Our Council

SFA is the representative voice within small business community in Ireland. Behind the Small Firms Association is the SFA National Council, a diverse team of 13 experienced small business leaders. The Council represents the small business community and includes members who reflect the diversity of interests and locations of the sector. In addition to strategy development and oversight, the Council monitors the governance of the association.

Graham Byrne

SFA Chair & CEO, Flender

Graham Byrne is CEO of Flender, and was previously MD of Cardinal Capital. With over 20 years financial services industry, Graham has been directly involved in Irish SME’s which have supplied goods and services in Ireland and overseas. The largest concentration of Graham’s involvement is in providing funding directly to Irish SME’s.

In 2005, Graham started Bibby Financial Services Ireland (BFS). In that period up to 2013, BFS Ireland provided over 200m in funding, serviced over 500 customers and was responsible for maintaining and creating over 5,000 jobs. BFS Ireland was award winning in the industry and won business of the year 2012 and 2013. Graham then took up the Chief Commercial Officer role for the European region tasked with restructuring 14 operating companies to increase customer service delivery and increase availability of credit to EU SME’s. Graham successfully started new businesses in Czech, Slovakia and the Netherlands. The business grew to reach 2,500 clients providing over 900m of funding to clients.

Sue O’Neill is Chair of the SFA and Managing Director of Shellcove, an Association Management Company (AMC), which she founded in 2004.Shellcove provides outsourced management services to companies and associations. Services include: strategy; marketing; business/membership development and event management as well as administration support.

Sue’s experience also extends to working with the academic sector in connecting both SMEs and multinational organisations to drive innovation and collaborative research. In addition, she advises and mentors start-up companies. Prior to Shellcove, Sue founded Generation in 1993, a creative agency offering advertising, design and marketing services across a broad spectrum of clients.

Sue holds an MBA from Dublin City University, a Diploma in both Digital Marketing and Print Management and is a Graduate of the IMI Business Development Programme. She has previously served as a committee member of the Institute of Business Analysis & Consulting. She has been a member of the Small Firms Association since 1993 and has served on the council since 2004.

Adeola Ogunsina 

On-site Refueling

Adeola Ogunsina is a resourceful and enthusiastic businessman with a passion for equality and is driven to expand the business to develop creative and innovative solutions.

He employed over 25 staff while running Shell Service Stations in Greater Dublin from 2003 to 2008. He set up On-Site Refueling service in 2009, now employing 7 staff.

On-Site Refueling provides high-quality diesel fuel delivered directly to customer’s trucks fuel tanks, at their business, when their fleet is parked. Costly driver time spent refueling is eliminated.

On-Site Refueling was a finalist in the 2012 SFA National Small Business Awards.

Adeola holds two Pg. Diplomas from IMI and was a steering group member of Emerge Skillnet.

Dave Byrne

MD & Co-founder, Dualtron

Dave is co-founder and MD of Dualtron Ltd, Ireland's only provider of cash handling systems and cloud payment systems. Dualtron joined the SFA about 20 years ago and Dave is very grateful for their advice on many issues down the years. The company's motto is 'You can count on Dualtron' and won the Services Awards in the SFA National Small Business Awards in 2017. The company competes on a regular basis with multinational providers and Dualtron's continued success makes Dave believe that Irelands small business sector can create jobs and wealth in Ireland. See www.dualtron.ie

 

Fredericka Sheppard

MD & Co-founder, Voltedge Management

Fredericka is a Chartered Member of the CIPD and a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) with the IMCA. She is currently also a Board Member of the Institute of Management Consultants and Advisers.

A graduate of UL and NCI in Human Resources Management, Fredericka has been working in the field of Human Resource Management since the mid 1990’s since then has held a number of Senior HR Management roles with a range of organisations from multinationals, start-ups, to indigenous Irish companies across the tech, ICT and Financial Services sectors.

Fredericka set up Voltedge Management in 2011 with her business partner Joyce Rigby-Jones and now provides HR Consultancy Services to organisations of varying size across Ireland and internationally. Their client base extends from very small (2+ employees) to much larger businesses, and frequently provide project support to HR departments and senior management teams of larger organisations on areas such as Change Management, Organisation Design and Development of People Strategy projects.

