Dame Floella Benjamin to headline IoD NI Women's Leadership Conference 2023

The Institute of Directors NI has announced that former children’s tv presenter and social activist, Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE, is to headline the 2023 Women’s Leadership Conference.

Taking place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Friday 10th March 2023, this will be the first return to a physical conference the event has been held online because of the pandemic.

Around 500 delegates are expected to attend the full-day conference which is delivered in partnership with international law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills.

Host Susan Hayes Culleton will oversee proceedings once again bringing her unique style of presenting and sense of fun to the event, which has been a firm fixture in the calendar of local business leaders for 14 years.

Baroness Floella Benjamin shot to fame many years ago as the host of popular children’s tv programme, Playschool. Since then, she has had many successful roles both as an actor and a singer but it is through her activism and work on social justice issues that has gained her the most recognition.

Her long list of accolades include becoming the first female Chancellor of colour at a UK university and one of the first female actors to be admitted to the House of Lords. Earlier this year she chaired the Windrush Committee, unveiling a statue in London to honour those who had been wrongly deported from the UK in the 1960s. Throughout each of her roles, Dame Floella has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, something IoD National Director in Northern Ireland, Kirsty McManus thinks will inspire those attending the conference next year.

“Each year we invite inspirational women to speak at our leadership conference so it’s a huge honour to be able to bring Dame Floella to Belfast. Her story is a truly remarkable one and I’m especially looking forward to hearing her thoughts about maintaining good leadership, particularly in the face of adversity.

“It’s wonderful that we are able to return to a face-to-face event for the first time since 2020 and I’m grateful to all of our sponsors, particularly the team at Herbert Smith Freehills and our media partner, The Irish News, for supporting us to deliver the event once again.

“With more high-profile speakers being announced in due course, I would encourage anyone interested to secure their conference tickets as early as possible and join us for what promises to be an unmissable event for local business leaders.”

Lisa McLaughlin, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills Belfast, said that her organisation was pleased to team up with the IoD once again to support the conference.

“As an organisation, we are passionate about growing and developing our female leaders and so partnering with the IoD to deliver this event very much reflects our company ethos.

“It is so important to recognise the contribution female leaders have made to society and we are proud to work with the IoD to continue to provide a platform to elevate these changemakers and innovators and inspire the next generation of leaders to make their own mark on public life.”

As well as Dame Floella Benjamin, Gráinne McNamara, Managing Director at Accenture has also been confirmed as a speaker. Based in New York, the Donegal native has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry and using technology to drive positive change for large corporations.

Other sponsors of the event include NIE Networks, KPMG, Danske Bank, The Open University, Civica, SONI, The Irish News and Translink

To secure a spot at the conference and to keep up to date with the full list of speakers as they are announced, click here or follow the IoD’s social media channels.

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