WIB Voices of Leadership Virtual Conference

Watch the WIB Voices of Leadership Virtual Conferece live from 9.30am on Thursday 5th November by clicking on the weblink below:


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The effectiveness of female leaders in handling the COVID-19 crisis has received a lot of media attention with evidence showing that outcomes are systematically better in countries led by women. Some say that this success is based on honest open communication with their countries, and for clearly showing their people that they care. Are these the characteristics of a true leader? Are we now prepared to acknowledge that Compassion is strength, Kindness is strength, Empathy is strength.
This virtual half-day conference from 09.30 - 12.20 will broadcast live from The MAC Belfast and will shine a spotlight on global leaders and hear their perspectives on effective leadership.

If you want to understand why we need more diversity in leadership and how we might achieve this, then register for free today for Voices of Leadership.
Conference Running Order (subject to change)
09.30 – 09.35  Welcome from conference host – Sarah Travers
09.35 – 09.40  Introduction of conference co-host Roseann Kelly MBE
09.40 – 09.45  A message from our sponsor InterTradeIreland
09.45 – 10.15  Sharon Thorne, Global Chair of Deloitte – a conversation on leadership
10.15 – 10.45  Norah Casey – Women Rising: surviving and thriving through the pandemic
10.45 – 11.00  Comfort Break
11.00 – 11.05  What Leadership and Success Means to Me
11.05 – 11.45   The 2% Panel Discussion with Elaine Birchall, CEO of SHS Group & Sara Venning, CEO of NI Water.  Joined by Roseann Kelly MBE and chaired by Sarah Travers
11.45 – 12.15              Alyse Nelson, CEO & President of Vital Voices Global Partnership
12.15 – 12.20              Summary & Close by Women in Business NI Chair, Nichola Robinson
The conference is free of charge and we are partnering with many all-island business organisations as supporting partners:


Women in Business NI is delighted to announce our amazing line up of speakers:



Sharon Thorne, Global Board Chair, Deloitte

Sharon is the chair of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. Prior to leading the board, Sharon was the deputy CEO and managing partner Global & Strategy of Deloitte North West Europe (NWE), and a member of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. She is an advocate for collective action on environmental sustainability and climate change and has long championed Deloitte’s ambition to achieve higher representation of women in leadership globally.

