CPA Profile
MacDara Howley

CPA Profile MacDara Howley
Headshot of Aine Collins
Title: Vice President, Operations Innovation Finance
Company: Medtronic
Qualifications: CPA
Why did you decide to start out in a career in accountancy?
Strangely it took the banking collapse in 2008 to kick start my accountancy career. Having finished college with a business studies degree majoring in Accounting I decided that finance wasn’t for me and pursued a career elsewhere. I was working in Procurement in AIB at the time of the crash, its impact made a lot of people in the banking industry consider their options. Looking back on my career to that point, the common thread in my success across numerous industries was my financial acumen and how I used that in day-to-day operations, so the decision to qualify as an accountant was an easy one.

Why did you choose CPA Ireland as your qualification route?

As with a lot of things in life I asked my father for advice! As a past President of the Institute of Tax he had a good knowledge of the options available to me. Given where I was in my career and my aspirations being in industry rather than in practise, CPA Ireland offered the versatility and industry insights that would accelerate a career change. 

Please provide a brief history of your career.

I’ve had an unusual career for a finance professional having started in Hospitality managing restaurants and bars for a number of years until I was a general manager. On reflection of the industry, unsociable hours and where this career could take me next, I decided on a career change. I worked in a number of leadership roles in Office Management, Logistics, Catering, and Banking (AIB). In AIB I joined the Central Securities team, moved into Cost Management & Procurement before qualifying in 2011 as a CPA and taking on my first finance role with AIB Operations & Technology Finance. 

Late in 2011 I married, moved west to Galway and was lucky to get a job in Medtronic Finance helping to set up a major joint venture operation in Moscow. I transitioned out of Finance again to lead Operations Strategy for 6 Business Units across 23 factories worldwide. 

I followed this by heading up the Project Management Office to execute the Strategy before transitioning back to Finance to lead Global Operations Innovation Finance.

What one word describes what your CPA qualification has given you?


What has been your biggest career achievement? 

Becoming the first Irish based Operations Finance Vice President in Medtronic.

What or who inspires you most in business?

The Medtronic Mission – To Alleviate Pain, Restore Health and Extend Life. Very hard not to be inspired to get up and work each day!

What advice would you give to those recently qualified or currently studying for their
 CPA qualification?

The financial numbers are the table stakes. People skills and strategic partnering are what takes you to the next level. But on the financial numbers, you need to be able to, not only understand them but use your knowledge to be part of the forward-looking solution.

How do you unwind?

When I’m not working, I’m probably smoking food on the BBQ, watching Rugby or American Football.

What traits do you admire in others? 

The trait I admire most in others is those with an ability to achieve goals but put people first. Without people we will never succeed in the long term.