New and notable appointments at Johnson Hana (JH), eDesk, Connacht Tribune Group, Sprout Social, Pieta, The Rainforest Alliance, and Institute of Directors in Ireland (IoD Ireland)

By Business & Finance
03 June 2021
Pictured: Cat Anderson, International Marketing Lead, EMEA, Sprout Social

This week sees new and notable appointments at Johnson Hana (JH), eDesk, Connacht Tribune Group, Sprout Social, Pieta, The Rainforest Alliance, and Institute of Directors in Ireland (IoD Ireland).

Sinead Garnett, Director of Legal Operations and Solutions,
Johnson Hana (JH)

Sinead Garnett, Director of Legal Operations and Solutions, Johnson Hana (JH)

Johnson Hana (JH), the outsourced legal solutions leader, announced the appointment of Sinead Garnett as Director of Legal Operations and Solutions. In this role, which is one of the first of its kind in the Irish Market, Sinead will work to expand JH’s alternative legal solutions offering. As Ireland’s leading Alternative Legal Solutions provider, Johnson Hana is uniquely placed to advance the role of legal operations on these shores. 

A qualified lawyer, Sinead, has been working at the intersection of the legal and tech industries for the last 12 years. Her experience spans time in private practice, advising domestic and international clients on M&A and corporate transactions in large international law firms. Sinead left private practice to found a technology startup, before joining Brightflag, a fast growing Irish scaleup in the enterprise legal management software space, as Director of Legal Operations. 

Commenting on today’s announcement, Dan Fox, Founder and CEO of Johnson Hana, said, “We couldn’t be happier to have Sinead join us at this pivotal point of the company’s growth. Legal Operations as a discipline can bring such incredible value and velocity to legal departments of all shapes and sizes. Be it the strategic prioritisation of work, resource management or technology deployment, there are huge opportunities to transform legal operations for the better. This will enable us to scale our offering for clients with more firepower to meet their growing regulatory compliance, restructuring and budgetary pressures. Sinead is the ideal person to partner with our clients to bring global best practice to the Irish market.”

Sinead will bring an in-depth understanding of client needs as well extensive experience in setting and delivering strategic mandates, deploying technology applications, and benchmarking financial and project management initiatives in the legal sector – in order to create the capabilities that empower lawyers to focus on providing high-value legal advice. 

Speaking on her appointment, Sinead added, “Now, more than ever, legal departments are required to streamline and operate as data and output-driven business units. We’ve witnessed the rapid growth of Alternative Legal Solutions in the US and UK over the past decade, and to be at the forefront of the evolution of the space in Ireland is very exciting. As the first and leading alternative legal solutions provider in Ireland, the JH team have truly disrupted the legal sector here. JH have helped corporates navigate stubborn resistance to change – reconfiguring delivery models to allow for a more innovative, efficient and client-oriented approach to service delivery. I look forward to helping deliver dynamic impact and operational excellence for JH’s clients with even more depth.”  

Eileen O’Mara, board member,

eCommerce customer service specialist eDesk has appointed Eileen O’Mara, the EMEA revenue and growth lead at payments platform Stripe, in the post of non-executive director.

Responsible for strategically driving scale across EMEA  at the financial infrastructure firm, O’Mara will bring her considerable tech experience from working across global operations and share it with board members including eDesk CEO Alex Payne and founding chairman Ray Nolan. Prior to joining Stripe, O’Mara has held  senior international roles in revenue and marketing at Salesforce and Oracle, using her expertise to consult on transformative technologies.

O’Mara’s insight will be invaluable as eDesk continues to grow and support the global surge in eCommerce. As the only helpdesk software provider truly specialising in eCommerce – with native integrations with every major marketplace, Web platform, email provider and social network in Europe and the USA – O’Mara’s guidance on growth will help the company expand and grow internationally.

Her appointment to the board comes fresh from eDesk enhancing its Reviews and Feedback tool to tighten integrations with Amazon, Trustpilot and Google My Business. The update saw the company discover 90% of UK and US online shoppers with an issue will talk to customer services, offering retailers a golden opportunity to catch them before they turn into negative reviews. eDesk also introduced a batch of data-driven tools earlier this year with the latest release of their eDesk customer service software, doubling down on the commitment to provide online sellers the means to intelligently manage customer queries.

Commenting on her new eDesk appointment, O’Mara says: “After a year in which more people turned to online than ever before, digital adoption accelerated globally by an estimated seven years. As a result, there was a crucial uptick in correlating helpdesk tickets, rising to one-in-six from one-in-eight, so it’s never been more critical for ecommerce sellers to invest in tools that can unlock sustainable growth. Having spent the last 20 years working in businesses where customer experience is crucial, I’m very excited to provide guidance to eDesk’s founders in the booming eCommerce space and help them drive success for their customers.”

