The 20 Irish leaders at the pinnacle of global tech

30 Nov 2015

We all know that international tech brands have offices peppered across the country, but who are the people driving their Irish, European and international operations from Ireland? And who are the Irish leaders whose influence has gone global?

Ireland's Sci-Tech 100

Sounding the starting pistol for Ireland’s Sci-Tech 100 –’s who’s who of science and technology leaders in and from Ireland – we have 20 influencers in top positions at globally recognised companies, representing Ireland’s leading lights in the world tech scene.

1. Alastair Blair

Alastair Blair, Accenture

Alastair Blair, country managing director, Accenture Ireland. Photo via Alastair Blair/Twitter

The country managing director of Accenture Ireland, Alastair Blair has been a key player in Accenture for the last 10 years.

Blair drives Accenture Ireland to remain at the cutting edge of technology, exemplified in the recently launched Dublin research lab dedicated to AI – arguably, one of the most exciting development areas in tech right now.

In line with Accenture’s efforts to provide support for fledgling enterprises, Blair fights in the corner of SMEs and start-ups, calling for the creation of more urgently needed start-up space within Dublin.

2. Caroline Dowling

Caroline Dowling, Flextronics

Caroline Dowling, president, Integrated Network Solutions, Flextronics. Photo via Cork Chamber

Cork woman Caroline Dowling has been president of Integrated Network Solutions at Flextronics for over three years now, climbing up the ladder from when she joined the company back in 2000.

Flextronics has three sites in Ireland, with Dowling managing the largest division of a $30bn organisation with around 200,000 employees.

Having dropped out of school at 15, Dowling returned to education in later years and now leads a team that is focused on design, manufacturing and services, providing solutions for market leaders in the telecoms, networking, server and storage markets.

With offices all over the world, Dowling has developed quite the hard-working reputation, with commutes between Kanturk and California to get her into work each Monday making the news both here and abroad not long ago.

3. Denis Doyle

Denis Doyle, Analog Devices

Denis Doyle (left), general manager, Analog Devices Ireland, presents an award to University of Limerick graduate Damien O’Brien. Photo via University of Limerick

Now general manager and VP of manufacturing of the Limerick operation, Denis Doyle has spent more than 20 years in R&D at Analog Devices. Under his guidance, the Irish branch has continuously transitioned to keep up with industry changes, such as the advent of the internet of things.

For Doyle, there is nothing more essential than being at the forefront of development and he has been known to say that targets are far less important than innovation.

He’s also active in encouraging more students to pursue careers in engineering and, earlier this year, Analog Devices participated in an event designed to showcase these opportunities and careers available in Ireland’s mid-west.

4. Cathriona Hallahan

Cathriona Hallahan, Microsoft

Cathriona Hallahan, managing director, Microsoft Ireland

As manager of its European operations, Cathriona Hallahan oversees a marketplace worth €25bn to Microsoft.

She joined Microsoft in 1986 and, in a period of almost 30 years, has held a variety of senior roles in both finance and operations.

Hallahan has managed large teams with regional and global responsibilities across a range of functions, including global responsibilities for Microsoft’s business solutions and enterprise services, as well as directing supply chain management, logistics, customer care and IT and financial support for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

As well as her Microsoft responsibilities, Hallahan sits on the boards of VHI Healthcare and the American Chamber of Commerce.

5. Ronan Harris

Ronan Harris, Google

Ronan Harris, head of Google Ireland

Ronan Harris joined Google in 2005 and heads up a workforce of 5,000 direct and indirect employees in Ireland.

At Google, he has focused on growing the advertising sales channels for new and existing markets and also worked on the launch of several new products in EMEA.

An electronic engineering graduate from University College Dublin (UCD), Harris began his career with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation in Japan, where he spent nine years working in consulting and technology. He returned to Ireland in 2001 to work in private equity before joining Google.

6. Fidelma Healy

Fidelma Healy, COO, Gilt

Fidelma Healy, COO, Gilt

Fidelma Healy has been the chief operating officer at US online shopping destination Gilt since the company established its Irish operations in 2011. She was instrumental in the setting-up of those Irish operations, responsible for establishing the company’s bases in Limerick and Dublin.

Healy is a proponent of gender diversity within the tech industry and, while acknowledging that it’s an uphill struggle, she sees the importance of gender balance and strives to maintain one at Gilt.

Originally trained as a teacher, Healy later segued into finance and tech after taking night classes in computers and HR when she saw a lack of opportunities in education.

7. John Herlihy

John Herlihy, LinkedIn

John Herlihy, VP and MD of EMEA, LinkedIn

Prior to being named LinkedIn’s new VP and MD of EMEA, Limerick native John Herlihy oversaw the expansion of Google in Ireland from 50 to over 5,000 people, and guided key developments such as the €99.5m acquisition of Dublin’s tallest building – the 15-storey Montevetro office block – plus the addition of The Foundry and Google’s Dublin data centres.

