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Life of an Irish CEO: Limerick’s own Guaranteed Irish Brid O’Connell Q&A

Guaranteed Irish Brid O’Connell: We recently spoke with Limerick native Brid O’Connell about her success in business and being CEO of Guaranteed Irish. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

Life of an Irish CEO: Limerick’s own Guaranteed Irish Brid O’Connell Q&A

By Kate Devaney

We chatted with Guaranteed Irish CEO Brid O’Connell about her work philosophy, the biggest challenges she faces, what it was like growing up in Limerick and advice for Limerick businesses. Guaranteed Irish is a not-for-profit business membership organization that has been representing businesses in Ireland since 1974. 


Q1: What is a typical day in the life of a Guaranteed Irish CEO?

As a not for profit business membership organisation, our job is to promote our members to other businesses, consumers, media and Government. Being the ‘national symbol of Trust’, the Guaranteed Irish symbol is not easily attained. Once a business is successful in its application, it is important that we add value to this “seal of approval”. Guaranteed Irish runs a press office for its members. We amplify their stories/content across digital, traditional press, radio, podcasts and video. On their behalf, we dedicate ourselves to PR and Government lobbying. We are always promoting our members through these channels or through events.


Q2: What is it like being a successful woman in business? 

I really wouldn’t know. I have the pleasure of working with a very committed voluntary board of Directors who really believe in the bigger picture and like me, think Guaranteed Irish has a role to play for ‘Brand Ireland’. Behind the scenes, I work with a young, vibrant and very smart team. We enjoy our success as one unit.


Q3: What was your upbringing in Limerick like? 

Hardworking on a country farm out in West Limerick. Mum was a teacher and I have 5 sisters so I always had company. I went to primary school in Shanagolden and my mum was my first teacher. I went to boarding school in Mount Trenchard, Foynes. I was very happy and made lifelong friends there. After that, I went to college in Limerick ( LIT and UL)- both of which I have lots of fond memories. My first real job was in Limerick City Council. I was there for 3 years before I moved to Dublin. I’m sure it’s changed significantly since my time.

Guaranteed Irish Brid O'Connell

CEO Brid O’Connell grew up in West Limerick and received her education in Limerick right up to third level. She spoke about how this impacted her success.

Q4: Do you feel there is ample opportunity for Limerick businesses to succeed?

I am such a champion of Limerick. Limerick needs to believe in itself. Limerick is so well positioned geographically-Capital of the Mid-West, enjoys easy access to Shannon Airport, a vibrant student population with LIT, UL, and Mary I and home of sporting excellence. The ingredients are there- now all they have to do is collaborate. I believe the business culture in Limerick is one of agile adaptability- a secret weapon in the survival game. I have no doubt there is ample opportunity for Limerick businesses to succeed. Success is about seizing the opportunity. No one will hand it to you.


Q5: What is the advice you would give to Limerick businesses?

Think Big.

  1. Limerick needs a national politician batting for Limerick- put money and support into a visionary politician for Limerick. One who can impact change and stay loyal to their roots. Invest in that collectively, regardless of individual party goals. Limerick can build #AllTogetherBetter communities and businesses if they strategically align themselves for national success.
  1. Invest in a national communications campaign that positions Limerick as a real alternative to investment to Dublin. This campaign needs to be ‘heard’ in Dublin, Government and the media.


Q6: What are the main ambitions and goals in your position?

  1. Create a sustainable legacy that encapsulates “Brand Ireland” through Guaranteed Irish.
  1. As the National symbol of Trust, I would like to see Guaranteed Irish take on the broader role as managers of “Brand Ireland” and build this out further, showcasing all that is good about Ireland – our members give back so much to their communities, create good quality sustainable jobs and showcase Ireland as a great place in which to invest.


Q7: What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

  1. Cashflow of a not-for-profit is always challenging. We need a major corporate sponsor or else Government funding- to ensure we can invest further and amplify the success we have carved out today.
  1. Stretching yourself too thin. No one is indispensable- sometimes you really need to delegate more and trust those around you to deliver- after all they are the CEOs of tomorrow.


For more information about Guaranteed Irish, click here.

For more Q&A stories on our website, click here.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.