The beat goes on for Apple’s Kearney

Cantillon: head of tech giant’s Cork operation moves to Apple-owned Beats Electronic Services

Beats Electronic Services director of operations Cathy Kearney: shuns the limelight but is one of Ireland’s most important business figures. Photograph: Apple

Beats Electronic Services director of operations Cathy Kearney: shuns the limelight but is one of Ireland’s most important business figures. Photograph: Apple

Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 01:00

Congratulations to Cork accountant Cathy Kearney, head of Apple’s Cork operations, who has added another directorial title to her burgeoning business card.

As of July 31st she is now director of operations at Beats Electronic Services, an Irish subsidiary of the headphone business founded by music industry moguls Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre, which Apple bought for $3 billion this year. Its registered office has also moved to Apple’s Irish home in Hollyhill, Co Cork.

Kearney is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most important business figures, yet she shuns the limelight, in keeping with her employer. Despite having operations in Ireland since 1980, it wasn’t until this month that Apple decided to peel back a little of the cloak of secrecy that surrounds its operations here and reveal how many employees it had in Cork (4,000, which represents a quarter of its total workforce in Europe).

As such it is Cork’s largest private employer and at its helm is Ms Kearney. That should be enough to have her crowned as regent of the Merchant City. That’s before you consider the international interest in Apple’s activities in Ireland – and primarily its tax arrangements – from no less than the US president.

Last year the Guardian described Kearney as being “the brains behind the Cork office that helped Apple save billions”. One of the few interviews she has ever given was reportedly in a private session with US Senate officials investigating Apple’s tax regime. EU officials will probably wish to repeat this process after the Commission launched its own formal investigation into Apple’s tax affairs. At the core of both is Apple Operations International, the top Apple holding company in Cork. Ms Kearney is the only AOI director in Ireland. While many would like to discuss tax policy with her – politicians for information, company executives for advice – in the tech world there will be a good deal of interest in what she thinks should happen now with Beats.

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