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Brightwater is one of the best Recruitment Consultancies in Northern Ireland. The brand is universally known and respected, and this is down to the incredibly hard working, loyal, smart and extraordinary staff who work at Brightwater.
Barbara McGrath, MD Brightwater Group

Barbara McGrath

Managing Director

Barbara McGrath is the Managing Director of the Brightwater Group which encompasses Brightwater, Brightwater Executive and Mentors of which she is Chairperson. She joined the company in 2005, was appointed to the board in 2011 and became MD of the Group in 2017.  In 2018, she was the driving force with two fellow directors in an MBO and is now concentrating on both organic growth as well as acquisitions of companies in synergy with the Brightwater Group.

Barbara’s background is in sales, operations and recruitment. She has over 20 years’ recruitment experience having worked in a high street agency. She is a former Chair of the Executive Institute of Ireland and a two term President of the National Recruitment Federation (NRF) where she was an integral part of the campaign lobbying government on behalf of the industry.

Barbara has a B.Comm and is MREC qualified. She is a Fellow of the Executive Institute of Ireland and an Honorary Fellow of the NRF.

Contact Barbara by email or connect with her on LinkedIn

John O'Donnell

John O’Donnell

Finance Director

John O’Donnell is the Finance Director of the Brightwater Group. He joined the company in 2002 as a financial controller. In January 2008 he was promoted to Finance Director and was appointed to the board in 2011. In 2018, John along with two of his fellow directors took part in an MBO. As well as being responsible for a busy finance department, John is an integral part of the leadership team driving the business forward through both organic and acquisitive growth.

Prior to joining Brightwater, John worked in the insolvency department of a large practice firm and then moved to an industry role as a financial accountant for a national radio station. After nearly three years, he then moved back into practice on the consultancy side for a further three years before commencing his career with the Brightwater Group.

John is a qualified FCCA and holds a Diploma in Accountancy & Finance. He is a Fellow of the NRF.

Contact John by email or connect with him on LinkedIn


Estelle Davis


Estelle Davis

Managing Partner - Executive Division

Board Director - Brightwater Group


BBS in International Business & Japanese. After working in Japan for three years as an interpreter & international business coordinator, she joined Brightwater in 2003 to build out the recently set up Insurance division. After various promotions she managed the financial services and insurance divisions from 2007 - 2011. She then led the set-up of Brightwater’s Executive which is now a team of six partners, whilst managing strategy for Brightwater Group divisions. She personally recruits executive level hires across insurance, funds and aviation leasing. In June 2017 Estelle was appointed to the board of Brightwater Group.

Estelle Davis

Managing Partner - Executive Division

Board Director - Brightwater Group


Estelle is the Managing Partner of Brightwater Executive and a Director of the Brightwater Group. She leads the Executive branch, focusing on senior management level assignments across VP, Director and C-Suite levels. Estelle joined Brightwater in 2003, initially on the insurance division before transferring to the financial services desk. She works with a variety of clients such as multinationals and private equity backed portfolio businesses. She is an expert in the financial services, banking, treasury, funds, insurance and aviation leasing sectors and has an innate understanding of her clients’ requirements as well as the sensitivities of recruiting business leaders.

Before joining Brightwater, Estelle worked as an International Relations Programme Officer in a regional government office in Japan for a year

Estelle holds a BBs in International Business & Japanese from DCU and is fluent in French and Japanese. She is a Fellow of the NRF

Contact Estelle by email or connect with her on LinkedIn

Gordon D'Arcy

Gordon D'Arcy

Commercial Director

Gordon joined Brightwater in September 2019 as Commercial Director of the Group where he plays an integral part in building client relationships and driving business growth across the island.

Gordon is Ireland’s longest serving rugby international and played at the highest level of the sport for over 17 years. His widely varied career includes best-selling children’s author, investment management, business consultancy, sports columnist and business owner. He is also a non-exec director for a global payments company and is an ambassador for several bodies including Barretstown, a non-profit organisation and 20x 20, an initiative for women in sport. He also was a member of the board of Paralympics Ireland for nearly four years.

Gordon has a BA in Economics from UCD as well as a Diploma in Innovation & Strategy from the Irish Management Institute

Contact Gordon by email or connect with him on LinkedIn


Aoife Clarke

Aoife Clarke

Commercial Director

Aoife is the Director of Operations and Administration for the Brightwater Group. One of the longest serving staff members of Brightwater having joined in 2000, she has responsibility for the day to day operations of the Group. This includes management of the Group’s administration team, the HR function, co-ordinating internal training, facilities management, reviewing and implementing systems and procedures as well as project implementation such as GDPR.  She is on the NRF Skillnet committee which specialises in meeting the training demands of the recruitment industry.

Prior to joining Brightwater, Aoife worked in various sales administration roles within the procurement and aviation sectors. 

Aoife is currently studying for a Diploma in HR Management with IBEC and holds Certificates in Computer Studies and Secretarial Practice. She is a Fellow of the NRF.

