Brian O’Sullivan of Zeus Packaging named EY Entrepreneur of the Year

EY awards: Company employs more than 670 and has annual revenue of over €300m

Brian O’Sullivan, chief executive of Zeus Packaging, celebrating his win. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Brian O’Sullivan, chief executive of Zeus Packaging, celebrating his win. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

 

Brian O’Sullivan, founder and chief executive of Zeus Packaging, has been named the international and overall 2021 EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

Zeus is one of the largest privately-owned packaging companies in Europe. It employs more than 670 people, has business units in 26 countries and annual revenues of more than €300 million.

Mr O’Sullivan initially funded Zeus by selling houses he had invested in during his studies and using all of his personal savings. Since then, he has led the company through significant growth, both organically and through acquisitions that have been financed by debt rather than outside investment. He is now seeking to grow turnover to about €500 million in the coming three years.

Mr O’Sullivan gave a big scream of joy on stage after receiving the award. His message to budding entrepreneurs was one of “resilience, work, make sure you have heaps of common sense, plenty of cop on and that you’ve got a goal and once the goals are achieved you move on. Tomorrow morning it’s all about what we do in Zeus . . . it’s about keep going and driving forward.”

The businessman received his awards at a virtual ceremony on Thursday with an audience of more than 2,000 people.

The 24 finalists for this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards collectively employ more than 3,900 people and generate revenue in excess of €1 billion.

Special award

Other winners on the night were Aimee Connolly, founder of Sculpted By Aimee, who was named emerging entrepreneur of the year, and David Henderson, managing director of Tobermore Concrete Limited, who took home the industry entrepreneur award. EY also presented a special award to former president Mary Robinson.

“This year’s finalists demonstrate that the island of Ireland is populated by some of the smartest and most innovative entrepreneurs there are. Each of our winners has displayed a potent combination of vision, innovation and determination that has been crucial to their success” said former winner and chairwoman of the judging panel Anne Heraty.

Other previous EY Entrepreneur of the Year winners include Denis O’Brien, Aidan Heavey, Pádraig Ó Céidigh, Nicola Mitchell, Liam Casey, John and Patrick Collison and Mark Roden.