Brian O’Sullivan, founder and Chief Executive of Zeus Packaging has been named the International and overall 2021 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ (EOY). The annual awards ceremony was held as a primarily virtual event and was attended by a virtual audience of more than 2000 people. In a year where the programme received a record number of nominations, this year’s finalists collectively employ more than 3,900 people and have revenues in excess of €1 billion.
Brian O’Sullivan is the founder, owner and CEO of Zeus, one of the largest privately owned packaging companies in Europe. His strategy since establishing Zeus in 1998 has been one of expansion, with acquisitions financed by bank credit rather than outside investment. Brian has led the significant growth of the company from its headquarters in Ireland to many other markets worldwide. This has been fuelled by impressive organic growth and strategic acquisitions, opening up new industries and opportunities. The company now employs more than 670 people with a turnover of over €300 million.
David Henderson the Managing Director of Tobermore is the 2021 EOY Industry Entrepreneur of the Year. Tobermore was founded in 1942 and manufactures high quality paving products. David Henderson joined the company in 1976 and became Manging Director in 1987. Since then, Tobermore has focused on business excellence agenda to underpin its growth and development across the island of Ireland and into the UK. It employs more than 400 people and produces 8.5m concrete products annually. Tobermore intends to double sales in the UK in the coming four years and sales this year are up 40 per cent and continue to grow.
Aimee Connolly, founder and CEO of Sculpted By Aimee is the 2021 EOY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. Upon graduating from university with first class honours, Aimee wanted to combine her degree and her love of makeup, which led to Sculpted By Aimee being born a year later, in 2016. Aimee also began teaching about makeup and later went on to found her own certified academy in 2017. Sculpted By Aimee has seen massive growth over the past 5 years, and are on track to accomplish revenues of €8 million in 2021. It has established itself as a leading cosmetics brand on the island of Ireland and further afield.
Roger Wallace, Partner Lead, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ said: “I am delighted to officially celebrate the world-class group of entrepreneurs in this year’s programme, each of whom have demonstrated incredible perseverance, flexibility and adaptability, allowing them to thrive throughout a period of extended disruption and change. Despite the hurdles that 2021 has brought, our finalists have proved that entrepreneurs on the island of Ireland continue to innovate and compete at a world class level and we hope that their stories provide inspiration for new and established businesses alike.
“On behalf of EY, I’d like to extend our whole-hearted congratulations to each of our three winners. Each head up exceptional businesses, leading the way in their markets on the island of Ireland and internationally. All three share the common trait of developing exceptional teams within their businesses and an ability to continuously innovate within traditional sectors. They have proved themselves to be unstoppable leaders with passion, creativity, and innovation at their core, and we’re proud to have them in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year community.”
Anne Heraty, Chairperson of the judging panel said: “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. We look forward to following their undoubted continuing success and I am delighted to warmly welcome them into the EOY Alumni community.”
Chaired by the 2006 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Anne Heraty, the judging panel includes previous EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ (overall and category) winners Michael Carey, Mark Roden, Evelyn O’Toole, Dr. Edmond Harty, Joe Hogan, Jerry Kennelly, Richard Kennedy, Harry Hughes and Denis O’Brien, as well as Jennifer Melia from Enterprise Ireland and Jeremy Fitch from Invest Northern Ireland. When determining the winners, the judges evaluate a number of criteria, including innovation; value creation; strategic direction; financial performance; national and global impact; and the entrepreneur’s contribution to society and industry.
Each year EY also presents a Special Award to individuals who have made a significant contribution to life on the island of Ireland through their vision, innovation and commitment to excellence. This year, the prestigious honour was awarded to Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who is now leading a global campaign to tackle the climate crisis we face.
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Ireland programme is supported by Premium Corporate Sponsor: Julius Baer International; Government Agency Partners: Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI; and Media Supporters: Newstalk and The Irish Times. The Gala Awards ceremony is available on RTÉ Player. The 2022 programme is open for nominations from January 2022. For further information, please visit www.eoy.ie.