Sharon’s other board experience includes six years on the Confederation of British Industry Board of Directors and four years as a Trustee for Prostate Cancer UK. She is a current member of the A4S Advisory Council, the Social Progress Imperative Board of Directors, and the Stewardship Board of the World Economic Forum Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society.
Sharon graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Economics, and Politics; and she is a fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. She lives in the UK with her husband John and their two dogs, has three grown-up stepdaughters, and enjoys watching Manchester United and playing golf.
Alyse Nelson, President & CEO, Vital Voices Global Partnership
Alyse Nelson is president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership. A cofounder of Vital Voices, Alyse has worked for the organization for more 22 years, serving as vice president and senior director of programs before assuming her current role in 2009. Under her leadership, Vital Voices has expanded its reach to serve over 16,000 women leaders across 181 countries and territories.
Previously, Alyse served as deputy director of the State Department’s Vital Voices Global Democracy Initiative and worked with the President’s Interagency Council on Women at the White House.
Alyse is author of the best-selling book “Vital Voices: the Power of Women Leading Change Around the World” and a regular speaker on leadership and global women’s issues. She has spoken before the United Nations General Assembly, the Clinton Global Intiative, Fortune Most Powerful Women, Oxford Student Union, Women in the World, among others. She has conducted leadership training with women at the Central Intelligence Agency, DFID, the UK Development Agency, Fortune 1000 companies and at numerous conferences. 
Alyse is a Member in the Council on Foreign Relations and  serves as an official Observer for the World Bank’s We-fi Initiative for Women Entrepreneurs.  She serves on advisory boards for The B Team, Chime for Change and Global Citizen. Fortune Magazine named Alyse one of the 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter and she was featured as one of Newsweek’s 150 Women Shaking the World. Alyse was honored in 2015 with a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award and in 2018 Apolitical named her one of the most influential people in global gender policy.
Norah Casey, Award Winning Business Woman and Broadcaster
Norah was anchor of the successful daily radio Breakfast Show on Newstalk and co-hosted The Today show on RTE 1 every Friday during the 2012/2013 season. In 2013, she decided to leave the successful business entrepreneur show Dragons’ Den to pursue a full-time career in radio and television. Her investment portfolio is diverse and includes online and traditional media businesses.
Her television series Norah’s Traveller Academy was aired on RTE in Spring 2015. She presented 13 episodes of The Takeover with RTE 2 – transforming business through staff mentorship. Her documentary titled Way to Go, exploring issues around death and the Irish, aired on RTE 1 in July 2014.
Norah is owner and Chairwoman of Ireland’s largest magazine publishing company Harmonia, printing over four million magazines annually for the Irish, British and USA market and selling on average 2.6 million in the Irish market annually. She founded the company and was CEO until October 2013. Harmonia publishes the top three best-selling women’s magazines in Ireland – Irish Tatler, Woman’s Way and U Magazine – along with a range of lifestyle and consumer titles such as Woman’s Way, CookBook, Food&Wine Magazine, Irish Tatler Man, Ireland of the Welcomes and Auto Ireland.
With a strong portfolio of brands and events from having run many successful publishing companies in London, Norah bought her own business, Harmonia, in 2004.  A journalist and former nurse, Norah was awarded Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year 2007/8, and has been Ireland’s Publisher of the Year no fewer than four times. She has served on numerous boards, and is currently a member of the Press Council of Ireland, the London-based Women’s Irish Network and The International Women’s Forum.
Elaine Birchall, CEO, SHS Group
Elaine is one of only two female CEOs on the Top 100 business list in Northern Ireland.
A graduate of Dublin City University, Elaine commenced her career in financial management with Grand Metropolitan and Coca-Cola before joining Colgate Palmolive. In 2008, Elaine joined PZ Cussons as Managing Director of PZ Cussons UK and subsequently moved to their Executive Board and ran PZ Cussons Africa managing operations in Nigeria, Ghana & Kenya.
She joined the SHS Group in 2015 as CEO. The SHS Group has been operating in Northern Ireland for 40 years and has grown its turnover to over £500m, employing over 1,100 people throughout the UK and Ireland. The Group owns brands such as WKD, Shloer, bottlegreen and distributes a range of brands including Colgate, Nurofen and Mars Drinks.  In addition, the Group is the largest supplier of own label Herbs & Spices and Condiments in GB. Elaine developed and launched a five-year strategy entitled Vision 21. This sets the ambition for the SHS Group Commercial Divisions and Centres of Excellence and is built on the core pillars of Category Growth, Operational Excellence and Our People.  Elaine has also led strategic acquisitions since taking up her CEO position. She has also played a pivotal role in the introduction of a formalised CR Framework centred on three key areas: People, Planet and Place.
Her continued commitment to diversity & inclusion won the SHS Group the Bronze Diversity Mark and she was the recipient of the Business Woman of the Year at the Women in Business NI Awards 2018.
Sara Venning, CEO, NI Water
Sara Venning is the only other female CEO on the Top 100 business list in Northern Ireland.
Sara started her career as an electrical engineer with Northern Ireland Electricity.  Sara joined NI Water in April 2010, as Director of Customer Service Delivery and was appointed CEO of NI Water in April 2014. 
Northern Ireland Water provides water and wastewater services for almost 1.8 million people in Northern Ireland – producing 570 million litres of clean water per day and treating 340 million litres of wastewater.  NI Water is proud to hold the Bronze Diversity Mark for commitment to Diversity and Inclusion and has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development.  The Company has plans to significantly ramp up its investment in infrastructure, enabling a green growth strategy that will support a healthy and thriving population, a growing economy and a flourishing natural environment.
November 05 2020
WIB Voices of Leadership Virtual Conference

09.30 - 12.30


Members: £0
Non members: £0


Online - live broadcast from The MAC Belfast

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