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A Collective View: Female Entrepreneurship

November 12, 2019

On a rainy November evening in West London, the Women’s Irish Network members gathered to hear the empowering stories of three of Ireland’s leading female entrepreneurs for A Collective View: Female Entrepreneurship.

Despite the gloomy weather, Killik. & Co shone brightly as guests, Darina Allen, Mary McKenna MBE and Jayne Roynane shared their journeys of success.

Marina Donohoe, Enterprise Ireland chaired the discussion with each panellist reflected on their careers. Each highlighted how they coped in the face of adversity and shared the lessons they learned along the way. Between every honest answer was plenty of laughter of the highs and lows of being a female entrepreneur.

Not only is Darina Allen a best-selling author and one of Ireland’s most iconic chefs, but she has also revolutionised Ireland’s relationship with food, was one of the earliest pioneers of farmers’ markets and has been a tireless champion of Irish food, both at home.

Her legacy continues across the globe as Ballymaloe Cookery School graduates carry on her teachings in restaurants and eateries across the around the world.

Darina discussed the value of finding your vocation in what you do.

Despite having few role models at the beginning of her career, Darina knew that she had no choice but to follow her passion for food. “All I wanted to do was to cook! I had no ambition to have a career.”

She explained that the Ballymaloe Cookery School was born from necessity rather than a choice and how despite all odds; she kept the doors open during the recession of the late ’00s.

Darina’s resilience, passion and love for food as seen her career reach new heights as she launches her nineteenth cookbook ‘One Pot Feeds All’ this Christmas.

Jayne Ronayne is one of Ireland’s brightest tech talents having co-founded her company Talivest straight out of University. Since then Jayne has been named as one of Ireland top 30 under 30 (twice!) and is listed as one of Ireland’s top 20 female entrepreneurs, while Talivest has opened offices in Dublin, Lisbon and New York, backed by leading global investors.

Jayne emphasised the importance of surrounding yourself with positive and kind people. She cited hiring her first employee as her greatest achievement because this meant that someone trusted her with their family’s income.

On investment, Jayne believes taking your time and finding a partner who shares your vision is fundamental to a long-lasting relationship.

Starting her entrepreneurial career a little later in life did not hold our third guest Mary McKenna MBE back. Since founding her first company Learning Pool at 43, Mary has become a leading global STEM entrepreneur, spent a spell as a Silicon Valley dot-commer and in 2014 Mary received an MBE for services to digital technology, innovation and learning.

Despite the social challenges that came with starting a business in Derry, Mary says helping her staff establish long-lasting careers is one of her personal entrepreneurial highlights. Mary advised us you are never too young or too old to follow your dreams.

Hearing these three inspiring figures speak candidly about the highs and lows filled the room with inspiration and left all attendees and WIN members feeling empowered, motivated and ready for their next challenge!

It was an honour to learn from these legendary women and we thank each of them for taking the time to share their experiences. We would also like to thank you to our superstar WIN member Kathryn Murrell captured key lessons learned, to share with those who could not attend on the night.

Mary discussed the social challenges that came with setting up a tech business in Derry but the pride she took in helping staff in the Northwest of Ireland establish long-lasting careers as one of her personal highlights. She stressed the point that you are never too young or old to start a business or career and that you have a burning desire to do something you must follow that passion. 

There was undoubtedly feeling for inspiration and awe among the WIN members as we heard from each speaker. It was energizing to have these three women speak so candidly about the highs and lows of their professional careers, reminding us that the impossible is always possible. 

Having these three inspiring figures speak candidly about the highs and lows of their professional careers left all attendees and WIN members feeling empowered, motivated and ready for their next challenge!

Thank you to our superstar WIN member Kathryn Murrell captured the key lessons learned, for those who could not attend on the night. 

This event was a part of the Women’s Irish Network members-only event series. If you would like to attend our next event or join the network, please click here.


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