The Liverpool University graduate trained at Darlington College before starting her journalism career as a cub reporter on the Derby Evening Telegraph, going on to work for the Oxford Mail and UK News before moving into television as a producer for ITN.

In 12 years she worked in a number of departments including Westminster, Five News, London Tonight and ITV News before in 2007 moving to the North West to take up the post of head of news at ITV Border. Her portfolio there expanded to cover the Tyne Tees region and Houlihan oversaw a major restructure of both news regions in 2008/9.

She moved back South again in November 2009 as head of news for ITN Anglia but returned to Border last September for her current role.