Pat O’Donnell is Managing Partner at Principal Connections – executive search. Previously, an Executive Search Consultant with a London headquartered professional services plc, Mr. O’Donnell has operated within the executive search industry since 2007.

Mr. O’Donnell holds extensive expertise in conducting Senior, Executive and Board search assignments across the Private, Public and Not-For-Profit sectors in Ireland, the United Kingdom and further afield. He is known as a leading authority and trusted advisor to domestic and international client organisations in all phases of development and change. Mr. O’Donnell is especially talented in conducting sensitive and confidential engagements as well as transitioning elite candidates from the global market. He is also noted for his exceptional understanding of boardroom dynamics.

During his tenure, Mr. O’Donnell has led Principal Connections to be named "Best in Executive Recruitment" at the Chambers Ireland InBUSINESS Magazine Recognition awards, "Best in Practice" for executive search consulting services at the Employment & Recruitment Federation Awards (formally the National Recruitment Federation), as well as to achieve the award of "Business All-Star" accreditation from the All-Ireland Business Foundation.

Mr. O’Donnell has also previously served as a Voluntary Board Director of Galway Simon Community, a registered charity dedicated to the provision of housing, support, and healthcare services to the homeless in the West of Ireland.

Mr. O’Donnell holds’ an Honours undergraduate Law Degree from the National University of Ireland Galway, a Master’s Degree in Commercial Law from University College Dublin’s School of Law and a Diploma in Human Resource Management from the National College of Ireland amongst other academic accolades. He is Certified Level A and B by the British Psychological Society as well as a Certified Hogan and EQi Assessments Practitioner which he utilises in the assessment of top line management and executive teams.

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Hilarie Geary is Chairperson Emeritus of Principal Connections - executive search.

A Founding Partner of Principal Connections, Ms. Geary celebrates a career spanning over 30 years and is one of the most distinguished executive search practitioners across Ireland and the UK. Prior to her departure, she focused her time mainly on senior management appointments from head of function to board level across a broad spectrum of industries and functions with a particular interest in the Financial Services, Professional Services and Industrial sectors.

One of Europe’s most synonymous names within senior recruitment circles, over her term Ms. Geary has been awarded “Young Business Woman of the Year” and “Female Business Leader of the Year” in addition to various other accolades. She is a well-known public speaker, guest lecturer and regular media commentator on the provision of talent, recruitment and staffing solutions to companies in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Ms. Geary holds a Masters of Science in Business, Leadership and Management Practice as well as Professional Diploma’s in Leadership Development, and Strategy, Innovation and Change from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. She is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, IBEC and the Institute of Directors and holds various board directorships.


Darren McCabe is a Partner & Executive Search Consultant at Principal Connections - executive search.

Having entered the recruitment industry in 2004, Mr. McCabe is a highly accomplished and well respected senior executive search consultant. To date, he has served many of the leading Multinationals, Plc’s, SME’s and Government organisations across Ireland, the United Kingdom and further afield with regard to their most important hiring decisions. Mr. McCabe is especially focused on assisting clients across the Consumer, Industrial, Construction, Transportation, Technology and Not-For-Profit sectors. He is considered a leading consultant in the recruitment of all C-suite and D-level positions.

Prior to joining Principal Connections, Mr. McCabe held Senior Management and Director posts over a 10 year’ period with a number of Irish and global recruitment firms. During this time, he developed a significant reputation for his repeated success particularly for delivering on complex and sensitive recruitment projects.

A Qualified Financial Adviser, during his early career Mr. McCabe worked with Bank of Ireland for four years, latterly as a Private Banking Relationship Consultant. Previously he spent a number of years with Mallon Technology as a CAD Technician.

Mr. McCabe is an Honours Business Graduate of Portobello College Dublin.

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Mark Middleton is a Partner at Principal Connections - executive search.

With a career spanning over 20 years, Mr. Middleton specialises in high-level Executive and Senior Management appointments from Head of Function to Board level. Over his term, he has worked across a diverse range of industries and sectors from Financial Services and Financial Technology through to Professional & Business Services to Social Impact.

Mr. Middleton began his early career in Financial Services working with Dolmen Securities (now Cantor Fitzgerald) and Goodbody Stockbrokers (now AIB) before subsequently joining Bank of Ireland Asset Management (now State Street Global Advisors). During this time, he has seen first-hand, the considerable change and transformation that has taken place across the Irish and UK financial services industry.

Prior to joining Principal Connections, Mr. Middleton was an Associate Director with a boutique recruitment firm for over 5 years while previously he was Divisional Manager for a sister company, Executive Connections for many years.

Mr. Middleton holds an Honours Degree in Finance from Dublin Business School having also undertaken a variety of professional development qualifications.


Eilish Devine is a Practice Leader at Principal Connections - executive search.

Having initiated her career in the human capital management industry in 2006, Ms. Devine focuses her time on Board, CEO and Senior Executive appointments, partnering with Private and Public Companies as well as Government Bodies and Not-For-Profit entities to support their strategic objectives. To date, she has worked across a range of sectors from Technology, Media & Entertainment and Financial services through to Consumer Goods, Professional Services, Manufacturing and Not-For-Profit.

Prior to joining Principal Connections - executive search, Ms. Devine was a Partner with a market leading executive search firm based in Australia where she worked for close to 10 years. On returning to Ireland, Ms. Devine spent a number of years leading the delivery of all Senior Executive and Leadership appointments on behalf of an international recruitment firm. During her earlier career, Ms. Devine held a number of Human Resources positions across Education, Government/Public-Sector and Mining.

Ms. Devine has a particular interest in increasing the general diversity and specifically gender balance at decision-making levels in organisations.

She is a graduate of University College Dublin, where she earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in 2004.


Ann Marie Brennan leads the finance & operations function at Principal Connections - executive search.

A Certified Accountant, with a career spanning almost 30 years, Ms. Brennan holds primary responsibility for all finance & operations matters for the firm.

Ms. Brennan first entered the executive search industry in 1999, and since then she has contributed to the success of Principal Connections. Following an early career within practice she went on to progress her career as an accountant within food production and logistics for seven years.

Ms. Brennan holds academic qualifications in accounting, personal and executive coaching, train the trainer, payroll as well as employment law. She is a fellow of the ACCA, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

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