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The Western region is home to extremely diverse start-ups, indigenous SMEs, and multinational companies. To highlight the talent and opportunities available in the region, we spoke to a number of women in senior leadership and management roles about their work and what they most like about life in the West.

Orlaith Lawler began her career with Beckman Coulter in a technical role at its now closed Galway site, helping to transfer the manufacturing of the company’s immunoassay products from Minnesota in the US to Ireland. It was important work that laid the ground for Beckman Coulter’s expansion at its site in Co Clare to more than 460 employees and a position as one of the largest employers in the Mid-West.

Beckman Coulter, part of the Danaher Corporation headquartered in California, is a diagnostics company and its products are used in biomedical testing in hospitals, laboratories, and GP surgeries worldwide.

I have a high-end job in a high-technology area which is exciting and challenging,” says Orlaith, who now oversees the company’s Irish operations as well as those at its Krefeld facility in Germany. Orlaith was also recently appointed to the board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland.

She adds: “I get great satisfaction from the work of OUR teams and the fact that it makes a real difference. I really enjoy being part of something much bigger, seeing a product go from concept to a final product going out the door to be used in a hospital and help people gives me a great sense of achievement. For example, our most recent product launches – serology products – are helping us learn more about Covid-19.”

Orlaith loves living in the West of Ireland. She says:

I think with the current situation, people are much more appreciative of the space that they actually have. What I love most about living and working this region is the work-life balance. I live very comfortably with space and I am less than a 15-minute drive to Galway City. There are fantastic facilities on my doorstep, we have access to the city within 15 minutes while our location still has a country feel.

Like Orlaith, Emer Conroy believes there are exciting opportunities for the West to capitalise on its image as a great place to live and work.

As a Director of Sligo-based engineering and technical services experts LotusWorks, she says the region is fortunate to have a pool of “hard-working, well-educated and forward-thinking people.” Emer is one of four directors at LotusWorks who have collective responsibility for the strategic and operational management of the business.

She says: “My responsibility is to own and manage strategic planning to ensure company growth. I spend a lot of my time collaborating with the management team identifying value adding initiatives for our existing clients but I also research and prepare the justifications necessary to confirm viability of new opportunities with new clients and sectors.”

When it comes to the development of the region, Emer offers this advice: “We need to make it easier for bigger businesses to set up and chose the West as the location of choice. The West offers a great quality of life for all age groups. To continue to grow the amount and variety of good stable employment in the West, we need to share our experiences openly and often, to convey the lifestyle and work opportunity available in the West to encourage others to at least try it.”

Encouraging others has also been a mantra for Mary Rodgers, the widely respected CEO of the Galway City Innovation District and one of the founders of the PorterShed. The GCID is led by a group of locally based entrepreneurs and executives and aims to ‘cluster’ the city’s start-ups, accelerators, incubators and entrepreneurs.

Mary says: “It’s the best job! My role is to curate and amplify the tech ecosystem in the west of Ireland. Working closely with the Board and team, we identify ambitious scaling tech start-ups, induct them into the GCID community and support them as they ideate and scale.

“Our mission is to create high value sustainable jobs in the West of Ireland. We host tech meetups, office hours with VCs, mentoring, start-up boot camps, pre-accelerator and accelerator programmes.”

Calling herself a “classic Irish American”, Mary was born in Limerick, raised in Galway, and emigrated to the US in 1994. She moved back to Galway in 2007 and never regretted choosing the West of Ireland. She says:

I have the utmost confidence in my children's education, being able to explore Europe has been a bonus of being home. My favourite place in the world is Inis Mór which is on our doorstep and I remain humbled by the access to culture, arts, and entertainment at our fingertips here in Galway.

While acknowledging the attractiveness of the lifestyle in the region, Mary says the West needs more investment to improve infrastructure and liveable, vibrant cities that attract talent and employers.  She adds: “Liveable cities will transform the region providing key elements for long term sustainable success including quality jobs, infrastructure and a modern transport network. We must be ambitious and determined and insist on the delivery of key metrics set up for the Western region in Ireland 2040.”

A perfect blend of work and lifestyle has proved to be the secret of success for Susanne Kerinsan executive with Cora Systems, based in Co Leitrim.

Susanne says: “I’m the Head of Marketing and a member of the Senior Management Team for Cora Systems. As part of my role, I am primarily responsible for defining and delivering a marketing strategy that sets Cora apart from the competition and expands the company’s industry-leading position on a global scale.”

Since joining Cora in 2017, Susanne has spearheaded an organisation-wide rebrand, brought the company’s award-winning product Cora PPM to the market, helped to establish he company’s US presence and secured a Global Reseller Agreement with PWC.

The sense of career satisfaction is mirrored by her strong sense of place. “I’ve lived in several places including California and I’ve never felt as settled and content as I do here in the North West. It’s a beautiful part of the country and we’ve got everything on our doorstep. I feel lucky to have achieved this great balance of having a senior position in a global company and the ability to be out riding my horse or hiking with friends. We are extremely fortunate.”