Winning women


JULIE O’NEILL, vice-president of operations and general manager of Gilead Sciences Limited was yesterday named as the Businesswoman of the Year 2012 by Women Mean Business (WMB) organisation.

A former chairwoman of PharmaChemical Ireland, Ms O’Neill recently completed her tenure as chairman of business group Ibec.

She has been general manager of Gilead Sciences in Ireland since 1997. The company develops and commercialises medicines and has a presence in Cork and Dublin.

Other award-winners announced at an awards ceremony at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin yesterday include Ann McGee of McGee Pharma International, who received the female Entrepreneur of the Year Award; Barbara O’Connell from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, who won the Social Entrepreneur category; and Intel’s Ann-Marie Holmes, who received the woman in technology award.

Addressing attendees, Prof Susan Vinnicombe OBE, of the Cranfield School of Management in the UK, said that incorporating women onto boards was essential for successful businesses.

Pointing to the fact that 60 per cent of graduates in all developing countries are female, she said that companies are increasingly aware of the importance of female staff and consumers.

“Around 80 per cent of consumer decisions in the UK are made by women, while women own 48 per cent of Britain’s personal wealth. This is expected to rise to 60 per cent to 2025.”

Prof Vinnicombe, who sat on the steering board for last year’s landmark British report on women and board membership by Lord Davies, said the proportion of women now sitting on FTSE 100 companies had increased to 17.2 per cent, up from 13.5 per cent in 2010. However, women were much better represented as non-executive directors, with 21.3 per cent of FTSE company directors women, while only 6.6 per cent were female executive directors.

She pointed to a 2007 study that showed that 59 per cent of women chose to leave the workforce, not because of the demands of children, but because they were unsatisfied with their career.