Kildare Branch Women in Business Awards

Posted on: 22/05/2017


Minister Mary Mitchell O’ Connor celebrates Kildare’s most Successful Women in Business, Network Ireland Kildare Branch Gala Awards Dinner


Women from the world of business gathered recently to celebrate their success at the Gala Dinner and Business Awards hosted by Network Ireland Kildare Branch in the Manor House, Palmerstown House Estate, Johnstown. Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor was guest speaker for the evening. Esteemed judges Jacqui Mc Nabb, Kildare Local Enterprise Office; David Fanning, A.I.B. and Jill Kerby, Financial Journalist/Advisor had the pleasure of choosing the deserved winners from a wealth of candidates on Friday evening last.


Lee-Ann Mc Carthy, Kildare Village was awarded “Employee Business Woman of the Year”. A Kildare girl, Lee-Ann is from Celbridge and continues to live there with her fiancé. After completing a Marketing Degree, Lee-Ann has worked in various marketing roles in agencies, tech, hospitality and retail. For the past 8 years she works for Kildare Village, one of Ireland’s leading shopping destination. In her spare time, Lee-Ann loves travel, baking, fashion and interiors. Lee-Ann also volunteers as a marketing and branding advisor for the Celbridge Community Council.


Karen Leigh, Sensational Kids, was awarded “Social Enterprise Business Woman of the Year”. Karen has completed the Diploma in Management & Employee Relations with National College of Ireland, and Social Enterprise Management & Governance Programme with DCU Ryan Academy. Karen’s awards include Rehab County Kildare Person of the Year (2009), & the coveted Social Entrepreneurs Ireland IMPACT Award (2014). Karen is a proud member of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Alumni Network. Karen has led Sensational Kids from foundation, to a multi-award winning innovative social enterprise turning over €700,000+ last year and impacting 4,000+ children.


Dr Deirdre Kelly, Kelly Scientific was awarded “Emerging New Business Woman of the Year”. Kelly Scientific Publications was founded by Deirdre Kelly Ph.D. whose career spans both industry and academia where she has worked with both start-up biotech and multinational pharmaceutical companies. Dr Kelly holds a PhD (Medicine, Immunology) from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, an MSc Biotechnology from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a B.A. (Mod) Biochemistry from Trinity College, Dublin.


Karolynn Mac Hale, Aria Boutique Ltd, was awarded “Small Business (less than 10 employee’s) Business Woman of the Year”. Karolynn has always had a passion for fashion, before Aria she was Brand Manager for Jameson in Ireland and had spent 5 years living in Helsinki where she worked as a Brand Manager for their whisk(e)y portfolio. Karolynn travelled Scandinavia, saw a lot of designer labels which were not in Ireland thus she thought there was a gap in the market. Karolynn is a creative, positive, people’s person and loves what she does in Aria. Karolynn is married and a mother of 3 young boys: Adam is 6, twins Zach and Lewis aged 2.


Grainne Slattery, Optiweb, received a commendation award for “Small Business (less than 10 employee’s) Business Woman of the Year”. Grainne spent 20 years in the services industry before taking on her management role in Optiweb. Grainne has CIBTEC and ITAC qualifications. She brings with her a huge amount of experience to Optiweb. Grainne manages the Sales division and is the Creative Director of Optiweb. Grainne has one daughter who is 13 years old. She spends a lot of our time going to horse shows at weekends as she competes her pony. Her husband John is the Director of Optiweb and they both love working together.


David Fanning, Assistant Manager A.I.B., commented: “It was an honor to be judging this year’s business awards for Network Ireland, Kildare. The standard of candidates was extremely high. In my role I look at businesses from a financial perspective. It was great to see the real heart behind the business. I found the whole process inspiring, to see the passion and listen to the candidate’s stories from the grass roots up.”


Pauline Forde, President of Network Ireland Kildare Branch, said: “We are thrilled with the finalists, they are a great example of our inspirational members who are innovative and energetic about their businesses and understand their customer’s needs. We wish them every success going forward to the national awards and we have every confidence they will do us proud at a national level.”


The Network Ireland Kildare Branch Business Awards hosted by Network Ireland Kildare Branch in association with our supporters, Kildare Local Enterprise Office, AIB Bank and our media partners, Kildare Post.



Click here to see photos of the awards ceremony.


Remember – photos can be purchased for your own use by contacting our photographer, Michael Donnelly