Prior to joining Google, Herlihy held senior financial and operational roles at KPMG, Oracle, First Data, Adobe, PeopleSoft and Epiphany. At LinkedIn, he has taken the reins from Ariel Eckstein, who recently took on a global leadership role at the company.

8. Cathy Kearney

Cathy Kearney, Apple

Cathy Kearney, country manager of Apple Ireland, pictured as she was honoured at the UCC Alumni Achievement Awards. Photo via Provision Photography

Cathy Kearney is a BComm graduate from University College Cork who, for the past 10 years, has overseen the expansion of Apple’s Cork site, which employs 5,000 people across many different functions, including Apple Care, Apple Store, manufacturing, finance, operations and R&D.

Kearney started in Apple on secondment from EY when training to be a chartered accountant in 1988. She moved through the levels in finance, becoming site controller in 1994 and, in 1996, become operations controller for Europe.

In 2000, she returned to work after having triplets and took over the running of the Apple Store operations team with her finance role. Then, in 2012, she was promoted to her current role as vice-president of European operations.

9. Gareth Lambe

Gareth Lambe, Facebook

Gareth Lambe (right), head of Facebook Ireland, pictured with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD in 2013

There are few tech entities in Ireland larger than Facebook, and leading its international headquarters in Dublin’s Silicon Docks is Irishman Gareth Lambe, who was freshly appointed to the top post in May of this year.

Joining Facebook in 2001 as advertising director for EMEA operations, Lambe previously held the position of general manager of Facebook Ireland back in 2013 in an interim capacity, and he now finds himself permanently in charge of 83pc of Facebook’s entire daily traffic.

Having previously worked at PayPal, Lambe really cut his teeth working at where he was one of four team members who got the company up and running in 2000, before finishing his tenure there in 2009 as managing director.

10. Dervla Mannion

Dervla Mannion, Trend Micro

Dervla Mannion, VP of European Operations Centre, Trend Micro, pictured prior to the 2014 European Technology Summit

One of the largest online security firms based in Ireland, Trend Micro has had Dervla Mannion as its VP for European operations since the beginning of 2013.

Having joined the security firm in 2003, she quickly rose through the ranks as one of the leading marketing managers from its London base. From there, she went on to become vice-president of the Japanese company’s European Operations Centre in Cork.

Mannion is particularly active in the booming tech sector in Cork, where she remains a board member of the IT@Cork European Technology Cluster, a non-profit independent business organisation representing the interests of the IT industry in Ireland.

11. Aengus McClean

Aengus McClean – Irish tech leaders

Aengus McClean, VP and managing director of Dublin operations, AOL

In 1983, Aengus McClean graduated with an honours degree in electronic engineering from UCD and began his career at Ashton-Tate. He later joined Lotus Development, followed by Apple software subsidiary Claris Corporation. In 1993, together with colleagues from Claris, he formed IONA Software, a company focused on delivering educational multimedia products and which developed revolutionary tools to aid animation.

McClean joined AOL in 2000 and has held various positions there, including director of the Bangalore Development Centre in India and, most recently, vice-president and managing director of the Dublin software development centre, which employs over 150 people. AOL Dublin is the development engine for Europe and works alongside sister development centres in New York, Dulles, Palo Alto and Frankfurt.

12. Stephen McIntyre

Stephen McIntyre, Twitter

Stephen McIntyre, VP of sales and MD of Twitter Ireland

Last April, Stephen McIntyre – who was already MD of Twitter’s Irish operations – took on the additional role of VP of online and reseller sales for EMEA as part of a re-organisation of the social media company’s European management team.

McIntyre joined Twitter from Google three years ago, shortly after the company chose Dublin as a base for its European operations. A student of electronic engineering at Trinity College Dublin, he cut his teeth in the mobile phone industry, working for several years at Nokia and then Ericsson.

Alongside John Herlihy, McIntyre played a leading role in growing Google’s operations in Dublin from 100 to more than 2,500 people within a short number of years.

13. Martin Murphy

Martin Murphy, HP Enterprise

Martin Murphy, MD, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Ireland

Previously MD of HP in Ireland, the recent split in the tech giant saw Martin Murphy maintain his capacity in the newly formed HP Enterprise last month.

Murphy earned a bachelors’ degree in engineering and maths before gaining a master’s in electronic engineering at Trinity College Dublin. Then was the starting point of his career in tech, which led him to one of the top cloud companies operating in the country.

Along with his role at HP Enterprise, Murphy sits on the board of both the National Treasury Management Agency and the Smurfit Business School, while he also chairs a labour market body.

