60 seconds with: Anne Connolly

Business, Interviews | Mon 20 Feb | Author – Business & Finance
Anne Connolly ISAX

Anne Connolly, chief executive of the Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange (ISAX), takes the Business & Finance 60-second challenge.

Q. What was your first job?

My first job, following a failed and very brief stint as a PA to the MD of a large multi-national in Dundalk, was as founder and first manager of the Dublin Well Woman Centre.

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

I think we have definitely reached a turning point in realising our vision of Ireland as a global leader in smart ageing innovations.

We have great engagement from leading companies, universities and government agencies and now really starting interesting collaborations around opportunities in this, the fastest growing global economy.

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

The startup phase of any enterprise is really tough, as anyone who has been there knows. ISAX is my fifth startup – and the most helpful advice I got was from a sympathetic board member during some dark early days who advised ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. I was just so sorry I didn’t have those words ringing in my ears many years earlier.

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

The CEO of Irish Rail, so that I could get a direct line to Limerick, ensure they sold decent coffee, herbal teas and something resembling healthy food to eat – as well as proper rubbish bins in each cabin.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

We have a compelling vision, ambitious targets and some really exciting programmes.

I try to make my enthusiasm and determination to achieve those ambitions as infectious as possible and then letting people off to use their own talents to making things happen.

Q. How do you define success?

From an ISAX perspective it would be impact, transformation and behavioural change.

Q. How do you relax?

I cycle everywhere for work – it gives me head space to chill and also the comfort of knowing exactly how long it will me to get there.

I also am an avid hillwalker and go out on the hills most Sundays.

Q. What’s your motto?

The slightly less polite version of ‘Just do it’ – called JFDI!

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

Ireland is clearly recognised as the global leader in research, design, development and commercialisation of innovations that improve the quality of life of older adults, helping them live longer and healthier lives. I believe ISAX is clearly the catalyst for making that happen.

I think we have definitely reached a turning point in realising our vision of Ireland as a global leader in smart ageing innovations


Anne Connolly is the CEO of the Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange, a network of industry, academia, investors and government agencies, developing and commercialising innovations for the global older consumer market.

This market is projected by Merrill Lynch to be worth $15tn by 2020 and ISAX aims to make Ireland a global strategic location for R&D, and new product development in this rapidly growing market by providing dedicated test-beds, incubator units and real time intelligence on key developments.

She is currently a member of the board of SEAI, a governor of the Royal Hospital Donnybrook and a member of their Voluntary Housing Association. Prior to that she has been a director of a number of boards, including An Post, Simon Community Ireland, ICC Bank, Fabulous Beast Dance Company and APSO.