of one business person for a day, who would it be and why? 

I would have to go with Richard Branson as he always looks happy and content. I admire his positive outlook and the way he has built his company brand and diversified into many different sectors. Plus his people skills are incredible.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

We have a collaborative and diverse working environment at CLS and I believe that the best way to motivate is to encourage everyone to be brave, push harder and be the best version of themselves.

I am always open with everyone and share what’s happening in the company and believe that this also encourages and motivates both myself and my colleagues.

Q. How do you relax?

When times allows, I would have to say that getting some space for solitude and reflection in the day allows me to relax.

I would also say practicing yoga, taking a walk along the coast in Connemara, and catching up with friends and family over some good food and wine – it never fails!

Q. In three words or less, how would you define success?

Security and sustainability.

Q. What’s your motto?

Go hard or go home! We have nothing to lose most of the time, so it’s about having integrity and giving your best.

Q. What are your aspirations for the future of your business?

It would be to retain our current clients, grow with them and add new clients to our portfolio as well as partnering with more multinational companies. Internationally, we are looking to grow our business from 7% to 25% in the European and American markets.

We are also looking to significantly increase our overall turnover by 75% in the next three years.

I’d like to see growth in our expertise areas, outside of our core offerings, such as oil spillage analysis and jar testing to optimise drinking water treatment, as well as R&D microbiology projects, examples would be microbiology test method development and validation of sterile membranes, injectables and delivery systems.

We complete this area of test development for product approval and changes for FDA approval in collaboration with our clients.

Another core area for us is our analysts on contract, our USP, our analysts are highly trained and complete commercial testing under GMP and FDA at our laboratories or under contract from CLS at our clients laboratories and we’d see this area also expanding in the future as more companies look to outsource.

We have a collaborative and diverse working environment at CLS and I believe that the best way to motivate is to encourage everyone to be brave, push harder and be the best version of themselves


Evelyn O’Toole is the founder and CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions and has been a scientist for more than 20 years’ with extensive experience in the environmental, food, medical device and pharmaceutical industries. She is a finalist in this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year and is also an advocate for Cancer Care West.

Complete Laboratory Solutions is the largest privately owned contract laboratory in Ireland and provides sampling, analysis and fully trained micro and analytical analysts on contract to clients in the food, environmental, medical device and pharmaceutical industries.

Set up in 1994, CLS are based in the west of Ireland with two facilities in Galway, and employ 140 staff.