A recognized expert in Foreign Direct Investment, offshore development and international business expansion, Andrea Haughian has helped C-Level executives accelerate business growth, maximize profitability and facilitate recruitment, training and R&D.
Andrea’s experience spans a diverse range of sectors including technology, financial services, legal and professional services, healthcare, BPO and global start-ups.
Andrea is proud to showcase the talents of home-grown companies and innovators. Andrea helps NI entrepreneurs make connections with advocates and influencers in the US to help local companies aim higher and succeed faster in the challenging US market.
Andrea is an advocate for the advancement of women and the promotion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and is a long-time supporter of Young Enterprise. Andrea is often asked to moderate and contribute to expert panels, is a frequent public speaker, active social media contributor and works with both national and regional governments.
Andrea received the Global Recognition Award at the Digital DNA Awards 2019. The Global Recognition Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant impact on Northern Ireland’s digital and technology sector on a global scale. Andrea is a past Irish Echo Top 40 Under 40 Awards honouree and has been named as one of Irish America’s Most Influential Women by the Irish Voice.
Before joining Invest Northern Ireland’s New York office, Andrea worked in the Financial Services sector in Belfast with BDO Northern Ireland. Prior to that, Andrea worked for many years in international trade, marketing and business development in Europe, the US and Asia.
Andrea is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast, has undertaken post-graduate programs in both San Francisco and Chicago and is a graduate of Cornell University’s Executive Leadership Programme.
Andrée is the Deputy Director of Relatives for Justice. She led and directed a Peace III funded programme for women bereaved by conflict highlighting their needs in a transitional justice and conflict resolution environment. This was and remains a unique project of its kind. Andree is a reputable journalist and political commentator, specializing in written and broadcast analysis regarding conflict resolution and women’s empowerment. She is a founder member of the multi-disciplinary Gender Legacy Implementation Group which developed the Gender Principles for Dealing with the Legacy of the Past and associated documents.
Andrée has been part of an extensive political lobby on the need to apply UNSCR1325 to the Stormont House Agreement Legacy Mechanisms. This work has included international advocacy in both the US and Europe, speaking at a US Congressional Hearing of the Tom Lantos Commission on the subject of the need to apply UNSCR1325 to the proposals for dealing with the past, and the UN Committee against Torture regarding the ongoing lack of implementation of agreed mechanisms and the impact on families affected by the conflict.
Aodhán Connolly is the director of the NI Retail Consortium, responsible for engagement with the NI Assembly, Westminster, the Oireachtas and Europe. He has been to the fore of the Brexit debate with the NIRC’s Fair Deal for Consumers Brexit campaign. He has worked with government at all levels to champion 21st Century High streets including on planning reform, regeneration and future strategy. He has recently published a go to guide for councillors on retail for local government partnership working. He is part of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland’s Business Advisory Panel, a member of the Government’s DExEU Alternative Arrangements Working Group, and a panel member for the NI Food Certification Committee.
A past Chair of the N. Ireland Bar’s Human Rights Advisory Committee, Barry specialises in judicial review, with a particular interest in human rights and constitutional issues. He has been a Queen’s Counsel since 2000 (having been obliged to take his own judicial review to challenge – and ultimately reverse – the Lord Chancellor’s refusal to change a declaration of service to the Queen as part of the appointment procedure) and Senior Counsel in the Republic of Ireland since 2001. He appeared in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and has represented families in a number of major inquests and judicial reviews arising out of legacy cases, including the family of Pat Finucane. He was recently involved in challenging the UK Government’s policy on Brexit and is currently engaged in litigation concerning the vacuum in government in Northern Ireland following the collapse of the devolved institutions. Barry represents journalist Trevor Birney in his judicial review against the police arising out of the raid on his home and business premises.
Billie-Jo McDowell is a qualified social worker, having recently graduated from Queen’s University Belfast. Billie-Jo’s passion is ensuring education is accessible for all, regardless of the barriers they may face, in particular those who are care-experienced.
Having grown up in foster care and residential care, Billie-Jo has a deep understanding of the factors that impact educational attainment for Looked After Children and Care-Experienced people.
Given individual influences and the support of a range of people, Billie-Jo was able to attain top grades in school and is a two-time graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, having graduated in 2016 with B.Sc. Geography and in 2019 with BSW Social Work.
Billie-Jo aims to promote change to allow other care-experienced people the same educational opportunities she had. With support and encouragement from key players, Billie-Jo has been able to create a platform that has promoted discussion and policy developments regarding care-experienced young people and education over the past five years. This has led to developments in resource allocation for care-experienced young people attending further and higher education at governmental and organisational levels and has raised awareness of the needs of those who are care-experienced.
Billie-Jo continues to use her experience to promote the experience of care-experienced people in a range of settings and helps to deliver training to a range of professionals primarily regarding safeguarding and service user experience.
In the past few years, Billie-Jo has been involved in a range of regional and international opportunities, ranging from advocational to leadership development. She was part of the Washington Ireland Programme for Service and Leadership Class of 2018 and spent two months in Washington DC, interning with the Brady Campaign for Prevention of Gun Violence and engaging in a range of service activities and professional development activities. Billie-Jo also sits on several panels and boards regarding service evaluation and development as well as a number of charitable organisations.
Now a qualified social worker, Billie-Jo hopes to continue her work in promoting positive futures for all through advocation, campaigning and service development.
A career spanning 40 years in the aviation industry has included 20 years with Bombardier holding senior positions in Engineering and Business Development.
Joining BCA as Director of Operations, Brian was subsequently appointed CEO in 2004. Today the airport operates 110 flights daily, has an annual passenger throughput of 2.6m and over 1,600 work at the Airport.
He is Chair Phoenix Natural Gas, a Trustee of Titanic Foundation and Board Member of Business in the Community.
Brian is the past Chair of CBI Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland. He was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours 2011.
Colin Mounstephen is a Director at Deloitte. He has worked extensively across the public, private and third sectors, enjoying the challenge of progressing some of the big regeneration, tourism and economic development opportunities for the city of Belfast over the last two decades. In recent years, using bespoke training academies, Colin has developed a robotics team of over 30 people combining business and leading edge technical skills, adding to Deloitte’s technology capabilities in Belfast.
MBA- Chief Executive Hospitality Ulster
Colin Neill joined Hospitality Ulster (the representative body of Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry) as Chief Executive in August 2008, representing an industry that sustains over 60,000 jobs and contributes in excess of £1BM annually to the NI economy.
In addition to the day to day operations of Hospitality, Ulster Colin is also responsible for the industries’ strategic lobby and spends a significant amount of time engaging with senior politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly and at Westminster. Colin is also a Board member of Tourism Northern Ireland.
Colin holds an MBA from Ulster University.
Daniel Crawford :founder of axial3D, an enthusiastic and driven individual with a strong educational track record relating to axial3D, having obtained both a BSc Hons in Biomedical Engineering and an MSc in Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy. The MSc obtained was the first of its kind in Europe and Daniel was the first of three students to obtain the degree. Daniel’s published post graduate thesis with distinction was based on three-dimensional imaging techniques in medicine, focusing mainly on the use of 3D printing. This allowed Daniel to develop the skills necessary to create 3D printed models for use in a wide variety of medical applications and research how this technology could be incorporated into the medical field as a viable business.
