We are pleased to announce that the panel of judges for Cork Company of the Year Awards 2024.
John Higgins, Chair Cork Company of the Year Judging Panel, Managing Partner of EY’s Cork office and Head of Transaction Advisory Services
John is a partner in EY’s Transaction and Corporate Finance team. He has worked with the firm for over 30 years. John’s more recent projects include business acquisition and disposals, due diligence, fundraising and independent business reviews. John leads many larger scale transaction and diligence projects in the Agri/food and healthcare sectors. John is also on the team that delivers the annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
Ronan Murray President Cork Chamber, EY Corporate Finance Partner (Strategy and Transactions)
Ronan is President of Cork Chamber and is an EY Ireland Partner M&A (Strategy and Transactions). He holds both an Honours Bachelor of Commerce and Executive MBA from University College Cork and is a fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland. He previously was chair of Cork Chamber’s Economic & Enterprise Policy committee for two years. He provides a broad range of corporate finance services to clients including M&A Lead Advisory, Transaction Services such as buy side financial due-diligence and capital/debt raising for clients depending on their strategic objectives.
Rob Horgan Vice President Cork Chamber, Owner Velo Coffee Roasters
Rob Horgan is the current Vice President of Cork Chamber and the owner of the multi-award-winning Velo Coffee Roasters, which was listed in the Sunday Business Post’s ‘EI Top 100 to Follow’. Velo Coffee Roasters supplies award winning, locally roasted coffee to international retail and food service clients. Having graduated from the Royal Agricultural College in 1996, Rob has worked in many facets of the food industry both in the UK and Ireland.
Conor Healy, CEO, Cork Chamber of Commerce
Conor Healy took up the position as Chief Executive of Cork Chamber of Commerce in 2006. Prior to joining Cork Chamber Conor worked with Ireland’s inward investment agency IDA Ireland playing a lead role in the strategic development of the South West region and the winning of new foreign direct investment. Previously he worked with Enterprise Ireland holding responsibility for the development of the indigenous software and international services sector and has also worked in business development with the micro enterprise sector. He holds a BSc, MSc and MBA from University College Cork and a Diploma in Company Direction from the Institiute of Directors. He is currently a Board Member of Chambers Ireland and Visit Cork and he also sits on the UCC Alumni Board as well as a range of boards and committees supporting economic development and tourism across the Cork region.
Anne-Marie Linehan, Partner, J.W.O’ Donovan Solicitors
Anne-Marie Linehan is a law graduate of UCC, qualified as a solicitor in 1991, and is a partner in J.W.O’ Donovan Solicitors on the South Mall in Cork since 2003. Anne-Marie’s practice involves advising corporate and private clients in the key practice areas of commercial and residential property, construction, banking and finance. Anne-Marie represents a number of developers, primarily in respect of residential housing schemes, a major lending institution and a number of charities including an Approved Housing Body. Anne-Marie has lectured and hosted seminars on property law related topics over the years.
Gerard O’Donovan, Head of the Faculty of Business and Humanities, MTU
Gerard O’Donovan is Head of the Faculty of Business and Humanities in Munster Technological University where he is responsible for the strategic direction, people management and operation of the Faculty. During his 19 years at the university, he has held a number of senior positions including Head of School of Business, Head of the Department of Accounting & Information Systems and founder of the Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence. Prior to academia, his industry experience includes work in retail, human resources, IT and consultancy roles in Ireland and the USA. He holds a BComm (Hons) from University College Cork and an MBA from St. Joseph’s University, USA. Gerard serves on a number of advisory and foundation boards.
Laura Morrison, Sustainability Adviser and Munster Lead, Business In The Community Ireland (BITCI)
Laura advises a portfolio of Irish-based multinationals on sustainability strategy and performance, and runs BITCI’s Munster Members’ Network, connecting and supporting sustainability practitioners across the region. She leads BITCI’s work on Governance and Human Rights. Laura worked for many years managing the complex governance and social risks associated with international energy and mining projects. She has been Group Political Adviser for BP in London and External Affairs Manager for several BP projects across Africa. She has also worked for the international consultancies ERM and Control Risks Group, advising a range of high-profile clients across multiple sectors. She holds graduate and postgraduate degrees in international politics from the University of London and a professional diploma in Renewable Energy Management from the University of St Gallen in Switzerland. She is Sustainability Officer for the multi-award-winning Cobh Tidy Towns.