14. Peter O’Neill

Peter ONeill, IBM

Peter O’Neill (left), country general manager, IBM Ireland, pictured with his predecessor Michael Daly

Peter O’Neill has been the managing director of IBM in Ireland since 2010, when he suceeded Michael Daly. Prior to taking up his role as managing director, O’Neill was the director of IBM sales and distribution in Ireland.

O’Neill joined IBM in 1981 and, over the course of his career, he has held various sales and finance leadership roles at IBM both in Ireland and overseas, including some time spent working at the company’s headquarters in New York.

Born and raised in Dublin, O’Neill holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCD and is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

15. Paul O’Riordan

Paul ORiordan, Oracle

Paul O’Riordan, VP and head of business intelligence and analytics UK and Ireland, Oracle. Photo via oraclepr/Flickr

Paul O’Riordan has been the country manager of Oracle in Ireland since 2005 and, since 2013, he has also been the company’s vice-president of business intelligence and analytics for the UK and Ireland, so you can safely say he is a busy man.

O’Riordan joined tech behemoth Oracle in 2002 and has held a number of roles at the company, including, specialist sales and middleware leader in UK and Ireland, senior director of technology business services in UK and Ireland, and consulting director at Oracle Ireland.

O’Riordan started his career in business at Accenture in the 1980s, following his graduation from UCD with a degree in electronic engineering.

16. Louise Phelan

Louise Phelan, PayPal

Louise Phelan, vice-president of global operations EMEA, PayPal. Photo via LBDC

Louise Phelan has been one of Ireland’s shining lights in the fintech sector having joined payments company PayPal in 2006 from the management team at GE Money, a subsidiary of General Electric. She is currently leading more than 2,600 PayPal staff, overseeing its Irish operations in Dublin and Dundalk as well as its German office in Berlin.

Phelan has often been credited as one of the key figures behind PayPal’s decision to establish its second office in Dundalk back in 2012, which led to the creation of 1,000 jobs for the region. She recently shared her leadership insights with, offering advice for future leaders.

17. Bob Savage

Bob Savage, EMC

Bob Savage, VP and MD of EMC Centres of Excellence EMEA. Photo by Luke Maxwell

Bob Savage has worked at EMC – which was recently acquired by Dell in the largest tech merger ever – since 1988 and has held his current role as vice-president and managing director of EMC’s Centres of Excellence EMEA since 2009.

Savage has been an advocate for Ireland taking a lead role in the IoT revolution, and EMC has embarked on a joint investment with Vodafone into an Infinite IoT industrial platform that will traverse Cork, and which will provide facilities for the testing and exploration of technologies such as M2M communications.

Based in Ovens, Co Cork, Savage also sits on the boards of Enterprise Ireland and the American Chamber.

18. Patrick Scully

Patrick Scully, Yahoo

Patrick Scully, VP and MD, Yahoo EMEA. Photo via Mark Redmond/Twitter

Appointed head of Yahoo’s EMEA operations last March, Patrick Scully has already overseen considerable developments at the search giant’s Irish base.

Scully oversees Yahoo’s display and search ad business from Dublin, acting as head of business operations for the EMEA region.

A $12m facility was opened earlier this year by the Galway native, with the company’s gradual expansion seeing current employee levels hit 320 in Ireland.

19. Eamonn Sinnott

Eamonn Sinnott, Intel

Eamonn Sinnott, VP and general manager, Intel Ireland. Photo via Bryan Brophy/1IMAGE

Starting as a shift manager at the Leixlip plant in the early ’90s, Eamonn Sinnott rose through the ranks at Intel and is now vice-president of the technology and manufacturing group, and general manager of Intel Ireland.

Early in his career with the multinational, Sinnott was instrumental in the creation of Fab10 (and, subsequently, Fab14 and Fab24), a development wing of Intel that produced 50pc of the world’s supply of Pentium processors at the time of the PC and internet revolutions.

Under his tenure, Intel Ireland has flourished and Sinnott prides himself on being at the helm of a company where “the capability, flexibility and intellect of our workforce and their problem-solving abilities are the best on the planet”.

20. Niamh Townsend

Niamh Townsend

Niamh Townsend, general manager, Dell Ireland. Photo via Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

2015 has been somewhat special for Niamh Townsend in her fifth year at PC giant Dell, having been named general manager for Ireland in July, replacing Liam Halpin who held the post since 2013.

Previous to her recent appointment, she was the head of Dell’s Enterprise Solution Team, where she was given responsibility for growing this business in Ireland.

As the leader of Dell’s Irish operations, she has now becomes one of the most influential figures in the internet of things in Ireland following Dell’s decision to open its first European IoT lab in Limerick.

Mountain summit image by Nejron Photo via Shutterstock