Since the beginning of 2014, Daniel has been working to realise axial3D as a viable start-up venture. Daniel has also graduated from the Catalyst Springboard program & MIT’s Entrepreneur Development Program, helping to hone axial3D’s commercialisation strategy, reduce the Company’s’ go-to
market risk and make axial3D ready for international scale. Daniel has been successful in raising over £3,500,000 in both equity and government-backed finance.
axial3D is now a successful business with international reach, working with some of the leading healthcare institutions globally. It employees 21 people in Belfast and the US and is recognized internationally as a leader in machine learning & 3D printing in the field of medicine to improve patient care.
David Dobbin was appointed to the Board in 2012 and took up the position of Chairman in 2015. He has extensive board level experience across the private, public and voluntary sectors and is actively involved in promoting regional economic development and the UK Agrifood Sector. He is currently a member of the KPMG Northern Ireland Advisory Board.
David has wide industrial experience having previously held a number of senior executive roles in Dale Farm, Boxmore International, Dalgety, C&C and Rothmans International. He has also served as Chairman of a number of organisations including: Dairy UK, Ulster Rugby Management Committee, the Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association, the Strategic Investment Board, Inter Trade Ireland, the Prince’s Trust NI, CBI NI, the NI Centre for Competitiveness and as President of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade. He has also served as a Non-Executive on the boards of Food from Britain, the NI Agrifood Strategy Board, Invest NI, BT Ireland, Queen’s University Senate and was Vice Chairman of the Ireland/Northern Ireland 2023 Rugby World Cup Bid.
Ed is a Board Member of BT Northern Ireland, Deputy Chair of Queen’s University Foundation, a Belfast Harbour Commissioner and holds various Non-Executive roles in the private sector.
From 2011 until 2014 he was Asset Management Advisor to the NI Executive. Ed was awarded an OBE for services to economic development in 2012 and holds an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University for exceptional services to business and commerce.
Ed has 20 years industry experience, the first 12 were in the Telecoms sector in various sales, marketing and product management role, followed by almost 8 in cyber security
This includes 7 years international business with F-Secure. He launched multiple products globally into the B2B space including a mobile VPN, a secure IoT router for the ‘smart home’ and secure personal cloud storage. He was part of the team that launched the cloud storage product within F-Secure, working on it for 3 years. He also consulted on customer journey projects with Tier 1 Telecoms brands in the UK, Sweden, Finland, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Ed is now head of Sales for Uleska, a cyber security business specialising in automated web application security testing and risk reporting.
Fiona is Queens Counsel at the Bar of Northern Ireland specialising in Coronial Law and Judicial Review. She is Chair of the Bar of Northern Ireland’s Professional Conduct Committee. Fiona is a Board Member of The PILS Project (Public Interest Litigation Support) an NGO which encourages adherence to the rule of law, human rights and equality, through the use of public interest litigation in Northern Ireland and a former Chair and Board Member of the Committee on the Administration of Justice. Fiona will provide a case study of the litigation concerning the murder of solicitor Patrick Finucane, in which she has represented Mrs Finucane before the European Court of Human Rights and the UK Supreme Court. Fiona is instructed in many legacy inquests, and has recently appeared for families of those bereaved as a result of atrocities at Kingsmill, Ballymurphy and Loughinisland.
Judge Schott is a valedictorian graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law, a former Deputy Attorney General for the State of New Jersey and a founding member of the law firm of Genova Burns & Schott (now Genova Burns). One of the youngest individuals ever appointed as a Judge of the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, Judge Schott served on the bench for 25 years, presiding over cases in the Civil, Criminal and Family Divisions of the Court. Recently returning to the private sector, Judge Schott is presently an independent consultant. In that capacity she advises lawyers on litigation strategies in complex cases, acts as an independent arbitrator and mediator and conducts workplace investigations into claims of discrimination and/or harassment.
Judge Schott is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She is a member of the National Association of Women Judges and the International Association Woman Judges. She was recently honored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians for her contributions to the local Irish Community and in 2018 was honored to receive a Belfast Ambassador Award.
Gareth Graham is the Managing Director of Oakland Holdings, the development company behind Belfast’s most exciting commercial development. Oakland is currently completing the Merchant Square project, a 10 storey commercial building which is transforming the centre of Belfast and which will has been let entirely to PwC in what will be the Firm’s largest premises in the UK outside London.
Gareth lives in Belfast and is a former pupil of St Malachys college. He is committed to the ongoing development of Belfast and to ensuring that the city meets its full potential. Oakland works in partnership with Belfast City Council and other statutory agencies was the main sponsor of the Belfast delegation which travelled to the MIPPIM 2019 conference earlier this year.
Gareth has a young family and he enjoys a range of sports including gaelic football where he is an under age coach with with his local club St Brigids
Gemma is a solicitor with the Committee on the Administration of justice (CAJ), which is an independent human rights organisation with cross community membership in Northern Ireland and beyond. A key area of her work is on legacy matters and addressing the obligation on the state to investigate unresolved deaths and torture arising from the conflict. This includes appearing for next of kin in inquest and judicial review proceedings and making representations to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, UN Human Rights Committee and Committee against Torture. Gemma will outline CAJ’s regular engagement with the Committee of Ministers, as it oversees the UK’s compliance with Strasbourg court judgments into a number of deaths, including that of Pat Finucane, in which it was found to have violated Article 2 ECHR (right to life).
As President and CEO of Unosquare Giancarlo Di Vece believes software engineering and success in business can be used to actively and positively impact the community. His vision, is one of a smaller more connected world and he actively works on brining opportunities closer to every community where his company operates. This refreshing viewpoint, along with his leadership and passion for technology, globalization, and IT recruitment talent, has led to thousands of business projects successfully completing their digital transformation initiatives with Unosquare in creative and pioneering ways.
Giancarlo focuses his organization’s efforts on the financial services and life sciences space, as he trusts that these are the organizations that impact the way people live and interact with one another every day. Under Giancarlo’s direction, he and his team actively seek the best talent and then places them into processes and practices for distributed agile augmentation. With over 600 distributed staff this is the future of collaboration.
Always looking for a challenge, Giancarlo started gainfully buying and growing businesses at a young age. At the age of 21, he purchased a small craft company dedicated to the North American market and transformed it into a 100-person operation selling to some of the largest retailers in the US. In 2013, with a background in industrial engineering, he decided to move into the technology industry by joining Unosquare and quickly embraced his role of transforming the organization to align with client needs.
By caring about the community, its people, and the future of inclusive business, Unosquare has been named on of the 100 fastest-growing private businesses in Oregon for 5 years in a row and one of the fastest-growing US companies on the Inc. 5000 list for 5 years in a row as well, an achievement only companies of the likes of Microsoft and Oracle have seen in their history. Giancarlo’s enthusiasm and contributions have been sought out as inspiration for others, and he is often invited to write and speak on the topics that influence the industry.
Glyn Roberts has been Chief Executive of Retail NI (formerly NIIRTA) since January 2008 after serving seven years as Head of Parliamentary Affairs with the Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland.
Glyn was appointed as Chairman of Colleges NI in November 2014. Previously he was a member of the South Eastern Regional College Governing Body. He was also was Vice Chair of the NI Stronger In Europe campaign.
In December 2015, Glyn was appointed to the steering group of the 2016 Year of Food and Drink and as Chair of its Skills Group. He is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Forum on Apprenticeships.
