New and notable appointments at Legal & General Investment, The Ardonagh Group, Microsoft Ireland, and Matheson

By Business & Finance
29 July 2021

Pictured L-R – Conor Brennan, CEO of Arachas, Rory Best, Director of Development at The Ardonagh Group, David Ross, CEO of The Ardonagh Group

This weeks new and notable appointments come from Legal & General Investment, The Ardonagh Group, Microsoft Ireland, and Matheson.

Steven de Vries, Head of Wholesale and Retail Distribution for Europe,
Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM)

Pictured: Steven de Vries, Head of Wholesale and Retail Distribution, LGIM


Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), one of the world’s leading asset managers with €1.43 trillion in assets under management (AuM), has today announced the appointment of Steven de Vries as its new Head of Wholesale & Retail Distribution, EMEA, to lead the firm’s wholesale and retail efforts in Europe.

Steven will be responsible for driving LGIM’s ambitious growth plans in the region by managing the firm’s mutual fund and ETF distribution in core European markets, such as Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Steven will leverage his wealth of experience working closely with a range of European wealth managers, private banks, and other wholesale and intermediary clients.

He replaces Simon Hynes who retired earlier this year after successfully establishing the foundations for LGIM’s wholesale and retail business in a number of core European markets. Steven will report into Honor Solomon, Head of Retail, EMEA, and will lead the European Wholesale distribution teams. He will largely be based in LGIM’s Amsterdam office, while regularly visiting LGIM’s European offices in London, Frankfurt and Milan.

With 25 years’ experience in the asset management industry, Steven worked for Janus Henderson Investors as Managing Director, Global Financial Institutions (GFIs), where he was responsible for developing and implementing the strategy for GFIs and key accounts from 2017 to 2020. Prior to the company’s merger, he held senior roles at Henderson Global Investors from 2001 to 2017, including the position of Head of Sales for continental Europe for six years. Recently, Steven acted as an independent consultant, advising boutique asset managers on European distribution, among others.

Commenting on the appointment, Honor Solomon, Head of Retail, EMEA, Legal & General Investment Management, said:

“LGIM is particularly well positioned to take advantage of the growth opportunities in Europe and beyond, thanks to ongoing pressures on fees, higher cost local competitors and our well-established distribution infrastructure in continental Europe. I am therefore delighted that Steven has decided to join LGIM at such an exciting time for the growth of the business. I look forward to working with him and leveraging both his insight and expertise from a so far stellar career in the region.”

Steven de Vries, Head of Wholesale & Retail Distribution, EMEA, Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), added: 

“LGIM has already developed an impressive presence in core European markets with its expertise in fixed income, thematic ETFs and reputation as one of the leading responsible investors. However, there is also a great opportunity to grow those existing businesses, build new relationships with clients and further develop those in new jurisdictions. We believe that the strong product offering is well suited for European investors and will enable us to deepen our roots while strategically expanding our relationships with clients across wealth and intermediary channels.”

Rory Best, Director of Development,
The Ardonagh Group 

Pictured (L-R): Conor Brennan, CEO of Arachas, Rory Best, Director of Development at The Ardonagh Group, David Ross, CEO of The Ardonagh Group


The Ardonagh Group (‘Ardonagh’ or the ‘Group’), a Top 20 Global Broker with gross written premium in excess of $10 billion, has announced the appointment of former Ulster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions Captain, Rory Best, as Director of Development.

The Role

Rory will work with the executive teams across the Group, and in particular with its subsidiary Arachas, drawing upon his unique perspective on resilience and strategies for overcoming opposition. In this newly created role, Rory will work closely with David Ross, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ardonagh, and Conor Brennan, CEO of both Arachas and Ardonagh Europe, deepening and building client relationships throughout the world. He will campaign on behalf of the Group’s wide-ranging community and charity projects and will be appointed to the board of Ardonagh Community Trust, the Group’s charity, which has donated over £1m to community causes globally.

Rory Best

Rory, from Poyntzpass in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, is one of the most successful and most capped rugby players in history, having earned 124 caps for Ireland, from his debut in 2005 to his retirement at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, his fourth World Cup.  He graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in agriculture before becoming a professional rugby player with Ulster, his home province. He played for Ulster from 2004 to 2019 and for Ireland from 2005 to 2019, as well as touring with the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017. Throughout his playing career, he also worked at the family’s farming business in Poyntzpass and brings huge experience of the challenges faced by modern farmers in a fast-changing agricultural world.

Since retiring Rory has predominantly focused on his charitable endeavours and is a passionate philanthropist. He will lend his voice to work with Ardonagh in support of mental health awareness and other issues affecting young people. This September he will walk 180 miles from Daisy Lodge in Co. Down to the site of the Cancer Fund for Children’s new short break centre in Cong, Co. Mayo, to shine a light on the experiences of children and young people suffering from cancer. Rory has ambitious plans to raise £500,000 to help ensure children don’t have to face cancer alone.

