Tourism Ireland’s Niall Gibbons named ‘most influential’ Irish CEO on LinkedIn

Three and Vodafone bosses ranked second and third in Reputations Agency study

Tourism Ireland boss Niall Gibbons has been named most influential Irish chief executive on LinkedIn for the second consecutive year in the Reputations Agency's Social CEO report.

Robert Finnegan of Three Ireland climbed two spots to second place in this year's ranking, ahead of Vodafone Ireland's Anne O'Leary and Bank of Ireland's Francesca McDonagh in third and fourth place respectively.

The communications agency's 2021 analysis of LinkedIn activity saw An Post's David McRedmond rise nine places to fifth, while Cathriona Hallahan of Microsoft Ireland was ranked sixth.

The top 10 was completed by Lidl Ireland's John Paul Scally in seventh spot, Facebook Ireland's Gareth Lambe in eighth and, in joint ninth place, IDA Ireland's Martin Shanahan and Sky Ireland's JD Buckley. Mr Buckley was the second-highest climber in this year's list, moving up eight places.


The latest Social CEO report, published to mark the second year of the Reputations Agency’s leaders reputation programme, assessed 100 LinkedIn profiles from November 2020 to October 2021.

LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft since 2016, is the social media channel of choice for chief executives, seen as "an undeniably safe space to communicate", according to the Reputations Agency.

Although only 55 per cent of the Irish company leaders studied by the report posted to the business social network during 2021, this was up from 38 per cent in 2020 and compares with just 22 per cent who posted on Twitter.

"LinkedIn is one channel, but it is a very good channel and it is an influential channel," said Niamh Boyle, managing director of the Reputations Agency. A strong LinkedIn performance is often an indicator that a chief executive will communicate well through other channels, she said.

As chief executive of Tourism Ireland, the organisation responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas, Mr Gibbons “successfully maintained and continued to grow his network” during a challenging period for the tourism industry, and was found to have the highest level of overall engagement from his followers.

Social strategy

Only 30 of 100 chief executives studied were found to have a well-planned and executed social media strategy that maximised their connections and their content to promote their organisation’s vision and purpose.

The top 30 CEOs for social media performance were responsible for 83 per cent of posts, while the top 10 made close to 500 posts – almost one post each for each week of the year.

Of those that don’t post or rarely post, some might be nervous about being “shot down” if they “put their head above the parapet”, while others believe they are too busy, Ms Boyle said.

The reputation of their organisations would benefit if they were to “learn to have a voice”.

Some 27 per cent of content posted by the top 10 ranked CEOs had a pandemic theme, down from 46 per cent in 2020, while 52 per cent of their posts related to products and services, pointing to a “back to business” mindset.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics