Katherine O’Brien is a longtime aviation finance professional based in Dublin, where she manages the office UMB opened earlier this year. Recently, Katherine and a client—another woman who works in aircraft finance and also happens to be a hiking enthusiast—participated in a charity hike to the top of Carrauntoohil. Katherine said, “The hike was a terrific opportunity to really get to know one client in a novel way, since we couldn’t visit offices due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

Located in County Kerry, Carrountoohil is Ireland’s highest peak at more than 3,400 feet. Katherine’s hiking companion was a German woman who had recently moved to Ireland, relocating from the U.S. Together, they epitomized both the international nature of Ireland’s aircraft finance community and its dedication to good causes.

The charity associated with the hike is Orbis Ireland. Orbis’ origins date back to the 1970s, when executives in both the aviation and medical industries collaborated to address global health problems. For many years, Orbis Ireland has sent twice-yearly missions to Ethiopia to provide both acute and preventative eye care.

Katherine is a longtime supporter of Orbis Ireland and has traveled twice to Ethiopia to help fundraise and support these missions. She is a two-time participant in the Great Ethiopian Run, a 10-kilometer race held at 10,000 feet above sea level in the capital of Addis Ababa, an event that attracts some 40,000 participants from all over Africa and further afield.

With Ireland’s COVID-19 restrictions easing up, Katherine is pleased to be back in the office. The local team recently welcomed a pair of UMB colleagues from Salt Lake City, where the bulk of UMB’s airline-focused specialty trust business is based. She joined the team in traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland for the first in-person conference in many months. She describes sense of “mood lift” from everyone being together again.

And by “everyone,” in the Irish aviation industry, Katherine is referring to its small but mighty band of colleagues across the more than 40 aircraft leasing companies based in and around Dublin. Prior to joining UMB, in fact, Katherine was employed at a client-firm of UMB. She describes the opportunity to sit on the other side of the desk, as “exciting,”—though also challenging given the pandemic’s impacts.

Looking ahead, Katherine would not rule out a future meeting atop another of Ireland’s peaks.

Katherine OBrien

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