Women in Business Conference 2016

Past Conferences

"The Future of Business"

Date: 23 June 2016



Conference delivers key insights to ‘The Future of Business’


Northern Ireland’s most influential businesswomen and men gathered at the Ramada Plaza, Belfast today to hear from a line-up of international speakers about how the future of business looks and how we must adapt to it.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA was among a number of special guest speakers to address delegates at the eighth annual Women in Business Conference, supported by leading global ICT solutions company Fujitsu.

Commenting on the event, Simon Hamilton MLA said; “Today’s conference theme ‘The Future of Business’ encourages us to ponder how we want to shape the years ahead. I am clear that our focus should be full square on transforming Northern Ireland into a globally competitive economy.

“The conference marked a significant day for Women in Business and its members,” said Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive of the largest and fastest growing network for female entrepreneurs, senior managers and business leaders in Northern Ireland. 

“Not only did we have an incredible panel of inspirational and thought-provoking guest speakers around the subject of how the future of business looks, from both a technological and social standpoint, but we also announced our five male gender diversity champions.”

“Our Champions will ensure that gender diversity is high on the agenda within the organisations they represent and within the wider business community,” explained Ms Kelly. “We all need to work together, men and women, if we are to achieve real equality.” 

There were more than 300 people in attendance at the Conference from a great variety of career and business backgrounds and the event was designed to inspire, inform and deliver something for everyone. The feedback has been hugely positive.”


Regina Moran

Regina Moran

Regina Moran, Head of Industry Sectors Business Application Services for Fujitsu EMEIA has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at the 2016 Women in Business Conference.

As Head of Fujitsu UK and Ireland Regina was responsible for completion of successful program improving the company’s profitability and enhancing its relationship with society. Regina has now moved into an EMEIA-wide role within Fujitsu’s Business & Application Services division as Head of Industry Sectors.

She is a member of the Ibec board, Dublin City University governing authority, and government-industry led Smart Futures Advisory Board.

Regina was awarded the Person of the Year award at the 2014 Tech Excellence Awards and recently placed 34th in the 50 most influential women in UK IT 2016.

Samantha Kelly

Samantha Kelly

Samantha is a social media strategist, speaker and trainer, named as one of the Top 100 Irish Digital Influencers of 2016 by Goss.ie. She is the owner of the Tweeting Goddess Social Media Agency, taking the name from her Twitter handle @tweetinggoddess! Samantha founded the Women’s Inspire Network, a forum designed to support women in business, which now has over 4,500 active members. The hashtag #womensinspire regularly trends on Twitter on a Tuesday night!

Samantha organised Social Media Summit, the first ever social media conference to be held in Ireland.  This two-day event, held at the Aviva Stadium in March 2016 attracted world renowned social media strategists and speakers including Ted Rubin – Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, Melonie Dodaro – International Best Selling Author of the LinkedIn Code along with Richard Corbridge - IT Person of the Year 2016 and CIO of the HSE.

Samantha is passionate about teaching businesses how to leverage social media effectively and add real value to their business. She runs regular training courses and is a dynamic and engaging speaker and trainer.

Samantha is the proud Mum of two beautiful girls and lives in Rosslare Harbour, County Wexford, Ireland.

Molly Harvey

Molly Harvey

Recognised as a Leading Authority on Leadership and Cultural Transformation. Being a best-selling author of 8 books, with 21+ years experience of engaging people, companies and communities Molly has produced a range of E-books, CD’s and Podcasts.Other achievements include being the first National Woman President and Fellow of the Professional Speakers Association in England 2005, past Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a founding member of the Association of Transformational Leaders Council, Europe.

Molly believes that to be a success in business you must connect the head, heart and soul of a company and by working with CEO’s, Leaders and Managers, achieve sustainable profits by developing their people.“ Leadership is all about the ability to show up and allow everyone around you to step forth.” 

Carla Tully

Carla Tully

Carla Tully is the President of AES UK & Ireland.  Carla brings global experience in strategy, growth, and finance to AES UK & Ireland.  Under Carla’s leadership, her team is focused on building from the company’s strong foundation of traditional energy generation in Northern Ireland and bringing AES’ global expertise in new energy solutions, such as energy storage, to the UK & Ireland.  Prior to her current role, Carla most recently served as Vice President of the Corporate Strategy & Investment Group at the AES Corporation.

