Stephanie Sheehan


VP of Operations at Keelvar / Co-Founder of RebelCon


County Cork

One-On-One with Stephanie

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself, your job and how long you’ve lived in County Cork?

Hi my name is Stephanie. I’m VP of Operations at a tech startup called Keelvar. Keelvar evolved from Europe’s largest AI research lab which is located here in University College Cork. We help large companies across the globe to better manage their sourcing and procurement. Today we have two main offerings. The first applies AI, Game Theory and Algorithmic Mechanism Design to optimize the sourcing process to ensure our customers and their suppliers get the best results. The second offering is a suite of Bot’s which apply deep learning and AI to automate the sourcing process.

I began my career as a software developer for over 10 years before heading up engineering at another Cork company called Poppulo before moving into Operations.

I also co-founded a conference called RebelCon which runs here in Cork every year for the Software development community. I recently started a new series of female leadership events called RebelWomen to support the female tech community. Cork is known as “The Rebel County” which is where we took our name inspiration but also we believe that us techies are rebel thinkers who are changing the world as we know it!

I’ve lived in Cork for about 20 years now!

What attracted you to living and working in Cork ?

I initially moved to Cork for college. We have 2 universities here in Cork. University College Cork (UCC) and Munster Technical University (MTU). Cork has a really great student culture, both colleges are close to the city and the student population is embraced in Cork and it brings a great vibrancy and youth to the city.

But I’m also a country girl at heart and so a smaller city close to the sea and with gorgeous woodlands and mountains sits well with my soul!

Can you walk us through a day in the life of living in Cork ?

My typical day starts with a run. I live about 10km from the city center but I have a really great pedestrian greenway that means I can run all the way to the city along the river’s edge which is beautiful and full of wildlife.

Cork has some really great artisan coffee shops so I will definitely grab a coffee there. At the moment everything is a little restricted with Covid lockdowns but in a post Covid world I will head to work in the City Center or work from home. Evenings are generally filled with kids, homework, dinner and maybe a quick bike ride or we like to get out on our scooters along the river.

At the weekends we like to get out and about. My kids play hurling and football with the local GAA clubs and we will generally go for a hike or if it’s raining hit the city for cinema or bowling.

How would you describe transport within Cork ? Is it easy to get around ?

Cork is pretty easy to navigate. We have good bus connections around the city center and suburbs. If you have a bike we have some really great greenways that you can cycle to get out of the city and to some lovely locations.

West Cork has some fantastic coastal towns where you can swim, hike, or just chill out with the locals and those are very accessible via the local bus system

How fast/reliable is your home internet connection ?

I’m with Sky and I just checked my internet speed. It’s pretty good!

I’m currently working from home and the kids love gaming online or video conferencing with friends and we never have an issue.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite locations or attractions within Cork ?

Cork really has a lot to choose from. It has the amenities that you would expect of any great city. Restaurants, cafe’s and great shopping. I love visiting the Opera House to watch a play, popping into Crawford Art Gallery to browse the latest collections or taking a trip to Blackrock castle and observatory. 

Some of my favourite eateries are Cask for delicious tapas and cocktails or depending on the mood, Greenes restaurant for amazing fine dining or Son of a Bun for a hearty homemade burger.

I’m currently really loving the local woodlands and hiking routes;

The Galtee Mountains in North Cork. At over 3,000 feet they are the highest island mountain range in Ireland. Some spectacular views and a great walk.

Sheep’s head is a beautiful coastal walk in West Cork, around 93 km of unspoiled headland which forms part of Ireland’s Atlantic way.

If you fancy a little morning dip in the wild atlantic then Myrtleville Beach is the closest beach to Cork city and is a haven for sea swimmers. There is a gorgeous little restaurant near the beach called BunnyConnellans which is well worth a stop.

What advice do you have for individuals or families interested in relocating to Cork ?

Do it! 🙂 I think the decision is not, whether to move to Cork; but where in Cork to live! 

Whether you choose city living or country living the standard of living is excellent. Cork city has a modest population so no nasty traffic jams which makes commuting an easy option. The people are friendly, the schools and standard of education is very high in Ireland in general and Cork is very much up there with the best. 

The tech industry in Cork is booming, we have a huge amount of indigenous software companies and multinational companies headquartered here, so your dream job is at your fingertips.

So get moving, I’m looking forward to meeting you if you decide to make the leap!

Thank you very much Stephanie for taking the time to talk with us and thank you for representing Co. Cork as a Rural Ireland Tech Advocate. To learn more about Cork check out our county page here.

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