Brian O’Sullivan and wife Margaret Ann O’Sullivan at the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards 2021.

Fermoy’s O’Sullivan named 2021 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year

A Corkman has won one of the most prestigious Irish business awards following in the footsteps of other Leeside entrepreneurs.

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.

Other award winners include David Henderson and Aimee Connolly. 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.

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.

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,” he added.

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.”

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, who is now leading a global campaign to tackle the climate crisis we face.