Ireland’s premier energy provider ESB has been in existence since 1927 and remains majority owned by the Irish government. It has a workforce of 7,900 people, of which around 200 are HR professionals, and operates across the electricity markets in Ireland and the UK, from generation and distribution through to supplying power to businesses and households.

I really believe what this partnership gives is a win-win for the CIPD and ESB in terms of future development and professionalisation of the HR function.

Orla Maher - HR Capability Manager, ESB

ESB is delighted to be the first company in Ireland to be recognised as a CIPD People Development Partner. This is an endorsement of the professional standards of our HR function and more importantly, our practice of putting people front and centre of everything we do.

Pat Naughton - Executive Director of People and Organisation Development, ESB


It is a significant achievement for ESB to be named the first CIPD People Development Partner in Ireland. It is fitting recognition for our HR team which will serve us well in attracting future talent and in our interactions with the wider business world.

Joyce Farrell - HR Manager, ESB


Being a CIPD People Partner will help our HR professionals to keep learning and evolving; the best way to position us as Business Partners and enablers of change.

Tom McMahon - Capability, Development and Resourcing Manager, ESB


CIPD Ireland see the ESB as an outstanding example of an organisation that is committed to continuously raising the bar of HR professionalisation, and I am thrilled they are the first company in Ireland to gain CIPD People Development Partner status. We are looking forward to continuing this partnership and our work towards growing the current and next generation of people professionals.

Mary Connaughton - Director of CIPD Ireland

ESB has had a longstanding relationship with the CIPD in Ireland, contributing to research, offering opinion and providing representation on the national committee. It has also hosted CIPD meetings and made a significant contribution to events.


‘We do believe in that “giving back” aspect of partnership,’ says Orla Maher, HR Capability Manager at ESB. ‘Because the CIPD are the professional body for HR, they are the organisation we look to for guidance and support – and for a standard of professionalism that we aim to adhere to.’

Orla describes People Development Partner (PDP) status as ‘a perfect marriage’ that has benefited from great timing. ESB was in the midst of launching a new people strategy when PDP came onto the HR function’s radar.

Aligning the strategy with PDP standards has allowed ESB to speed up the HR function’s ‘journey of professionalisation’. A key aspect of this is close alignment of HR and Learning & Development practices with the CIPD’s new Profession Map.

While ESB has its own career and competencies framework, the HR team has in recent years made sure that competencies and people-focused learning programmes are in harmony with CIPD standards.

Another example is ESB’s HR Business Partner learning and development programme, facilitated in-house by the CIPD. ‘Because we are a diverse, geographically dispersed organisation, it’s great to be able to bring the business partner community together on a regular basis. And we have had great feedback internally,’ says Orla.

The emphasis ESB places on learning is underlined by the fact that it is a recognised CIPD study centre – the only employer-led qualification centre in Ireland accorded this status. For over 20 years it has run a highly regarded HR for Line Managers programme and is also noted for its apprenticeship scheme for network technicians, which at any one-time has several hundred participants.


Orla says, ESB has ‘completed quite a number of steps’ on its professionalisation journey over the past couple of years. But there are further opportunities yet to be realised.

‘We have agreed next steps and we want to do that in partnership with the CIPD. We want to do things like supporting our senior leaders and other HR professionals to attain or upgrade their chartered membership status. And we want to explore opportunities for aligning other programmes that we have.’

Moreover, ESB intends to shine a light on other potential opportunities arising out of the PDP relationship. And what better business can there be for shining a light than a widely admired electricity supplier?

To find out more about becoming a CIPD People Development Partner, get in touch with the team by emailing

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