Deputy Chair, The National Trust
Orna NiChionna studied Electronic Engineering in Dublin (her home town), and still has a deep interest in technology. Keen to understand business better, she applied to Harvard Business School, they let her in and lent her money to attend (somewhat to her surprise) and after getting an MBA from there she joined management consultants McKinsey & Co in 1983, in order to to pay back her Harvard loans. But she found that she liked the work and in due course she became the first female Partner in their London office and stayed there for 18 years.
Since leaving McKinsey in 2001 she has been a Director of several UK companies: she is currently the Senior Independent Director at Royal Mail and at Saga. Alongside her business career she is a passionate environmentalist and was Chair of the Soil Association (which campaigns for organic food and farming) for 6 years. She is now Deputy Chair of the National Trust. In recent years she has also helped run a football shop in Ilford (long story) and a boat trip business in a West of Ireland village. She is an ardent feminist, becoming more so as time goes by.