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Image / Agenda / Business / Events

Meet the speakers for the inaugural IMAGE Business Summit

By Grace McGettigan
09th Nov 2020
Meet the speakers for the inaugural IMAGE Business Summit

Ahead of our first ever IMAGE Business Summit, powered by PwC, get to know our inspiring speakers. 

Whether you’re a life-long businessperson or merely considering dipping your toe into the world of enterprise, the first-ever IMAGE Business Summit, powered by PwC, is for you.

Taking place online on November 18-19, our networking event will bring together some of the country’s leading female vanguards (and a few men) from the worlds of politics, tech, business and communications, plus a few international movers and shakers to boot.

Buy tickets here 

Through keynote speeches, panel discussions and masterclasses, this professionally led summit, co-hosted by Irish economist and journalist David McWilliams and IMAGE Contributing Editor Melanie Morris, will provide inspiration and support to connect and empower women to upskill, engage, network, listen, learn and interact.

Here we present our stellar line-up for the inaugural IMAGE Business Summit…

Sinéad McSweeney

Sinéad McSweeney

MD Twitter Ireland and VP Public Policy & Communications EMEA 

Originally from Co Cork, Sinéad McSweeney leads both Twitter’s Public Policy team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as serving as the Managing Director of Twitter’s operations in Ireland.

Prior to Twitter, she was Director of Communications for An Garda Síochána from 2007 to 2012, and before that, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Police Service of Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2007.

Áine McCleary

Áine McCleary

Director of Distribution Channels at Bank of Ireland

Having started her career as a foreign exchange dealer, Áine McCleary has led senior teams across retail, corporate and institutional banking.

She has overseen an extensive transformation of Bank of Ireland’s distribution and branch network, ensuring that investment in technology and automation is balanced with a positive personal experience.

Áine leads a team of approximately 3,000 banking professionals engaging with customers via phone, digital channels and 265 branches. Furthermore, she is the first woman to have held the position of President of the Institute of Banking.

Margot Slattery

Margot Slattery

Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Sodexo Group

Limerick-born Margot Slattery joined Sodexo in the early 1990s and became its country president for Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2015. She took on her present full-time role in September 2019.

As the Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for the Sodexo Group (the worldwide leader in on-site services that improve quality of life), Margot has responsibility for the strategic direction, implementation and alignment of the Group’s integrated global diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Samantha McCaughren

Business Editor of the Sunday Independent

Since September 2016, Samantha McCaughren is responsible for driving the business coverage of Ireland’s biggest selling newspaper.

An award-winning journalist, she was a business correspondent and columnist with the Sunday Times for several years. Prior to that, she was chief business correspondent with the Sunday Business Post.

Samantha is a regular contributor to both radio and television programmes and presenter of Independent News and Media’s Women in Business podcast. She was nominated to the Press Council of Ireland in December 2019.

Rowan Manahan

Rowan Manahan

Presenter Mentor

Rowan Manahan is a Presenter Mentor, working in professional communications since 1989. He has contributed to speeches, pitches and roadshows with established companies and helped profile-building with startups, upstarts and disruptors; honing their messages and working with speakers on their presence, staging and delivery.

He is a founding organiser of TEDxDublin events, and works with the majority of its speakers, preparing them for the 2,000+ audience. He also speech writes in every sphere (except politics), and prepares clients for media appearances on television, radio and in print.

Natasha Fennell

Natasha Fennell

Director & Co-Founder of Stillwater Communications

Natasha is the Director and co-founder of Stillwater Communications, a bespoke storytelling and communications consultancy based in Dublin.

She works with the public and private sector in all aspects of communication. This work includes designing a narrative for business strategy and change to coaching for pitching, presentations, media and job interviews.

Natasha’s career background includes working with RTÉ and Fianna Fáil, and being co-author of The Daughterhood with Roisín Ingle, which has sold in nine territories around the world. Natasha also delivers masterclasses and keynote speeches on storytelling for business, the art of confidence at work, and tips for female leadership.

Julie Sinnamon

Julie Sinnamon

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 also 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.

Chupi Sweetman


Founder and designer of Chupi jewellery

Born and raised in Wicklow, Chupi Sweetman wanted to create something that lasted forever and celebrated Ireland’s incredible design heritage. And so, in April 2013, Chupi the brand was born.

It has since become a multi-award winning Irish jewellery brand, shipping sparkling, hand-hewn heirlooms to 67 countries worldwide.

Iseult Ward

Iseult Ward

Co-founder and CEO of FoodCloud

Iseult Ward is co-founder and CEO of the award-winning social enterprise FoodCloud. The company established two national solutions for food redistribution in Ireland – a network of three food banks that redistribute large quantities of surplus food across Ireland and a technology solution that connects food businesses directly to more than 600 Irish charities.

Through FoodCloud, an average of 2,200 tonnes is rescued annually with an estimated value of €6.7m, leading to an avoidance of an estimated seven million tonnes of Co2 emissions equivalent.

Dr Anita Sands

Board director, author, speaker & advisor

How often do we get to hear the personal insights of an experienced board director who has a Ph.D. in atomic and molecular physics and hails from a place called Termonfeckin?

Dr Anita is a Fulbright scholar, gaining a Masters in public policy and management before becoming Chief Operating Officer of UBS Wealth Management USA. She then swapped financial services for tech, working in Silicon Valley for seven years, and is currently on the board for companies including Service Now, Pure Storage, iStar, ThoughtWorks and NuBank. She’s also a regular contributor to Forbes.com on the topics of leadership and strategy.

