Women in Business Leadership Conference: Tackling Success

Past Conferences

Date: 4 May 2017


About the Event

Over 200 men and women gathered at the La Mon Hotel & Country Club to attend the Annual Women in Business Conference on Thursday 4th May.

This year the theme was ‘tackling success’ with a focus on leadership in business and sport, featuring exceptional leaders from both backgrounds.

Speakers included Suzanne Wylie, CEO of Belfast City Council, former Ulster, Ireland and Lions Rugby player Stephen Ferris and players from the Irish Womens Rugby team ahead of the Womens Rugby World Cup which is being hosted locally this year.

In the year that Ireland hosts the Womens Rugby World Cup 2017 delegates were treated to inspiring and motivating high profile local business and sporting leaders who spoke about how they have overcome personal and business obstacles on their journey to success.

Hosted by top Northern Ireland TV Sports Presenter- Stephen Watson, delegates also heard from Libby Jackson, Global Head of Alternative Legal Services at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP who pioneered the opening of the Belfast office in 2011 which has grown from 19 staff members to approximately 200. Libby now leads the Alternative legal Services, a global team of 400 lawyers around the globe 

Alasdair McKee owner of Offload Rugby tackled key topics such as Teamwork, Vision and Leadership. 

The conference also included networking sessions, lunch and breakout workshops with members of the Irish Womens Rugby Team.

Many thanks to our Conference Sponsors.


Morning Session

09:00- Registration, Tea & Coffee, Exhibition Stands & Networking

09:30- Welcome & Official Opening

09:45- Keynote Speaker- Suzanne Wylie- Winning for Belfast – the Tries and the Trials

10:30- Speaker- Libby Jackson- Coming out of the Scrum

11:00- Tea/Coffee Break, Networking, Exhibition Viewing

11:30- Welcome Back- Stephen Watson

11:35- Speaker- Alasdair McKee- Staying on top of your game

12:15- Interview and Panel Discussion with Irish Women Rugby Players

13:00- Lunch, Networking & Exhibition Viewing

Afternoon Session

14:00- Breakouts with Irish Ladies Rugby Team Players

14:25- Welcome Back- Stephen Watson

14:30- Speaker- Stephen Ferris- From Back Row to Front Row

15:00- Conference Close


Suzanne Wylie - Chief Executive of Belfast City Council

Suzanne Wylie - Chief Executive of Belfast City Council

Suzanne Wylie, our 2016 Outstanding Businesswoman of the Year,   took up the post of Chief Executive of Belfast City Council from 1 July 2014.  Belfast City Council is the largest Council in Northern Ireland with 2,400 staff and with a responsibility for providing services to the 333,000 people who live in the city. 

Since taking up the post Suzanne has been leading the Council’s new City Plan, the Belfast Agenda 2030, which is focused on economic growth and connecting neighbourhoods and people to the opportunities it creates. 

Suzanne is hugely optimistic about the potential of the city in terms of the economy, jobs, skills, tourism, and culture. 

Suzanne has worked for Belfast City Council for 28 years and previously held the position of Director of Health and Environmental Services from 2010, and she is focused on positioning the City Council as a key driver in the continued growth of Belfast.


Libby Jackson - Global Head of Alternative Legal Services Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Libby Jackson - Global Head of Alternative Legal Services Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Libby leads the Alternative Legal Services business, launched in June 2015, which brings together all the key parts of HSF’s alternative legal services offering to create a global team of approximately 400 lawyers, legal assistants and technologists. This business unites their client technology teams (Information Logistics, Australia, and Disputes Data Management, London) and their Belfast office.

Libby was Director of the pioneering Belfast office when it opened in 2011 – the first UK-based near-shore legal operation to be set up by an international law firm. The office began life with 19 fee earners initially to focus on large-scale document intensive aspects of litigation and regulatory investigations. In 2015 the team comprises approximately 200 legal staff. The Belfast office is now led by Belfast office Director Lisa McLaughlin, who set up the office with Libby in 2011.

The key products and services provided by the Alternative Legal Services team include document review, regulatory claims assessment, due diligence, verification, commercial contracts, funds repapering/specialist work, client technology services (including advisory and document review software) and asset management for real estate clients. The team also has experience delivering bespoke projects for clients, including placing resource in-house or providing insourced legal teams.

Alasdair McKee - Ulster Rugby

Alasdair McKee - Ulster Rugby

Alasdair has worked in development roles with Ulster Rugby as well as having been Head Coach of Ulster Juniors and coaching within the Ulster Clubs under 16s and under 17s squads. He is IRFU Level 2 accredited and also an IRFU Tutor and Observer. Alasdair is the Head Coach of Grosvenor RFC and has previously been Head Coach of both Enniskillen RFC and Academy RFC. He set up Offload Rugby in May 2015. 

Stephen Ferris - Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions Rugby

Stephen Ferris - Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions Rugby

A British and Irish Lion in 2009, 35 Ireland caps , 106 Ulster caps, the big man needs no introduction. A member of the 2009 Ireland Grand Slam winning team, Stevie has made a global impact on our beloved game. If it moved he hit it. These days he is a level 1 IRFU coach and is a tremendous motivational speaker. We are proud to have him on the Offload team and his role will be both classroom and pitch based as well as product endorsement for our clients.

Sene Naoupu

Sene Naoupu

Sene has been playing rugby since the age of 13, having played with North Otago and Hawkes Bay in her native New Zealand before continuing the game in Ireland.

She is part of a strong sporting family, with her husband George playing for Connacht, having previously played Sevens for New Zealand and her sister playing with Otago back in New Zealand.  Sene has several caps for the Irish Women’s team and is a qualified health and fitness coach.


Louise Galvin

Louise Galvin

Louise has excelled across a range of sports, having captained UL Huskies to multiple titles in basketball, she also captained Ireland at underage level.

Louise has also played GAA football for her home county of Kerry, winning the Munster Championship and National League as well as representing Munster at interprovincial level. Louise is a qualified physiotherapist.


Nikki Caughey

Nikki Caughey

Caughey has been involved with the Irish national side since 2012. She is a member of the Irish Sevens programme as well as playing club rugby with Railway Union, having previously played with her local club Belfast Harlequins.

Nikki is comfortable at both out-half and centre and is also known for her physicality in defence

Stephen Watson

Stephen Watson

Stephen Watson of the BBC is renowned for his passion for all things sporting which has made him one of Northern Ireland’s leading TV sports presenters. A politics graduate of Queen’s University, he took up a post in UTV in 1993 before moving to his present post in BBC NI six years later.

As a British Transplant Games gold medal winner in his own right, Stephen’s infectious enthusiasm for sport has been reflected in his in-depth coverage of many of the world’s most prestigious events, including Football and Rugby World Cup Finals, Golf’s four majors, The Olympics, World Championship Boxing, Commonwealth Games and the Six Nations Championship.

As one of the main presenters on BBC NI’s Newsline, Stephen presented the station’s coverage of the Olympics from Rio and Ryder Cup in Minnesota in 2016, and was also was part of the BBC network football team at Euro 2016.

La Mon Hotel



La Mon Hotel & Country Club
41 Gransha Road
Castlereagh, Belfast
BT23 5RF, Northern Ireland

Many thanks to our Sponsors Belfast City Council and The Progressive Building Society