He is also a former Vice-Chairman of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (2011-12
As chief financial officer, Jack is responsible for providing strategic leadership to the Finance Department while also working closely with MRP’s parent company, First Derivatives, on corporate-level priorities. As MRP’s senior representative in Belfast, Jack works closely with the office of over 200 sales and marketing professionals focused on creating value for EMEA-R clients, developing future MRP leaders, and growing the overall operation. He is also a valued contributor to efforts aimed at bringing in new investors to Belfast and at strengthening Belfast’s profile as a great international business city.
Jack earned his MBA from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business. Prior to this he spent seven years at Johnson & Johnson where he held roles in finance, marketing, and business development. Jack was recognized as a Visionary Leader by J&J Senior Management for his contributions to the company and his success in forging strategic alliances to support high potential products. Jack graduated from La Salle University with a bachelor of science in finance and accounting. Outside of the office, he remains active with his alma mater, along with a number of organizations committed to the betterment of Ireland.
Jim leads his own strategy and public affairs consultancy and has advised dozens of clients across sectors and the Atlantic. He is also Senior Fellow at the Boston Foundation, a leading US community philanthropy for which he led award-winning public affairs from 2005-10.
Rooney lived in the UK from 2011-17 where he served as a co-founding co-director (non-executive) of the Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of London; he also earned an MPA at Harvard Kennedy School. He earlier served as Vice President of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, Director of Policy/Associate Director at CEOs for Cities, and as Director of Community and Government Relations at Brown University, where he earned a BA in Ethics and Political Philosophy.
Jim also serves as an Ambassador for the Community Foundation of Northern Ireland, advises the Boston-Belfast Sister City Partnership, and keynoted the Belfast Business School launch. He served on the Obama-Biden Urban and Metropolitan Policy Advisory Committee and has provided commentary to media including BBC Radio Ulster, Foyle, and Surrey. His family hails from Belfast.
Jane Hollway is a Director of the Legal Innovation Centre, which is a unique, multi-disciplinary research and education unit within Ulster University. It brings together experts from the School of Law and the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems to explore the interaction between legal services, access to justice and technology.
The Centre provides education to equip legal graduates and professionals with tools to navigate the emerging tech-driven landscape, whist undertaking collaborations with industry clients, public sector and the academic community, to research and better understand the impact of lawtech, and capitalise on the benefits of tech-enabled practice.
Jane qualified as a solicitor in 1997, having spent training periods in the Dublin and Brussels offices of corporate firm, McCann FitzGerald, where she was Partner in its Project Finance Group, before joining Arthur Cox as Partner to lead its Projects Team in Belfast. She has extensive transactional and regulatory experience, prior to joining the University.
Jayne joined Kernel Capital 2013 having held a Senior Executive role in Kernel Capital portfolio company Intune Networks since 2007. Jayne’s investment focus is ICT, Telecoms and Big Data. Jayne was Chairman of the Institute of Engineering and Technology in Northern Ireland (2013/2014), and holds and has held a number of advisory and board roles with organisations focused on economic and social development including Digital NI 2020, the NI Media Cluster, Momentum the trade body representing the ICT sector in NI and the NSPCC.
Jayne’s career has involved leadership positions with both multinationals and start-ups, across a variety of operational and executive roles. Jayne has lived and worked in culturally and politically complex environments in a variety of global locations including Europe, China India and North America. Roles have included international sales, business development, corporate due diligence and ownership of a range of cross functional technical projects of scale. Prior to joining Kernel Capital Jayne spent six years with Intune Networks, as VP of Product Line Management, having previously held senior positions with Flextronics and Nortel.
Jayne holds a 1st Class Masters in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (M.Eng) from Queen’s University Belfast, is a Fellow of the IET and is currently undertaking the Institute of Directors Chartered Director Programme (2016).
President of the Brehon Law Society of New York
Jennifer is an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and an attorney in New York. A first generation American, Jennifer’s mother was born in Co. Sligo and her father was born in Istria, Croatia. Jennifer is the first in her family to become a lawyer.
Jennifer entered the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, a law school with a mission of ‘law in the service of human needs’. She received her Juris Doctorate in 2007. For the past decade, Jennifer has represented and litigated civil rights cases on behalf of families of children with learning, physical and emotional disabilities at the local, state and federal levels. In 2016, Jennifer was elected as president of the Brehon Law Society of New York, a law society founded in 1978 by Paul O’Dwyer and Frank Durkan and dedicated to peace and justice in Ireland.
Jennifer lives in New York City with her husband, Jared, a national broadcast news network writer and producer, and their two year old daughter, Hope Maire Crawford
My name is Jenny Gregg, the founder of Crafted Equestrian and I am a competitive horsewoman of over 10 years. I am a recent graduate from Ulster University with a First Class Honors degree in Product Design. From a young age I have always loved making and fixing things and have always looked for subjects that allowed me to do this, while at school doing Art and Technology Design then combing these for university.
It was while studying at university I was able to combine my love of horses and their welfare with design. Undertaking a creative entrepreneurship module, we were given the opportunity to start a theoretical business from a product we would design. The product I choose to design, I previously created for my own pony and this module gave me the opportunity to explore its commercial potential.
This is where my business journey began and Crafted Equestrian started. The first product Crafted Equestrian will launch will be our pressure relieving girth. Our patented solution has been designed to prevent a common injury called girth galls from occurring behind the horse’s front legs. Our girth can be customised to suit any horse or pony individually, relieving pressure in the most sensitive areas but yet allows for the girth to be fully tightened and helps improve horse comfort, performance and welfare.
Over the past 2 years while finishing my degree I have been developing Crafted Equestrian’s pressure relieving girth. This involved gaining fantastic support and funding from Ulster University to file my UK patent, branding help and the opportunity to compete at an International pitch off in America and which resulted in wining funding. I also have been part of the Ulster Bank Accelerator programme which has taught me many skills around pitching, running a successful business and amazing mentorship. During this time, I also took part in Invent 2018 winning the Agri-science and Student categories and most recently received the Grant Thornton Award at the Student Entrepreneurship Awards ran by Enterprise Ireland.
I have also continued to compete at a national and international level and most recently was on the Northern Ireland European Mounted Games team this summer. This put our product to the test and produced great results.
Date of Birth: December 2, 1944
My parents immigrated from Co. Cork Ireland to Butte, MT– my mother with her family and my father alone to work in the mines in Butte with his three uncles. I graduated from Butte Central High School, which was run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland. Following High School, I joined the US Navy and served in Southeast Asia and South America. After finishing my tour of duty, I returned to work in the mines in Butte, graduated from college, taught school in Canada and became a bank examiner. I have worked in banking for the past 50 years and am now semi-retired.
I am married to Kay, and together we have three children–Devin, Tara and Keely–and six grandchildren–Redmond, Frances, Finnegan, Peter, Ruth and Bernadette.
Joanna Robinson is a Real Estate Partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons. She has experience of all areas of commercial property including acquisitions and disposals, lettings, development agreements, joint venture arrangements and Real estate aspects of corporate acquisitions, disposals and re-financing projects. Joanna’s clients include major institutional investors, whose projects are at the forefront of transforming Belfast as a place to live and work. She sits on Pinsent Masons’ Brexit Response Group and is a regular commentator on how Brexit will impact on real estate and investment in the region.
Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour
Joe joined Belfast Harbour in 1997, holding a number of roles including Commercial Manager and Port Manager as well as Commercial Director until his appointment as CEO in 2018. Prior to joining the Port, Joe held positions with Undus Ltd and Cantrell and Cochrane Ltd. Joe is currently a board member of the Simon Community.