Gina Miller

Entrepreneur & activist 

Gina Miller has become one of the UK’s most influential activists. Most notably she took the British government to court over its right to implement Brexit without prior approval of Parliament – and won.

Gina is the author of Rise: Life Lessons in Speaking Out, Standing Tall & Leading the Way, which discusses social justice, politics and corporate transparency, and, together with her husband, she founded SCM Direct, a wealth management and investment company born out of the financial crisis in 2008, which advocates for transparency and ethical investment. She is also the founder of the True and Fair Campaign and Foundation, exposing financial misconduct.

John Brennan

Co-owner, The Park, Kenmare and Dromquinna Manor

John Brennan is best known as the co-owner of Park Hotel Kenmare with his brother Francis, who both feature on RTÉ’s long-running TV series At Your Service.

John is responsible for many of the five-star hotel’s innovations, from its SAMAS Deluxe Destination Spa to the LEGO room, and in 2011, he purchased Dromquinna Manor, a 46-acre waterfront estate in Kenmare that he runs with his wife Gwen – the country’s first ever luxury camping destination.

He lives and breathes hospitality, and frequently shares his expertise with business media.

Anne O’Leary

CEO, Vodafone Ireland

Anne O’Leary was appointed CEO of Vodafone Ireland in 2013, having spent five years as its Enterprise Director. She joined Vodafone from BT Ireland, where she was Managing Director for six years and previously Regional Director with Esat Telecom.

At Vodafone, Anne is driving the gigabit society agenda in Ireland, with the explicit goal of access for everyone to 1 gigabit broadband speed. The Cork native is also Chair of the Irish charity, GOAL.

Ciara Fallon

Director, People & Organisation Consulting, PwC

Ciara Fallon has more than 20 years’ experience in consulting, 15 of which at PwC. She is passionate about how organisational, leadership and individual behaviours affect business strategy, culture and performance.

Ciara has been heavily involved in PwC’s response to Covid-19, in particular helping clients to address workforce challenges presented by the pandemic and advising how organisations can return safely to work.

Mary McKenna

Managing Director, Tour America

Mary McKenna set up Tour America in 1995, a venture that originated from her living room – and is now Ireland’s no. 1 Tour Operator to the USA and seller of cruises worldwide. The company turns over €22m, has 50 staff and offices in Dublin, Cork and Orlando.

Despite the travel industry having been decimated by covid, Tour America has won many awards in 2020, including the Deloitte Best Managed Company (11th consecutive year), Best Travel Agent in Ireland and Best Use of Social Media at the Sockies awards, while Mary herself won Business Woman of the Year, Ireland and the UK, at the NatWest Everywoman awards.

Declan Ronayne

CEO, Woodie’s DIY

Woodie’s is Ireland’s leading DIY, home and garden retailer, trading in 35 locations across Ireland and employing 1,600 staff.

Declan Ronayne was named “Ireland’s Most Trusted Leader” by Great Places to Work in 2019, the company also recognised as one of the “Best Workplaces for Women” and as an “Investor in Diversity” by the Irish Centre for Diversity. He is also Chairman of Chadwicks Group, Ireland’s premiere building merchants.

Debbie Deegan

Founder and CEO, To Children With Love

Debbie Deegan set up her charity in 1998 to help socially disadvantaged children at home and abroad to achieve their full potential.

She is also an inspirational speaker, TEDx talker, social entrepreneur, mentor, life coach and author, and most recently kept us all entertained and informed during lockdown with her popular DDPK Zoom interviews.

Debbie has received numerous awards, including International Person of the Year, UNESCO Tolerance Award, WMB Social Entrepreneur Award and Innovator of Change Award from the Eurasian Women’s Forum.

Claire McGee

Head of Education & Innovation Policy, Ibec

Claire McGee’s role at Ibec is to promote the business sector’s priorities for supporting and developing the education system, and boost Ireland’s capacity for innovation.

A key priority for Claire within Ireland’s largest lobbying organisation is to champion lifelong learning backed by public supports and a responsive education and training system, to help enable employability and inclusive opportunities.

Richard Curran

Journalist, author and broadcaster

Richard Curran has been a business journalist for 27 years and has co-written two books – one on Irish entrepreneurs, the other on the collapse of Irish Nationwide Building Society – and has made several TV documentaries for RTÉ, including Future Shock: Property Crash in 2007 and The Battle for Rural Ireland in 2015.

Richard is also a columnist at Independent News & Media and the presenter of Dragons’ Den on RTÉ TV.

Caitriona Fottrell

President & CEO of The Ireland Funds

Caitriona Fottrell is President & CEO of The Ireland Funds, a global philanthropic network across 12 countries.

Prior to working with The Ireland Funds worldwide, she was its Dublin-based Vice President, and since joining the company, it has funded more than 3,000 nonprofit organisations on home soil. Caitriona is a native of County Galway, a graduate of National College of Ireland Galway and Boston University, and is also on the Board of Rethink Ireland.


The IMAGE Business Summit 2020, in partnership with PwC, takes place on November 18 & 19. Get your (virtual) seat alongside some of the world’s leading business figures, for two days of powerful discussions, interviews and masterclasses. Get tickets here.