Contact Aoife by email or connect with her on LinkedIn


Cathal O Donnell





Cathal O Donnell

Regional Director - Engineering & Operations, Science and Supply Chain & Logistics

Cathal is Regional Director for Brightwater, managing both the Belfast office and overseeing the engineering, life sciences and supply chain recruitment divisions for the Dublin branch. Having joined Brightwater in 2010 initially as team leader of the engineering & construction team, he was appointed Regional Director in July 2018. With nearly 20 years’ experience recruiting for the technical sector, Cathal personally specialises in recruiting for senior level engineering professionals across engineering, construction and operations. He has a successful track record in large volume public sector recruitment assignments and works with a range of private and public sector clients both in Ireland and overseas.

Cathal began his recruitment career in 2000 focusing on IT before building a solid career in engineering recruitment with roles in Ireland and a three year stint in Australia and New Zealand where he gained expert knowledge in the mining, oil & gas, construction and consultancy sectors.

Cathal holds a BA in Accounting & HRM from the National College of Ireland as well as a Diploma in Employment Law. He is a Fellow of the NRF.

Contact Cathal by email or connect with him on LinkedIn


Conor O'Hagan



Conor O'Hagan

Manager - Belfast

Conor joined Brightwater in 2016 and has 4 years’ experience in technical services recruitment. He manages Brightwater’s Northern Ireland office where he oversees the teams recruiting for engineering, supply chain, sales & marketing, business support and accountancy & finance. His own team recruits for engineering & supply chain professionals across a broad variety of sectors such as manufacturing, civil, transport, warehousing, procurement and construction amongst others. He personally specialises in the areas of process, continuous improvement, manufacturing, production, maintenance, quality and design.

Prior to joining Brightwater, Conor gained over ten years’ experience of sales and operations across retail and sports betting brands where he gained superb business development and communication skills.

Conor holds a BSc in Management and Information Systems from Queen’s University.

Contact Conor by email or connect with him on LinkedIn


John Duffy

Jaime Henderson

Office Manager

Jaime joined Brightwater in 2016 as a part of the administration team and was promoted to Office Manager in 2020. She is responsible for the smooth running of Brightwater’s NI office which involves providing full administrative support to the team of consultants, assisting with payroll queries, credit control, facilities management and monitoring compliance issues. Jaime has a strong administrative background and has worked in various countries including Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Previous roles include a purchasing officer for a multinational food services company and an air hostess for a major airline.
Jaime gained a BA in Business & Marketing from Northumbria University

Contact Jaime by email or connect with her on LinkedIn


Karen Bellew

Karen Bellew

Senior Consultant - Business Support

Karen is Senior Consultant with Brightwater’s Business Support division in Belfast. She joined the Group in 2017. She has a proven track record on business support recruitment on a permanent, contract and temporary basis for clients ranging from SMEs to large multinationals and public sector bodies. Karen personally specialises in recruiting for temporary & contract business support roles and has developed an extensive network of clients by providing quality service with fast and efficient turn-around times. 

Karen’s background includes 7 years’ experience in IT/telecom sales in Northern Ireland as well as a 5 year stint working as a clerical office in the public sector. She brought a wealth of experience in sales, business development and operations as well as superb market knowledge.

Contact Karen by email or connect with her on LinkedIn


Mairead McConnell

Mairead McConnell

Consultant - Supply Chain & Logistics

Mairead is a consultant in Brightwater’s Supply Chain & Logistics team in the Belfast office. With over 6 years’ technical recruitment experience, she specialises in placing experienced professionals into supply chain & logistics roles.  Her client base ranges from SMEs to large multinationals in the distribution, agri/food, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors amongst others. Mairead has superb insights into the market as well as a natural ability to understand her clients’ technical skills requirements.

Prior to joining Brightwater in 2017, Mairead took her first steps in recruitment focusing on technical services recruitment. She also gained 2 years’ experience in quality control in the agri-food sector. Mairead holds a Certificate in Recruitment Practice as well as a BA in Philosophy from Queen’s University.
Contact Mairead by email or connect with her on LinkedIn


Kilian Gargan

Kilian Gargan

Consultant - Accountancy & Finance

Kilian joined Brightwater’s Accountancy & Finance team in 2018. He recruits specifically for qualified accountants from newly qualified stage up to director/partner level. He works with a broad range of clients across industry, practice and financial services in Northern Ireland. His accounting background makes him the ideal liaison between employers and potential employees as he understands both the technical skills and the cultural fit of each role’s requirements.   

Before he decided to put his academic qualification to use in recruitment, Kilian worked as a trainee accountant with an insurance company. It was there that he gained insights into the inner workings of a busy finance department which stand him in excellent stead within his current role.

Kilian has a BA in Accounting & Finance from Dublin City University.

Contact Kilian by email or connect with him on LinkedIn