Business News

Fearless ambition on show at Network Ireland National Conference and Awards

By Business & Finance
04 October 2016
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Pictured (L-R): Gina London, Better Communication; Deirdre Waldron, president, Network Ireland; and Haley Barnard, MD, Mix Diversity Developers at the 2016 Network Ireland National Conference in the Clarion Hotel, Co Cork

Network Ireland’s Annual Conference and Awards took place in The Clarion Hotel Cork with in excess of 200 businesswomen leaders.

The attendees came from all over Ireland, which afforded them the opportunity to network, discuss and learn from each other. With a powerful line-up of national and international speakers whose expertise and knowledge was shared with a theme of ‘Fearless Ambition’ there was a really positive atmosphere throughout the day.

Joining in the conference was the wider online community who joined in the conversation using the designed hashtag, #FearlessAmbition, that was trending number one in Ireland throughout the day.

The event which is sponsored by AIB, Vodafone, and Cork City Council and supported by Enterprise Ireland and Business & Finance culminated in a Gala Dinner and National Business Awards, recognising the wealth of talent that abounds within the Network Ireland membership of new businesses, established businesses and professional business women.

Conference organiser and president of Network Ireland, Deirdre Waldron, welcoming everyone to the conference stated: “Conversations are changing, it has never been a better time to be a woman in business. We need to grab every opportunity we can get by being fearless. Today we have gathered some world-class leaders and influencers in the room to share with us how they do business and how they have fuelled their ambition. I hope we all take this energy back into our careers, business and communities.”

The conference was officially opened by Minister Simon Coveney who thanked Network Ireland for the work they are doing to change the perception.

The MC for the conference was Cork native Jonathan Healy, broadcaster and journalist with Newstalk who relished being “in a room full of business people at the top of their game and willing to share”. Speakers on the day included Hayley Barnard, MD of Mix Developers; Mary White, author Relentless – The Inside Story of the Cork Ladies Footballers; Shauna Keogh, founder Empire Elite; and Niamh Townsend, GM of Dell EMC Ireland; Shona Murray, foreign affairs correspondent, Newstalk Radio.

Following the Conference a group of women were recognised at the gala dinner and business awards. Winners of eight regional awards were pitted against each other for the national title of Businesswoman of the Year in four categories: Employee, Emerging Business, Small Established Business and Established Business. Two Special Merit Awards were also presented.

The Conference and Awards partners were AIB, Vodafone, Cork City Council and supported by Enterprise Ireland and Business & Finance. For further information on Network Ireland and Conference and Business Awards, visit

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Emerging Business: Alma Jordan, AgriKids, Louth branch
Alma Jordan founded AgriKids which is a farm safety educational platform for children. To date they have successfully launched the first three titles in a series of storybooks called Tales from Riverside Farm. A ‘Farm Safe’ clothing line whose vibrancy and reflective elements all lend themselves to better farm safety awareness and workshops in schools and libraries for national school children. In 2016 AgriKids moved into the digital arena with the development of an interactive gaming app and an ecommerce website.

Employee: Anne Marie Graham, Healthcare Screening Ireland
Anne Marie is business development manager with Healthcare Screening Ireland (HCSI), which offers health-screening services for companies, organisations and sports clubs. They provide occupational health services to SME and the corporate sector. Their goal is to maximise health and well-being for all employees and employers. A healthy workforce is a productive one. Having run her own company she successfully merged with Healthforce to create HCSI and is now an instrumental part of their leadership team.

SME > 5 employees: Emma Murphy, Party Mad
Emma is sales director and owner of Party Mad. Their mission is to be the party and event décor specialists in Ireland, to create the ‘wow’ factor and to provide their customers with a first class experience whether online, on the phone or in store and to make every event a memorable one.

SME < 5 employees: Yvonne Brady, EVB Sport
Yvonne is CEO and founder of EVB Sport, which designs and manufactures supportive sports-wear for women. Their unique patent pending technology enables women to exercise safely in particular during high impact sport. Pelvic dysfunction affects 1 in 3 women globally. It is recognised by the World Health Organisation as being one of the top 8 diseases for women. Their product protects the core and prevents irreversible damage.

Special Merit Award (Arts): Lorraine Maye, executive director of Cork’s Midsummer Festival

Special Merit Award (Social Enterprise): Miriam Forde, head of CUH Charity, Cork University Hospital Charity


Pictured (L-R): Shaun Keogh, Mary White, Niamh Townsend and Deirdre Waldron