In her role, Carla oversaw the company’s corporate strategy and global investment decisions.   Previously, she served as Chief of Staff to AES’ COO of Utilities, focusing on business-level strategy, growth, and risk management for a portfolio of businesses in Latin America, United States, Europe and Africa. Carla’s prior positions at AES include Project Director, managing the financial restructuring the company's Brazilian distribution businesses, and Director of Finance at the company's integrated utility in Cameroon.

Carla also worked at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) where she focused on financing and promoting sustainable energy investment throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Previously, Carla served as a project finance lender for ABB Structured Finance. Carla holds an MBA from Columbia Business School, a MALD from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA in International Relations and Economics from the University of Southern California.  She sits on the Boards of CBI Northern Ireland and Business in the Community Northern Ireland, as well as several AES companies.

Timandra Harkness

Timandra Harkness

Timandra Harkness is a science writer, broadcaster and comedian. She has performed maths
standup, presented on Radio 4, and written a book; Big Data: does size matter?
After performing improvised and stand up comedy, hosting cabaret, and touring with a tented
circus, Timandra formed the first comedy science double-act in the UK with neuroscientist Dr
Helen Pilcher.

Now a regular writing and presenting on Radio 4, Timandra has fronted documentaries such as Data, Data Everywhere, and Personality Politics. She also co-hosts FutureProofing, with Leo Johnson, which sees her looking at the future of everything from language to war, ageing to food. She’s also the resident reporter on social psychology series The Human Zoo.

Away from the microphone and since winning a competition in the Independent with a piece
on goat-borrowing, she has written for publications including the Telegraph, Guardian, Sunday
Times, Evening Standard, WIRED, Men's Health and Significance (the journal of the Royal
Statistical Society). Her book Big Data: does size matter? gives a history of data collection and
collation, how it’s changing the world, and its shortcomings from politics to health to smart

Combining unusual facts with insight and humour, Timandra looks at how the future will
affect business and society. As well as looking at big data, she tackles AI and robotics, and
considers topics around our relationship with science and technology.

On stage, Timandra has appeared in and co-written Your Days Are Numbered: the maths of
death and Science Burlesque, which brought the Cheltenham Science Festival its first audience that included a hen party.

Catríona Dowling

Catríona Dowling

Harbour Master of Warrenpoint Harbour

Catríona Dowling is the Harbour Master of Warrenpoint Harbour which is Northern Ireland’s second commercial Port and the fifth on the Island of Ireland. With 14 years of seagoing experience, 3-years shore-based Senior Management experience supported by a Master’s Degree in Shipping Operations, she has developed a unique set of specialist skills and knowledge within the Maritime Industry.

Catríona started training for her chosen profession at an early age, gaining experience on tall ships before joining the Irish Naval Service Reserve. Following secondary school, she accepted a place in the Cork Institute of Technology (now NMCI) in the Republic of Ireland on a Degree program in Nautical Science and was later successfully chosen to complete her Cadetship under the sponsorship of Trinity House.

During her Cadetship, she gained a vast amount of experience working on a large variety of vessel types which included a Survey vessel, Lighthouse Tender, and General Cargo vessel, Passenger / RO/RO vessel, Cruise ship and she even completed a transatlantic voyage onboard a Tall Ship. On completion of her Cadetship she began working for Carnival Corporation, one of the world’s leading Cruise Ship operating companies. She proceeded to be promoted through the ranks onboard a number of vessels working on a number of different brands within the company from 4th Officer posted in Australia with P&O up to 2nd Officer on worldwide voyages onboard the QE2 with Cunard.

In 2009 she moved to short sea voyages and began working for Stena Line on the Irish Sea in both their Central and Northern Corridors. During this time, she also completed her Honors Degree in Nautical Science and her Masters Unlimited Certificate of Competency qualifying her to command her own vessel as Captain. She then commenced studies for a Master’s Degree in Shipping Operations through Southampton Solent University.

