Women in Leadership: Her Place at the Table

Julie Sinnamon, then-Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, and Caitriona Perry of RTÉ News. (Photo: James Higgins)

By Irish America Staff
December / January 2018

Enterprise Ireland hosted their inaugural female leadership and entrepreneurship event in New York City in November with Ireland’s then-Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Frances Fitzgerald and Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon addressing more than 100 corporate leaders and entrepreneurs.

The event, titled “Her Place at the Table,” was part of Enterprise Ireland’s trade and investment mission to the United States. The mission focused on boosting the profile of Enterprise Ireland clients and the Irish advantage they bring to U.S. buyers, particularly across banking, construction and life sciences sectors.

Enterprise Ireland is a government agency responsible for the development of Irish businesses abroad and is also officially Europe’s third largest venture capitalist by deal count.

The event also coincided with the announcement that Enterprise Ireland’s investment in female-led companies has reached a record level and is currently the highest level in the agency’s history. More than €5.5 million ($6.5 million) was approved for investment in female-led companies in 2016 and this level of investment will be higher again in 2017, Sinnamon said during her keynote remarks.

“We funded 63 women-led start-ups last year, and in 2017 we are pushing to increase our investment in female-led start-ups even further. Enterprise Ireland is deeply committed to female entrepreneurship and this is embedded in the agency’s 2020 strategy. We continue to work to reach the levels of female entrepreneurship achieved in the U.S., where women now make up 40 percent of new entrepreneurs – the highest percentage since 1996.”

Julie Sinnamon CEO of Enterprise Ireland delivers keynote speech at Women in Leadership Event in New York. (Photo: James Higgins)

Fitzgerald echoed Sinnamon’s statement during her remarks at the event. “Ireland has made significant progress in empowering women in entrepreneurship, and the establishment of the Enterprise Ireland Female Entrepreneurship Unit was central to achieving our goal of more gender balance in Irish entrepreneurship,” she said.

“I am proud of this achievement and to see that Enterprise Ireland’s investment in female-led companies at €5.5 million in 2016 is at a record high. This strategic investment to support women to realize their full business potential is not only the right thing to do, but is also critical to Ireland’s economic prosperity.”

The event also included a panel discussion with Cork-born Samantha Barry, an executive producer for social and emerging media for CNN; Aoife Ní Mhuirí, founder and CEO of the Kerry based connected health technology company Salaso Health; and Maureen Mitchell, an Irish American and senior advisor with Boston Consulting Group and former president at GE Asset Management. The panel discussion was moderated by RTÉ’s Washington, D.C. correspondent Caitriona Perry. ♦

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Ed. Fitzgerald stepped down as Tánaiste on November 28 following uncorroborated allegations of interference with a Gardaí whistleblower investigation and calls from the opposition party for a snap election that would have jeopardized the country’s stability.

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