Conference Speakers

We have many excellent speakers at our 2017 Conference, see their profiles below.

Conall Ó Moráin, Presenter, “The Sunday Business Show”, Today FM

Conference Chair

Conall O MorainConall is a graduate of University College Dublin where he studied economics and politics, was elected Students’ Union President and from where he launched his first media venture, the best-selling student newspaper ‘Gobshout’.

He worked in RTE as the national station’s first ever Business Correspondent and followed this with almost a decade as an institutional stockbroker and director/shareholder with ABN AMRO Stockbrokers. After that he taught enterprise in DCU followed by some years as director of the corporate division of a major Dublin PR company.

He set up his own broad-based communications company, The Media Group in 2001 that has published newspapers, made TV programmes and nowadays has a growing presence in social media and PR.

As well as presenting the Sunday Business Show on Today FM, he chairs and MCs business related events nationally and internationally. He also writes and comments on business and economic matters in print and on broadcast media and is a board member of the Irish International Business Network.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation

Opening the Conference

Minister Frances Fitzgerald T.D.Frances Fitzgerald serves as An Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and she has also been appointed Minister for Enterprise and Innovation since 14th June 2017.

Her priorities include driving employment growth and investment in Ireland, especially outside the greater Dublin area, expanding our enterprise agencies presence abroad and ensuring Ireland is business ready for Brexit. She is a TD for the constituency of Dublin Mid-West, a former social worker and a parliamentarian for over 20 years. Frances entered politics as a campaigner on social issues immediately after her tenure as chairperson of the National Women’s Council.

She was appointed Minister for Justice and Equality in 2014 and in that portfolio led a programme of reform and prioritised progressive legislation. Introducing legislation for the Marriage Equality referendum ranks as one of the proudest moments in Frances political career.

She was Ireland’s first senior Minister for Children and Youth Affairs serving from 2011-2014. Between 2007 and 2011 Frances served as Leader of the Opposition in the Irish Senate, having previously served as TD for ten years before that. In opposition she served in six different portfolios including Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Defence, Social Community & Family Affairs, Equality & Family Affairs, and Social Welfare. She served as Spokesperson on Health and Children while in the Senate. Frances holds a B.Soc.Science in UCD and an MSc. in Social Administration and Social Work in the London School of Economics. She is married to Michael and has three sons.

Ciaran Murtagh, Chairman, ISME

Chairman's Address

Ciaran MurtaghAs well as being ISME's Chairman, Ciaran Murtagh is Managing Director of Shay Murtagh Precast, a family company and leading specialist in the design manufacture and installation of precast concrete products.

With over 20 years’ experience in the Civil Engineering industry he has been personally involved in the research and innovation of new products within the company and has developed the Septec Wastewater Treatment system and Rainman Rainwater Harvesting System from their inception. Ciaran brought the Company to the UK market in 2007 and it is now seen as the leading provider off-site value engineering solutions to the UK and Irish infrastructure sector.

Ciaran is a graduate of Civil Engineering of Dublin Institute of Technology Bolton St. and Sligo Institute of Technology. He also completed a Post Grad Degree in International Selling in Dublin Institute of technology in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland.

Ciaran was Vice Chairman from 2015 - May 2017 and became Chairman in June 2017.

Michael Cawley, Chairman, Fáilte Ireland

Keynote Speech

Michael CawleyMichael Cawley was appointed as Chairman of Fáilte Ireland’s Authority in May 2014, having previously worked with Ryanair for 17 years until his retirement in March 2014, most recently as Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer.

A native of Cork and Chartered Accountant, Michael worked in a number of different industries including distribution and manufacturing. He led a management buy-out in Athlone Extrusions in 1991 and prior to joining Ryanair he was the Finance Director of the Gowan Group, one of Ireland’s largest private companies.

Since joining Ryanair in February of 1997 he was centrally involved in the IPO of the company in May of that year, assumed the additional responsibilities as Commercial Director in September 1997 and has also seen the company secure a listing on the London Stock Exchange in June of 1998. In February 2003 Michael was appointed Chief Operating Officer & Deputy Chief Executive. Since 1997 Ryanair’s route network has increased from 12 routes to over 1,600 and its passenger numbers from 3 million to an expected 81.5 million in the current fiscal year.

