Team Category: The Board

Professor Alf Smiddy

Professor Alf Smiddy is a Board Director at Rethink Ireland. 

He was Chairman and Managing Director of Beamish & Crawford Plc for 12 years, as well as on the board of its parent company, Scottish & Newcastle (UK) Ltd. He serves on the Board of the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), The Dalata Hotel Group Plc, Cork Chamber of Commerce. Alf is also well known as Chairman of the Cork Local Government Committee.

Since 2008, Alf has been working as a Director, Business Advisor and Consultant in both private and public sectors, including Hotel & Hospitality, Financial Services, Marketing & Technology, Retail, Research & Education, Agriculture & Food, Engineering and Local Government.

He works with leadership teams and CEOs in the Private and Public Sectors in Ireland on Organisational Strategy, Marketing & Business Development, Debt & Balance Sheet Restructuring and HR, etc. He has extensive experience in working in family companies & partnerships, and dealing with the myriad of issues faced by owner managers of SMEs and family companies.

Alf holds a B.Comm. from UCC, M.Sc. in Executive Leadership from Boston College, and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, & a Fellow of the Irish Marketing Institute.

Alf and his wife Jo live in Glanmire, Co. Cork, and they have 5 children.

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Dalton Philips

Dalton Philips is the Chair of the Board of Directors at Rethink Ireland. 

He is the Chief Executive of Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

Dalton has held a number of senior leadership roles in retail and related industries, working in 14 countries for companies. His roles included Chief Executive of Brown Thomas Group, Chief Operating Officer of Canadian retailer Loblaw (Canada’s leading retailer) and Chief Executive of Wm Morrison PLC. Among other roles, he is also a Senior Advisor to The Boston Consulting Group, the global management consultancy.

Outside of work, Dalton loves any number of activities with his three children, long distance running, or to be found ‘low n’ slow’ cooking on his Big Green Egg BBQ.

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Barbara McCarthy

Barbara is a Board Director at Rethink Ireland. 

Barbara has worked in the tech industry for over 20 years in various different industries for both startups and large companies. She has a history of growing large tech teams having held positions such as VP of Software Development for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Software Development Director for Inspired Gaming Group.

Barbara is currently Chief Technical Officer with Ding. She is passionate about technology and diversity within the workplace and is a regular speaker at industry events. She has featured on Silicon Republic’s ‘25 of Ireland’s phenomenal women of engineering’.

In her spare time, Barbara spends time with her family – she is married with 2 children, who ask every day for a dog. She is nuts about Irish music (she plays the accordion; tries to play the flute and is known to play marathon Irish music sessions at festivals), and would love to spend more time deep sea diving. She holds a BA in Economics and Applied Maths and an MSc in IT.

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Niamh O’Donoghue

Niamh O’Donoghue served as Secretary-General of the Department of Social Protection from July 2010 to July 2017. 

She joined the civil service in 1979 and served in a number of Departments and offices including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health, the Office of the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commissioners (now the Public Appointments Service) and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

She has a primary degree in Public Administration from the IPA, and also holds an MA (Industrial Relations) from the University of Keele and an MSc (Mgmt) from TCD.

She has a keen interest in People Management, HR/IR and Organisation Change.

She previously acted as Chairman and Board member of the board of the IPA, Director of Common Purpose (Ireland) Ltd, and Board member at the Public Appointments Service.

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Caroline O’Driscoll

Caroline is a Corporate and International Tax Partner with Deloitte, specialising in the technology sector. She has over 20 years’ experience within the Big 4 environment providing tax advice to multinational companies, particularly on inward and outward investments, R&D tax credits, IP, debt, and value chain optimisation.

She also advises a number of high growth tech companies as they rapidly expand their business within Ireland and into international markets. Caroline has led a number of high profile exits of Irish entrepreneurs.

In a voluntary capacity, Caroline is the co-founder of the award-winning I Wish programme now the largest STEM event for girls in Ireland; 17,000 girls have participated in I Wish since 2015. She is the immediate past-chairperson of the technology industry group it@cork,  is regional advisor to Tech Ireland and is a member of the Department of Education’s STEM advisory group for better gender balance in post primary education

Outside of these busy roles, Caroline loves to read and just “be a mom” to her young daughter.

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Ailbhe Keane

Ailbhe Keane is a Board Director at Rethink Ireland. 

She is the Founder and Creative Director of the multi-award-winning brand Izzy Wheels. She was named on Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2018. Izzy Wheels began as a college project for Ailbhe in 2016 when she noticed that her sister’s wheelchair was the first thing that people noticed about her but it was a reflection of her bright and bubbly personality. Ailbhe designed a range of colourful wheel covers to express her sister’s style. Their tagline became ‘If you can’t stand up, stand out’. The project was awarded first-class honours by The National College of Art and Design and gained major global media attention.

Overnight, what started as a ‘kitchen’ company went viral on Instagram and business exploded. Today Izzy Wheels sells to over 35 countries. They have collaborated with famous designers across the globe including Barbie, Orla Kiely and Maser. It’s also featured in some of the world’s biggest publications including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, TechCrunch, Forbes, BBC Amazing Humans and Oprah Magazine. They became the first Irish people to take over Instagram’s official story which had a reach of 250 million people.

Ailbhe is passionate about combining art with business, bridging the gap between disability and fashion, and making the world a more inclusive place for all.

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John Higgins

John is a founding director and board member of Rethink Ireland and serves on the select grant-making committee of the Board. He is an avid Mayo football fan and a former CEO of the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland. He now manages his own company Retirement Life Limited. He has also well known in the community development sector and chairs the company, JH Public Affairs Limited, which is involved in this sector. He is the author of many publications regarding social enterprise development. In this regard, he chairs the €8million Bealach Nua project is establishing a design and studio facility in Ballaghaderreen to serve the digital creative sector in the Western Region.

A former primary teacher, John worked in regional development and was CEO of the Western Development Board and Commission; later he worked as general secretary of the Progressive Democrats Party. John holds a Masters in Communications; a Degree in Economics; and Diplomas in Accounting and Finance and in Life Coaching.

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Shane Deasy

Shane is a Board Director at Rethink Ireland.

 Shane is the CEO of Connect2fi. Prior to this, Shane was the founder and MD of an Irish Wi-Fi business called Bitbuzz, which was sold to Virgin Media in 2014.

In his spare time, Shane enjoys supporting both the Munster and Irish Rugby teams, but his real love is mountain biking in the Wicklow mountains.

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