Marine Institute Employee Wins a "PA of the Year" Award


Helen Boles, personal assistant to Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, has won the Training Education & Human Resource Personal Assistant of the Year category in Dublin today (November 8th). Helen, who also fulfils the roles of Board Secretary, Events Manager and Contracts Manager at the Marine Institute joined the organisation in 1995, shortly after it was founded. Outside of work Helen plays an active role in fundraising for the Galway lifeboat, and is a keen member of the National Maritime Ball Committee which raises €60K approx each year for the RNLI. 

“Helen has proved herself an indispensable key ingredient of the Marine Institute’s success over the last decade and more,” said Dr. Heffernan. “Her immense professionalism and warm personality ensures that all professional interactions are handled perfectly; whether she is dealing with Heads of Government, Ministers, Ambassadors, VIPs from the private & public sectors, national and international clients, or any of the staff and service providers to the Institute.”

Helen Boles obtained a BTEC Higher Diploma in Business Studies in 1984 from the Belfast College of Further Education, BA (Hons) in Public Management from the Institute of Public Administration in 2000.  She was initially employed by Fermanagh District Council as Clerical Administrator in Fermanagh Country Museum from 1984-1987 where she obtained her first introduction to events management.

In January 1988 she took up employment as Office Administrator for Maurice Apple & Co, Chartered Accounts, Marble Arch, London, moving to Solomn & Co Hotel Group as Office Manager in September 1989.   In May 1991 Helen returned to Dublin where she worked for Tennant & Ruttle Distribution and 3M Ireland.  In September 1992 she took up the position of PA to the Finance Director in the Irish Cancer Society. She is currently studying for the Higher Diploma in Public Relations in Galway, where the Marine Institute is based.

“I would consider myself very fortunate in having the opportunity to work for the Marine Institute,” said Helen. “It’s a dynamic organisation carrying out research & innovation to support and developing Ireland’s marine sector. As an organisation it values its staff and in doing so I believe creates a culture and environment which leads to a very motivated workforce.”

Helen also has a keen interest in music. She obtained her Associate of the London College of Music Diploma in the late 1970’s and has gone on to teach piano both for practical and theoretical examinations through the London College of Music. She regularly plays the church organ in her local church in Fermanagh.

“I have always found Helen willing to go far beyond the extra mile in her role as my PA,” added Dr. Heffernan. “She enjoys my total confidence and respect and has been an invaluable sounding board for me on many of the most challenging issues faced by the Marine Institute over the years. I value greatly her common sense and wisdom which, when combined with absolute discretion, you have a winning formula for the perfect PA!” 


For further information, please contact:
Dr. John Joyce – Communications Manager
Phone: 087 2250871

Notes to Editor

Helen Boles – further background

Appointed as PA to CEO in August 1995 and then promoted in June 2002 to undertake the additional roles of Board Secretary and Contracts Manager areas.

Helen also acts as Corporate Events Manager and, over past 7 years, has organised many national and international events for the Marine Institute including:

  • Marine Institute 10th Anniversary Conference (2000) – Dublin Castle
  • Commissioning of the National Research Vessel Celtic Explorer  - 2003
  • Irish Presidency Events – 2004:

        * International Council for the Exploration of the Seas – Dublin Castle
        * EurOcean 2004
        * EFARO

  • Official Opening by An Taoiseach of the Marine Institute Headquarters, Oranmore – 2007
  • 30th Virginia Law of the Sea Conference – July 2007
  • EU Maritime Green Paper National Consultation Conference - 2007

Helen has also played an active part on the Institute’s Partnership Committee and has contributed to a number of the key achievements which include:

  • Marine Institute Merit Awards Scheme
  • Artwork Sub-Group
  • Oranmore Headquarters Design Liaison Group


The Marine Institute

The Marine Institute was created under the Marine Institute Act in 1991 to “undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist” in the development of marine research and development in Ireland. Since its early days in Harcourt Street Dublin, it has grown into an internationally respected science body with over 220 staff, two purpose-built vessels – RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, a research facility near Newport, Co. Mayo and now a brand new headquarters and laboratory on the shores of Galway Bay.

To learn more about the Marine Institute visit the Marine Institute Website.


The Pedestals of Recognition PA of the Year Award

The PA of the Year Award ceremony, designed to recognise Ireland’s top PA’s, Secretaries and Executive Assistants, who play such a pivotal role in business, took place today (November 8th) at the Fire Restaurant in Dawson Street Dublin. The Awards Programme is in its 4th consecutive year.