MUSICIAN, proprietor, wedding planner… such different professions undertaken by different women, but what remains unanimous is their “hard work, dedication, and resilience” according to the President of Network Ireland Limerick.
Five Limerick-based businesswomen will be amongst those competing at tonight’s Network Ireland Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2019, having won the regional competitions in their respective categories.
With the gala ceremony taking place at the Celtic Ross Hotel, Co. Cork, amongst those hoping to receive national recognition are Hannah Wrixon of Get the Shifts, competing in the Emerging New Business Award, Olivia Buckley of Olivia Buckley International for the Small SME Award, owner of No. 1 Pery Square Patricia Roberts in the Large SME Award, singer and songwriter Emma Langford in the Arts category and Petrina Hayes of The Savoy Hotel for the Shining Star Employee Award.
With the ceremony kicking off in the next hour and the excitement building, the Limerick Voice has had a quick chat with President of Network Ireland, Catriona O’Donoghue, who has also had her fair share of successes this year – having only taken the position of President in January.
“Ever since I joined three years ago, the Businesswoman of the Year Awards have been a highlight, to recognise and appreciate the achievements of our members,” Catriona explained.
But it’s not just about winning. One of the big reasons to celebrate women’s achievements is to “inspire other women to pursue similar endeavours”.
“What the women who win every year have in common is, despite being from diverse professional backgrounds, they are hard-working, determined even when things are going against them and resilient.
“It is never a linear journey to success.”
Patricia Roberts of No. 1 Pery Square also had a few words to say before the big night.
“There have been great challenges, but I always hoped to own a business that is uniquely Irish,” Patricia said.
Having studied hotel management as the “glamorous” vision of it lured her in, it wasn’t until 2006 when she bought the property in Limerick’s Georgian Quarter that she “finally started the business she always dreamed of having, when circumstances were finally right”. Yet, it was not without its challenges.
“I have juggled motherhood and starting a business and struggled with that guilt. Our biggest challenge as a business was the recession – which we had no idea of the effect it would have until we were knee-deep. The scars will remain.”
However, a lot has changed since then for Patricia who has had many triumphs and has also witnessed some changes in society.
“To see that a bank (AIB) sponsor Network Ireland is amazing. When I went in front of bank managers 15 years ago, they were all men. It’s great to completely see that culture change.”
Petrina Hayes, Sales and Marketing Manager for The Savoy Collection and also Vice President of Network Ireland Limerick is still feeling calm ahead of the big night and puts most of the reason for this down to the atmosphere at the National Conference today.
“It’s all feeling so real, but it’s just so exciting. To be around all these inspiring people and to have the support of my family, friends and colleagues, that keeps me positive,” Petrina explained.
“What’s slightly different about me, and it shows the diversity of the Network, is that I don’t actually own a business – I am an employee.”
Working for The Savoy for the last eight and a half years, Petrina says she feels her background in training, particularly the time spent working for Lidl, is what gave her the qualities she has now.
‘I had never worked in a hotel before this, but as long as you have the people skills, you can learn all the programmes and systems of a particular place.’
Having also struggled greatly due to the country entering financial despair in 2008, Petrina says ‘at least there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It gave us an alternative plan and that was focusing on the local market’.
As all the regional winners gathered in the hotel today for the National Conference ahead of the gala and awards, this year’s Network Ireland slogan #StepUp, encouraging women to step up to challenges and seize opportunities, trended on Twitter – showing how captivating and influential these businesswomen are, and this event, is.