Business & Finance Awards 2019: Coillte CEO Imelda Hurley reflects on company’s win for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Industry’

Business & Finance Awards, Interviews | Fri 6 Mar | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Imelda Hurley, CEO, Coillte

Coillte was the recipient of ‘Outstanding Achievement in Industry’ at the Business & Finance Awards 2019. Imelda Hurley, CEO of Coillte, speaks to Business & Finance about the company’s win, their successful business strategy, and advises other companies to do the right things for the right reasons.


How did it feel to not only be nominated for, but to win Outstanding Achievement in Industry?

We were delighted to win the Outstanding Achievement in Industry Award as it felt like fantastic recognition and acknowledgement of all the Coillte people who have contributed so much over the past 30 years to position the company as, not only a very successful business, but as an organisation which is contributing strongly to climate action, bio-diversity protection and outdoor recreation on behalf of the citizens of Ireland.

What is it about Coillte’s business strategy that led the company to winning Outstanding Achievement in Industry?

We believe the key to the success of Coillte’s business strategy is that we have consistently focused on achieving the right balance between the economic, social and environmental dimensions of forestry. We have created a very successful business with strong financial returns to our shareholder, whilst responding in a responsible and respectful way to the environmental and social imperatives that go with being the custodian of c.7% of Ireland’s landmass.

Did a win help to bolster confidence in your business strategy?

Obtaining external validation for our business strategy through winning this prestigious Business & Finance award is very gratifying and will certainly underpin our determination to continue to build on the strong foundations we have established.

How has your business been since your win?

Coillte has put in a solid performance in 2019 against a backdrop of a challenging market environment dominated by Brexit uncertainty in our core UK market. The market environment is likely to remain challenging as the Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU takes shape during the course of the year.

Imelda Hurley speaking at the Business & Finance Awards 2019

What is in store for the future of Coillte?

Coillte has a really bright future ahead. We have recently crafted a new strategy for the business which is ambitious and focuses on continually balancing the economic, social and environmental dimensions of forestry. Climate action, bio-diversity protection and the recreational benefits of forests are all themes which have grown in prominence in the past 12 months and Coillte, underpinned by its commercial and financial strength, is poised to contribute strongly to this broadly based agenda over the coming decade.

What is it about events like the Business & Finance Awards that appeals to you?

The Business & Finance Awards is a great way of celebrating all that is good in Irish business. The speakers and attendees at the event are always a diverse cross section of the brightest and the best, which adds to the prestige of being present on the evening, even more so if you are lucky enough to win an award!

What advice would you give to companies that aim to be like Coillte – the same companies that may wish to be nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Industry in the future?

Do the right things for the right reasons – be authentic and really live your values.


The Business and Finance Awards 2019 were sponsored by KPMG Ireland. Our corporate partners for the event were Enterprise Ireland, HSBC, Ibec, IDA Ireland, Jaguar, and Brightwater Executive.