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.
Current Agenda (subject to change)
09.30 – 09.40 Welcome from Women in Business NI – Roseann Kelly MBE
Introduction of Conference no-host Norah Casey
09.40 – 09.45 InterTradeIreland sponsor message
09.45 – 10.15 In Conversation with Sharon Thorne
10.15 – 10.45 Speaker: Norah Casey
10.45 – 11.00 Coffee Break
11.00 – 11.40 2% panel discussion
Panel discussion with Elaine Birchall, CEO of SHS Group &
Sara Venning, CEO of NI Water
Chaired by Roseann Kelly MBE & Norah Casey
11.40 – 12.10 Speaker: Alyse Nelson
12.10 – 12.20 Summary & Close by WIB Chair, Nichola Robinson