David Ross, founder and CEO of Ardonagh, said: “Rory Best is an exceptional man with unique insights into leadership and an acute commercial intelligence. Whilst I have always hugely admired his sporting achievements, it is our shared values, and his unique insight into how teams can work better together that really strike a chord. Rory will be an influential voice inside our businesses and we very much looking forward to seeing him flourish as a corporate leader. It is a mark of his character that he is determined to learn the ropes from bottom to top, inside and out.”

Rory Best said: “I am very excited about my first major role since retirement, and the real beginning of the second phase of my career. Since I retired two years ago, I have examined many opportunities and wanted to make sure I was making a real difference in whatever I pursued. Coming from a farming family, I have long understood the importance of insurance to protect business owners. David and Conor have built truly world-class businesses and when they approached me about a role at Ardonagh and at Arachas, I was confident I could really help, developing  leadership abilities and offering management insight, given my own experience leading ambitious teams. Ardonagh’s deep support for the communities it operates in is personally important to me and aligned to my ambition to positively impact lives and livelihoods wherever possible.”

Conor Brennan, CEO of Arachas and Ardonagh Europe, said: “We have spent a significant amount of time with Rory this year and he has really got to know the team at Arachas. We have all been hugely impressed with his insight and refreshing observations. It is clear to us all that he can make a big impact within the business; we look forward to learning from him as he learns from us.”

Anne Sheehan, General Manager,
Microsoft Ireland

Pictured: Anne Sheehan, General Manager of Microsoft Ireland


Microsoft announced that Anne Sheehan has been appointed General Manager of Microsoft Ireland. She will assume the role at the beginning of October taking on responsibility for the sales, marketing and services business across the island of Ireland with a particular focus on delivering business transformation with Microsoft’s customers and partners within the public and private sectors.

Anne joins from Vodafone UK where she is currently the Enterprise Director with responsibility for sales, brand, product and solution design, services and government relations across multiple lines of business. Before assuming the UK responsibilities, Anne ran Vodafone Ireland’s enterprise business in Ireland for four years. Prior to that, Anne worked at IBM for 16 years in a number of senior positions including Vice President of Sales and Services for the Nordic Region, Sales and Services Director for IBM Ireland, Head of Channel, and Head of Infrastructure & Technology Services.

Commenting on the appointment, Cindy Rose, President, Microsoft Western Europe, said: “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Anne in the past, during my own time at Vodafone. I was always impressed by her high energy and pace, her growth mindset and customer obsession. I know she is passionate about partnering with businesses and the public sector, whatever their size, industry or ambitions, to help them find ways to use technology to drive success now and in the future. I also know her to be an empathetic and caring leader with deep commitment to building diverse and inclusive teams. I am confident that Anne will bring all of these qualities and more as she builds on the incredible foundation that the Microsoft Ireland team has established and to help accelerate the growth and transformation of Microsoft’s customers in Ireland.”

 Anne Sheehan commented: “I am delighted and honoured to join Microsoft. It is a company I have admired and worked in partnership with over recent years. Microsoft has been on a very exciting journey in Ireland.  I look forward to working with the team to take the business forward in a market that has huge opportunity. I am motivated by working with great teams, collaborating with our customers and winning in the market. I am passionate about fostering an environment where learning, being curious, bold and ambitious are core to achieving our goals. I feel incredibly privileged to be joining such a great team, and I look forward to us working to support our customers on their digital transformation journey together.”

 Anne’s appointment follows the decision by Cathriona Hallahan to retire from the company following more than 35 years of service in a wide variety of global and regional operations and sales roles.

Cindy Rose added: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Cathriona Hallahan for her exceptional contribution to Microsoft.  Not only did she drive strong commercial growth within the business but her passion for unlocking the power of technology to drive transformation and ensure inclusiveness across the economy and society was infectious. Certainly, her contribution will have an impact on generations to come.”

 Cathriona Hallahan concludes: “I would like to wish Anne well in her new role in what is an exciting time for Microsoft in Ireland. Leaving Microsoft is bittersweet for me. I have had such an amazing journey – literally and metaphorically – as I essentially grew up and matured in parallel with the company. I have truly had a fantastic time and appreciate all that the company has enabled me to do and to learn. I now look forward to my next chapter, which will see me take on new and exciting challenges and apply my experience and knowledge to support other organisations to transform and grow.”

Niamh Counihan, Pro Bono Partner,

Pictured: Niamh Counihan, Pro Bono Partner, Matheson and Michael Jackson, Managing Partner, Matheson


Matheson, Ireland’s largest law firm, has appointed Niamh Counihan as Pro Bono Partner.  Niamh will dedicate 50% of her professional time specifically to pro bono legal activities, with the other 50% continuing to be dedicated to her responsibilities as Matheson’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs.