Idiro Analytics are pioneers in advanced analytics, working across multiple industries with a strong pedigree in banking and telecoms. In 2020, Idiro proudly won ‘Analytics SME of the Year Award’ and the Idiro CEO won ‘Analytics Leader of the Year Award 2020/2021’.

Formerly Geraldine was CFO and later Strategic Director, where she guided Idiro’s expansion. Now in her role as Director, she places emphasis on the company being a diverse, creative and nurturing culture. Just this year, she started up Idiro’s AI Ethics Centre.

Now in her 2nd elected term on the SFA National Council and appointed to the role of Deputy Chairwoman for the council in 2021, she promotes the support of SMEs for societal and commercial causes. As a passionate advocate for indigenous business and their growing need for an effective ‘Small Business Strategy’. With this in mind, she contributes to the yearly budget submission and various SFA lobbying initiatives to the government.

Geraldine is a Board member of Technology Ireland (IBEC) representing Ireland’s tech sector, which includes indigenous and FDI technology companies.

Geraldine is committed to the ongoing investment in Ireland’s indigenous sector and is honoured to be on the Dublin Chambers ‘Budget & Competitiveness’ task force since being elected to the Dublin Chambers policy Council in 2020. 

Rebecca Harrison

MD, Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy & Food at Fishers Ltd

Rebecca is an award-winning business owner, retailer and networking champion. She is a strong advocate for small business, family business and women in business.

She is Managing Director of Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy Boutique Department Store and Food at Fishers Cafe, employing 35 people. She sits on the SFA Skillnet Steering Committee and on the Advisory Board of Network Ireland, having served as its President in 2017.

She is a member of the Government's Retail Consultation Forum chaired by Minister Heather Humphreys and also sits on the Council of Retail Excellence Ireland. She speaks regularly at events and on air on East Coast FM and other media outlets. She lives in Co. Wicklow with her daughter where they love to make the most of the outdoors in the Garden County.

Pat Downes

Managing Partner, Lionheart

Patrick Downes is CEO of the Institute of Management Consultants & Advisers. Previous to that he was Managing Partner of Lionheart Management Consultants which specialises in Corporate Governance, Risk Mitigation and Regulatory Affairs. Prior to establishing the practice he served as an Executive Director with Bord na Mona plc and at CEO level for a number of SME's & Corporates. He has held the Chair of various organisations, including the Corporate Governance Association and serves on several boards. He holds a number of post grad qualification's including an MBA and is currently undertaking a PhD at NUIG where he sits on their Alumni Board. He is a trustee of the RDS and is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and The Chartered Institute of Marketing.

 

Caroline Ashe

Commercial Director, KORE Insulation

Caroline Ashe has been the Commercial Director for KORE Insulation for the past 14 years. As Commercial Director, Caroline is responsible for ensuring the company supplies customers with the products and services they need to meet their insulation requirements. Caroline is passionate about quality, a key aspect of the business, and continues to be motivated and excited by the opportunities that exist to construct super energy efficient buildings in Ireland. A graduate of DCU, Caroline has obtained a MSc in Strategic Procurement and a Degree in Marketing and Management from DIT. She is also a Certified Passive House Consultant with the Passive House Institute. Led by Caroline, KORE was the first company in Ireland to transition to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015. The same year, KORE also added OHSAS 18001, demonstrating their continued commitment to occupational health and safety. In addition to being an excellent management tool, ISO ensures that KORE are always focused on meeting customer requirements, that they follow best practice, and that quality is at the heart of what KORE do. KORE are overall winners of the 2019/2020 SFA National Small Business Awards and also won the Manufacturing Category.

 

Geraldine Lavin

Director & Co-founder, 3rd i

Geraldine Lavin is a director of 3rd i Ltd which she co-founded in 2005. She is a learning and education consultant providing programme design, delivery and evaluation services on topics such as SME business development, innovation, customer experience management and strategy. Through combining a career in the third level sector while also working with businesses, Geraldine merges research-led critical thinking and academic rigor with a solid focus on practical application.

