5 Irish Women To Watch: 2018 & Beyond

Sharon O'Donnell - 28/08/2018
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Each year the Women’s Executive Network - Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25 Awards recognizes stand-out females across five categories such as Corporate Executives, Entrepreneurs, Arts & Culture, Trailblazers and Public Sector Leaders.

The chosen honorees are always a formidable selection, and this year is no different, with women who have achieved exceptional things within their chosen field. I have chosen 5 which really stood out to me and who I hope will stand out to you in terms of inspiration, innovation, determination and drive.

Sinéad McSweeney

Sinéad is somewhat of a social media guru. She is the woman behind Twitter’s Ireland operations as well as leading the organisation’s public policy and communications team in Europe, The Middle East and Africa. Sinéad has had a varied career, having served as communications director for An Garda Síochána previous to this. She is no stranger to controversy, having taken on the role as head of public policy at a time when the platform was being heavily criticised for its abuse policy.

Fast forward 4 years, and Sinéad entered her role as Managing Director of Twitter in Ireland as the future of the company was unsure and there were various ongoing battles taking place with online trolls. However, through strength and resilience, she has managed to make a successful company turnaround, getting Twitter to the place it’s at today in Ireland. As if that wasn’t enough, Sinéad is a qualified barrister and previously worked with the PSNI. A woman of many talents!



Dr Neasa Hardiman

Dr Hardiman is an award-winning director and also a highly successful screenwriter. She has won a number of professional accolades, including a Best Director IFTA and BAFTA thanks to her work on crime series ‘’Happy Valley’’ and a 2017 Best Director IDTA for the series ‘’The Beginning of Everything’’. Neasa is an established name within the industry, and has worked on various successful projects prior to and post Happy Valley. Neasa holds a Double First from the National College of Art and Design Ireland and a PhD in Film from Trinity College Dublin. 

Dr Neasa Hardiman

Dr Nora Khaldi

A relatively new company which has been fast making waves in the Irish market is Nuritas, one of the fastest growing biotech organisations in the world. Nora has worked wonders in driving Nuritas to achieve the reputation it has today, which is being that of a pioneering organisation which excels in achieving firsts - such as being the first company worldwide to combine genomics with Artificial Intelligence in order to discover ways to fight various diseases.

Nuritas is now known as one of the world’s most innovative start-ups and has succeeded in attracting copious amounts of investment due to Dr Khaldi’s pioneering work. Nora embodies what most people involved in the science and research sectors aim to be. She is highly established, award-winning and entrepreneurial. She is well deserving of being recognized as one of Ireland’s Most Powerful Women!

Dr Nora Khaldi

Senator Lynn Ruane

Senator Lynn Ruane is a senator serving in the Seanad with a remarkable story. Lynn left school at the age of 15 as a single mother. She joined a Return to Education Programme for young mothers in An Cosán, a community education project in Jobstown. After that, Lynn  moved on to study addiction studies in IT Tallaght. At 18, she was already developing addiction programmes in West Dublin.

Lynn carried on and progressed with her community focused addiction work and eventually returned as a mature student to Trinity College where she studied Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology and Economics. This led to her running for and being elected as SU President for Trinity in 2015, following a campaign of equality, inclusion and access. This was an achievement in itself, as Lynn became the first female president in almost a decade and also the first mature student president since the 1990s. Lynn took this leadership experience and made the decision to represent Trinity graduates by running for The Seanad, which she was elected to at 31.

Senator Lynn Ruane

Joy Neville

When it comes to women and sport, Joy Neville is  a household name in Irish Rugby. Joy is a former Ireland Women’s Rugby International captain and currently, she is an international rugby referee. Having played for Ireland at both the 2006 and 2010 Rugby World Cup, as well as the uber-successful Irish women’s team from 2013, who won both a Grand Slam and the Women’s Six Nations Championship. Since moving into refereeing, Joy has worked at the Women’s Six Nations, the World Rugby Sevens Series and the Women’s Rugby World Cup. Although this without a doubt is a successful career by itself, Joy has also been somewhat of a pioneer in terms of female progression within the Men’s game.

Joy was the first female assistant referee for the European Challenge Cup, as well as the first female referee for the All Ireland League, Welsh Premier Division, British and Irish Cup and the European Challenge Cup. In February of this year, Joy was involved in refereeing the men’s Pro14 fixture (between Ulster and Southern Kings) in what is still a predominantly male focused industry. She has established a reputable name for herself and is a true example of Irish women who are setting the bar within the sporting industry. 

Joy Neville

These awards give a unique opportunity to learn more about successful women in Ireland who are pioneers of excellence in their particular field, and we are proud that there are such female leaders across various industries in Ireland today. Each of the women listed above, and indeed all of the nominees are inspirational in their own right, and go far in proving that hard work and perseverance pay off in the climb to the top. They are also proof that everybody’s career path is different and that what you study or your background does not necessarily determine where you will end up in regards to your professional life. Their achievements also demonstrate the progression which has been made in regards to resolving the male/female power divide across the board in recent years, as these females hold positions of power in some organisations and industries which were once predominantly male dominated. 

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