John Finucane qualified as a solicitor in 2008 and in 2011 founded the firm of Finucane Toner Solicitors. The practice is a recognised leader in the field of criminal defence and human rights. John was one of 5 young international lawyers celebrated in New York based NGO Human Rights First in 2008 as lawyers to watch for the future. John is the son of Pat Finucane and is a long term campaigner for The Pat Finucane Inquiry. John has recently entered politics and in May 2019 was elected as Sinn Fein councillor for Castle Ward, and was installed as Mayor of Belfast the same month. John is a keen sportsman and has represented Antrim at all ages and continues to play for his club Lamh Dhearg.
John Lee’s communications career ranges from fine art to fast horses, from an early stint as a museum educator at The National Gallery of Art in Washington to a later role as Director of Communications, Media Relations and Broadcasting for New York Racing Association, America’s premier thoroughbred racing circuit.
He’s now the Executive Director of Goodman Media International, providing public relations counsel to professional services, digital media, emerging technology, and higher education clients.
Previously he was with TallGrass Public Relations, where he also produced the CBS podcast ‘All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett’. A highlight of his earlier work for his PR consultancy John Lee MEDIA was promoting the Off-Broadway run of ‘Brendan at the Chelsea’ for Belfast’s Lyric Theatre.
A long-time member of the Irish Business Organization of New York, he has served as its Communications Officer, Second Vice President, First Vice President and as Chair of the Board of Advisors. He was a board member of the Irish American Writers & Artists for several years and has been an Honorary Chair and panel moderator for the New York/New Belfast conference and moderator of Ireland Day at the New York Stock Exchange.
John’s grandparents were from County Offaly (from Shane Lowry’s hometown of Clara!), County Clare and County Cork.
Chief Executive Tourism NI
John McGrillen took up his post as CEO of Tourism NI on 1 July 2015. A former board member of Tourism NI, John was previously Director of Development at Belfast City Council where his responsibilities included urban development, tourism, economic and international development and the management of Belfast Waterfront and the Ulster Hall. Previously he was Chief Executive of Down District Council.
During his early career John worked for Short Brothers and the Industrial Development Board, the forerunner to Invest NI, before being appointed Chief Executive of NI-CO, a Belfast based international development consultancy.
John is a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast. He also holds an MSc in Engineering Computation and an MBA in International Business.
John is also a Governing Member of Belfast Metropolitan College and a Board Member of Tourism Ireland.
Joe is an independent designer and developer living in New York. He designs apps and web sites for Bombing Brain Interactive, including Teleprompt+ and Setlists. He is a partner at Breakpoint Studio, a software design studio. He talks business on the weekly podcast Release Notes. And he serves on the Executive Board of the IBO.
Kim Aganimov heads the European region of Huhtamaki, a global leader in food packaging with a turnover of over €3bn which took over the Delta Print and Packaging business in the west of the city.
He has driven rapid growth in Europe and is now responsible for 14 operating bases across nine countries. This growth has been driven by both astute acquisitions and innovative organic growth.
A Finnish national, Kim is a dynamic and charismatic multi-lingual leader and outside of work he is a keen sailor and devoted family man.
Kristen Guy is a transgender woman who specialises in the development of training solutions for Deloitte in Belfast. Not long after graduating from Queen’s University in 2013, Kristen gained the confidence to become her authentic self and commenced her gender transition while simultaneously commencing her employment with Deloitte.
Kristen quickly made a name for herself in Deloitte due to her specialised skillset in training development but also as she became the lead of GLOBE which is Deloitte’s internal LGBTQ+ network – something unheard of for a junior member of staff. Under Kristen’s command, GLOBE ensured the introduction of ‘Toilet for All’ facilities across Deloitte’s 3 Belfast offices – one on every floor. Kristen opted to use the term ‘Toilet for All’ as opposed to ‘Gender Neutral Toilets’ as she aimed to create an environment where regardless of gender identity, sexuality or disability, everyone is welcome to use these bathroom facilities.
Kristen was also heavily involved in the creation of the business case for Marriage Equality in Northern Ireland. The business case lead to Deloitte UK’s Senior Partner announcing his individual and the firms support for equal marriage at London pride 2018, along with the signing of an open letter in conjunction with other firms in NI.
Kristen feels that Deloitte’s public support for Equal Marriage and the introduction of Toilet for All facilities’ will allow Deloitte to attract more LGBT+ talent – specifically transgender employees – who will see that Deloitte NI is cultivating a work environment of diversity and that everyone is accepted regardless of their gender identity and/ or sexual orientation.
Kristen has partaken in multiple LGBTQ+ themed panel events as a speaker such as ‘Can you bring your whole self to work?’ and ‘Pride in Technology’. At these events, Kristen would speak candidly about her experiences of initially coming out as a gay man in the early stages of her career, followed by her experiences of coming out as a transgender woman. Kristen deems it very important to share her experiences as there are not a lot of transgender women leaders in Consulting and to show that you can be successful in your career while being true to yourself at the same time. She believes her participation in such panels helps achieve positive change for LGBTQ+ people as she is becoming a role model for trans women. Kristen has a strong following on her Instagram page where she has been documenting her transition while progressing with her career. She receives a lot of engagement on her posts from fellow transgender woman reaching out for guidance in their careers.
Kristen has a segment in an upcoming book being released this year entitled ‘300 Women: A collection of fierce women who are proud to represent the LGBTQ+ community’ which she has also used to share her experiences of her transition to provide hope and inspiration for other transgender women.
Lesley Miller joined Allstate Northern Ireland in September 2002 and has worked as a Senior Manager across a range of functions including Life and Retirement, Claims Technology and, most recently, in the Finance and Investments functions. Lesley provides local leadership across all Finance teams and has delivery accountability for Business Engagement across Allstate NI. Prior to joining Allstate NI Lesley worked in IT across Government, Utilities and Software provision, overall she has 35+ years experience in the industry.
Lesley is strongly engaged in the area of Inclusive Diversity. She sits on the Core team of Women in Technology at Allstate (WITA) and is a Director of the Diversity Mark NI organisation, a not-for-profit organisation enabling and supporting companies of all sizes in achieving a Charter Mark to recognise commitment to Diversity in the workplace. The Diversity Charter Mark is the ‘Mark of Progress’ and will demonstrate that organisations are committed to building a positive and inclusive workplace culture.
Liz Cameron is recognised as one of the most influential forces in Scotland’s business community.
After successfully establishing and running several small businesses, Liz took on the helm of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce. Liz has spearheaded business growth initiatives including Scotland’s very first education/business partnership, a National Graduate Recruitment Initiative and the innovative International Trade & Exporting Partnership.
Liz is a sought-after business voice and represents the Scottish business community nationally on the Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board, UK Government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Board and the Home Office National Advisory Group.
Liz was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West of Scotland and an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to business. Liz was also recognised as a Scottish Women of Influence and a Business Influencer in advancing UK-India Trade Relations. Liz is Chairwoman of wEvolution, a global charity promoting entrepreneurship and is a member of the Tedx Glasgow Brain Trust.
Lonan O’Neill is a Territory Manager for Whitewater Brewery, Northern Ireland’s largest Independent Brewery, Lonan’s focus is on growing distribution of Whitewater beers on the Island of Ireland and abroad. Previously Lonan has also held roles within the C&C Group PLC working with global brands such as Tennents and Magners. Lonan has a passion for the hospitality industry and is committed to the success in marketing and distribution of premium branded beer. He graduated from Ulster University, Ulster Business School with Bachelor of Science (BS) Leisure and Events Management with a commendation for an international placement in Florida and also is a the winner of excellence in placement competition 2014 – Department of Hospitality and Tourism, Ulster Business School.
