The Image Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2014 took place in the Hilton DoubleTree hotel in Dublin on Monday and what an incredible evening it was as approciamtely 600 people filled the room to pay homage to some of Ireland’s most inspirational businesswomen, not only of this year, but of all time. The night was filled with thought-provoking acceptance speeches and some tear-inducing comedy from MC Ivan Yates but the highlight of the night was undoubtedly the speech given by the winner of the inaugural Lifetime Achievement award winner, Breege O’Donoghue.
Breege is a board director at Penneys/Primark and has been with the company for 35 years steering them from fashion concept to retail behemoth, whose size and power continues to grow. She spoke at length about her life, reminiscing about her first mode of transport. “A Mercedes, not the car, but Paddy, a beautiful horse with bells and bows, which with a gleaming trap, brought us to mass and to the seaside on Sundays.” Breege regaled the attentive audience with stories of her parents Molly Thomas and her first job with the then Great Southern Hotels group.
The 70 year old has seen some huge changes in the workplace during her lengthy career, most notably with the role of women. “During my continuing working years there have been many positive advances for women and other…for example, pay and the improvement in the status of women.” Breege is one of two women sitting on the directors’ board (of which there are 7 members) at Penneys and expressed her delight that “the odds are moving in the right direction.”
Breege disclosed several nuggets of wisdom, one of the most important being that the key to success in any line of business is communication. “Short lines of communication, with core beliefs and a common vocabulary.” She kept her best advice for last, however, as she spoke directly to the young businesswomen in the room. “Be true to oneself, show courage, independence, initiative, appreciate the need to recognise, respect and value differences. Know right from wrong, be ethically aware. Be satisfied only with the best, do not be clothed in power and status, but generus in heart, mind and spirit, and yes, it is encouragement and love that inspire people to succeed and be happy the world over.”
You can see the wonderful, thoughtful and inspiring speech in full below. What did you take from Breege O’Donoghue’s speech? We’d love to hear your thoughts.