After 14 years of sea going experience Catríona came ashore and began working as an Assistant Harbour Master in Belfast Harbour where she completed her Master’s Degree in Shipping Operations. Catríona was later promoted to Deputy Harbour Master in Belfast Harbour before taking up her newest role as Harbour Master in Warrenpoint Harbour. Catríona is the first female Harbour Master in the history of the Island of Ireland and one of only two in the United Kingdom. Warrenpoint Port is Northern Ireland’s second commercial Port handling over three million tonnes of cargo annually. As Harbour Master of Warrenpoint Harbour Catríona is responsible for the safe and efficient management of all marine activity which includes Ro/Ro, Containers, Bulk, Break Bulk, Fishing and Recreational sectors. Her statutory duties as Harbour Master are to ensure compliance with legislation, Government Guidelines, the Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC) and Environmental and Security legislation and policies a role which is as challenging as it is diverse.

Diane Mulholland

Diane Mulholland

Group Vice President & General Manager Enterprise Rent-A-Car Scotland/Northern Ireland

As the Vice President and General Manager of the Scotland and Northern Ireland regions, Diane Mulholland oversees all operations for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in these areas.

Like the majority of the company’s officers, Diane began her career on the Enterprise management training programme, where she worked at a rental branch in the Northwest England region. As a management trainee, she learned the Enterprise business from the ground up, from providing exceptional customer service to developing growth strategies and managing profit and loss statements in her branch.

In 1999, three years into her career, Diane moved to the Northwest regional headquarters and set up the regional non-fault rental department. She was then quickly promoted again and moved to South Cheshire as an area rental manager.

In July 2003, Diane was promoted again to group rental manager of Liverpool, North Wales and the Lake District.  In 2004, Diane was promoted further, this time to the Assistant Vice President of Rental at the European corporate head office.  She remained in this position until 2008 when she moved to Scotland to take up her current position.

Diane plays an active role in public affairs and diversity issues for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  Diane continues to champion the need for integrated transport policies with the Scottish Government, to reduce costs and duty of care liability and recently attended Scotland's Next Generation Smart Rail conference.

Internally, Diane has been an integral part of the female mentoring programme, supporting women in the business and helping them to progress and reach their full potential. Programmes like this have helped the company remain one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women for the tenth year running. Diane is also one of only two UK representatives on the company’s global founding values committee.

Aside from this, Diane has championed the partnership between Enterprise and Stonewall Scotland internally, as well as the SWAN LGBT networking group. Diane and her team work in partnership with Business in the Community Scotland and Northern Ireland, which led to Enterprise being awarded the Working Better Award at the SBC Awards in 2015. This award recognises a business which can demonstrate excellence in actively fostering a fairer workplace where people are valued, rewarded and engaged in their work.  

Being a strong advocate of higher education and given Enterprise’s keen focus on graduate recruitment, Diane is a devoted supporter of Enterprise’s partnership with Stirling Management School. Under Diane’s leadership, Enterprise has for the past two years, awarded annual £1000 scholarships to deserving students identified by the university as well as given students the opportunity to work shadow within different departments in the company.

A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Diane holds and MA (Hons) in Business and Economics. Diane lives in Stirling with her husband and two sons.

Edel Doherty

Edel Doherty

Edel Doherty is the leading figure in Business Travel in Northern Ireland, an industry she is passionate about for the last 30 years.  Edel is the mother of two grown up sons and started her business QA Business Travel 6 years ago. 

QA business Travel under Edels leadership has grown year on year to the successful company it is now with a turnover of £11 million and a team of 20 people.  Experts in travel management for ambitious companies QA Travel make sure everyone is at their best no matter where they are in the world delivering world class service and cutting edge technology.  Edel is also past chair of Women In Business, served twice on the Chamber of Commerce council and been involved in various charities. 

Fitness and nutrition are important to Edel and recently she has taken up cycling she also cites choosing a good wine as one of her favourite past times.   Edel believes we should never stop learning and is determined to fulfil her potential and help others fulfil theirs. 

Heather Cousins

Heather Cousins

Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Investment, in the Department for the Economy

Heather holds the post of Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Investment, in the Department for the Economy.  The group includes responsibility for the finances of the Department, policy and finance responsibility for Higher Education (including Student Finance), for managing European Structural Funds for Northern Ireland and for overseeing the corporate planning and governance arrangements for the Department and Arm’s Length Bodies.  Prior to May 2016 Heather was Deputy Secretary, Resources in the Department for Employment and Learning from September 2013.   Heather held various posts in the Department for Social Development from 2003 to 2013, including Deputy Secretary, Resources and Social Policy Group, Director of Housing and Director of Financial Management and Planning in the Social Security Agency.