A native of Merseyside, England, Lorraine Turner currently heads up the Northern Ireland Bureau’s New York office. Prior to joining the Northern Ireland Bureau, Lorraine played a vital role in the peace process, working for the British Consulate in New York as the Northern Ireland Press and Public Affairs Officer.
During her career in NYC, Lorraine has been a welcome friend to both the British and Irish communities and played a pivotal role in making sure that both communities were given access to the highest levels of government and business leaders in the lead up to the establishment of the new Stormont executive.
In her current position as the head of the Northern Ireland Bureau in New York, she has worked tirelessly to maintain and strengthen the relationships developed during the peace process, hosting both business and political leaders in New York and securing support for the new Northern Ireland.
Lorraine was awarded an MBE in 2004 list her services to the Northern Ireland peace process.
Marie Macklin CBE is Founder and Executive Chair of The HALO Urban Regeneration Company.
THE HALO brand is an imaginative, innovative and inspirational urban regeneration initiative to revitalise former vacant land set within communities which are experiencing economic challenges. HALO’s biggest economic asset is the untapped social capital of local communities which have a huge beating heart.
The first of 4 UK HALO projects is regeneration of a former bottling plant which will create a dynamic commercial, educational, cultural, leisure and lifestyle quarter in Marie’s home town of Kilmarnock Scotland. The development will be fuelled by renewable energy and is a focal point for developing a skilled workforce, increased productivity as well as promoting enterprise and innovation and opportunity for all.
This multi-faceted regeneration of a 28-acre site, formerly the home of Johnnie Walker, the world’s leading Scotch whisky, will generate over £53million in GDP for Kilmarnock and £65million for Scotland. The development will stimulate over 1400 jobs.
Marie is also founder and director of The HALO Belfast Ltd, which aims to bring the HALO concept to the Northern Irish capital and is currently consulting with local communities to ensure that this development meets the needs of local people.
The HALO #HALORockme & #HALORockstar brands are being launched in autumn 2018 in NYC, USA and will form part of a new international project team working Urban Regeneration based around the entertainment and leisure sectors.
Mark is a barrister in independent practise at the Northern Ireland Bar. He specialises in civil litigation and judicial review. He has also taught European Union law at Queens University Belfast since 2008. Mark is lecturer and course co-ordinator for “Trials of the Troubles” in the Open Learning programme in Queen’s University, Belfast. Mark reviews the issue of presidential voting rights in an Irish Presidential Election for citizens residing outside the jurisdiction of Republic of Ireland. Mark reflects on international comparative practice for external voting, citizenship under the constitution, history of voting rights in the State and current proposals to extend voting rights.
Mark McCormack has been working in IT for over 20 years and is currently Head of Technology for Aflac Northern Ireland. He is responsible for building the technology function of the site, growing a number of teams, and ensuring that Aflac Northern Ireland delivers a strong innovative capability for Aflac in the United States.
Mark also helps to lead Aflac’s engagement with Universities & Schools for the Belfast site, promoting careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) and establishing Aflac as a key employer for technology jobs in Northern Ireland.
Previously Mark was Senior Vice President at Citi, holding a number of positions during his 11-year tenure with the bank. This culminated in leading the Chief Technology Office (CTO) for Citi in Belfast, a department of approximately 200 technologists, with teams responsible for Project Management, Business Analysis, Software Development, Testing and Production Support. Mark was also the Global Head of Data Operations for CTO, leading a team of 100 people based in seven different countries that are responsible for supporting and managing the data flowing into Citi’s Enterprise Big Data platform, as well as critical Risk and Compliance systems.
Prior to that Mark worked as a Project Manager/Team Lead in Technology Managed Services for several years as an employee of British Telecom, delivering business improvement projects for key customers in the Public Sector. Mark began his career as a Software Development Team Leader and Software Developer for B.I.C. Systems, a local technology firm.
Mark graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 1998 with a degree in Zoology before immediately undertaking a technology conversion programme aimed at non-I.T. graduates.
Matthew Thompson is a 24-year old storyteller dedicated to celebrating the ‘New Belfast’ and challenging the negative narratives about Northern Ireland.
His podcast ‘Best Of Belfast’ gives listeners the chance to sit in on hour-long, unfiltered conversations with incredible northern Irish people every Monday morning.
At 18, Matthew left the north ‘forever’ to travel the world before settling in Manhattan — where he met Jaci, a nurse from Germany. In an unexpected turn of events, they got married three years later and moved back to Northern Ireland.
Feeling washed-up and burnt out, he took a job as a bicycle courier with Deliveroo, an experience that radically changed his perspective and relationship with Belfast forever. Cycling through the city streets and mingling with its people, Matthew fell in love with the north and the incredible people in it.
Frustrated with the tabloid culture of local media, he now uses his skills as a copywriter and curious conversationalist to champion the people who call Northern Ireland home.
With 70+ episodes featuring Oscar-winning directors, 91-year old Park-runners, Silicon Valley CEOs, Michelin Star chefs and bearded candle makers, Best Of Belfast showcases Northern Ireland, not as a place of conflict, division or lacking opportunity, but as a land overflowing with immense creativity, talent and potential.
Michael Barry was born in North Belfast and graduated with a degree in Computer Science from the Ulster of University, Jordanstown. In 1992, Michael immigrated to Canada and began his career in film at Astral Media, working for The Movie Network and Viewers Choice Pay-Per-View brands. Michael has held senior acquisitions, operations, programming and promotions positions at Canada’s largest communications, theatrical exhibition and film festival organisations, including Cineplex Entertainment, Telus Communications, Bell Media and Hot Docs International Film Festival.
In 2010, Michael co-founded the Toronto Irish Film Festival (TIRFF). Now in its 10th year, TIRFF celebrates the very best of Irish cinema and promotes the work of Irish filmmakers to the Greater Toronto Irish community and the Toronto film festival public. With sold-out screenings from 2010 to 2019, TIRFF has quickly assumed the role of leading promoter of Irish film within Canada and provides a unique opportunity for the Toronto and Ontario-based Irish diaspora to connect with their home through the magic of cinema.
Michael Kelly was born in Galway. He has a B.Sc and an MBA for University College Dublin. He worked for Eli Lilly and Glaxo for !0 years. He was Sales and Marketing Director for Johnson Brothers for 10 years. During that time he also purchased and developed a number of properties. He made first purchase in Belfast in 1998 and a made second purchase in 2000, both properties in Arthur Street Belfast. In 2001 he founded Glandore Business Centres in Dublin, providing flexible office space, meeting rooms and coworking space.
Glandore opened in Belfast in 2006 and opened the second building in Belfast in 2009. Glandore has a total of 700 desks in Belfast, has six locations in Dublin providing over 2000 desks and one location in cork providing 300 desks. In addition Glandore runs Suesey Street Restaurant and No 25 which provides Private Dining and Special events in a beautiful Georgian House Glandore employs a total of Eighty staff. Glandore Works closely with Invest NI in Belfast to provide a landing space for companies setting up in Belfast. In addition Glandore has hosted Belfast City Council and Invest NI at Glandore Dublin to promote Belfast to companies in Dublin who might be considering setting up operations in Belfast . Glandore is a family business and Michael’s three daughters are working Directors in the business
Ulster Unionist Party Leader 2012-2017 | MLA for Strangford, Northern Ireland Assembly
Mike was born in Belfast and grew up during the 30-plus year conflict in Northern Ireland otherwise known as ‘the Troubles’, which claimed over 3,500 lives from a population of 1.8 million; pro rata, that is the equivalent of around half a million lost lives in the United States. On 25 January 1973, the Nesbitt family linen business was blown up by the IRA, sparking Mike’s lifelong interest in politics and in the human cost of conflict.
