Former Penneys director wins annual RDS award
Breege O'Donoghue, the former Penneys director who is cited as a key driving force behind the company's global success, has become the first retail-based winner of the RDS Gold Medal for Enterprise.
19 November 2019
Breege O’Donoghue, a key player behind the global success of retail giant Primark/Penneys, has been awarded the 2019 RDS Gold Medal for Enterprise. The award was presented to O’Donoghue at a special event at Dublin’s RDS, at which O’Donoghue engaged in a conversation with journalist Richard Curren, about her presitigious career and entrepreneurial spirit.
Appointed to the board of the company in 1988, nine years after initially joining to set up the HR department, O’Donoghue eventually became group director for business development and new markets. In receiving this award, she joins a roll-call of previous winners that includes Peter Sutherland, Craig Barrett, Willie Walsh, Moya Doherty, Martin Naughton, Pearse Lyons and Gary McGann.
“I am deeply honoured to receive this affirmation,” O’Donoghue said, “from an institution whose ambition, delivery and longevity has navigated three centuries, while remaining relevant, purposeful and with the capacity to retain the affection and respect of the people of Ireland. At its core, business purpose is simply about people – customers, colleagues and the communities in which we operate. I strive to embrace this and truly believe this is what drives sustainable economic development.”
Speaking about the importance of ethics and values in business, Breege said ethics is not only for philosophers, but for business too. “Indeed, in every field of endeavour,” she said, “ethics and values are words that tend to be used rather vaguely and have a number of different meanings. Ethics is not only about long words and dilemmas, ethics is about people. Values influence our actions and attitudes and rightly has a growing and more explicit present in business.”