David Owens, EVP and GM, International Operations, Tricentis
David Owens is currently Executive Vice President and GM for International Operations for Tricentis. Prior to joining Tricentis Mr. Owens was Senior Vice President, Finance and Operations for SolarWinds (NYSE: SWI) where he worked for 15 years. David started his tech career with Red Hat, Inc., an enterprise open-source software company where he served initially as Director of Global Logistics and Production and then as Senior Director of Finance- EMEA. Mr. Owens qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young and is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. He currently sits on the Board of The Marine Institute.
Maxine Hyde, General Manager, Ballymaloe Foods
Maxine is a general manager at Ballymaloe Foods, her family food manufacturing business working in sales and marketing and recently into general management, driving growth in the business while improving the company’s sustainability. Maxine previously worked as a chef in the Crawford Art Gallery Café. She holds a Bcomm degree from UCC as well as Diplomas in Food Manufacturing Management (UCC) and International Selling (DIT). She also sits on the Cork Chamber Dinner Committee and Membership Committee.
Mark Whitaker, CEO, Johnson & Perrott Motor Group
Mark Whitaker was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Perrott Motor Group in 2001, having previously held the post of General Manager at the Group’s Fleet Division. Mark studied Law at UCC and qualified as a Chartered Accountant working with the firm EY in 1990. In 2008 he completed the Owner Presidents Management Program (OPM 37) at Harvard Business School. In his 20 years as CEO, Mark led a broad investment program in all aspects of the business including the acquisition of units in the Opera Lane Retail Quarter in 2009. In 2012, he led the disposal of the Group’s Avis car rental operation and the re-focus of the Group’s operation into three core areas of Motor Dealerships, Fleet Management and Commercial Vehicle Rental. This included the acquisition of three companies, including National Truck Rental in 2018.
Mark retired as a Board of Cork Chamber of Commerce in 2020 and was previously a member of Governing Body and Chair of the Finance Committee of Cork Institute of Technology. He has recently been appointed to the Board of Sailing into Wellness.
Michael Harte, Chief Financial Officer, Dairygold
Michael, a Chartered Management Accountant, is Chief Financial Officer of Dairygold since 2006 and has worked for Dairygold for over 30 years. Dairygold is one of Ireland’s largest Dairy Co-Operatives, with its headquarters located in Mitchelstown, County Cork, generating c. €1.5 Billion in turnover per annum. Michael, as part of the senior leadership team and together with the Board, is responsible for driving the strategic direction of the business as well as ensuring the appropriate reporting, policies, procedures and controls are in place to drive the financial performance and protect the financial integrity of the business.
Ger Goold, Partner & Finance Director, Kernel Capital
Ger joined Kernel Capital in 2009, is Partner and Finance Director of Kernel Capital and a Director of Kernel Strategic. He is a member of the firm’s Investment Committees and has specific responsibility for corporate finance due diligence across both portfolio companies and Kernel Strategic clients. Ger is currently on the board of directors of portfolio companies Code Institute Limited and Datactics Limited and prior directorships include DisplayNote Technologies Limited, BioAtlantis Limited and MPSTOR Limited. Ger previously worked with KPMG where he managed services to a range of clients, from quoted multinationals to Irish tech start-ups. Ger is a graduate of University College Cork from which he holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Economics. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and is a Kauffman Fellow (Class 17) with the Society of Kauffman Fellows in Palo Alto, California.
Sinéad Scully, Head of Large Business, Vodafone Ireland
In 2021, Sinéad Scully became Head of Large Business at Vodafone Ireland. She is an experienced Sales Director who worked in IBM for over 26 years across a variety of senior leadership positions. Sinéad has led many teams both domestically and internationally including Enterprise Sales, Software Sales, Digital Sales, Acquisitions & Software Renewals and Client Management.
At IBM in her role as Enterprise Sales Director, Sinéad successfully led a cross-disciplined Sales and Technical team focused on delivering growth in the IBM Ireland Enterprise Business.
In her role as Head of Large Business at Vodafone, Sinéad is responsible for overseeing Vodafone Business Ireland Sales Strategy and implementation, building new revenue streams (across both Mobile & Fixed) and collaborating with customers to help them grow and thrive in a digital world. Sinead’s responsibility covers Large Sales (Key, Govt, NAM) and VGE customers & associated Account Teams, Solution Sales Specialists and Acquisition (Mobile) Sales.
Sinéad is married and has two teenage sons. She holds a B.A, as well as an MSc in Computer Science from Maynooth University. Living in Co. Westmeath, community is important to Sinéad and she is actively engaged in her local GAA clubs of The Downs and Clonkill.