In March 2014 Michael stepped down from his full-time Executive role and joined the Board of Ryanair Plc in a Non-Executive capacity on 1st May 2014. He was appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Paddy Power Plc in July 2013.

Cilian Fennell, Director, Stillwater Communications

Crafting Your Own Story – Storytelling Workshop

Cilian FennellCilian is a Director of Stillwater Communications and is one of Ireland’s leading communications and messaging development consultants. He is known for his authenticity, passion and understanding of storytelling and communication, and works with leaders across all sectors in Ireland and internationally. His experience in media, politics, business and the NGO sector has given Cilian a deep understanding of how society works and he uses this understanding to give relevant and timely strategic advice.

Cilian grew up in Connemara in the west of Ireland where he developed a love for storytelling. After travelling extensively as a fisherman and sailor he began a successful career in television. His experiences as producer of the Late Late Show in RTÉ and Head of Programmes in TG4 gave him an insight into communication, connection and engagement with a wide range of audiences. This led him to a further exploration of narrative, mythology and belief systems which he uses widely in his work today.

Cilian has successfully adapted the story model to a business model and now helps companies, teams and individuals to discover, develop and deliver their story effectively. Working with narrative inquiry he guides organisations to find the true story that drives them and helps them articulate it to their various audiences. He works as a strategic advisor, coach and consultant to some of the world’s biggest organisations and has worked with domestic and multinational companies in Ireland, UK, US, Middle East and Asia. He also works with state and semi-state bodies such as the Department of An Taoiseach, ESB, Dublin Bus and RTÉ in the areas of media training, corporate messaging, and communications strategies.

Cilian also has extensive experience coaching start-ups and established businesses that are pitching for investment or growth opportunities. He is a regular contributor to technology incubators and start-up bootcamps in San Francisco, London and Dublin, helping teams to hone their stories and deliver compelling pitches.

Cilian is a regular speaker at seminars and conferences in Ireland and abroad and in 2016 was the Creator & Producer of RTÉ’s award-winning Centenary show.

Niall Rooney, FP Logue Solicitors

Breakout Session - How to prepare for GDPR

Niall Rooney Niall Rooney is an experienced legal and business professional and is a consultant with FP Logue Solicitors in the areas of IP, data protection, privacy and regulatory law. Niall is a specialist in data protection compliance and GDPR preparedness. He also has extensive expertise in legal and regulatory issues relating to branding, designing, labelling, advertising and marketing.

He has worked with a wide range of clients, from startups and SMEs to international brands, with a focus on technology, software, retail and consumer goods sectors. Niall is a qualified solicitor and currently sits on the IP & Data Protection Committee of the Law Society of Ireland.

Mark Sterritt, Brexit Advisory Services Manager, InterTrade Ireland

Breakout Session - Is Your Business Brexit-Ready?

Mark Sterritt Mark Sterritt has a background in financial services and is Manager for the Brexit Advisory Service which provides SMEs with reliable information and practical assistance towards navigating the implications that Brexit may have on their business.

InterTradeIreland help businesses explore new cross-border markets, develop new products, processes and services and become investor ready. Providing practical cross-border business funding, business intelligence and meaningful contacts to SMEs across the island, North and South, IntertradeIreland is ideal for any Irish business looking to grow their market. To date 32,000 small businesses have been supported by InterTradeIreland to identify and develop all-island trade and innovation opportunities.

John McGrane, Director General, British Irish Chamber of Commerce

Three-and-a-Half Steps to Turn threat into Opportunity

John McGrane John McGrane is Director General of The British Irish Chamber of Commerce, a private sector organisation which he co-founded in 2011 to represent businesses with interests in the two islands and their economies. He is a retired financial services professional having completed a 40 year career with the Royal Bank of Scotland / Ulster Bank Group in Ireland. His career has spanned substantial initiatives in the enterprise and corporate sectors, both indigenous and foreign direct investment.

He is Founder of NSI Technology, a tech start-up which helps Not For Profits become Not For Losses. He is also a Director at Dublin Chamber of Commerce and a number of charities. He retains active roles in the Cultural, Tourism and Trade Development sectors, having served on a number of related Boards and Government Taskforces.