Geraldine has a keen interest in SME development and is particularly interested in contributing to the government’s SME policies and to increasing SME-relevant supports in funding, networking, training and learning. In 2018 Geraldine helped the SFA secure funding from Skillnet Ireland and she subsequently established the SFA Skillnet, a training network that delivered programmes to over 100 member companies in 2019. She has worked with a range of business support organisations including DCU Ryan Academy, Dublin LEO, SOLAS, and CUDA. She has also lectured and completed projects in a number of third level institutions, including UCD, DCU, TCD, Maynooth University, TU Dublin, the Institute of Banking, APMI (Hong Kong and Singapore) and CESUGA (Spain).

Marina Bleahan

Founder & MD, Business Works

Marina Bleahen is founder and Managing Director of Business Works. She is a passionate business success expert who helps teams, CEOs and business owners achieve high performance. A Graduate of UCD Smurfit Business School Executive and Business Coaching, Licenced Engage and Grow Coach, Certified Accountability and Leadership Builder and Lead Culture, Marina brings a passion and energy to every organisation and team she works with. Drawing on solid academic models, Marina looked to Europe, Australia and North America for proven success models to build Leadership, Accountability, Culture, Engagement and Employee excellence as she invested both financially and ten thousand hours in becoming an expert in the award winning proven methodologies from Partners In Leadership, Door International, ActionCOACH and Engage and Grow. Marina specialises in helping business leaders deliver success through getting their teams aligned to key results and creating a culture of positive accountability to execute strategy, even while working remotely. Clients are reporting strong business growth and increased engagement. A proven track record as a Global brand director leading marketing strategy for Elan, Marina is passionate about delivering results and business success for her clients, her vision is that being in business should give you more life. During Covid 19, Marina has led Webinars for and been published by the SFA, PKF, Institute of Directors and Business Matters where she is regarded as an authority on getting the culture right in leadership teams to achieve results, even during uncertainty. 

 

Rohit Thakral

CEO, Target Integration

Rohit is an Entrepreneur & Business Automation Consultant experienced in working for businesses from Manufacturing to Finance and from Retail to Distribution. He started Target Integration in 2008 with a vision to be an honest and independent CRM & ERP. Rohit has 16 years of experience working in various industries including manufacturing, customer services, telecoms etc. His experience includes management, business planning, systems administration, business analysis and systems trainer. At Target Integration, he has successfully delivered a number of projects to clients from around the world (from Japan to West Coast in the US) and has been consulting their CRM & ERP implementations on a regular basis. Before starting Target Integration, Rohit was working as Product Manager for UPC Ireland, now Virgin Media, Product Specialist in Data Edge providing telecom test equipment and Field Customer Services Rep for HP. Other than running Target Integration, Rohit is on the steering committee of the Ireland India Business Association (IIBA) and has lectured as a guest lecturer for Dublin Business School & Technological University Dublin. Also, he is studying MSc in Leadership Innovation and Technology (Part-Time) at Technological University Dublin (formerly DIT) where he graduated from back in 2005. 

 

Aisling Hurley

Founder, The Business Fairy

Aisling Hurley is the founder of the digital marketing agency - thebusinessfairy.ie (TBF). The company provides services such as research, analysis, strategic consultancy, and training to a client list that includes the Italian pharma company RelifeMenarini, British Airways, Catherine Fulvio, HSS Hire, Crest Solutions, Tipperary Tourism etc. The firm develops domestic and international strategies through the utilisation of a specific digital toolset. More recently she became the founder of a TBF spinout 3D Hologram company - Planet Hologram Studios. The company is focused on the creation of 3D holograms and AR content. Within the first 6 months of formation, she led the company to EI HPSU and Microsoft for Start-ups status. Previous to both of these companies she was the co-founder of the specialist joinery firm Teamwoodcraft.

Aisling has worked with a range of business support organisations such as Young Social Innovators and DCU UStart, and has been the recipient of several business awards including an Ernst and Young nomination. Aisling is a well-known advocate for CSR throughout her career - with a particular focus on helping female entrepreneurs, underrepresented minorities, registered non-profit organisations, and the secondary schools’ young entrepreneurs’ programmes. She has spoken at several industry events and is a regular tech and business commentator on Midlands 103, Newstalk and the host of the SME Community Podcast.