The winners of the 2020 Network Ireland Cork Businesswoman of the Year Awards have been announced, with Linda O'Connell, national Online and Media Coordinator, with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul clinching the award for the overall Network Ireland Cork Businesswoman of the Year.
She received the accolade at a virtual awards ceremony sponsored by Brown Thomas. Six other category winners from a range of fields were also recognised for their talents across six categories.
Linda, who has over 15 years’ experience working in the non-profit sector as a communications specialist, also scooped the award for Transformative Employee.
The judges outlined that Linda “demonstrated in both her career and in her personal life a remarkable ability to dig deep and confront major life challenges through developing extraordinary self-awareness”.
They also called her "a beacon to all in demonstrating emotional resilience”.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin also sent a video message to those receiving awards:
"Network Ireland is a key organisation in contributing to the development of women in business," he said.
"Congratulations to all involved," he added.
Winner of the Power Within Champion Award — recognising those who overcame challenges in business arising from Covid-19 — is Trudy McQuaid.
Trudy is an Events Coordinator for Enable Ireland. She was commended for her “positivity and energy”, being “generous with her time and displaying huge empathy for those suffering during lockdown”.
The third category - Solo Businesswoman - went to Maeve Lankford of Kaleidoscope Coaching and Facilitation who successfully migrated all her business online in recent months.
Meanwhile Emerging New Business was won by co-founder of Change by Degrees, Madeleine Murray, for the social enterprise’s ambition and focus on developing new ways of living sustainably.
The award for Business Innovation went to Jenny Murphy, the designer behind Red Balloon, who was commended for her creative and unique business model, while Eveanna De Barra Kumar of Himalaya Yoga Valley won Online Business Transformation for demonstrating resilience and focus in pivoting to online business.
Ernest Cantillon of Electric Bar and Kinsale Spirit Company; Sharon Corcoran, Director of Economic Development & Tourism at Cork County Council and Elmarie Kelleher, Branch manager of AIB were the judges. The virtual event was compered by Jonathon Healy.
The winners across all categories will now move forward to the Network Ireland Business Awards on 2 October.
Speaking on the winners, Network Ireland Cork’s president, Marguerite O'Sullivan said: “From migrating to an online business to designing sustainability solutions, the 2020 winners of the Network Ireland Cork Businesswoman of the Year Awards are hugely diverse but are linked through their exceptional leadership, creativity and resilience.
"This has been a year unlike any other. The pandemic has been an epic test of character and determination for so many — the pressure has been daunting and the need to pivot while staying energised and focused never more important. In the face of certain challenges, our winners have looked outwards, and showed great strength.
"A huge congratulations to each and every one and we look forward to them all representing Cork at the national finals next month.” Network Ireland Cork Vice-President and Awards organiser, Barbara Nugent expressed her appreciation to the judging panel for their work in selecting the winners."
Ms O'Sullivan also thanked the judges who had to select just six winners from 60 nominees, and the sponsors for showing "great support" for the local business community.
She continued: “Thank you too to AIB, the Network’s official partner; and LEO, our ongoing sponsor. The beautiful trophies presented to the winners were also sponsored by ASA Marketing. Thank you all for your continued support of female leadership.”
Network Ireland Cork is a not-for-profit Cork organisation that is the largest branch of Network Ireland in the country.
For more information see: www.networkireland.ie/cork.
Power Within Champion — Trudy McQuaid, Enable Ireland
Transformative Employee — Linda O'Connell, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Ireland
Solo Businesswoman — Maeve Lankford, Kaleidoscope Coaching and Facilitation
Emerging New Business — Madeleine Murray, Change by Degrees
Business Innovation — Jenny Murphy, Red Balloon
Online Business Transformation — Eveanna De Barra Kumar, Himalaya Yoga Valley
Overall Businesswoman of the Year — Linda O'Connell, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Ireland