Meeting the Barden Team…Fionnán O’Sullivan

Fionnán O'Sullivan

Fionnán O’Sullivan is Managing Partner with the financial services practice in Barden. He is an expert in financial services and asset management careers and is heading up our Cork office.

Fionnán joined the financial services practice in Barden in September 2019.

We caught up recently with Fionnán to find out more about him.

Where are you from?

I’m from Douglas in Cork.

I bought my first house in Donnybrook, and it took me 7 years to get back to Douglas, the village!! We got a house 2 years ago, which is a fixer upper…it’s fixed but not upped yet.

My father is from Bere Island, West Cork, which is my spiritual home. I spent a lot of my childhood there and even played Gaelic football for them for 10 years.

How old were you when you had your first paying job?

I was in 4th year in secondary school and worked in Next.

Can you tell us a bit about your professional background?

I went to UCC, where I studied a degree in economics and math’s. Following that I went to Australia, and travelled a bit of the world, for a year and a half.

When I got back my Mam advised me about a role in Bank of New York Mellon, and not long after I started there as a junior fund accountant. Through the years I worked my way up to manager and spent a lot of time working on projects. It was great experience and I also got to travel quite a bit for work to lots of places including India and Manchester.

When I joined there was a team of 30 people. They were led by a very motivated management team who grew the company and drove the business to great success. In later years things started to change and more specifically my role. This was something I didn’t like and really struggled with, and it motivated me to start looking around.

In total I stayed with them for 6.5 years before making a move to the world of recruitment.

Why did you decide to get into recruitment?

The short answer is I didn’t!

I was looking for a new role in a bank and went to meet a recruiter, who didn’t turn up! Instead I met the company director and after chatting she offered me a job in recruitment. I took the offer and worked with Hays recruitment in Cork for 2 years.

I then decided to open up myself and launched Oliver Mall (named after the two main business streets in Cork).

What made you decide to join the financial services practice in Barden?

I ran Oliver Mall for 4 years. More recently I kept coming up against Barden a lot in the Cork market. I knew the team, and met Jonathan Olden at a black-tie dinner. We had a chat about things and following the event met for coffee. We were very aligned in our values; I also knew the great reputation of Barden and when Jonathan mentioned that Barden wanted to set up a financial services aspect of the business it was a bit of a no-brainer. It took a while to sort it all out, but we got there and in September 2019 I came on board to lead things for the financial services practice in Cork.

What’s your role in the financial services practice of Barden?

I’m Managing Partner of the financial services practice of Barden, and head of asset management and banking. I look after everything outside of Dublin and support the Dublin team when it comes to asset management and banking in that area.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

My family…my wife and two small kids, who are three and five. I want to create the nicest environment and life possible for them.

Also, a key motivator for me was my experience in BNY Mellon. Towards the end of my time there I was the guy who was struggling when my role changed. I felt I didn’t have anyone I could reach out to or talk to about options, or for help. At the time I remember thinking I would have loved to talk to a good strong recruiter who could help guide and advise me, and who was ultimately there to help.

Based on that experience I’m really motivated to help others, especially in a similar position, and to help them change their circumstances for the better.

What three words best describe you?

Curious, intuitive, analytical.

Who is your role model, and why?

My parents. They’ve instilled really good values in me (well I hope!). They have been a very steady, positive and encouraging influence throughout my life, and they never crossed into pushy parents.

What do you think other people should know about the financial services practice of Barden?

I think that what people should know is that we first think about how to help, then think about what the right thing to do is, and then think about the commercial aspect.

Everywhere else operates in the opposite direction, and sadly often the very last thing done is to do the right thing and what’s actually best for the person in question.

The thing about the financial services practice of Barden is a lot of people say they are different and operate in a certain way. We actually do it and live it day to day. The fact we are trying to do it right is amazing. We really care about people, and we actually follow through.

What kind of roles and companies do you work with?

Primarily banks, asset managers, investment companies. At the moment it’s every level/role from very junior to very senior.

What’s your biggest achievement?

From a professional perspective, it’s opening up a company and building a business.

Personally, it’s having kids and building a family.

What’s your favourite quote?

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford

Who would win a fight between Spiderman, Batman and Wonder-Woman?



Need help achieving your ambitions?

Are you a financial services professional looking for help in achieving your ambitions? If so get in touch with Fionnán at who is ready with lots of CV, LinkedIn, interview and career advice along with cutting edge market insights.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to and we will take it from there. Easy.

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