Denis O' Brien

A firm believer in philanthrocapitalism, Denis O’Brien is the founder and Chairman of Digicel Group and a number of other businesses in a variety of sectors. In addition to his extensive business portfolio, O’Brien also serves various non-profit groups and organisations in leadership roles.

About Denis O'Brien

Denis O’Brien grew up in Dublin, Ireland and attended University College Dublin, earning a BA in Politics and History. He then studied at Boston College in the United States and earned an MBA in Corporate Finance in 1982. Seven years later, Denis founded the media holdings company Communicorp.

In 1991, he made his start in the telecommunications sector by forming Esat Telecom. For the next nine years, he served as Esat’s Chairman and CEO, establishing the company as the second largest telecommunications company in Ireland and floating it on NASDAQ in 1997. In 2000, he sold Esat to the BT Group, using the funds from the sale to help finance his next business venture: Digicel Group.

The model of capitalism has to change. If you want to build a sustainable business in an emerging market, you’ve got to fund impactful community projects, particularly in education”

- Denis O'Brien

O’Brien founded Digicel in 2001 and continues to serve as Chairman today. Since its founding, O’Brien has overseen the opening of 32 telecommunications markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific with major operations in Haiti, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago. Under his leadership, Digicel has focused on democratising communications with a particular focus on connecting underserved or remote communities to transformative communications technologies. He continues to push Digicel to reach more people in more places so that everyone can participate in and benefit from the knowledge economy.

Digicel Caribbean Headquarters,
Kingston, Jamaica

As a serial entrepreneur, Denis O’Brien has a wide range of business interests. In addition, he owns the Quinta do Lago golf and wellness resort in Portugal, PGA Catalunya in Spain and the Beacon Private Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. He also has an extensive portfolio of property investments.

O’Brien is passionate about giving back to his communities. He founded the first Digicel Foundation in Jamaica in 2004 in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan with a vision of helping to create a world where no one gets left behind. Currently, he serves as a United Nations Broadband Commissioner for Digital Development, where he is helping promote access to broadband internet in developing countries and forcing big tech to contribute to the cost of bringing broadband access to the 3.5 billion people who currently don’t have access to the internet. Additionally, Denis serves on the board of Concern Worldwide US, an organisation dedicated to helping make positive change around the world.

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Denis O'Brien in Haiti
DENIS O'BRIEN, through his work at Digicel, has built 180 schools in Haiti

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Philanthropy

Denis O’Brien has time and again channelled his energy and resources into giving back and providing opportunities for others. With a particular focus on helping communities within his Digicel markets, he founded the first Digicel Foundation in 2004 in Jamaica. Since its formation, programmes and interventions from the Foundation have helped millions of people across Haiti, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago, particularly in the fields of special needs, education and community development.

Denis O'Brien

Denis O’Brien serves on the Board of Directors for Concern Worldwide U.S., which aims to serve impoverished communities around the world through volunteer work and developmental programmes, and as Chairman of the Council of Patrons for Special Olympics Ireland – a relationship which dates back to when he served as Chair of the 2003 World Summer Games in Ireland. He also funds the Iris O’Brien Foundation, which is focused on promoting human rights, helping people affected by disasters, supporting people with disabilities, educational causes and the promotion of the arts.

He has invested in his alma maters. The O’Brien Centre of Science at Dublin University College was funded by and named after him, and he has pledged financial support to students pursuing an MBA at the Boston College Carroll School of Management through the O’Brien Fellowship.