Siobhan O' Connor, Managing Director, Codex

In Conversation with Siobhan O’Connor

Siobhan O' Connor Siobhan O’Connor, Managing Director of Codex Office Solutions, has worked in the Supply Industry for many years. Siobhan has worked for both European and Global companies and is experienced in delivering new solutions to help companies both grow their business and also to assist companies to change direction and prepare for the future through many different means.

Siobhan firmly believes that it is the “People that create great companies” if you can bring people on the journey with you then a company will thrive.

Siobhan is an experienced Sales professional who builds long term relationships, through always ensuring she delivers what she has promised.

Dr Lorcan Sirr, DIT

The Great Debate: SMEs & New Socialism

Dr Lorcan Sirr Dr Lorcan Sirr is a lecturer in housing at Dublin Institute of Technology. He is also Visiting Professor of Housing in the Faculty of Law at URV (Tarragona), Spain.

Lorcan's interests lie in housing in general, but particularly the rental sector and housebuilding metrics. He is a weekly columnist with The Sunday Times and acts as a consultant to groups as varied as housing charities, stockbrokers, trades unions and the arts community.

He has an MA from the Katholiek Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and an MA and PhD from the University of Manchester.

Mannix Flynn, Councillor

The Great Debate: SMEs & New Socialism

Mannix Flynn Mannix Flynn has served at all levels in Dublin City Council as an Independent for the past 7 years.

He has championed, positive social change and 21st century enlightenment, bedded in accountability, good governance and transparency. He has worked tirelessly within communities on housing and policing issues resulting in the deployment of extra Gardaí and safety policies within our city.

Mannix is active in city regeneration within the business community, focusing on reductions in overall commercial and domestic charges and better incentives which will enhance economic competitiveness and community cohesion.

He is a keen supporter for strong vibrant communities, knowing that best opportunities are found in the way we relate to one another. Cultural values and an appreciation of the physicality of the built and natural elements of our city is what builds a flourishing and sustainable society.

Jim O’Leary, Economist & Columnist

The Great Debate: SMEs & New Socialism

Jim O' Leary Jim O’Leary’s career has spanned the public and private sectors and the groves of academe. He is a former Chief Economist with Davy Stockbrokers, a Senior Fellow of the Department of Economics at NUI Maynooth and a columnist with the Irish Times.

He has worked in the ESRI and the NESC and as an economics advisor in two government departments (An Taoiseach in 1983-84 and Finance in 2010-11). He has served on a number of boards including Aer Lingus, AIB, Gresham Hotels and Bank Zachodny WBK (Poland), as well as the Public Sector Benchmarking Body from which he resigned before publication of its first report in 2002.

He is currently affiliated to the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway.

Susan Hayes, Managing Director, Hayes Culleton & Author

The Great Debate: SMEs & New Socialism

Susan Hayes Susan Hayes is Managing Director of Hayes Culleton and co-author of the very recently published “Positive Economics”, a Leaving Certificate Economics textbook and “The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Financial Freedom” with Penguin Ireland.

Hayes Culleton Ltd is an international financial training company that specializes in eLearning development and delivery. Susan introduced the company to the international markets in 2011 and was nominated for the Enterprise Europe Network Rising Star Awards last year. In 2008, she wrote a digitised module called “Introducing Wall Street to the Classroom” to make the stock market approachable and accessible for second level students.

Susan regularly contributes to the national and international media including The Sunday Times (Malta), Irish Post (UK), RTE, Newstalk and Today FM (Ireland), as “The Positive Economist” on matters relating to economics, the stock market and entrepreneurship.

Tom Lyons, Deputy Editor, Sunday Business Post

The Great Debate: SMEs & New Socialism

Tom Lyons Tom Lyons is Business Editor and Associate Editor of the Sunday Business Post.

Lyons was previously senior business correspondent with The Irish Times, deputy business editor with The Sunday Independent and business editor of Newstalk.

An award winning investigative journalist, he is the co-author of two books: ‘The Fitzpatrick Tapes, the rise and fall of one man, one bank and one country’ and ‘Fingers, the man who brought down Irish Nationwide.’