They Spoke in 2018


Director, Abacus Group

Justin is founder and Director of Abacus, a successful Belfast based group of companies that focus on recruitment, consulting and outsourcing.
Having worked with some of the biggest and smallest firms in Northern Ireland has, for the most part, been a great pleasure for Justin. The experience he has gained from working with some of the best and brightest in their fields has been enlightening, humbling and the cause of much pride.

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Founder, Trov

Mark Dowds does nothing in half measures. An accomplished endurance runner and cyclist, a serial investor and startup founder, Mark has earned a name for his ability to motivate others to get “unstuck”—to innovate in old spaces and displace established industries in the name of relevance. He brings that level of commitment to the world of tech whether he is getting a new initiative off the ground or empowering audiences around the world.

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CEO, Social Talent

Johnny is the founder and CEO of Social Talent, a company that has the lofty ambition to improve the productivity of every professional worker in the world with better knowledge, tools and data to be better at what they do.

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Chief Economist, EY

Neil Gibson is EY Chief Economist in Ireland providing economic advice, commentary and modelling input across service lines. Current areas of focus include supporting firms to prepare for Brexit, forecasting the Irish economy and working with Government clients to ensure a policy focus on long term competitiveness.

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MD, The Wall Group

Named in the Belfast Business Top 50 for 2017, Retail entrepreneur and Managing Director of The Wall Group, Gavan Wall walked away from his career as a leading Belfast Barrister to pursue his passion for business.

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MD, Thinkpeople

Emer is Managing Partner of ThinkPeople Consulting and is recognised as a leading commentator on Business Transformation, Talent Management, Learning & Development and HR. Emer is an Occupational Psychologist who has held senior positions in the banking and energy sectors, her experience advising boards and leadership teams through times of significant change has meant she is highly regarded within her peer group.

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Account Manager, Stonewall

Fergal McFerran is responsible for delivering Stonewall UK’s Diversity Champions programme in Northern Ireland, in partnership with The Rainbow Project. With over 750 of the countries largest employers as members of the programme across the UK, Fergal provides tailored advice, guidance and strategic support to employers which allows them to shape more inclusive workplaces for their staff.

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Partner, A&L Goodbody

Gareth Walls is partner and head of the A&L Goodbody Employment and Incentives team in Northern Ireland. Gareth represents a number of local, national and international brands in business support, strategic workforce planning and high profile tribunal matters. He also has significant experience in corporate immigration, redundancy, re-structuring and TUPE issues.

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Senior Lecturer, Ulster University

Laura is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the Department of Global Business and Enterprise, Ulster University Business School and Programme Director for the BSc Hons Business Studies with Options programme. She is also Chair of the Ulster University Business School Employability Committee.

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Colin has worked in business consulting and particularly within the learning and development arena for over 25 years, having come from a manufacturing background during his early career. With over 20 years of senior management and director experience, he has considerable commercial knowledge and expertise in the areas of business transformation, culture and people development, and coaching.

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Founder, The Coaching Suite

Áine Mitchell the founder and owner of The Coaching Suite is an Ashridge Accredited Executive Coach. She has extensive experience working in progressive fast moving environments at every stage of the business cycle, from start-ups to transformational change enabling business growth.

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MD, Legal Island

Jayne is Managing Director of Legal-Island, an award winning employment law training and information company. A person driven to get the best from her people, Jayne is a big advocate of coaching, and has led the company to the successful accreditation of Investors in People Gold with Platinum in her sights.

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Head of TPICAP Belfast

Rosie is an experienced Operations Director with over 25 years delivering IT transformational projects within the Financial Services sector. Rosie also has extensive senior experience in the setup and management of near shore operations in Belfast, where a critical part of her role has been to attract, retain and develop talent within these organisations. Rosie’s current role is Head of TPICAP Belfast, responsible for the delivery of the company’s Belfast growth strategy which encompasses 300 roles across multiple functions.


Director at Abacus Group

Alan has extensive legal and commercial recruitment experience, working with many of NI’s largest brands. As co-owner of Abacus, he focuses on business planning and growth, staff recruitment, managing contracts, pitching proposals and presentations, customer satisfaction and after care. His framed Diploma in Recruitment Practice offers evidence to the wider team that the elder still knows something about recruitment.

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HR Director for Cayan

Barry is a HR Director for Cayan, who are a US owned technology company, focused on transformative innovations in payments. With over 20 years’ experience across the public, private and voluntary sector Barry also shares his thoughts on HR related matters via a monthly column in the Irish News.


Founder & CEO of FinTrU

Darragh McCarthy is a graduate of UCD (BComm International – German) and started at Morgan Stanley in 1994, where he remained until late 2012. During his time at Morgan Stanley, Darragh was based in London, Frankfurt and New York and held various responsibilities including COO for Institutional Securities, COO for EMEA, Head of Fixed Income Sales North America and Head of Fixed Income Sales EMEA.

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Director, EY

Roger Eigenheer is the Head of EY’s UK&I Delivery and Innovation Centre in Belfast where he is focused on building and growing high performing, quality-oriented teams at a large scale to support client service delivery.

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Executive Director of International Business Group for Invest NI.

Steve Harper is the Executive Director of International Business Group for Invest NI. Steve has extensive local and international business experience, with a strong focus on identifying and developing opportunities in emerging markets. At Invest NI, he leads the Trade Division, International Investment Division and Invest NI’s International offices to deliver inward investment and export growth targets.

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Head of Digital Strategy at Made to Engage.

Stephen heads up the Digital Marketing and Design and User Experience operation within Made to Engage. He has nearly a quarter of a century of agency experience. The majority of which has been spent in the digital and creative marketing fields.

Stephen operates out of Made to Engage’s London office developing the strategy of the agency and its client base and working with the founders and teams within Digital Marketing and Design as we continue to develop Made to Engage.

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Service Delivery Director, Pearson Finance Services

Donna is currently Service Delivery Director in Pearson Finance Services. She has a background in finance transformation and the establishment and operation of delivery services. PFS was established in Belfast in 2016 to support the global finance functions for Pearson Plc, a FTSE 100 company. The Pearson team in Belfast continues invest in its people and grow.

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Strategic Director of Place and Economy, Belfast City Council

Alistair joined Belfast City Council in May 2018. An experienced Local Government Strategic Director who has held a range of Director roles within urban based local authorities for over 16 years, both at service and corporate level. “Sent in to deal with difficult situations”, he has secured improvements to frontline services through the setting of defined leadership goals and objectives and by driving robust systems of performance management.

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Tax Partner, EY

Rob has significant experience in advising clients on developing and executing their tax strategy. He specialises in advising private equity backed clients and on the specific tax issues related to such clients.

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