Ulster University alumni 'Women in Leadership' event

Ulster University alumni and friends 'Women in Leadership' event in Dublin

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Ulster University alumni 'Women in Leadership' event

The Development and Alumni Relations Office in partnership with Ulster University Business School invite you to a Women in Leadership event in Dublin.

Come and hear from a panel of Ulster University alumnae about their careers; business challenges and successes.

Be inspired and network with fellow Ulster graduates and friends of the University.

You can find out more about each of the panel members below:

Professor Gillian Armstrong

Director of Business Engagement, Ulster University Business School (Chair/Interviewer)

Gillian Armstrong is a Professor of Business Education and is Ulster University Business School’s first Director of Business Engagement.

She has been with Ulster University and Higher Education for over 20 years and has been actively involved in the development and management of academic excellence within the Business School. Gillian joined Ulster University in 1997 and was awarded a Senior Lectureship in 2007 and a Chair in Business Education in 2013.

Prior to her current role, she was Head of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics from 2010 – 2018 at Ulster.

Deeply committed to supporting the growth and development of the regional economy, Gillian has sought to ensure that the Business School works closely with priority sectors to actively support the supply of skills and the attractiveness of Northern Ireland as a location to do business.

She has been actively involved in the development of work based learning and innovative educational models to support employers in securing talent and in upskilling and retaining graduates in a range of sectors. She has worked in partnership with Deloitte NI to develop the first-Degree Apprenticeship programme within the region and is currently leading a Business School initiative to support Future of Work requirements.

Gillian is an active member of the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee and is a Council member of the NI Chamber of Commerce (NICC).

She is also a Visiting Professor at Hebei Geo University (HUI) in China, as a result of increasing international partnership activity, whilst her teaching and research interests are in the use of big data consumer analytics and have been supported by a range of research funders (DAERA, Invest NI).

Gillian has published in a range of academic journals, including the International Small Business Journal, the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development and was part of the REF 2014 Business and Management Studies Unit of Assessment (including a research impact case study).

Eilísh Hardiman

Chief Executive of Children's Health Ireland (CHI)

Eilísh Hardiman is Chief Executive of Children's Health Ireland (CHI). CHI commenced as a new single organisation in January 2019 and consists of three Dublin children’s hospitals at Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght.As the leading provider of children’s healthcare in Ireland CHI has multiple roles;

  • Providing highly specialised paediatric healthcare across 39 specialities, some on an all-island basis, such as the all-Ireland congenital heart network
  • Secondary acute care for children and young people in the Greater Dublin Area, in partnership with local community health organisations
  • Operationalising a national network of paediatric services which promotes joined up care for children and keeping services closer to home
  • Driving forward paediatric research, innovation, and professional education and training, with multiple academic partners
  • Client for the new children’s hospital project and the digitalisation of healthcare in CHI.

Eilísh has over 28 years acute academic teaching hospital experience, 18 of which at senior corporate management level in several roles, including Chief Executive of Tallaght Hospital, both Deputy CEO and Director of Nursing of St James's Hospital, as well as, CEO to the previous National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

Dr Sharon O’Kane

Non Executive Director and Entrepreneur

Sharon is currently a Non-Executive Director on the main Board of Livanova plc (NASDAQ (LIVN)), a global Medical Technology company headquartered in London, with approximately 4,000 employees. With a presence in more than 100 countries, LivaNova operates as two business units: Cardiovascular and Neuromodulation. Sharon is also currently Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) at University College Dublin.

Sharon has been part of and advised Boards of various biotech and startup companies, UK government organisations and Universities, eg, Expert Advisor to the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst Facility at GlaxoSmithKline, a Commercial Mentor for projects in Queens University Belfast; for many years was EiR and Chair of the Drug Discovery Advisory Board at Manchester University, and served on the Board of MIDAS, the Manchester Investment Development Agency and Centre for Investment, Trade and Business Growth. Sharon has received numerous business awards and recognitions for entrepreneurship and supporting women in science.

Previously Sharon was a Non-Executive Director of IOMet Pharma Ltd, a private Edinburgh based drug development company, from its inception in 2010 until it was successfully purchased by Merck in January 2016 for a sum reported to be ~$400m. Sharon was the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer and a Main Board Director at Renovo Group plc., a specialty biopharmaceutical company, focussing on the discovery and development of drugs to reduce scarring. The company raised £31m in venture financing before floating on the London Stock Exchange in 2006 raising a further £67.5m. In 2007, Renovo signed a licensing deal for their lead drug, worth up to $825m.

Prior to her business career, Sharon had a career based in academia, with many industrial collaborators, publications, invited speaking engagements, large peer- reviewed grants, patents and numerous international research awards and was latterly at the University of Manchester as a Senior Research Fellow.

She has a PhD (1994) and BSc first class honours degree (1991) from  Ulster University, a Diploma in Company Direction from the IOD (2006) and in December 2011 was delighted to be awarded the Ulster University Distinguished Graduate Award.

Imelda Rey

Managing Director, Irish Times Training

Imelda is a highly commercial and strategically focused senior business executive with a passion and proven track record for championing and driving new initiatives. Imelda spent over 20 years working mainly across the Tourism Sector in senior roles in Joe Walsh Tours and Fáilte Ireland.

In 2012 Imelda was asked to join the senior management team for The Gathering Ireland , Ireland's most successful Tourism Initiative, and played a key role in the overall design and implementation of the project as Head of Engagement.

The Gathering succeeded in its goals of generating €170 million to the Irish economy and bringing an incremental 375,000 visitors to Ireland in 2013.

Imelda joined Irish Times Training in 2017, and was appointed Managing Director in July 2019. Imelda is a firm believer in continued learning and education and has seen first-hand the impact continued learning has, not only on career development, but also on staff effectiveness, engagement and retention.

Imelda has witnessed how the workplace has changed in the last ten years; consequently, jobs and the requirements of hiring managers' focus is not just on technical ability and education, but also on those all-important soft skills, which are a necessity in the workplace today.

Currently completing a Masters in Executive Leadership, Imelda has seen her own leadership style evolve, placing increased importance on being a reflective leader;

“Leaders now need to be agile and flexible, responsive not only to the ever changing competitive environment, but also to the employee landscape, that is seeking less of a ‘job for life’, but more meaning, purpose and engagement than ever before”.

Julie Sinnamon

CEO, Enterprise Ireland

Julie Sinnamon is CEO of Enterprise Ireland. Prior to her appointment to CEO in November 2013, Julie held a number of senior public sector positions, spanning a 30 year career in Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.

Julie is a member of the Board and Investment Committee of Enterprise Ireland, a member of National Competitiveness Council, and a member of the Investment Committee of the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, part of the National Treasury Management Agency. She is also a Board Member of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition Limited. Julie is a business graduate of the Ulster University, has a Masters in International Business (Fordham and IMI) and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Programme, USA.

This event is kindly supported by Glandore. As a female led organisation, empowerment, leadership and diversity is of immense importance to their staff and members.


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18:00 to 21:00

No. 25 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2

Off campus


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