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Smurfit Executive Development Announce Winner of 30% Club Diploma in Corporate Governance Scholarship - Marie Gleeson

  • Date: Mon, May 31, 2021

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Marie Gleeson 30% Scholarship Winner 2021


Smurfit Executive Development is delighted to announce the award of the 2021 30% Club scholarship to Marie Gleeson. Marie Gleeson served for over 20 years in the Irish Navy reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Her career highlights include command of the LE AOIFE from 2013 – 2015 and service on a UN mission in Chad. She retired from the Irish Navy in 2019 and founded NavMar Leadership. She provides leadership consultancy services and is a motivational speaker. Marie Gleeson’s trailblazing career in the Irish Navy and thereafter will further enhance the profile of participants on this prestigious programme. 

Marie lives in Cashel in Tipperary with her husband John and two daughters Laoise and Muireann. Marie believes in the benefits of gender balance having lived it as one of the first female officers to serve in the Irish Navy. Her Masters dissertation (MSc Human Resource Leadership, Sheffield Hallam University) highlights the improved performance in organisations with a gender balanced executive leadership team. Marie looks forward to promoting the core values and aspirations of the 30% Club and that of the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance as a scholarship recipient.

Alongside the growing emphasis on education and training of company directors and governors, is an increased emphasis on diversity in boardrooms. Following the banking crisis, the Stock Exchange’s Corporate Governance Code added forceful material on the need for diverse boards, including gender and race. That Code advocates diversity as a means of avoiding “groupthink”, encouraging different approaches and experiences around boardroom tables. Under the State Code, due regard for diversity is required in making state board appointments, with chairs and government departments required to consider the benefits of diversity on boards, including gender diversity.

To advance the objectives of the code, UCD Smurfit Executive Development, in association with the 30% Club, offers one scholarship per annum to a female student on the fully accredited postgraduate Professional Diploma in Corporate Governance. The 30% Club was launched in January 2015 and has the objective of improving gender balance at all levels in Irish business, with a focus on gender balance on boards of directors and in senior executive leadership positions.

To date six scholars have completed the programme including Stephanie Manahan, CEO of the not-for-profit charity, the Central Remedial Clinic; Katherine Licken, Secretary General of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media; Niamh Duddy, Company Secretary of the Irish branch of Investec Bank plc; Georgina Gray, Inspector in An Garda Síochána; Sinead Ryan, Director of Governance, National University of Ireland; and Cora Sutton, Director of Cronin and Sutton Consulting Engineers.

We are proud of our 30% Club scholarship recipients, and of their range of backgrounds from not-for-profit, to Government department to private sector financial services and non-executive director positions.  Each class comprises participants with a diverse range of expertise. Executive development involves learning from the lecturers on the programme, and even more valuable, peer-to-peer learning, from the depth and range of expertise in each class of senior, experienced executives.

For more information on the September 2021 intake of our UCD Diploma in Corporate Governance programme click here or contact

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