Heather is a qualified member of CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) with over 20 years of post qualification financial management experience and has served on the Institute’s Council.  Heather was appointed to the Court of the University of Glasgow in 2014, serves on various university committees and is Chair of the Audit Committee.

Darina Armstrong

Darina Armstrong

Darina is Chief Executive of Progressive Building Society.  Progressive is Northern Ireland’s largest locally owned financial institution. It provides a range of savings accounts and mortgages for home ownership. 

Darina was appointed Chief Executive on 1 January 2011, having previously held the role of Finance Director. She is a Chartered Accountant and has a MSc in Executive Leadership. 

In 2013 she was elected to serve on the UK Council of the Building Societies Association - the first ever female to hold such a position (it was formed in 1869)  and the first Council representative from a Northern Ireland based building society.

Progressive Building Society was the first UK building society to sign up to The Women in Finance Charter. This ensures that the Society continues to support the values of equality and diversity in the workplace. Darina has experience of mentoring and has also spoken at previous Women in Business NI events. She has received the Women in Business Outstanding Management / Leadership Award.

Tracy Hurst

Tracy Hurst

Tracy Hurst is the Global Head of Sourcing Operations for Alexander Mann Solutions. Together with her team Tracy is currently responsible for an operation that encompassing the talent attraction and engagement activities that support over 65 blue-chip clients world-wide.

Tracy qualified with an Honours Degree in Biochemical Sciences from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. She is a member of the CIPD and holds a Diploma in Management. Over the course of her 16 year career, Tracy has worked across the Healthcare, Medical Device and Investment Banking sectors in the UK, Ireland and across many countries in mainland Europe.

Tracy began her working life as a scientist, soon moving into scientific recruitment and she eventually led a UK-wide Contingent RPO contract with a Healthcare and Life Sciences company in England. Having relocated from England to Northern Ireland in 2008, Tracy joined Alexander Mann Solutions in 2010 and took up an on-site leadership role in Ireland followed by a number of leadership positions for European solutions in the Healthcare and Life Sciences sector. In recent times, Tracy also led the early development and growth of Alexander Mann Solutions’ sixth global client service centre, which is located on Great Victoria Street in Belfast.

Link to personal profile: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/tracyhurst
Company Website: www.alexandermannsolutions.com

Morning Session

08.15 Registration, Tea & Coffee, Exhibition Stands & Networking

09.00 Welcome & Official Opening – Claire Mc Collum

09.15 The Future for Leaders and Leadership – Molly Harvey, Harvey Global

09.50 The Future of Business – Regina Moran, Fujitsu – Keynote Speaker

10.30 The Future of Business – Northern Ireland – Panel Discussion

11.15 The Future is Diversity – 5 Gender Diversity Champions Announced


11.45 Lunch Group 1 & Mentoring Market
12.45 Lunch Group 2 & Mentoring Market

Room 1 -Tracy Hurst (Alexander Mann Solutions), Edel Doherty (QA Travel)

Room 2 -Darina Armstrong (The Progressive Building Society), Diane Mulholland (EHI)

Room 3-Catriona Dowling (Warrenpoint Harbour), Heather Cousins (Dept. of the Economy)

Afternoon Session

13.45 Welcome Back – Claire Mc Collum

13.50 Address by Minister for the Economy Mr Simon Hamilton MLA

14.00 Your Future Career needs Energy – Carla Tully, AES

14.20 Promoting your Future Business – Samantha Kelly, Tweeting Goddess

14.50 Future Proofing – Timandra Harkness, Presenter, Writer & Comedian – Keynote Speaker

15.30 Afternoon tea and networking

16.00 Conference Close

Many thanks to our sponsors

Many thanks to our sponsors

Title Sponsor - Fujitsu 
Conference Partner - Go For It 
Conference Partner - Department for the Economy
Venue Partner - Ramada Plaza, Shaws Bridge

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