Professor O’Connor is the Founding President and President Emeritus of the National College of Ireland. She has worked and published widely in the area of entrepreneurship, pioneering initiatives on entrepreneurship in her native country of Ireland.
She developed work programmes and videos for high schools students, for use in schools, entitled Enterprise: The Key to the Future. She worked closely with Guidance Counsellors in schools, promoting an enterprising approach to work and business. This programme was recognized internationally. Undertaking research on enterprise development, innovation and entrepreneurship in Ireland she also helped develop and implement Government initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship in general and women in particular.
As founding President of the National College of Ireland she is an example in the University sector of entrepreneurship in practice, a sector not always associated with entrepreneurship. Under her leadership and working with a range of stakeholders, including Government and business, the College moved into the University sector and developed a range of programmes from degree to Doctorate level, as well as research programmes. As President she completed a major capital development project relocating NCI to a state of the art purpose built 60million Euros Campus in Dublin’s International Financial Service Sector. The NCI is a private College receiving 40 percent state funding.
Professor O’Connor has also served as an Non Executive Director on a number of companies, including Cement Roadstone Holdings ( CRH) PLC, a multinational company operating in over 35 countries with over 80,000 employees and also served on the Board of ICS Building Society, Bank of Ireland. Among other state and commercial state bodies Professor O’Connor chaired the Digital Hub Development Agency which promotes young start-up companies and individuals in the high tech, social media and digital area located in the Digital Hub in Dublin. She is currently working with a group of young Irish Entrepreneurs to help them develop start-ups in the high tech area.
Apart from lecturing worldwide and conducting workshops she acts as mentor and coach for young entrepreneurs and CEO’s of SME companies. For Professor O’Connor being enterprising is the key to the future.