IT’S a major achievement to have your name engraved on a trophy even just once in your lifetime — but a second time — well that’s what dreams are made of.
Irene Twohig of Educogym is celebrating just that, having won the Network Cork Business Woman of the Year title, again.
Irene picked up the 2018 title, having also won the category for Best SME with more than 10 employees. The Glanmire-based woman also took the overall Network Cork Business Woman of the Year title back in 2012.
Reflecting on the announcement, Irene said she was shocked.
“When we won our category I thought that was perfect. When I was announced the overall winner I was shocked. It is great for the team, the guys and girls who work at Educogym.”
Judges commended Irene’s entrepreneurial spirit, passion for the business and willingness to take risks. They also recognised her growth mindset and future business strategy. Irene now employes 43 people.
Irene opened the gym at Penrose Wharf back in 2006, the concept was to keep workouts simple for clients, something they continue with to-date with their time machine, which people use for 20 minutes a day, on a 12 day programme. It is something that has gotten people results — which Irene says sees them come back time and time again.
Reflecting on the early days, Irene recalls working six/seven days a week, as well as juggling motherhood, school drop-offs and collections. But the hard work paid off.
She opened a second Educogym in Glanmire in 2012, where she lives.
“It was a lot of hard work, but you learn as you go along. It was the same business model as Penrose Wharf. It only works well if you have a great team.”
She also speaks of the support of her husband Damien, who is also very driven, like herself.
And expansion continued. In 2017, Irene opened Educogym in Ballincollig, in a unit above Aldi, and again she is full of praise for a super team there.
She compares her secret to success to that of a golfer keeping the eye on the ball, and in this instance the ‘ball’ is the customer. The important thing is for the customer to get results, to feel they are being looked after, says Irene.
She says she trains staff herself and always listens to feedback from customers.
“Our clients are super, some have been with us since we opened in 2006, they never left us.”
A second arm to the business is New Minds College, a fitness and beauty college. Irene said she opened this as she couldn’t find appropriately trained staff. Here she can spot the talent and the end results is a highly skilled workforce for Educogym.
Irene is full of praise for Network Cork, where she has met many like-minded business women over the years, adding: “It is great to be involved.”
And she is looking forward to the national Network Ireland finals, which she and the other category winners will go forward to later this year.
Her goal for the year ahead is to put the Cork Educogyms top of the leaderboard. There are more than 20 Educogyms worldwide — Irene wants Penrose Wharf, Glanmire and Ballincollig to be in places one, two and three on that board.
Her advice to other businesswomen looking to succeed is: “Don’t have the fear, go for it. If I had listened to everyone saying not to open... but I went for it.”
She also spoke about the importance of loving what you do every day, stating: “You have to have a passion.”
HONOURS FOR CHARITY FOUNDER
Maureen Forrest of HOPE Foundation also received a special recognition at the Network Cork Business Woman of the Year awards, in Fota Island Resort, last Friday.
Maureen was recognised for her hard work and dedication to the charity over the past 20 years. Today the foundation runs more than 60 projects including 11 protection homes, a lifeskills training unit, cafe and a hospital.
Speaking on the announcement of the winners, Network Cork President, Karen Fleming said: “The Cork Businesswoman of the Year Awards celebrate the exceptional achievements of women in business across Cork city and county. Both winners and finalists deserved to be recognised for outstanding contributions to their respective industries and companies.
“The calibre of entries for this year’s awards was extremely high and it was great to see a record number of submissions in 2018. We’re delighted to showcase the very best talent Cork has to offer and we’d also like to thank our sponsors and judges for their continued support of this fantastic event.”
The winners in each category will now go forward to represent Cork in the Network Ireland National Business Awards, which will take place at a gala ceremony later this year.
Judging the awards were leaders in the Cork business community, Tricia Sheehan of Johnson & Johnson , Mark Fitzharris of AIB and Olive Guerin of the Local Enterprise Office.
Caroline Kennedy of Kennedy PR was guest speaker and recounted her journey in building a successful PR brand and developing her portfolio of elite clients.
She was joined by the inspiring Bríd Stack, Ladies Gaelic Player of the Year 2016, winner of 11 All Ireland Medals and recipient of seven All-Stars. Bríd shared insights into growing her new business, MyCore Supplements.
Network Cork is affiliated to Network Ireland, a not-for-profit national organisation for women in business, the professions, and the arts. For more information on the awards or to become a member, visit www.networkireland.ie
NETWORK CORK BUSINESS WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Here is the shortlist and the winners of the six categories:
Best use of Digital
Lisa Jordan, Luna by Lisa
Genevieve Sheehan, Sheenco travel
Joan Walsh, Partnership International
Joelle Coade, ACET Ireland
Kathy O’Dwyer, Vocation Relocation
Sian Horn, Elite Pilates
Winner: Joan Walsh, Partnership International
Large SME - greater than 10 employees
Irene Twohig, Edcuogym
Joelle Coade, Acet Ireland
Valerie Finnegan, Ikon Hairdesign
Winner: Irene Twohig, Educogym
Elaine Higgins, DePuy Synthes
Elaine Wilson, Arachas Corporate Brokers
Emily Reen, Partnership International
Michelle Collins, CIT
Sinead O’Dea, Griffith College
Maria Desmond, Enable Ireland
Winner: Maria Desmond, Enable Ireland
Small SME - 10 employees or less
Adrianna Hegarty, Hegarty properties
Barbara Nugent, Transilient Coaching
Caroline Cermak, Alliance Packaging
Genevieve Sheehan, Sheenco Travel
Kathy O’Dwyer, Vocation Relocation
Shirley Feeney, Shirley Feeney
Winner: Shirley Feeney, Shirley’s Beauty Clinic.
Emerging New Business
Catherine Hassett, Health and Wellbeing Magazine
Gillian McGrath, Change, Grow, Succeed
Karen Casey, Mobile Device Management
Karen O’Reilly, Employmum
Louise Bunyan, Smart Fox
Michelle A. Hardwick, Release Peace
Winner: Karen O’Reilly, Employmum
Fiona Kennedy, Fiona Kennedy Music
Itle Nganta Domgo, Mosikopictures
Nina Lowe, The Floral Fish
Winner: Fiona Kennedy, Fiona Kennedy Music
Network Cork Business Woman of the Year was Irene Twohig, Educogym.