I am an Indian, Business Administration professional and qualified engineer and as VP Supply Chain, PepsiCo Global Concentrate Solutions. During my career, I have held responsibility across operations, supply chain, program management (both global multi-site and green-field projects) spanning petro-chemical, large chemical and latterly food & beverage sectors. I have lead culturally diverse, geographically distributed global teams driving transformation, growth, large capital strategy, business and organisational establishment, efficiency, innovation and sustainability. I believe strongly in creating space for everyone to feel empowered to make decisions, and to be comfortable navigating ambiguity. On the personal side, I am a family man and married with two children. I love to travel, visit historical locations, play chess and Indian folk music. I am motivated by learning, making a difference, most especially in sustainability, and contributing to local community development in Cork.
My purpose to join the Cork Chamber Board
I want to join Cork Chamber Board to connect with and learn from owners and leaders of Cork’s small, medium and large businesses, building a network within the business community to better understand the scale and range of activities within the region, the nuances and issues at play and policy supports needed for Cork businesses to succeed. I am keen to use my seat at the table on behalf of PepsiCo and Cork business to ensure sustainable growth of our businesses and maximise our valuable contribution to community development.
What I can bring to the Cork Chamber Board
I bring over 25 years global business experience across a broad range of functions and industries to the role of Cork Chamber Board member. My strategic mindset, stakeholder management and influencing skills and drive for results enable me to input meaningfully to Cork Chamber’s strategic planning. I have a proven track-record leading culturally diverse, geographically distributed global teams allowing me to make particularly strong contribution in the area of diversity, equality, and inclusion. Finally, I regard the opportunity to join the Chamber Board as a great personal honour and special responsibility as a business leader in Cork and one I look forward to undertaking with energy and enthusiasm.
After graduating with an honours B.Comm from UCC, Maria Desmond and a friend set up their own product-based business in Cork. Quickly gaining experience in sales, marketing, finance and export, they went on to grow the business for 10 years. During this time Maria completed an honours Masters Degree focusing on the area of Corporate Identity after takeovers and mergers. Through UCC, she was asked to undertake a survey about business in Cork and this led her to set up her own research consultancy in 2000. Serving clients of all sizes and sectors, with qualitative and quantitative research, she developed her statistical, analytical skills and believes that research is the key to solid decision-making when planning for the future.
Maria is now Regional Fundraising Manager at Enable Ireland, a national charity, which has provided disability services in Cork for over 70 years. As well as providing day and respite services for adults, Enable provides services for over 1800 children with disabilities from its new €7.5m development in Curraheen, which includes a hydrotherapy pool and respite house on site. Enable Ireland is proud to have been awarded ‘Triple Lock’ status by the Charities Institute of Ireland demonstrating its commitment to best practice in all aspects of transparent reporting, ethical fundraising and good governance. Maria is in a position of trust with responsibility for managing donations of all sizes as well as managing high-impact local and national marketing campaigns. As part of her professional development she has completed a Corporate Governance course with the Institute of Public Administration.
She was the 2022 President of Network Cork and used her year to promote Cork businesses and increase engagement between the private, public and third sectors. Maria won a Network Cork Businesswoman of the Year award in 2018 and this year, serves as a member of the National Executive of Network Ireland.
Having grown up in a local family business, she is passionate about all things Cork and would use her cross-sector knowledge and experience to assist the Chamber in championing this region as a progressive, inclusive, and leading business environment.
I am currently a Board member of the Cork Chamber, having been co-opted onto the Board in December 2021, primarily for my Agri Business sectoral knowledge. As per the Cork Chamber rules, I now need to put myself forward for election to the Board.
I have enjoyed my position on the Board and the Audit & Risk Committee. I was also a member of the Cork Company of the Year Judging Panel. In my short time on the Board, I believe I have made a positive contribution, to the Chamber’s work in supporting Cork businesses, with a progressive economic, social and sustainability agenda.
I intend to influence at Board level and support the Chamber and its members, in promoting and lobbying on the key issues for businesses in the region, including Talent Attraction and Retention (and the associated issues relating to Housing and Transport), Sustainability (delivering on the Climate Action Plan Targets) and Economic challenges.
I live in Douglas, Cork, have worked for Dairygold for over 30 years and am the Chief Financial Officer of Dairygold since 2006. Dairygold is one of Ireland’s largest Dairy Co-Operatives, with its headquarters located in Mitchelstown, County Cork, generating over €1.5 Billion in turnover per annum.
As part of the Dairygold Senior Leadership Team and together with the Dairygold Board, I am 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.
I have developed significant business and financial acumen over 30 years of experience, through the various financial roles I have held across Dairygold’s wide range of businesses, together with my continued professional development.
I have a very keen interest in sport, especially GAA and I am also a member of the Cork GAA Audit and Risk Committee since October 2019.
The Cork Chamber has long led the way in developing an international footprint, making sure that member companies have every opportunity to thrive well beyond Ireland’s shores and that the Cork region grows in its stature as a destination for foreign direct investment. A true “Global Irish” story, Steve’s attachment to Cork began in 1998 when he first traveled across the Atlantic at the behest of his now wife, Aoife Brosnan, herself raised in Douglas.
Putting his networking skills to work immediately, Steve began to develop an extensive network across Ireland, astutely building relationships with business, government, and community leaders. Co-located between New Jersey and Cork, where his wife and three sons reside, Steve wants to bring this network to the fore on behalf of the Cork Chamber to help steer the future of its US presence.
Professionally, Steve built an impressive career in New Jersey politics before launching his own boutique communications firm, Lenox Consulting in 2010. Since this launch Lenox Consulting has grown into a sought-after partner for a wide range of clients in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including in both the US and in Ireland.
Further solidifying his status as a conduit for business between the US and Ireland, Steve, in 2022, helped to spearhead a more than 40-member trade mission led by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. At his insistence, the mission included a daylong itinerary in Cork with engagement with the Cork Chamber of Commerce, UCC, Cork University Maternity Hospital, and IWish.
Following the success of this trip the New Jersey Ireland Center was launched to provide companies interested in New Jersey free, confidential support to set up their business in the United States with services including detailed market assessment services, customized business proposal responses, site selection assistance, government resources information, and introductions to public-private partnerships. Governor Murphy appointed Steve to serve as Director of this office, the first of its kind established by a US state.
It would be an honour to sit on the Cork Chamber Board and to bring an international perspective to efforts to make Cork the best city in Ireland to do business.