Meet the new woman at helm of Network Cork

Network Cork has a new president - Ingrid Seim. EMMA CONNOLLY chats to her about the year ahead, and also catches up with outgoing President Maria Desmond
Meet the new woman at helm of Network Cork

Ingrid Seim who has been appointed President of Network Ireland’s Cork Branch for 2023.  Picture: Darragh Kane

AS a self-employed, single mum-of-three, Ingrid Seim’s life is a busy one, but that hasn’t stopped her from taking on the role of president of Network Cork.

In fact, it’s one of the reasons Ingrid, who runs her own coaching and consultancy business, stepped up to the challenge for the coming year.

“I always talk about the importance of figuring out what a balanced life looks like,” she said.

“Taking this on is part of getting the balance right for me. It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself, about challenging yourself, and about surrounding yourself with people who energise you.

“Network Cork ticks all those boxes and it is a privilege to lead an organisation made up of so many strong and capable women. I think we all learn from each other and enrich each other’s lives.”

Ingrid Seim who has been appointed President of Network Ireland’s Cork Branch for 2023 with Lord Mayor Cllr Deirdre Forde. Picture: Darragh Kane
Ingrid Seim who has been appointed President of Network Ireland’s Cork Branch for 2023 with Lord Mayor Cllr Deirdre Forde. Picture: Darragh Kane

Ingrid learned the hard way how detrimental a life imbalance can be, and she’s shared her story of burn-out previously with The Echo.

In the space of 24 months, her mother was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, she moved house, changed jobs, gave birth to her youngest child, and saw her relationship break down.

"At the time, I just kept going, in the same way that women do, we say ‘Oh, it will be fine, I’ve no choice, it will be grand’. But then suddenly it wasn’t.”


At the time, Ingrid was working in a leadership role in Amazon in Cork, but when, even after a holiday, she realised she still felt completely drained, and lacking in her customary drive, she realised she was heading down a road she couldn’t continue on.

“That holiday was a turning point for me actually. I knew something had to give, and that it couldn’t be my kids or my health, so I knew I had to step back from my professional role,” she said.

She went on to do a coaching masters in UCC and set up her own business in 2020.

“Sometimes, something good can come out of a crisis, although part of what I do now is to help people before they get to that point,” she said.

Taking the leap from a large organisation and setting up on her own was far less daunting than she thought, and it’s something she’s never regretted.

“I never had a dream to run my own business, but it got to the point that it was the only way I could lead the life I wanted to lead, and be happy,” she said.


Moving to Cork is another move Ingrid’s glad she made – even if it was never part of any master plan.

Originally from Norway, she came to Ireland as a student back in 1994 to do a one-year masters in Anglo Irish Literature and drama in UCD.

“I loved Ireland so much, and wanted to get to know the country better so I said I would stay another year - and however many years later I’m still here!” Ingrid said.

She worked in various multi-nationals in the capital before she got a job offer in Amazon and moved to Cork in 2013 with her partner and two of her children. Her third was born here.

She has since separated and her two sons are now aged 14 and eight, and her daughter is 11.

“I’d never have moved to Cork if I hadn’t taken the job in Amazon, this was well before the days of remote working, and I see it as one of those great serendipitous moments of life!” she said.

Members of Network Cork with new President of Network Cork Ingrid Seim in City Hall. Picture:  Darragh Kane
Members of Network Cork with new President of Network Cork Ingrid Seim in City Hall. Picture:  Darragh Kane


Ingrid joined Network Cork just before she launched her business, and straight away she felt a connection.

“I stepped into a ready-made network for me, it was incredible. It gave me a platform to launch my business that I don’t think I could have found anywhere else, and it grounded me in Cork, its people and its business community that it would have taken years to develop otherwise.” she said.

“Network provides an amazing forum for people from all areas of business and industry. We have members from the public and the private sectors, we have business owners and corporate employees, we have professionals and we have artists, and the creativity, opportunities and learnings that these connections spark is really valuable,” she said.

“It is quite a unique space, and it is also one where people can grow and develop at a pace that is comfortable for them. There’s many a businesswoman who got their first taste of public speaking at a Network Cork event and who has gone on to do bigger things – we learn by doing and we are delighted to provide an environment that supports this.”


Ingrid is excited about the year ahead, but is also very honest in admitting that she’ll have to practice what she preaches to clients - which is how vital it is to set boundaries and priorities.

“It’s about knowing I can take on this role, but at the same time saying that my house is possibly not going be that tidy for the next year. And my kids know mum will be busy and that that might impact on certain things.”

Ingrid says that, as women, we often fall into the trap of feeling “betrayed by those who told us we can have it all” when we look around and realise that’s actually pretty hard.

“We forget that ‘having it all’ doesn’t have to mean ‘doing it all’. It means figuring out what is important to you and how you can prioritise that.”

She feels it’s important women are honest about how they make their lives work, otherwise they can’t be authentic role models.

“Because there is often such a misogynistic undertone to asking women how they manage it all and who minds the children, we forget that this is actually very often a question other women need the answer to. I try to be open and honest about that.”

One of Ingrid’s own role models was her late mum, Turid Karlsen Seim.

“She was the first Norwegian woman to earn a theological doctorate and the first woman dean of the University of Oslo, and her achievements meant I never really questioned what was possible.

“She’s definitely an inspiration to me in my life and in my work, and I think she’d be really proud of me taking on this role as president,” Ingrid said.


What are her ambitions for her year at the helm of Network Cork?

“I am grateful to build on the legacy of the presidents before me. Marguerite O’Sullivan and Barbara Nugent steered us so gracefully and steadily through the Covid years, and then Maria Desmond brought everyone back out into the vibrant community that is Cork. The energy from this year is something I am keen to continue.

“We have lots of exciting events planned. But if I look ahead, my main hope for this year is that our members will come out of it with a real sense of belonging to a community where you get to make a difference to your life and work through connecting with others. And that is priceless, really.”


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