About Denis O'Brien
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.
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.
As the 1998 EOY Ireland Entrepreneur of the Year, Denis O’Brien was the first guest of the EOY Architects of Business documentary series. This series features Entrepreneur of the Year alumni, who share their stories and insights that have guided each on their road to success. Beginning the series, Denis discusses his various entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavours across his tenured business experience.
On 7 September 2022, the Sister Susan Frazer, RSM Educational Complex at the St. John Bosco Vocational Training Centre in Hatfield, Manchester opened its doors.
Last summer, Jamaica’s premiere online gaming platform, GameNation, hit the market. In honour of the launch, Digicel hosted hundreds of participants at its Ocean Boulevard
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports world was put on hold. But, that did not stop the Digicel Jamaica Foundation from supporting Special Olympics Jamaica
Denis O’Brien has time and again channelled his energy and resources into giving back and providing opportunities for others. He has used his platform to write about altruistic causes and direct the public’s attention to education, community development and special needs. He has also appeared in documentary films that focus on the progression of human rights.
With a particular focus on helping vulnerable populations 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.
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 University College Dublin (UCD) 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.