Mike graduated with an honours degree in English from Cambridge University in England and beginning a Master of Business Administration course at Queen’s University in Belfast, before starting a career in broadcast sports journalism. Mike switched to news and current affairs in 1986, reporting on all the major events in Northern Ireland, including security matters and the peace and political processes.
In 2007, Mike became a Commissioner for Victims & Survivors of the Northern Ireland Troubles, responsible for promoting the needs and interests of those who suffered most during the conflict. In May 2011, he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the Ulster Unionist Party and quickly became Leader. Mike was praised in many quarters for his progressive leadership, known for his commitment to the promotion of post-sectarian values, inclusion and reform.
Niall is a partner at KRW Law LLP, a leading human rights practice, based in Belfast. The practice is instructed by a significant number of clients engaged in legacy litigation relating to conflict related deaths and injuries, appearing for those bereaved as a result of atrocities such as Loughinisland, Claudy, Clonoe, Kingsmill, the Dublin-Monaghan and McGurks Bar Bombings, the Glenanne Gang series of killings, Ormeau Road Bookmakers, the 1974 Birmingham Pub Bombing amongst others. Niall is a Director of Belfast based NGO, Relatives for Justice and has made representations at the European Parliament in Brussels, to the EU Human Rights Commissioner in Strasbourg and also to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva as well as having presented lectures to Universities in Washington, Pittsburgh, Jersey City, Fordham University New York and Harvard, Massachusetts. In April 2019, Niall was recognised by the Office of the State Comptroller of New York for his outstanding service in raising public awareness about the potential serious implications of the United Kingdom’s planned withdrawal from the European Union.
An accomplished Board Director with over 30 years experience in the Film, Television and Media sectors, most recently serving as Executive Commercial Director on the Board of Pinewood Shepperton plc for 12 years.
Over the past decade, I successfully transformed a heritage business into the leading global studio facilities brand with owned or licensed operations in the UK, USA, Canada, Malaysia and the Dominican Republic. I have likely consulted on, planned, operated or marketed more premiere studio facilities than any other individual globally.
I was central to the October 2016 sale of Pinewood for over £400m and subsequently remained with the company for a transition period before setting up my own Studio consultancy practice.
I am now committed to creating the next global success for studio facilities and related services and am currently working on various global projects.
Raffaella Folli is a Professor of Linguistics, Head of School of Communication and Provost of the Belfast and Jordanstown Campuses at Ulster University . She studied Philosophy at the University of Milan. In 1998 she completed an MPhil in Linguistics at the University of Oxford and then in 2001 a DPhil in Linguistics, also at the University of Oxford. She joined Ulster University in 2005 having previously held research positions at the University of Arizona (2001-2001) and then the University of Cambridge (2002-2005) .
Her main research area is theoretical syntax. Her standing in linguistics is evidenced by her extensive publications in top journals in the field, various grants from different research councils and extensive collaborations with academics in the UK and the US. In 2011 she was awarded a Distinguished Research Fellowship award in recognition of her research achievements.
She is part of the linguistics team that in 2012 established the Ulster Centre on Multilingualism (UCoM), an information service for people raising or working with children growing up with more than one language. As part of UCoM, she is involved in Language Made Fun, a programme designed to support the language needs of multilingual children or migrant children in Northern Ireland. The programme is in collaboration with the Barnardo’s and is funded by a grant by Big Lottery Fund.
Richard is Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen which has, in the last 12 years, taken the lead role in developing the screen industry in Northern Ireland.
Under Richard’s leadership, Northern Ireland Screen developed the Paint Hall at Titanic Quarter as a film studio which was the home of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES for eight seasons. And more recently partnered with Belfast Harbour Commission in the development of Belfast Harbour Studios, a new purpose-built studio complex.
During his time, Northern Ireland Screen has expanded its support to cover large-scale production, TV drama, independent film, factual/entertainment, animation and interactive content, including the development and production of many independent films, all genres of television and a growing number of digital content projects, including HUNGER for which Steve McQueen won the Camera D’Or, Terry and Oorlagh George’s Oscar winner THE SHORE, Michael Lennox’s BAFTA winner and Oscar nominated BOOGALOO AND GRAHAM and the multi-award winning DERRY GIRLS.
Richard previously worked for Waddell Media, during that time representing Northern Ireland on PACT, the Producers Alliance for Cinema & Television. He also previously worked in newspaper management and was a commercial solicitor. He was awarded an OBE in 2019.
Chief Executive of The Odyssey Trust Company Ltd
Robert Fitzpatrick was appointed Chief Executive of the Odyssey Trust Company Ltd (OTC) in 2007. Robert’s early experience in property and development business has given him the insight to grow, manage and develop the Odyssey site in Belfast. It is now not only an entertainment venue but also a learning environment which contributes to the advancement of scientific education for the young people of our society and in particular those from underprivileged areas.
Robert has built up a close relationship with colleagues in Boston and has delivered the Friendship Four Tournament working closely with the University of Ulster. This is all about bringing different cultures together through sport and education with the aim of giving our young people the chance to gain work experience.
I am a life-long resident of Massachusetts, having been born in Cambridge and grown up in Belmont, both located just outside the City of Boston. I currently serve as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM), an organization that represents and advocates for the public policy interests of 56 private, non-profit colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts.
I joined joined AICUM in July 2006, having previously served as Director of Legal Affairs for the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means and as Chief Legal Counsel for the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. From 1994-2001, I worked as an attorney handling litigation for two law firms in the greater Boston area.
I received his bachelor of arts degree in business/management from Clark University in 1988 and a Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1993. I currently live in Wellesley, Massachusetts, which is about 15 miles west of Boston, with my wife Liz and my two girls Eliza and Catey.
As a Director at PwC, Seamus is focused on building startups, educating executives, and designing comprehensive strategies to help large companies, governments, and SMEs take advantage some of the most advanced technology companies coming to market.
Seamus is primarily focused on helping clients understand and shape how blockchain can be applied to solve real-world problems, and why this nascent and disruptive technology should be part of their business strategy in the digital age.
Seamus has over 15+ years in FinTech, having held various roles in Financial and Payments organisations, within engineering and product development. Experience in establishing and running successful software development centres, primarily engaged in delivering new innovative e-commerce products
Sean is CEO of the London Irish Centre charity, based in Camden Town, London. The charity owns and operates the largest Irish Community Centre outside of Ireland and welcomes more than 75,000 visitors each year.
The Centre is the Irish Heart of London and every year helps support over 3,000 of the oldest, most vulnerable and isolated in the community as well as hosting over 500 Irish cultural and arts events.
Sean moved to the UK in the late `80s and set up a building company which was sold in 2002 and remains involved with a number of early stage and start up businesses. His passion is the 3rd sector and since 2002 has been a Trustee and Chair at a number of charities. In 2005 he created the Speak Out Challenge, now the world`s largest youth speaking event which has raised over £7m and trained more than 200,000 teenagers in public speaking.
