Network Cork President reflects on 2020 and looks to 2021

Accountant, turned executive coach, Barbara Nugent, who lives in Clonakilty, talks to EMMA CONNOLLY as she takes up the post of President of Network Ireland Cork
Network Cork President reflects on 2020 and looks to 2021

Barbara Nugent is the newly appointed President of Network Ireland Cork.

THE pandemic has shown women how essential it is to establish clear boundaries around family, self-care and work time.

That’s according to the new president of Network Cork, Barbara Nugent who says with people working from home and putting in more hours than before, anxiety and stress are more prevalent, with many women still trying to do it all.

“What I see is that women often think everyone expects everything from them - which is not true. So it’s about having the conversations to makes thing clear, especially at work, so that there is no confusion, less stress and less conflict.”

Barbara, who runs her own leadership consultancy business, does believe that women are getting better at finding ways to empower themselves: “And that’s mainly by not being so hard on ourselves!”

Originally from Dublin, Barbara has been living in Clonakilty for more than 20 years, with husband John, son, Sam aged 20, who is studying Sports Science in the UK and a daughter Lorna, aged 16, who is in transition year.

A qualified accountant, she worked in small practice, Irish manufacturing, the European Commission and then in Cork for a number of medical device and pharmaceutical companies as Financial Controller.

Outgoing president Marguerite O’Sullivan with new President of Network Cork Barbara Nugent.
Outgoing president Marguerite O’Sullivan with new President of Network Cork Barbara Nugent.

“In 2002, I became part of the team that started up the European HQ of Premiere Global Inc (a US telecoms company) in Clonakilty. We built that organisation from green field site, to a hub for over 200 employees in Cork and several hundred across Europe and India. I progressed to leading a team of about 40 people, with five managers and 13 entities. I headed up finance operations, putting processes in place for accounting, accounts payable, tax and tax planning, US accounting and customer billing for all those countries and regions.

“It was a very exciting time – full of energy and new things, a lot of challenges.”

Around this time, she became very interested in what made a ‘good leader’ and decided to go back to college and obtained a post grad diploma in Leadership.

“I learned that great leaders teach, not tell and so in a further diploma I learned the art of Executive Coach. I coached people within the organisation alongside my team and became very impressed by the results that we got.”

After 12 years, she took the plunge and left to set up her own leadership consultancy which in turn prompted her to join Network Cork.

“I joined as I realised when I left my role, that I had become very disconnected from the community and I didn’t really know anyone. And for myself, I gained confidence in my business and was better able to articulate it.”

Barbara’s business is called Transilient Coaching: “Transilient means ‘leaping from one state of being to another’ and that is the kind of transformation I embark on with my clients.

“Indeed, that huge leap of faith in leaving a secure well paid job to work for myself, inspired the name. I now work with companies in Cork to support, mentor and coach their leaders to be emotionally intelligent and resilient and have greater impact as a leader.”

As part of her work during the pandemic she’s seen businesses change direction and do new courageous and creative things.

“Such is the nature of a crises. Network Cork will continue to encourage our members to keep being brave, to keep learning, connecting and collaborating.

“The objective is to help members benchmark where they are at now, in their business, their careers or perhaps having lost jobs and work.”

Her theme for this year as president (she was vice president last year) is all about resilience and re-emerging.

“But, not so much about bouncing back — because we can never go back, we are all changed by these events. It’s about bouncing forward, with so much experienced, so much learned.

“Bouncing forward is about progression, positive momentum and taking on board our experience and learning and asking how will we now move forward?

“So my theme this year, is exactly that: #bounceforward.”

Barbara’s first event as president will be the annual Network Ireland Cork Christmas Party, which this year will be a virtual event. Taking place tonight, December 9, from 8pm - 9.30pm, Zoom Zazzle is free for members with bookings at

For more information see


Some research has shown that women are still doing the lion’s share at home. I think that perhaps women can do a few things to shift the burden…

1. Ask for help — traditionally we like to do things our way, ourselves.

I have teenage children who now help me with certain things and it’s great — but I had to ask them first!

2. Accept that it won’t be done as well as you!

Thus all the memes about packing the dishwasher “properly” — done is better than perfect!

3. Set boundaries around work space and work time — where possible have the family understand that you need space and time to work.

Set timelines around that and finish work when you say you will — be with the family when you say you will.

Get your walk/exercise/mediation booked into your calendar and do it like you would other tasks.

4. Manage expectations - with managers at work, with partners, with children.

Let them know what’s happening and what you expect from them and what they can expect from you — make it realistic.

Outgoing president Marguerite O’Sullivan with new President of Network Cork Barbara Nugent. See
Outgoing president Marguerite O’Sullivan with new President of Network Cork Barbara Nugent. See


COVID hit, but we hit back! 

That just about sums up the determined spirit of Marguerite O’Sullivan who was just getting into her stride as president of Network Cork when the global pandemic hit.

But, as you might imagine from someone who has been on two Everest expeditions, it wasn’t something that was going to phase her even if her plans had to be altered. Her hashtag for the year was #Leadnow, and she feels the group did this with true grit.

“It has been a challenging year, and this is when I experienced the real value of Network Cork. When Covid hit, we leaned on each other, and members stepped up, supporting and sharing resources and advice. Network Cork members' ability to collaborate, inspire, and build their business in challenging times signals the resilience and determination surrounding us. And this leads to our continuous growth in Cork and will benefit all,” said Marguerite.

The sink or swim situation Marguerite found heself in, meant she also discovered the diverse breadth of entrepreneurs and leaders with diverse skills among their 230 members. And she relied on this expertise especially when it came to one of the biggest hurdles which was pivoting on-line while still maintaining contact and connections.

“However, the feedback on how we achieved this has been amazing. We learned the technology very quickly,” she said.

Originally from Lombardstown near Mallow, and living in Rochestown, Marguerite is a Senior Innovation Engineering Manager in DePuy Synthes Johnson & Johnson, Ringaskiddy.

She admits working from home full time since March has ‘been very difficult.’ 

“It has made me more aware of where I get my energy. I am a connector and need to have a human connection even though I discovered I am more introverted than I would have thought.  Knowing the balance is so important to maintain a positive mindset. I know also breaking some habits can release our pure potential.

" For me, it was ruminating, and I have strategies now to help me get unstuck and break free from it and leave rumination to the cows!” 

She added: “Network Cork is full of vitality, encouragement, and a can-do attitude. If you want to be surrounded with fellow employees, business owners, entrepreneurs wanting to learn, grown, and co-create together, this is for you, and it has been for me the last six years, and I was delighted to steer the ship this year 2020.”

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