Women in Leadership


March 13, 2024    
11:30 am - 2:00 pm


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Kingswood House Hotel
Kingswood, Naas Road, Dublin 22

Event Type

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Please note that this series is not a women only event!
All members are most welcome to these inspiring and thought provoking leadership events. 

Our first guest speaker at the Women in Leadership lunch ’24 series will be Prof Orla Feely, President of University College Dublin.  She’ll be joined in conversation with Diarmuid Gavin, Country Manager with Théa Pharma. 

Orla is the first female President of UCD; her appointment in May last year marked another milestone for senior women academics in the traditionally male-dominated world of higher education leadership.  Just three short years ago there were no female university presidents in the history of higher education in Ireland.  Her appointment means that of the 13 universities/technological universities in Ireland – 7 of these are now led by women.   

Having completed her PhD in the US, she returned to Ireland, taking up a role as a lecturer in UCD’s engineering department in the early ’90’s before later being appointed vice-president for research, innovation and impact.   During this time, Orla also became the first Irish woman elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and President of Engineers Ireland.  

For many years, she was the only woman on the academic staff in engineering at UCD. Today, three of the five engineering schools are led by women, while a majority of the university’s senior management team are women.   The 3-prong approach which has led to this transformation, is a model Orla suggests for other sectors of the economy where women are underrepresented at senior levels.  

Join us on March 13th to hear details of this transformational approach, and Orla’s own career journey coupled with Diarmuid’s extensive experience through the pharma industry. 


Prof Orla Feely, President – University College Dublin

Prof Feely became the first female president of UCD in May 2023. 
She holds a BE degree from University College Dublin and MS and PhD degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, where her PhD thesis won the DJ Sakrison Memorial Prize for outstanding and innovative research. While at UC Berkeley, she also won the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. Her research is in the area of nonlinear circuits and systems, and she has been awarded research grants and prizes from a number of national, international and industry sources. She served as Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact at UCD from 2014 to 2023.
Professor Feely is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), Engineers Ireland and the Irish Academy of Engineering.

She is President of CESAER (the Conference of European Schools of Advanced Engineering Education and Research), and has previously served as President of Engineers Ireland, as Chair of the Irish Research Council, the EU Advisory Group on Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions and the IEEE Technical Committee on Nonlinear Circuits and Systems, and as Board Member and Deputy Chair of the Higher Education Authority in Ireland. She is a member of the Board of Ibec and a member of the judging panels for the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.


Diarmuid Gavin, Country Manager – Théa Pharma 

Diarmuid is the youngest of seven children and grew up on a farm in Tourmakeady,  Co Mayo.  Growing up across the road from Colaiste Mhuire, music and sport played a large part in his childhood. Summer months were spent working on the farm during the day and playing Gaelic football & tennis in any spare time. After completing school, he moved to Dublin, starting his career first as a Psychiatric Nurse and then as the nurse on board the Aer Lingus trans-Atlantic routes.  
He then joined the pharma industry with Smithkline Beecham Pharmaceuticals as a medical representative based in the West of Ireland; after 9 months he was promoted to Sales Manager.  Following this, he joined Pamex Ltd as their General Manager, based in Castlebar Co Mayo.   During his time in the role, he grew the Pamex Ltd business from a turnover of 800k in 2007 to 7.2m in 2017.
Diarmuid is now the Country Manager for Théa Pharma Ltd, a privately family-owned business dedicated to Ophthalmology with over a 150 years of heritage based in Clermont Ferrand in the Auvergne region of France. He has grown this business in Ireland from 1m in 2017 to a turnover of 8.7m in 2023 and expected turnover of 10m in 2024.  Diarmuid has a masters in strategic sales management from the Smurfit Business School in UCD.   He’s married to Deirdre with 3 fantastic children: Luke 24, Harry 20, and Isabel 18.




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