Board of Directors

Cyril Forbes

Cyril is currently the Chairman of Microfinance Ireland and an independent director with expertise in both Public and Private sectors, based on a 50 year insurance career. Currently Director of the Social Finance Foundation and Former Deputy Chairman of JLT Ireland Ltd, Director of Don Bosco Teenage Care, The Dublin Docklands Development Authority & Business in the Community, The Housing Finance Agency and Chairman of Kennedy Forbes Ltd and The Crafts Council of Ireland.

Harry McDaid

Born in Derry in 1953, Harry was educated in St Columb’s College and joined Bank of Ireland in 1970. Harry undertook all duties associated with a banking apprenticeship prior to his appointment to the role of Assistant Manager of the Coleraine Branch in 1979. Awarded a scholarship by the Bank in 1982, Harry undertook his Banking Diploma followed by a degree in Banking and Finance, taking first place in each. He returned to the Bank in the role of Advances Manager followed by a period as District Manager with responsibility for a number of Branches and a Business Centre. This was followed by his appointment to the role of Head of Credit Northern Ireland and subsequently Director of Credit UK where he was responsible for €20bn of business and Corporate lending. He filled these respective roles for over twelve years. His final responsibility in the Bank was that of Group Head of Credit Skills Development in which he delivered a series of business lending programs to senior personnel throughout the Group.

Mary O’ Shaughnessy

Dr. Mary O’Shaughnessy is a lecturer with the Department of Food Business and Development and Centre for Co-operative Studies, UCC. Her research interests include sustainable rural development, co-operative and social enterprises. She is a board member of the EMES University Based International Research Network on social enterprises, NUI Academic Board (Rural Development) and the Hope Foundation.

Brendan Whelan

Brendan Whelan is CEO of the Social Finance Foundation, having worked on its establishment in 2006/7. The Social Finance Foundation (SFF) is the parent company of Microfinance Ireland. Prior to joining the SFF, Brendan worked as General Manager, IT, Operations and HR in Bank of Ireland. Brendan is a University College Dublin Commerce graduate and a graduate of Management Studies from Stanford University in California. Brendan is a Fellow of Institute of Bankers in Ireland. Brendan is also a Board member of Special Olympics Ireland and Chairman of St. Catherine’s Association in Wicklow, which provides services to children with intellectual disabilities.

Jean Carberry

Jean is a Principal Officer in the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), having joined the Department, from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.  As Head of Unit, she has responsibility over the Finance for Growth and State Aid Units of the Enterprise Development & Internationalisation Division, with responsibility for access to finance for small business, prompt payments and state aid.   She previously worked as an evaluator with the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service. She was also a member of the team which liaised with DG Competition on the State aid considerations arising from the recapitalisation and restructuring of the Irish Banks. She is a chartered accountant with an MBA in Finance. Prior to joining the Irish civil service she worked for Standard & Poor’s in New York and Ernst & Young in Dublin.

Gerry O’ Neill

Gerry O’Neill is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accounts. He retired from the Whelehan Group in 2005 having served for 30 years as finance director and company secretary. In recent years, he has been a board member of First Step, and has provided business and financial advisory services to a number of developing companies in the Irish healthcare sector.

John Irwin

John Irwin is a native of County Meath. John leads out the development of AIB’s Business Propositions and plays a key role in the development of AIB’s strategy in the Small Medium Enterprise (SME) market. John has over 30 years’ experience in financial services in Capital, Business and Consumer markets dealing with a broad range of customers from Corporate to Institutional to SME and Personal customers. John has a B.Sc in Business and Information Technology and an M.Sc in Business Administration – both from Trinity College Dublin.

Sue O'Neill

Sue O’Neill is Managing Director of Shellcove, an Association Management Company (AMC), which she founded in 2004. and is Chair of the SFA National Council.

Sue has over twenty years’ experience in helping clients by offering bespoke marketing and management services allowing them to refocus their efforts on what’s core to their organisation. She is passionate about business development and seeking opportunities for clients through marketing and communications initiatives.  She has provided services to organisations such as Dublin City University, IBEC, Small Firms Association, Irish Medical Devices Association, The Irish Tyre Industry Association and The Vintners Federation of Ireland. She has also worked with many SMEs building their brand, their profile and winning them business.

Sue’s experience also extends to working with the academic sector in connecting both SMEs and multinational organisations to drive innovation and collaborative research. In addition, she advises and mentors start up companies.

Sue holds an MBA from Dublin City University, a Diploma in both Digital Marketing and Print Management and is a Graduate of the IMI Business Development Programme. She has previously served as a committee member of the Institute of Business Analysis & Consulting. She has been a member of the Small Firms Association since 1993 and has served on the council since 2004.

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