Our People

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Our people are dedicated and reliable. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of service delivery, innovation and collaboration. Our people are future focused, enjoying the challenge of developing solutions that are robust and built to last.  Our people are leaders, a powerful combination of individual drive and collective expertise.


We all know that what we do is bigger than us.  We have a common purpose and a common vision – to enable Ireland’s digital ambition.

Brief bio’s of our Heads of Function:

Ronan Byrne


Ronan has the primary responsibility for leading HEAnet.

Ronan’s career at HEAnet extends back to 2004 and he has overseen many large-scale programmes over this time, including the development of the Schools Broadband Network, migration of the Institute of Technologies from ITNet, the establishment of the Edugate National Federated Identity Service, delivery of a 100Gb network backbone, and building a highly performing Brokerage Services unit that delivers more than €7m savings for the sector annually.

Ronan is a Board member of EduCampus Services, a subsidiary company of HEAnet.

Ronan represents HEAnet at the GÉANT General Assembly and is Chair of a GÉANT Network Infrastructure Advisory Committee advising on the upgrade of the pan-European GÉANT network.

Ronan is a former member of the inaugural Board of Directors of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Association, and he is currently a member of the Irish Government’s National Open Research Forum (NORF) steering group.

Prior to joining HEAnet, Ronan established a successful track record of large-scale ICT programme delivery, having led engagements with some of the most respected organisations in Ireland, across both private and public sectors. Previous employers include Fujitsu, Via Networks, ICL Computers, and Aer Lingus.

Ronan holds an MSc in Business Leadership & Management Practice from the Smurfit Business School at University College Dublin and an MSc in Internet Systems from Dublin City University. Ronan is also an Associate Member of The Governance Institute.

Brian Boyle

Technical Services Director

Brian is our Technical Services Director, managing a number of teams who maintain our network infrastructure and deliver our services portfolio. 

Brian qualified with a BSc in Computer Applications from DCU then went on to work in manufacturing software development for Motorola, before moving to Indigo/Eircom to work in telecommunications and infrastructure development. In HEAnet, Brian was initially working in project and service management then promoted to team manager, and again, to Technical Services Director, gaining qualifications in Prince2 project management and ITIL service management along the way.

Brian manages the teams that maintain the network infrastructure and deliver our services portfolio for the third-level sector. Over the years, he has driven numerous projects to enhance the excellence of our network technologies for the benefit of our clients and customers across Ireland and beyond.

As a senior executive in the organisation, Brian is also responsible for engaging with stakeholders, creating funding opportunities, business case research and development, and providing insight into organisational strategic planning and execution.

Dónal Ó Cearbhaill

Schools Network Director

Dónal is our Schools Network Director

Dónal and has been working with HEAnet since 2004 and is responsible for providing Ireland’s schools (primary & post-primary) with high-availability internet and network security services.

Dónal has over 19 years experience in the technology sector and previously worked for Oracle in Dublin and EF Education in Boston, Massachusetts.

He is a graduate of the National University of Ireland Galway with a degree in Electronic & Computer Engineering.

David Stafford

Head of Finance and Risk

David is our Head of Finance and Risk at HEAnet.

Having been with HEAnet for a number of years, David was initially appointed as finance business partner on the schools’ high-speed internet connectivity programme. As the senior finance leader, David is currently responsible for all aspects of budgeting, financial management and control, and also oversees the risk management and audit function.

After graduating from IT Tallaght, David qualified as a chartered accountant and holds a professional certificate in corporate governance. Prior to HEAnet, he worked in the private healthcare and construction industries.

John Creaven

Client Services Director

John is the Client Services Director at HEAnet.

John comes to HEAnet from The University of Western Australia, where he led transformative changes within Information Services in how they approached their service delivery to clients.

John is a member of the HEAnet executive team, and his primary focus is ensuring that the services HEAnet deliver are relevant to the needs of our clients.

John graduated from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, holds an MSc in Internet Systems from DCU and an MBA from the Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University.

Jolene Byrne

Corporate Governance Director & Company Secretary

Jolene is our Corporate Governance Director & Company Secretary

Jolene’s biog will be uploaded shortly.

Katie Harris

People Operations Director

Katie is our People Operations Director at HEAnet.

Katie’s career in HEAnet extends back to 2006, during which time she has held a number of roles, the majority within the People Operations function. Katie has a strong background in people operations, workplace experience, leadership and managing change projects.

As a member of the senior leadership team, Katie has responsibility for People Operations which incorporates all people-related matters for HEAnet, as well as partnering with our subsidiary EduCampus Services. Katie’s focus is on ensuring that our people are at the centre of what we do and how we work together.

Katie holds a BA in Human Resource Management from the National College of Ireland. She is also an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Irish Payroll Association (IPASS).

Karen Thornton

Director of Strategy & Business Planning

Karen is the Director of Strategy & Business Planning at HEAnet.

As a member of the leadership team, Karen has responsibility for leading the PMO and Innovation and R&D functions, with a focus on driving strategy execution and portfolio delivery within HEAnet.

Before joining HEAnet, Karen worked across several industry sectors, including IT Professional Services, Utilities and Finance, where she gained experience in strategy development, business planning, project management, financial management and regulatory funding models. Previous employers include Société Générale, Credit Suisse, Ausgrid and EirGrid.

Karen holds a BSc in Applied Science from the Technological University Dublin and an MSc in E-Commerce (Technical) from Dublin City University. She is certified in Prince 2, Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (P3O), ITIL and is Scrum Master Certified (SMC).