Meet the team – Claire Donnelly

NBI CEO Peter Hendrick sat down with Claire Donnelly in our meet the team blog series.

In life, we always want to strive towards ambitious goals, whether personal or professional. It’s what keeps our motivation high, our work ethic strong, and fuels us to achieve our true potential. 

This isn’t idealistic. It’s proven.  And at National Broadband Ireland, we’re rapidly growing and mobilising a team nationwide to deliver one of the most ambitious and transformational infrastructure projects Ireland has ever seen.  Building a network that will empower future generations, I believe this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of something special, and it’s why some of the best and brightest minds in Ireland are being attracted to the project. 

Since being awarded the contract and having first boots on the ground in January this year, our team has grown from 35 to now having upwards of 500 people working on the National Broadband Plan, either directly at National Broadband Ireland (NBI) or through one of our subcontractor partners.  At the peak of our rollout, 1800 skilled jobs will be created to assist the design, build and operating of Ireland’s new high-speed network.

Having been involved personally in the National Broadband Plan since its inception, to now leading NBI forward as Chief Executive Officer, I am made to feel incredibly proud every day of the talent Ireland possesses, and so in this new series of blogs, I would like to introduce some of the hard working and exceptional people we have working to deliver your National Broadband Plan, taking a look at what inspires them in their careers, what drew them to this project and any advice they may have for others looking for careers at this time.

For my first interview, I’m delighted to meet with Claire Donnelly…

Claire Donnelly NBI Project Manager

Tell us about your role at NBI:  I joined NBI in April this year in the role of Delivery PM for Network Deployment. Here I work in a team of approximately 15 people (and growing) focussed on the deployment of the National Broadband Plan – that’s everything involved in building the network.

What’s your background?  I’ve been working in the telecoms sector for about 20 years now. I started when the Internet was still in its infancy. Dial up was in fashion. I can now look back fondly to a time where we only had three leased line customers and everybody else was on dial up.  It’s only when you look back over your career that you realise the dramatic pace of change we’ve seen in technology and telecommunications, which I find helps make it a special industry to work in.

What are some of your career highlights? Working in telecoms has given me some tremendous opportunities and I’ve been able to work for a number of international companies both in Ireland and Australia.  I worked for IBM supporting the network for the Sydney Olympics 2000 project which was a great success and a landmark career highlight so far.

Describe your job in a couple of sentences: I manage the relationship between NBI and our contractors working on the network build to ensure the timely delivery of the National Broadband Plan.  In my daily responsibilities, I’m liaising with internal and external stakeholders to make sure all of our reporting is on time and accurate.

What do you like best about working for NBI? Even though this is a project of vast size and scale, we bring a start-up mentality to the job, as our team is growing quickly. In this start-up environment, we get to influence how our team operates and you always feel like your contribution is making a real difference.  The desire to deliver this momentous project for Ireland is a glue that brings everyone at NBI together, and it creates a buzz about the place. NBI really benefits from a lot of cross departmental collaboration.

You started your role at NBI as Ireland was in Covid-19 lockdown. How has working from home impacted your role?  NBI has done a remarkable job recruiting and on-boarding a growing workforce during the pandemic, and as a start-up, fortunately we’ve been really quick to adopt all of the online tools that help us collaborate really effectively as a company and in our teams.  In working from home, the little five minute conversation you might have at somebody’s desk to get snippets of information is no longer possible, but we have some excellent company-wide initiatives in place to help strengthen the culture of the business and make sure we all feel part of the team. 

What are you most looking forward to in the rollout of the National Broadband Plan?  I think I will feel a great sense of pride and achievement as each one of our ‘deployment areas’ are delivered. We have 227 around the country and as a build team we are all highly motivated to deliver each of them as quickly and effectively as possible, as we all know that people want high-speed broadband now more than ever since the pandemic.  It makes me proud that Ireland is ahead of other countries in delivering high-speed broadband to every person in the country.

How would you describe the culture at NBI?  The culture is very open and honest, and we collaborate for success.  

Tell us something we wouldn’t know about you: Before my career in telecoms, I Au Paired in Switzerland (in a small village just outside Geneva) during my college years. With regret, I didn’t learn enough French in the process as the family was half Scottish and half Swiss. However, it is a beautiful country so I would highly recommend a visit.  I taught two “Junior Achievement” programmes in primary schools where I learnt ‘if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail’. 

WE’RE HIRING!  If you would like to find out more about career opportunities at NBI, please visit /careers/.