Executive Search Firms Ireland

Executive Search Firm, Principal Connections announce Tadhg O’Halloran as HR Leader of the Month for May 2021


Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Tadhg O’Halloran the person?

The Person
I’m a native of Cork and proud as hell to be.

In essence I’m a very simple person with two passions in life: my family and my work. My wife and I downsized and moved to live near the sea a couple of years ago – this was one of the best decisions we have ever made as we can now walk the beach every day.

I love to BBQ and entertain though that has not been possible during the pandemic – and my wife is still wondering when I’ll learn to BBQ for just two.

The Career
I would describe my career journey to where I am today as a rather unique one. I was very lucky to spend the formative and development years of my early career in Aer Lingus having joined the airline in 1979 in a front-line customer service role. I became involved as an employee / trade union representative and was enticed across to the management side of the relationship shortly afterwards.

These were rather challenging years with a lot of trade union unrest especially in the aviation sector, so my focus was very much around employee / industrial relations. I progressed rather quickly to the position of Staff Relations Manager and was mentored by an inspiring individual in the person John Behan who is well known as a true HR professional and a great ‘change agent’.

I was fortunate to find myself, thanks to John, on a rotational management development programme which provided me with operational and P&L responsibility for several different functional areas including operations and commercial departments.

These broad experiences allowed me to develop as a much more rounded HR Leader. My career and development journey continued after I left Aer Lingus in 2002 since which time, I have enjoyed several key roles including:

  • Founder and Principal at IOLAR Consulting.
  • Chief Operations Officer & HR Director with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) in the post-World Cup/Saipan 2002 period.
  • HR Director with LM Developments a major construction & development company.
  • HR Director for Ireland with Johnston Press a newspaper & online publishing organisation.
  • Interim CEO Food Partners Limited.
  • Head of Human Resources for the Advanced Materials Division of Element Six-DeBeers.

All of which have brought me to my current role as Group Head of HR & SLT Member at Lakeland Dairies which is the second largest dairy processor on the Island of Ireland.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

Lakeland Dairies is a farmer owned co-operative and the second largest dairy processor on the Island of Ireland. With its origins in Killeshandra Co. Cavan the Co-op celebrates the 125th Anniversary of its foundation this year. We now process almost 2 billion litres of milk and have revenues of €1.09b. We export 95% of our dairy produce to over 80 countries across every continent of the World.

We operate across 9 manufacturing centres north and south; our head office is based in Cavan. We employ 1,200 people and utilise the most advanced technology and systems in the processing and manufacturing of an extensive range of the highest quality dairy products.

The Co-operative ethos of ‘Stronger together’ embodies the culture of Lakeland and enables a real can-do attitude among our people which is special and unique and has stood up to many challenges over the years and none more so than the current Covid-19 Pandemic during which, as an essential food business, we continued to safely operate all our facilities in full.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

If I were answering this question in 2019, I’d probably have said the battle for ‘talent’ was top of the list. Today and in the context of the very different world we now live in I think the most important challenges HR Leaders face are about how we need to ensure that we have the appropriate systems and programmes in place to support and keep our people safe during such unprecedented times. Awareness of mental health and wellbeing and the provision of specific supports to employees and their families are more relevant now than ever before. Fit for purpose Employee Assistance Programmes are vital.

After that, the usual challenges will continue to apply, battle for talent – attract and retain.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

I think more organisations are becoming aware of the importance of performance coaching as a key business enabler. The top performing businesses have been on this page for many years and so it may not be seen by everyone as a big advance. However, as it starts to become the ‘norm’ and more businesses invest in performance coaching using trained and qualified Business Performance Psychologists to enable improved and sustained Leader and Business performance and results, I think this will be seen as a major advance in HR.

Enterprise Ireland and organisations like The Learning Partnership are real advocates in this space through the EI sponsored Leadership for Growth Programme.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

My Mentor from my time in Aer Lingus, John Behan, advised me to never allow myself to be ‘pigeonholed into one specific area but to develop a broad business acumen and then return to HR as a real value add generalist’. That stayed with me and framed my approach and career ever since.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

From a career perspective I’m more fully focused on making a real contribution to leaving things better than they were when I arrived. From a personal perspective I became a Grandad for the first-time last year and my second grandchild will join us in July – what more motivation does one need?

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I’m fortunate enough to have had a very productive and satisfying career and it is difficult to pick just one thing – but I think if I reflect back, it is probably the part that I played in developing and implementing the plan that became known as ‘The e6 Shannon Sustainability Plan’ which prevented the closure and ensured the continuation and ultimate growth in the Element Six – DeBeers operations in Ireland.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

I’m inspired everyday by the people around me. It would be wrong to single out any one individual and I’m constantly inspired by the ethos of the Co-operative movement – ‘Together we are Stronger’, as this inspires and influences a real collaborative way of working.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

I network with a very talented cohort of HR Leaders across industry and academia as well as being an avid reader of HR and Employment Law publications.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

I read a lot and I love to walk the beach as often as I can and at least once a day. I love to entertain while cooking on my huge Webber BBQ – I just need to remember that these days its about cooking for 2 or 4 people max and not 20+!!! I cannot wait for international travel to open-up again to allow me to indulge myself again in the joy of travel.


Congratulations to Tadhg O’Halloran on being named Principal Connections’ HR Leader of the Month’ for April 2021.


Lakeland Dairies is a farmer owned co-operative and the second largest dairy processor on the Island of Ireland. With its origins in Killeshandra Co. Cavan the Co-op celebrates the 125th Anniversary of its foundation this year. We now process almost 2 billion litres of milk and have revenues of €1.09b. We export 95% of our dairy produce to over 80 countries across every continent of the World.


Principal Connections are Ireland’s premier retained executive search partners and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Partnership. We offer five interrelated talent acquisition and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

  • Executive Search
  • Board Search
  • Advertised Selection
  • Interim Management
  • Leadership Consulting & Assessment

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Principal Connections is Ireland’s leading Executive Search Firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide LLC.

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