M. Claire O'Connor graduated with a BSc in Biochemistry in University College Dublin in 1977, and an MSc in Organizational Behaviour at Dublin University in 1979. She worked in treasury (Esso), corporate banking (Bank of America), investment banking (Westlb) and fund management (Irish Life). She was the CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland in 1998-2001. She held Board appointments in the Irish Energy Centre which became the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the Industrial Credit Corporation Plc, a state-owned bank with lending policies targeted at small and medium sized enterprises. She was Director of the National Disability Authority from 2001 to 2005 – a body which developed standards and codes of practice for inclusion of people with disabilities in Ireland. She served on the Irish Department of Agriculture's Independent Advisory Audit Committee for six years.