Women in Sport 2017 – Anne O’Leary

Sport for Business, in partnership with Liberty Insurance, has begun the publication of our annual list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Irish Sport.

This is not about Women’s sport, it is about the influence that women are wielding across all sport.  We will identify leaders on and off the field of play.  They will include those who are role models in terms of their abilities on and off the field of play.  They will come from teams and individual sports, from sponsorship partners, from the media, from the administrative corridors of power and from places where influence may be subtle but no less powerful.

Anne O’Leary

As CEO of Vodafone in Ireland Anne O’Leary is one of the most powerful women in business.  As the one who made the call on the sponsorship of the Irish Rugby team, she has a similar vaulted position in terms of influence within sport.

The role of a sponsor is not to score the winning try but it does set the tone on how a sport is perceived and Vodafone’s #TeamofUs campaign has put rugby front and centre stage in one of the biggest commercial operations in the country.

O’Leary is a Cork native and a triathlete of some achievement.  She is an advocate that the lessons learned within sport have a place when transferred into business.

Speaking to Sport for Business last year at the launch of Vodafone’s partnership with the IRFU she told us “Rugby followers and fans are quite unique in terms of the bond they have with the team and the players.”

Read the full interview with Anne O’Leary 

“We want to connect emotionally more with our customers. We can connect through devices or plans but this goes deeper.”

“We are respected and trusted as a brand but we also want to be admired. Rugby is an admired sport and brand. The people involved in the team and the sport mirror the values we have ourselves in Vodafone so we felt it made perfect sense.”

Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 means it will be to the fore in terms of the promotion of sport for women and women in sport.  It does not do well in terms of leadership yet but if she had the time it would be an effective statement to bring O’Leary in as part of the management of the sport.

Mary Davis, Special Olympics

Sonia O’Sullivan, Olympian

Sinead Galvin, Galvin Sports Management

Evanne Ní Chuillin, Joanne Cantwell and Jacqui Hurley, RTÉ

Louise Kidd, AIG Insurance

Ellen Keane, Paralympian

Siobhan Earley, Gaelic Players Association

Maeve Buckley, Line Up Sports

Suzanne Eade, Horse Racing Ireland

Sinead Heraty, Irish Ladies Golf Union

Sinead Kissane, Journalist at TV3

Irene Gowing and Sorcha Fennell Sheehan, Bord Gais Energy

Jo Donnellan, Sponsorship Manager at Heineken

Elaine Carey, Chief Commercial Officer Three Ireland

Sarah O’Connor, Head of Sport at Wilson Hartnell

Georgina Drumm, President at Athletics Ireland

Sue Ronan, Head of Women’s Football at FAI

Fiona Hampton, Head of Sales and Marketing at Ulster Rugby

Karen Campion, Head of Business Partnerships at FAI

Miriam Malone, CEO at Paralympics Ireland

Cliona Foley, Journalist

Cliona O’Leary, Head of TV Sport at RTÉ

Edel McCarthy, Sponsorship Manager Electric Ireland

Lisa Browne, Head of Marketing Electric Ireland

Sarah O’Shea, Honorary General Secretary at Olympic Council of Ireland

Helen O’Rourke, CEO at Ladies Gaelic Football Association

Kelli O’Keefe, Teneo PSG

Jennifer Gleeson, Sponsorship Manager at Diageo

Mary O’Connor, CEO Federation of Irish Sport

Carol McMahon, Ulster Bank

Deirdre Ashe, Liberty Insurance

Sian Gray, Head of Marketing at Lidl

Roisin Glynn, Social media Manager at AIB

Michelle Tanner, Head of Sport at Trinity College

Gemma Bell, Sponsorship Manager at Bank of Ireland

Tracey Kennedy, Chair Cork County GAA Board

Katie Taylor, World Champion Boxer

Joy Neville, Referee

Niamh O’Donoghue, FAI Board Member

Joan O’Flynn, CEO Camogie Association

Lindsay Peat, Rugby Player

Annalise Murphy, Olympian Sailor

Dee Forbes, Director General at RTÉ

Emma Byrne, Footballer 

Fiona Coghlan, Grand Slam Rugby Winning Captain

Dr Una May, Head of Participation at Sport Ireland

Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone

Cora Staunton, Ladies Gaelic Footballer

Sarah Keane, President Olympic Council of Ireland

Jessica Harrington, racehorse trainer and Irish Times Sportswoman of 2017

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