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27 November 2018

Strategic Growth Award

Posted By: AIB Business
Alan Rowlette Photography - Corporate Photography Dublin

The AIB Women in Enterprise programme, which supports female business customers to sustain and grow their businesses was a huge success in its inaugural year. Award winners shared in a prize fund of €40,000 which included media coverage and mastermind as well as mentoring sessions provided by experts from the Entrepreneurs Academy. This month’s edition will focus on finalists from the ‘Strategic Growth Category’ which was awarded to businesses who have identified significant growth opportunities for business with a strategic viable plan to achieve in place. The programme provides mentoring, networking and the development of leadership qualities to accelerate growth in business.

The panel of adjudicators had a tough task declaring the winner amongst all of the talent but Noelle O’Connor, founder of TanOrganic took top honours in the Strategic Growth category. As winner, Noelle received a €10,000 cash injection to her business.

Tan Organic was founded by Noelle O’ Connor on the back of a few tough years in business during the recession. Her new venture has surpassed her previous enterprise where she had 6 beauty salons. Noelle showed incredible resilience and bravery to get back on her feet but working in a market she knew well definitely stood to her. TanOrganic ‘uses natural and organic ingredients and is the only Eco-Certified self-tanning brand in the world’. The brand gained nationwide recognition when Noelle brought her then infant business idea to the Dragons Den, securing an offer from Gavin Duffy, which she accepted. But Noelle didn’t stop there and went on to star in the UK version of the show, where she received offers from four of the five dragons, turning them all down and sticking to her valuation. A key learning Noelle took following the Women in Enterprise Growth Academy was that she is “investing more of my time into my team and it is paying off dividends.” Noelle also said something she learned early on in business is “hire for attitude over skill as anyone with the right attitude will learn fast.”

Anne Maria Moore owner of Beech Lodge Care Facility in Co. Limerick was Highly Commended and received an award of €5,000 for her business. Anne Maria has seen growth in her venture from the very beginning, originally a Montessori teacher, her and her husband and business partner have since opened a new premises, Ennis Road Care Facility in September of this year. “I learnt so much that I felt guilty not to have done this 20 years ago! I’d have made a lot more progress… I realised that I can’t do it all myself and that you have to trust other people and let them get on with it. There are certain aspects of the business that you’re really good at and others that you’re working on all of the time. You go through phases, it seems like a doodle some days and like a mountain on other days, that’s like any business,” concludes Anne Maria.

Also nominated as a finalist was Ursula Kelly of Cormac Tagging, which provides agricultural livestock tagging. One of Ursula’s biggest takeaways from the programme was to put sufficient distance between herself and the business in order to sharpen her focus, “When you start taking time out, you suddenly see the value of it. Better still, coming back and implementing things, realising I should be doing more of this. It gave me the perspective to look at the business from a leadership point of view.”

Alvin Deasy from PABIA Consulting Ltd rounded off the finalists from the Strategic Growth academy. PABIA Consulting is a design, planning and engineering firm, which is becoming a valued service provider to the oil, gas and retail sectors across Ireland. Participation in the AIB Women in Enterprise programme brought valuable know-how in leadership and communication. “Creating an environment where everyone can input, achieve and accomplish, has been pivotal. The team’s involvement is vital to the business – but empowering them has helped foster a sense of belonging and commitment to the future of the business.”

Congratulations again to Noelle, Anne Maria, Ursula and Alvin.

After a hugely successful first year, AIB’s Women in Enterprise returns for year two starting with a Masterclass in Galway on Wednesday, November 21st. For further information on the programme or to apply contact


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