Niamh will be responsible for working with management to refine Matheson’s pro bono strategy and for leading the pro bono initiatives and collaborative projects that engage Matheson’s lawyers and clients in supporting the communities in which they work and live.

This appointment marks a significant investment by Matheson in further supporting its pro bono commitment to assist and promote the legal needs of those who most require support in our community.  Pro bono is a distinct practice area within the firm, drawing on its diverse and multi-disciplinary talent and innovative technological solutions.  Underlining its importance, Matheson’s pro bono practice area is partner led, supported by the firm’s management and is afforded the same priority and resources as all of its other specialist practice areas.  Pro bono work is treated in the same way as commercial work, with equal priority, quality of service and standard of professional conduct.

The appointment of a Pro Bono Partner follows Matheson’s recent establishment of a Pro Bono Committee, and the launch of the firm’s Impactful Business Programme, reinforcing its dedication to delivering a meaningful impact to its clients, communities and colleagues.

Michael Jackson, Managing Partner at Matheson said: “Niamh is a lawyer of outstanding ability and extensive knowledge. Her appointment as Pro Bono Partner, with responsibility to help refine and manage the implementation of our pro bono strategy, will greatly enhance the impact and reach of Matheson’s pro bono programme. I know that Niamh is enthusiastically looking forward to working with as many of our clients and our colleagues as possible as part of pro bono at Matheson.”

 “Matheson is a founding signatory of Ireland’s Pro Bono Pledge, and the appointment of a dedicated Pro Bono Partner and establishment of a Pro Bono Committee is a demonstration of our commitment to impactful business.  We believe that universal access to justice and to legal services is essential to the rule of law and that our lawyers have a responsibility to use their legal skills and knowledge to support the legal needs of those who are otherwise unable to access legal services.  We already have number of ongoing and upcoming pro bono projects, and we look forward to further supporting the work of Niamh and of the Committee in putting the firm’s values into action.

Niamh Counihan, Pro Bono Partner at Matheson said; “I am delighted to have been appointed Matheson’s Pro Bono Partner.  I am very excited about driving our impactful initiatives forward, together with our clients and colleagues in Matheson.  Appointing a Pro Bono Partner recognises that serving our community is a strategic priority for Matheson.  It represents a welcome opportunity for us to leverage our skills and experience to help those in our community who could not otherwise access legal services.  It also reflects our belief that our lawyers have a responsibility to use their professional expertise to provide access to justice to those who cannot afford it.  We will prioritise those projects which will deliver the most positive impact on our communities, and I look forward to seeing the meaningful benefits they will deliver to those who need them most.”

We are already progressing with a number of exciting pro bono initiatives which support Environmental Sustainability, CSR and D&I to benefit our communities. Matheson this month became a signatory to The Open Community Cairde Allies Partner Pledge. The Open Community is a collaborative national support organisation for Ireland’s Community Sponsorship Programme for Refugees.  Matheson lawyers will collaborate with The Open Community to support communities assisting refugee families, by providing free legal services to those refugees and their families.  We are proud to continue and further develop our long standing partnership with The Irish Rule of Law International by providing pro bono services that enhance and promote the rule of law and access to justice, and to collaborate with the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) in providing legal advice and assistance to not for profit organisations working with groups and individuals who cannot afford to pay for or access legal services. Further details to be provided in due course.

In November 2020, Matheson became a founding signatory to Ireland’s Pro Bono Pledge, an initiative which calls on legal professionals to commit to promote access to justice by providing free legal assistance to those in need.

About Niamh Counihan

Originally from Adare, Co. Limerick, Niamh holds a BCL from UCC and a Diploma in Arbitration from UCD. She is a member the Pro Bono Pledge Steering Group which supports PILA in growing and developing Pro Bono Pledge Ireland and provides strategic direction to the operation and development of the Pledge.  She is also a member of the Law Society of Ireland’s Business Law Committee (since 2016).  She has worked in Matheson for over 20 years, and was appointed partner in 2011.

Impactful Business Programme

Matheson is committed to being a business which is responsible and sustainable.  It recently launched the Matheson Impactful Business Programme, an initiative which brings together the firm’s existing Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Environmental Sustainability and Arts activities into one dedicated programme.

In June 2021, Matheson’s female / male partner gender ratio was ranked the fifth most gender-diverse in Europe by The Lawyer in its European 100 report.  Matheson will host its annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference in partnership with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in September.  The key themes for this year’s event are: the business case for well-being; and hidden disabilities.  The conference will bring together some of the most forward thinking experts and progressive businesses and organisations operating at a local, national and international level across a wide variety of sectors to speak on these themes.