Born in Boston Massachusetts Sean J. Somers has deep roots in the U.S. as well as in Ireland. His father hailing from Co. Kerry and his mother from Boston MA Sean has had the luxury of experiencing life on both sides of the Atlantic. Sean is married to Katherine Somers who he explains is a woman of great dignity and character and someone who has made him a batter man since the day she entered Sean’s life.
They have a 1 year old son J.R. Somers who was baptized in May 2019 in the same small village his father grew up in Listowel Co. Kerry. Sean & Kate are happily growing their family and are expecting another child in March. Sean comes from a long lineage of Irish Publican’s going back over 100 years. He is an experienced Entrepreneur, Investor, Advisor, Mentor, and Business Strategist with a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality, technology, and non-profit sectors and winning. The Somers family own and operate the largest Irish Hospitality Group in the Northeast – The Somers Pubs Group.. Outside of the Pubs Sean has ownership interest in Canary Technologies, Keel Vodka, U-Out Boston, & Foundation for a Green Future (a non-profit). Sean sits on the Board at Worcester Academy.
From building out Nightlife Venues, Developing and Executing Brand Strategies, to taking Start-Ups to Market with Commanding Success, Sean has seen a lot, done a lot, and is eager to do more. He is passionate about trans Atlantic commerce and his ‘go to market’ style is one that challenges the status quo and motivates winners. Proud to have won with Grassroots Marketing, astounding Brand Identifier & Brand Developer. When asked how he stays out in front he answered: “intense research and vigilant preparedness of the ‘consumer’ in question in all areas both vertical and parallel.” The word ‘Quit’ can not be found in Sean’s vocabulary. His action-centric work philosophy and ‘we’ not ‘me’ approach partners him with dedicated engaged forward thinkers.
Sean’s tank is never empty – always trying to improve and grow. Self-awareness, Custom Service, and Leadership always top of mind for Sean J. Somers.
Shelley Ann Quilty-Lake hails from Mayglass in Co. Wexford and is currently a Partner at the boutique law firm of Meenan & Associates, LLC. Over the course of her legal career, Shelley Ann has developed considerable litigation experience, leveraging her persistence when representing employees successfully with respect to addressing their workplace issues and disputes. Shelley Ann also assists executives, and other professionals, with negotiating their employment agreements, compensation packages, as well as severance agreements.
In addition, Shelley Ann provides guidance to small business owners, and individuals seeking to form their own enterprises, with navigating the myriad of issues regarding their business needs and concerns.
Shelley Ann is a seasoned litigator in estate matters and represents individuals, including fiduciaries, heirs and beneficiaries, in probate and other estate matters in the Surrogate’s Courts across New York City, and is often appointed by the Courts as a Guardian Ad Litem to represent parties in an array of estate matters. She also guides her clients regarding their estate planning needs, preparing wills and trusts that are tailored to their wishes and accomplish their objectives.
Shelley Ann has been a long-time member of the Irish Business Organization of New York (IBO), has served as its Treasurer, and for the past two years has served as its First Vice President. Shelley Ann is also on the Board of Directors of the Irish American Bar Association of New York (IABANY).
In February 2019, Shelley Ann was an Irish Echo 40 Under 40 honoree and was bestowed with the Justice Ambassador award. Every year, from 2016 through 2019, she has been selected as a Super Lawyers Rising Star in Employment Litigation: Plaintiff for the New York Metro area.
Shelley Ann is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, obtained a Master’s degree from Boston College, and her law degree from the City University of New York.
CF Real Estate Advisory
Simon leads the local government development team at Deloitte Real Estate. With more than 25 years in practice, Simon has advised on major regeneration and development projects across the UK and further afield. Simon leads an 18 strong team operating across the country on development viability, land acquisition/CPO, developer procurement and strategic development projects.
Over a varied career, Simon has worked in local government, for an urban development corporation and a number of private practices including Jones Lang LaSalle and Building Design Partnership. Prior to joining Deloitte in 2008 he was managing director of a 40 strong economic development and consulting the business with offices across the UK.
Simon is a specialist in development strategy and delivery. He has led a number of large scale development advisory projects across the UK and also led on developer procurement, particularly on behalf of the HCA.
Simon is Chief Executive of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce. After graduating with degrees in history/politics and law from The Queen’s University of Belfast, Simon began his career as an auditor at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Prior to taking on his current role with Belfast Chamber, Simon served as Minister of Finance, Minister of Health and Minister for the Economy in the Northern Ireland Executive.
Stephen Kelly is Chief Executive of Manufacturing Northern Ireland. The sector directly and indirectly supports 1 in 4 jobs in Northern Ireland, accounting for almost 2/3rd of exports and R&D spend. MNI work on behalf of the 5,500 manufacturing firms particularly on the costs of doing business and Brexit.
Previously, Stephen was Managing Director of an international marketing and comms firm, CEO of Derry – Londonderry City Centre Initiative and involved in dispute resolution around parading issues across the North. He is a former UK National President of Junior Chamber, graduate of the US State Department’s IVP Programme. He is the current Vice Chair of the Assembly and Business Trust and a represents Northern Ireland on the UK Board of Trade.v
Steve Harper is the Executive Director of International Business Group for Invest NI
Steve has extensive local and international business experience, with a strong focus on identifying and developing opportunities in emerging markets. At Invest NI, he leads the Trade Division, International Investment Division and Invest NI’s International offices to deliver inward investment and export growth targets.
Prior to Invest NI, Steve was the Business Development Director with Wrights Group for 5 years. He was responsible for growing the company’s export business, researching and identifying new markets, new products and service opportunities. He also played a key commercial strategic role at Board level.
Steve previous positions include: Group Sales and Marketing Manager with the McAvoy Group (3 years). He has also held key roles in McCormick MacNaughton (4 years), European Sales Manager for Powerscreen (2 years, responsible for markets including Scandinavia and Eastern Europe) and Global Business Development manager for Mitsubishi Materials Japan (6 years, based in Tokyo, responsible for markets including Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa).
Originally from Ballymena, Steve currently lives in Hillsborough with his family.
Director of Philanthropy
Leading on fund development, communications and philanthropy services at the Foundation, Siofra provides a customised service to donors which respects their charitable interests and meets their needs. With a proven track record in development, communications, income generation and donor care strategies she joined the Foundation in 2017 and is also a board member of Bryson Care. Siofra has previously worked with a number of local and national charities including The Simon Community, The Princes Trust and Northern Ireland Hospice where she was Director of Income Generation, PR and Communications leading on an annual £10m revenue and a £13m capital campaign.
I attended Rathmore Grammar School, going on to study Business & IT at Queens University Belfast in 2011. I joined the New York Stock Exchange as a placement student while completing my degree, gaining a lot of exposure to the Belfast Fintech sector.
After graduating, I knew I wanted to continue to work in FinTech, but was keen to work in a start-up / rapid growth company. After hearing great stories about Wombat (acquired by NYSE for $200m), I was eager to work at Options IT who had a lot of the same management team.
I joined Options in 2015, rooted in Belfast on the Support desk but travelling around the world to work directly with clients.
Around the time I joined Options, we made a big investment in the Big Data Analytics tool Splunk. This was extremely interesting to me, and I began using data to help solve some of the problems that our customers were having.
Given the massive boom in Cyber Security over the last 4 years, the number of requests from our clients for reports has gone exponential. CTOs and Executives want to know everything that’s going on in their organisation, from what time users login at to who’s sending data to competitors.
To get a better understanding of what our clients needed, I travelled to NYC, London and some of the other major FinTech hubs around the world to sit down with the CTOs of 20 or so of our largest clients.