Ray Nolan, eDesk chairman and founder, adds: “I’m delighted to welcome Eileen to the eDesk board. Her experience of delivering business growth on an international level is highly impressive and she’ll be an asset to the team, particularly as we continue to drive international scale.”

Alex Payne, CEO of eDesk said: “We are very much looking forward to Eileen bringing her wealth of experience to our business, as well as her understanding of the ecommerce technology ecosystem to our thinking”.

Declan McGuire, President of Local Ireland,
Connacht Tribune Group

Declan McGuire, President of Local Ireland, Connacht Tribune Group

The new President of Local Ireland, the association representing 42 news publishers around the country, is Declan McGuire of the Connacht Tribune Group.

Mr McGuire, who succeeds David Ryan of the Nenagh Guardian as President, has served as Vice-President of the Association for the last two years.

After being elected at the association’s annual general meeting, Mr McGuire said: “I am honoured to be appointed as President of Local Ireland at what is a crucial time for news publishers.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the Irish media landscape and the crisis caused by the fall-out from the pandemic has exposed the fragility of the industry.

“I believe there is a continued strong demand for the printed product in rural Ireland as our readers overwhelmingly view the printed copy as an essential service for their community.

“Regional audiences are loyal and develop life-long patterns of engaging with local newspapers in the areas where they live and work or have a sense of connection.

“Local news publishers need support from Government to develop strategies to aid our transition to digital formats and act to ensure the survival of the printed product. This is vital for our communities and our democracy.

“I will be working closely with all stakeholders to advance the positioning of news publishers in their public service role. Our members bring a professionalism to regional journalism that informs, educates and entertains the public throughout every county of Ireland.”

Mr McGuire is Managing Director of the Galway-based Connacht Tribune Group, which also owns Galway Bay FM radio station. He has served on the Local Ireland Executive for a number of years and is a former board member of the Advertising Authority of Ireland.

A native of Ballina, Co Mayo, he has worked in a variety of roles with numerous newspaper titles around the country.

Executive Director of Local Ireland Bob Hughes said: “I want to congratulate Declan on his appointment and look forward to working with him during his Presidency over the next two years. This is a time of challenges and change for local news publishers and Declan brings a wealth of experience to the role.

“I also want to thank David Ryan for the service he has given to the association as President and I am delighted that he will continue to be a member of the association’s executive committee

Mr McGuire is succeeded as Vice-President of Local Ireland by Dan Linehan, General Manager of Irish Times Regional Newspapers. Mr Linehan has more than 25 years’ experience in local newspapers.

Cat Anderson, International Marketing Lead, EMEA,
Sprout Social

Sprout Social, the Chicago-based social media analytics firm with its EMEA HQ in Dublin, has announced the appointment of Cat Anderson as International Marketing Lead, EMEA. Cat joins from SocialTalent, the e-learning recruitment platform, where she was Head of Marketing and Communications.

A trained journalist, Cat has previously worked with BBC Northern Ireland. She has also held marketing roles in Ireland and Germany in the startup and tech space, including with Web Summit, EyeEm and WorkHub.

Recent research published by Sprout Social on The State of Social Media* shows the growing importance of social media within the marketing mix, with 90% of companies saying that social media either is, or will soon be, their primary channel to communicate with customers. All companies surveyed were planning to increase their social media marketing budgets, with over half (55%) planning an increased spend of more than 50%.

Social media use for marketing has expanded significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic with 54% of respondent companies increasing their social media use compared to 2019. Whilst communicating with friends and family remains the prime use of social platforms by consumers (68%), one in three (33%) use social media to discover new products, services and brands, and over one in four (26%) will use social to make purchases.

Sprout Social, which listed on the Nasdaq in 2019, has also announced the promotion of Irishman Gerard Murnaghan to the position of Vice President and General Manager, International, where he will assume the responsibility of leading Sprout’s expansion plans outside the North American markets. Gerard previously held the role of Vice President and General Manager, EMEA.

Cat Anderson, Sprout Social’s International Marketing Lead, said:

“I’m delighted to have joined Sprout Social, an ambitious company providing the leading toolkit to help brands and businesses manage their social media analytics and social listening. I am looking forward to amplifying brand awareness and growing the pipeline of Sprout Social customers in the EMEA region, as we help them leverage the power of social.”

Gerard Murnaghan, Sprout Social’s Vice President and General Manager, International, said:

“I would like to welcome Cat to the Sprout Social team and I’m looking forward to seeing her contribution as we continue to grow in the EMEA region. Our recent research shows that the ascendance of social media within the marketing mix is continuing, with companies spending more of their budgets on social, and saying it is or will soon become their primary marketing channel.”

The top 5 social media platforms identified as being used by companies for marketing purposes were: Facebook (84%), Instagram (64%), Twitter (60%), YouTube (57%), and LinkedIn (42%).

