DENISE O’Brien is the founder of O’Brien Learning Solutions, the Shannon businesswoman gives an insight into her life ahead of The Clare Business Excellence Awards.

Where are you from?


Tell me about your business?

O’Brien Learning Solutions is my business which I founded in 2016. We provide people-solutions to corporate teams in the areas of culture change, management, team and leadership development.

Is there anything that might surprise readers about O’Brien Learning Solutions?

I bring 25 years’ experience of working in the financial services industry, starting out in training and development in GE Insurance Services in the late 1990’s

What was your first job and what age were you?

I had a paper round age 13!

What are your strongest memories of that?

Carrying a big Wolfe Tones Na Sionna gear bag around Shannon in the rain delivering newspapers!

Weirdest job you ever had?

I found the move to virtual classrooms at the start of covid a strange experience, having only delivered face to face workshops up to that point. We all know how far we’ve come since then with zoom calls!

If you could have chosen a different career path, what would it be?

I would like to be a journalist or a writer, and in my spare time I enjoy writing short stories.

Is there anybody in business that has inspired you?

I regularly meet ‘everyday’ women in business who inspire me, especially women who have started out small such as myself, and who have taken their business to great heights.

What has been the most challenging thing you’ve encountered in business?

Balancing work and home life as a single parent, whilst growing my business.

If you could start again, is there anything you would do differently?

I’d invest in support earlier e.g., financial planning and digital marketing and I’d go with my gut ideas sooner!

Can you give advice to anybody considering going into business?

I would suggest reaching out and talking to people who are ‘out there’ doing what you would love to do. I found that anyone I have asked along the way have been more than happy to help out and have a chat over coffee.

What is your favourite book?

Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the shore, mind-bendingly brilliant!

What is your favourite film?

I love the film ‘Wild’ based on Cheryl Strayed’s autobiography in which she is played brilliantly by Reese Witherspoon. The story of how she overcame grief and adversity in her life is truly inspiring. Great soundtrack too!

What was the first CD / tape / record your purchased?

My first single was ‘What’s love got to do with it’ by Tina Turner that my dad bought me when I was seven

Who is your sporting hero?

Katie Taylor

What was your favourite holiday?

A trip around Southeast Asia with my daughter to visit my brother who lives there.

If somebody could play you in a film, who would it be?

I’ve always admired Amy Adams and would be honoured for her to play the part!

Three things you’d bring to a desert island?

A journal to document my desert island experiences, a durable all-weather tent and water purifier to stay hydrated.

What is your favourite saying / quote?

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”.