IoD NI Women’s Leadership Conference returns to Belfast

Stellar line up help to celebrate International Women’s Day

 “Connecting with people, with unlikely allies, is how we unlock real change,” that’s the message from health and education advocate, Sarah Brown, as she delivered the keynote address at Friday’s (10th March) Institute of Directors Women in Leadership Conference.

The British podcast host and author of ‘Behind the Black Door’, a personal memoir of her life at 10 Downing Street, was speaking at the annual conference which was attended by more than 500 delegates, eager to mark the return of the first face to face conference since 2020.

Throughout her address, Sarah spoke about childcare, the need to invest in youth skills, and how education could be used to tackle many global problems including child and forced marriage and the climate crisis.

She told the Belfast audience at the Crowne Plaza Hotel that throughout all of the global and grassroots campaigns her team had been involved with the three key ingredients needed to bring about effective and meaningful change were patience, organisation and teamwork.

The theme for the conference, which has been principally sponsored by legal firm Herbert Smith Freehills for five years, was ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’ and each of the speakers who took to the stage gave an in depth account of how this mantra had encouraged and inspired them throughout their varied careers.

This included Dr. Sinéad Kane, a double PhD Doctorate and double Guinness World Record holder; Baroness Floella Benjamin, DBE; Gráinne McNamara, Managing Director Accenture and Dame Kelly Holmes, Olympic, Commonwealth & European champion.

Other highlights involved a £4K pitch competition during which 3 fledgling entrepreneurs vied for a significant funding prize to boost their business. After a live audience vote, this was won by Catrin Kincaid, founder of Cubefun, an educational game for children, who intends to use the prize fund to develop an updated version of her product specifically for use in healthcare settings.

During her opening remarks, National Director, IoD NI, Kirsty McManus told the conference it was an honour to be celebrating International Women’s Day with so many accomplished women.

“After a challenging time for many in our local economy, being able to come together and celebrate the successes of our speakers, sponsors, and delegates is a timely reminder of the importance of making time to reflect on our own achievements and leadership ambitions.

“The calibre of our speakers was truly exceptional and I am sure their words will resonate with our audience long after the conference has come to a close and help them introduce new ideas and opportunities within their own organisations.”

Lisa McLaughlin, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, added:

“Once again it has been a pleasure to support the IoD Women’s Leadership Conference and I’m proud of how our organisations have worked together to grow this event and broaden it’s reach.

“This partnership has also delivered a great many benefits to our own colleagues who have learned so much from attending over the years. It has become a standout event and one our Belfast team looks forward to participating in every year.”

Other sponsors of the event included The Open University, Translink, NIE Networks, Danske Bank and KPMG, NIE Networks, Civica, Lexus Belfast and SONI along with The Irish News who came on board as the official media partner in 2022.

The  IoD NI Women’s Leadership Conference returns to Belfast on Friday 8th March 2024.

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