Additional findings of The State of Social Media report include:

  • 62% of consumers agree brands and companies that do not have a strong social media presence will not be able to succeed in the long run
  • 58% of consumers find it more engaging to connect with a brand or company on social media than to visit a physical store
  • 63% of consumers say that responsible use of their social data is either very important or absolutely essential
  • 67% of consumers said responsive customer service was the most important factor in creating a positive experience of a brand or company on social media
  • 88% of businesses say social media will soon become their primary channel for customer service and support

Celine Fitzgerald, Chairperson,

Celine Fitzgerald, Chairperson, Pieta

Celine Fitzgerald has been appointed as Chairperson of the Board of Pieta, the charity which provides free counselling services nationwide to people experiencing suicidal ideation, those who engage in self-harm, and those bereaved by suicide

Celine spent over 20 years as a senior executive in the telecommunications sector, with Eircom & Vodafone, and was also CEO of managed service provider Rigney Dolphin for five years. More recently, Celine served as CEO of the overseas development organisation, Goal Global.

A Chartered Director, Celine Fitzgerald is an experienced senior business leader with board level experience spanning the public, private and non-profit sectors, across a range of disciplines and corporate settings.  She has extensive experience of leading organisations through periods of transformation.

Celine has served on a number of boards and currently is a non executive director at PTSB and VHI Health and Wellbeing DAC.

Speaking about Celine’s appointment, Elaine Austin, CEO of Pieta, said “Celine has extensive experience in leading organisations at executive director, and non-executive director level. We are delighted to welcome her as our Chairperson and look forward to her guidance in leading our Board over the coming years. We believe our organisation has an increasingly strong role to play in the mental health journey of our communities and people nationwide. We are keen to expand and grow our vital services sustainably into the future so that those in crisis and in need of our care can easily avail of our free counselling as quickly as possible.”

Celine Fitzgerald said “I am pleased to take on the role of Chairperson at Pieta.  This is an extremely important role with an organisation that is part of the fabric of mental health services in Ireland.  I look forward to leading the Board for the benefit of the organisation and for our clients who rely on Pieta for help in times of crisis in their lives.”

Santiago Gowland, CEO of International Non-Profit,
The Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance announced today that Santiago Gowland has joined the organization as Chief Executive Officer. Gowland previously served as Executive Vice President for Latin America and Global Innovation at The Nature Conservancy. Before that, he spearheaded sustainability initiatives in the private sector, including at Unilever and Nike.

The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit working in more than 70 countries to protect forests and biodiversity, take action on climate, and promote the rights and improve the livelihoods of rural people.

Gowland, a native of Argentina with a passion for conservation and sustainability, brings extensive expertise in organizational innovation and sustainability transformation across multiple sectors, cultures, and continents.

His career is focused on bridging supply chain and landscape needs through business innovations for leading brands including Unilever, Nike, and Estée Lauder—and most recently, in the global environmental non-profit sphere at The Nature Conservancy.

At The Nature Conservancy, Gowland championed the green technology strategy through systems innovation, partnerships with technology companies, and embracing lean methodologies—most notably, through the pioneering “Agility Lab.”

“I am thrilled to contribute my global conservation and business insights to accelerate the Rainforest Alliance’s vision of a world where people and nature thrive together. It’s crucial that we leverage social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and forest communities without delay. The Rainforest Alliance is uniquely positioned to bring farmers, forest communities, companies and consumers together to build a more sustainable and resilient future for people and nature,” Gowland said.

The Rainforest Alliance, with its 30+ years of experience in sustainability transformation, is creating a more sustainable world by implementing proven and scalable solutions on the ground, while testing innovative ways to drive positive change at scale.

The organization transforms the way the world produces, sources, and consumes, with a focus on cocoa, coffee, tea, bananas, forest products, and palm oil. Its four areas of work are certification, landscape management, supply chain services, and advocacy.

In 2020, 6.8 million hectares of land and more than 2.3 million farmers were certified according to the Rainforest Alliance’s rigorous sustainability standards, which are designed to improve economic, environmental, and social impacts for people and nature.

Imelda Reynolds, President,
Institute of Directors in Ireland (IoD Ireland)

The Institute of Directors in Ireland (IoD), the membership body representing directors and business leaders, has announced that Ms Imelda Reynolds is the new President of the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland following the Institute’s AGM this evening. She succeeds Mr Harry Lorton, following the completion of Mr Lorton’s two-year term leading the Council of the Institute.

On her appointment, Imelda Reynolds commented:

“The importance of good governance in business and the requirement for directors in upholding the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in undertaking their role has never been more important.

“As one of the leading advocates of corporate governance standards in Ireland, the Institute of Directors in Ireland provides its members with a wide range of resources designed for their professional development as business leaders and company directors.”

Imelda Reynoldscontinued: “I am delighted to take up the role of President of the IoD for the next two years.”

Mr. Brian O’Sullivan was elected to the Council of the IoD Also at its recent AGM.