Shows banner with following text: DCU Futures Conference - Leading for Success in Unscripted Times

Welcome to the DCU Futures Conference: Leading for Success in Unscripted Times. 

We know that leaders today navigate an increasingly diverse, complex, competitive and volatile business world. Yet this uncertainty can be reframed as an opportunity to succeed if companies can recruit employees with the necessary skills, and if they implement strategies to maximise untapped potential within the organisation.  

In seeking to address these challenges, at today's conference you will;

  • Gain valuable insights from the international thought-leader, TED-speaker, award-winning author and entrepreneur Prof. Margaret Heffernan, whose keynote speech will focus on the key skills and mindset that senior leaders and their organisations need in order to thrive in uncertain times
  • Advise how higher education institutions and degree courses can further enhance and strengthen industry
  • Discover how DCU Futures is revolutionising skills development and re-imagining higher education for the 21st century

Speaker Profiles

Shows Minister Simon Harris

Minister Simon Harris 

Minister Simon Harris

Simon Harris was appointed Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science in June 2020.

During the term of this Government he also served as Minister for Justice to facilitate the maternity leave of Minister Helen McEntee.

In the previous government, Simon served Minister for Health from 2016 to 2020 managing the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. During his time in Health, he introduced a new all-party agreement on reforming the health service, steered new contracts for nurses, doctors and GPs. He introduced laws modernising Ireland’s laws on abortion, introduced a new law curbing the sale of alcohol for children and secured agreement on a life-saving drug for people with cystic fibrosis. 

He has served as Minister of State in the Departments of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of the Taoiseach with Special Responsibility for OPW, Public Procurement and International Banking (including IFSC). During his time here, he drove a new strategy for financial services in Ireland and managed Ireland’s worst floods. 

In his present role as Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon has prioritised reform of the third level system driving changes in apprenticeships, further education and offering new educational pathways for both young students and people in work looking to upskill.

He has made cross-border collaboration a key commitment including introducing a €40 million fund for North-South Research programme, funding Erasmus places for students in Northern Ireland and driving the funding of additional college places in Universities in Northern Ireland for students from  Ireland. These significant investments have supported the deepening of links between higher education institutions, researchers and research communities on the island of Ireland. 

Shows Prof Margaret Heffernan

Professor Margaret Heffernan

Professor Margaret Heffernan

Professor Margaret Heffernan is a Professor of Practice a the Univerity of Bath, Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute's Responsible Leadership Programme and, through Merryck & Co, mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organisaions. 

You can read Prof Margaret Heffernan's full profile here

Blanaid White profile photo

Prof Blánaid White 

Professor Blánaid White

Prof Blánaid White is the current Dean of Strategic Learning Innovation in DCU.

She leads DCU Futures, a university-wide education transformation project that aims to radically reimagine the university curriculum and reconceptualization of university teaching. She is also a professor in the School of Chemical Sciences, and Principal Investigator in the National Centre for Sensor Research and DCU Water Institute.

You can read Prof Blánaid White's full profile here 

Ciaran Dunne profile photo

Dr Ciarán Dunne

Dr Ciarán Dunne

Dr Ciarán Dunne is the first Transversal Skills Director for Dublin City University, a unique role across universities internationally.

Prior to taking on this role, Ciarán was Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, lecturing across multiple disciplines, including Sociology, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Spanish language, Creativity and Creative Thinking, Futures Literacy, and Intercultural Studies. He has been Chairperson of the BA in Social Sciences and Cultural Innovation, the MA in Intercultural Studies and the MA in Comparative Literature.

You can read more about Dr Ciarán Dunne here

Panelist Profiles

Shows Dr Aisling Soden

Dr Aisling Soden

Dr Aisling Soden

Dr Aisling Soden is Senior Manager, Talent, Transformation And Innovation (TTI) Department,  IDA Ireland.

Aisling leads the Talent Pillar in the Talent, Transformation and Innovation (TTI) Department in IDA Ireland. TTI supports IDA clients to transform their business through the development of innovation, digital and talent strategies and supports. Prior to joining IDA Aisling worked as a Programme Manager in Science Foundation Ireland. Aisling obtained a PhD in Earth Science from the University of Glasgow and has held research positions in the University of Strathclyde and UCD.


Shows Tracey Donnery

Tracey Donnery

Tracey Donnery

Tracey Donnery is Executive Director for Policy and Communications with Skillnet Ireland, the business support agency responsible for the promotion and facilitation of talent development in Ireland.

She is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a member of the Institute of Directors, as well as a Fellow of Irish Institute of Training & Development, and has extensive experience in the areas of learning, organisational development, and labour market policy. In addition to this, Tracey holds a Masters in Human Resource Strategies from Dublin City University, along with qualifications in both Executive Coaching and Leadership from the Irish Management Institute.


Shows Dr Mairead Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Director of Micro-Credential Strategy and Innovation

Dr Mairead Nic Giolla Mhichíl

Dr Mairead Nic Giolla Mhichíl

DCU appointed Ireland's first Director of Micro-Credential Strategy and Innovation, Dr. Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl in 2021.  She collaborates in national, European and international micro-credential policy development and initiatives and is co-founder of the Micro-Credential observatory which curates global micro-credential research and developments. In 2020, she co-authored a Global Insights Report on micro-credentials in in 2020 and in collaboration with DCU’s Irish Institute of Digital Business and Skillnet Networks she was lead author on a publication to guide industry in its engagement with Micro-Credentials, A Micro-Credential Roadmap: Currency, Cohesion and Collaboration, as part of this work she published the First National Micro-Credential Survey of Irish Employers and Employees in 2021.

Shows Helen McMahon

Helen McMahon

Helen McMahon

Helen McMahon is Senior Strategic Policy Advisor with Enterprise Ireland, and her department is responsible for praoctively formulating Enterprise Ireland's policy position in relaiton to key strategic matter including issues impacting the development of Irish Enterprise and National Policy priorities. 

In this role, Helen leads Enterprise Irelan's ongoing engagement with Government departments, agencies and stakeholders in the area of skills and talent, both informing stakeholders of issues affecting the growth of Enterprise Ireland client companies, while aslo informing and influencing policy development and the development of strategic skills interventions. 

Prior to this role, Helen was Senior Executive for Business and Enterprise Skills Development of Screen Training Ireland (Screen Skills Ireland). She was also Programme Director of Screen Leaders, the leading Strategic Company Development Programme for the Screen Industries in Europe.

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