Gráinne Walsh takes over as Director at Stratagem after merger with Connect

Gráinne Walsh has been appointed Director of Stratagem, Northern Ireland’s leading public affairs agency, replacing company founder, Quintin Oliver, who led the business for over 20 years. A former Head of Consultancy with Stratagem, Gráinne has been part of the company’s leadership for the past six years, and has played a key role in helping organisations to shape the political and policy landscape in Northern Ireland through her expert advice.
 
Gráinne’s appointment comes after Westminster-based agency Connect merged with Stratagem, making the group the fastest growing independently owned public affairs agency in the UK.
 
The move sees Gráinne join the leadership team across Belfast and London, whilst locally in Belfast she will be supported by an all-female Senior Management Team, with Claire Flynn promoted to Head of Consultancy and Anna Mercer serving as a Senior Consultant. The initiative comes at a pivotal political moment, with Northern Ireland playing a key role in Westminster politics and Brexit negotiations.
 
The move grows the overall Connect group team to 35 consultants and its projected group fee income to £3m, and Stratagem will continue to operate within its own established brand for the foreseeable future.
 
Speaking about the developments, Gráinne said:
 
Our merger with leading independent public affairs agency Connect represents a fantastic opportunity for Stratagem. I am excited to be leading a dynamic team here in Belfast, whose energy and talent will drive us to continue to offer a first-class service to our clients.
 
“These are changing times in politics and public policy, and it is now the right time for Stratagem to become part of a UK wide team with Connect and broaden our overall offer.” 
 
Gráinne, a native of Dublin, has worked across all government departments and with every political party, including extensive engagement at Westminster, Whitehall, Dublin, Brussels and local government.
 
Specialising in areas including sustainable development, local government, energy, poverty and public health issues, Gráinne has worked with clients in many sectors against a changing political backdrop that includes of four Assemblies, seven Secretaries of State, and two suspensions.
 
With a particular interest in the election campaigns and political communication, she has trained and advised political parties and election candidates in GB, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
 
Gráinne is a member of the Institute of Directors, the Public Affairs Board of the PRCA and is Chair of Housing Rights. Gráinne has been on the board of Arts & Business Northern Ireland since January 2015
She has Bachelor of Arts (BA) International, History and Politics from University College Dublin; an MSSc in Irish Politics from Queen's University Belfast and studied comparative politics at the University of Bergen. She was awarded the Institute of Directors’ Diploma in Company Direction.