Doing this ultimately exposed a massive opportunity for us to productize our reporting offering. So, over the last 8 or 9 months I’ve worked closely with our clients and engineers to develop a portal for our clients which offers real time data and visualizations covering all aspects of their business… from server utilization to potential insider threats!
The rollout of this has been very successful. With 4 signed customers and 15 running POCs, we plan to hit our target of £1m revenue within the next 18 months!
Susan Aitken became Leader of Glasgow City Council when the SNP became the largest party on the Council and formed a minority administration in May 2017. She was elected as a councillor for the Langside ward, where she lives, in 2012 and has been leader of the SNP group since 2014, having previously served as the group spokesperson on health and social care.
Before being elected, Susan worked in a variety of policy and research roles in the Scottish Parliament and the third sector, and as a freelance writer and editor specialising in health and social care policy. She grew up in Biggar in South Lanarkshire, moved to Glasgow aged 17 and is a graduate of both Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.
Suzanne Aquino global Category Manager specializing in Outsourcing and Offshoring with Chain IQ, an independent, global service company providing strategic, tactical and operational procurement for its clients.
As a Global Category Manager Suzanne advises her clients on new ways to create value for their customers in an environment of rapidly changing technology, advancing automation and an increasingly customer experience driven economy.
Prior to joining Chain IQ, Suzanne spent 15 years at UBS where she led strategic sourcing teams responsible for establishing and executing on the bank’s sourcing strategy, identifying opportunities for spend reduction, cost optimization, process improvement and ensuring the effective transition, execution and sustainable performance of the bank’s outsourced portfolios.
Suzanne was born in Belfast and currently resides with her husband in Manhattan. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing and is an active member of the Irish Business Organization.
President of the Law Society
Suzanne Rice qualified as a solicitor in 2003, and is a specialist in all aspects of Family Law and most notably Divorce and Children’s Law. Suzanne currently works for McKeown and Company Solicitors in Belfast which is a young and dynamic law firm specialising in Criminal Law, Family Law and Plaintiff Litigation based in the City Centre. She is an Advanced Advocate Solicitor and is on the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Panel as well as the Law Society of Northern Ireland’s Family Law Committee. In 2009 Suzanne qualified as a Collaborative Divorce Solicitor and in 2010 she became legal advisor to the Family Care Society in Adoption Matters and she is currently a board member of the Children’s Law Centre Management Board. As Law Society President Suzanne will continue to underscore the importance of the network of solicitor firms across Northern Ireland which provides the community with advice and access to a solicitor of their choice and therefore access to justice, as well as to showcase the legal services provided by Northern Ireland legal firms to wider
Suzanne Wylie took up the post of Chief Executive of Belfast City Council in 2014and since then has led significant transformation within the Council and across the city to establish Belfast at the heart of economic growth in the region. This includes leading the development and implementation of the Council’s City Plan, the Belfast Agenda 2035, which focuses on economic growth and connecting neighbourhoods and people to the opportunities it creates. Led by Suzanne, Belfast City Council is collaboratively working with other councils, academia, local businesses and Northern Ireland Civil Service within the Belfast City Region to deliver an ambitious Belfast Region City Deal with the UK Government worth over £1billion in capital investment.
Tina is the CEO of Grafton Recruitment Ireland, the Policy Chair of the Federation for Small Businesses in Northern Ireland and the Honorary Consul to Finland. With 25 plus years’ experience in the Recruitment and Employment Services sector at an international and local level, she has worked with some of the world’s largest blue chip companies.
Tina returned home to Belfast in 2012 and set up the Ireland Division of Staffline in 2013. Despite only starting out with two members of staff Tina made a bold and ambitious target to expand her operation and hit a target of £100m turnover within 5 years. Under Tina’s strategic and ambitious vision, Staffline entered a period of significant organic and acquired growth. In July 2018 Tina secured the largest acquisition of a recruitment business in Ireland, with Grafton Recruitment joining Staffline’s Group portfolio which already includes PeoplePlus and Diamond Recruitment. The company now has an estimated turnover of £150m, employing 350 permanent staff and a contracted workforce of up to 10,000 people across Ireland.
Tina is strongly committed to growing her recruitment and training offer, bringing a determination and energy to creating jobs and opportunities for people living on the Island of Ireland.
Tina retains strong links with business contacts including members of the Irish Diaspora who she worked with before moving back to Belfast. As Honorary Consul to Finland Tina works to strengthen the ties between Finland and Ireland. In doing so she looks to identify synergies between the respective countries, particularly in relation to education and the economy.
Tina served as the NI Director of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (2013-2016) and as the European Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2016). She has received a number of awards including The Director of the Year for mid-Market companies from the IOD in 2017 and the Outstanding Leadership and Management award from Women in Business in the same year.
Tom Gray graduated from Queen’s University Belfast, holds a BSc. in Computer Science, and has studied Innovation Management at MIT Sloan. Tom has been the driving force behind many of Kainos’ most innovative and successful customer and staff initiatives, including HealthHackEU, Kainos AppCamp, CodeCamp and Code4Derry. He founded and curates the content for the annual BelTech conference, which has a strong focus on emerging Digital technology. From 2016-2018, Tom was Director of Digital Catapult NI, established Digital Catapult’s NI presence and was responsible for the development of the Immersive Lab. Tom is Deputy-Chair of the MATRIX ICT panel and a member of the CCEA Regulatory Advisory Panel. He is Chairman of the Ulster University Industrial Liaison Board, and holds a number of non-exec director positions in tech startups. Tom is past-Chair of the IET in Northern Ireland.
Originally from Holywood, Co Down, Victoria Denoon is currently a project manager working for The Odyssey Trust, a registered charity that was established to, ‘hold, manage, safeguard and develop the investment in the Odyssey project for the benefit of all the people of Northern Ireland.’
Victoria previously spent 15 years working in the higher education sector in the US as Co-Director of the Center for Irish Partnerships, and Special Projects Coordinator, at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The Center for Irish Partnership fosters collaborations and partnerships with educational institutions in Ireland and Northern Ireland across an interdisciplinary spectrum and embraces faculty exchange and joint research ventures and works with partners to create a dynamic model for cross-Atlantic collaboration. Victoria also spent two years as co-chair of Irish Network Boston (IN Boston).
In 2018, Victoria received the Irish Echo Transatlantic Crossing Award at the Golden Bridges Conference. In 2012, she received an Irish Echo 40 Under 40 Award at a ceremony in New York City. She is also the recipient of an Anam Cara Award from the Lowell Irish Cultural Committee.
Victoria Denoon is President of the Queen’s Graduates’ Association and previously served as President of the Queen’s Graduates’ Association East Coast, New England Chapter.
She holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Queen’s University Belfast, a graduate certificate in Business and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from UMass Lowell.
Managing Director – Liberty Information Technology
William is Managing Director of Liberty Information Technology (LIT), a 500-person subsidiary of Liberty Mutual Insurance, which provides software engineering and technology to its parent company.
William joined LIT in 1997 when the company was being established; initially he took on the role of Operations Manager leading the LIT Commercial Markets teams. He was promoted to Managing Director in 2006.
Before joining LIT William spent 11 years at Kainos Ltd. (Belfast) where he worked as a developer (C & C++ on Unix) before taking on management responsibility for a range of software delivery projects, process improvement systems and infrastructure support.
William holds a BSc and PhD in Computer Science from the Queens University of Belfast