MTR Logo

Convened by

C for C Logo

Special Event Partner

Qub Logo

Change perceptions.

Promote emerging and re-imagine traditional career oportunities.

Champion Diversity and Inclusion.

MTL Header

Thursday 6th June 2019

Titanic Belfast

This invitation only conference will examine how industry and key external stakeholders can develop constructive solutions to bridge the talent gap. It will consider how the industry can attract, retain and retrain enough engineering, design, tech and shop - floor talent to increase its competitiveness, support natural growth and facilitate the smooth transition to digital manufacturing.

Platinum Partners
First Trust Bank
Mid East Antrim
Gold Partners
Causeway Coast and Glens
Silver Partners
Belfast Harbour
Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottlers
Collins Aerospace
Forde Campbell
Kerry Yale
Hyster Yale
The Lycra Co
Ryobi Yale
Supported By
Lean in Belfast
Young Enterprise


Find and Engage Future Talent

NI Manufacturing currently employs 11% of our workforce and 60% of NI Manufacturers are reporting growth yet only 6% of 16 to 23year olds would consider a career in manufacturing. How do we change this and future generations perception of manufacturing?

Radically Rethinking Traditional Careers and Career Paths

How do we appeal to experienced hires with key skill sets currently working outside of the sector as well as upskilling existing employees and providing attractive career paths inside the industry for career switchers and returners?

Driving Cultural Transformation

Workplaces with proactive practices in driving inclusivity experience 22% less turnover in staff, yet in the manufacturing sector only 20% of employees are women. How do we attract and retain more women into the industry?

The need to create and sustain a working culture that keeps pace with change, while at the same time manages employee well-being has never been more important. Yet 70% of organisational transformations fail. How can leaders and managers mitigate change battle fatigue, keep fear at bay and keep their team engaged and energized?

Impact of Brexit on non‑UK talent

Many manufacturers have major concerns on the impact that Brexit will have on their non-UK employees. An exodus by non-UK employees could have a major impact on the sustainability of jobs long term for those companies. How can non-UK employees and their employers navigate the challenges posed by Brexit?

Keep up to date with Manufactoring Talent Rules!

Keynote Speakers

Claire McAlinden

Claire McAlinden

Queen's University Belfast

Director of Operations, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, QUB

Claire is a global leader with significant mastery in Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Cultural Transformation, having worked in many locations for Procter& Gamble (P&G) over 20 years, most recently in the Gillette Division. Having returned to Northern Ireland in 2015, Claire currently works at Queen’s University in the faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences and is on the Board of Directors for the Centre for Competitiveness and WTECH. Claire will be sharing how QUB constantly strives to support Manufacturing Excellence in Northern Ireland through a supply of extremely talented graduates and application of its research and innovation.

Anne Donaghy

Anne Donaghy

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Chief Executive

With over 15 years’ experience in leadership roles in local government, Anne Donaghy sets the strategic direction of the Council, working closely with elected members to ensure the highly efficient and effective running of council business. Anne is passionate about growing the economy in the Borough and Northern Ireland, with her exciting and ambitious vision for manufacturing at the heart of plans for inward investment and development.

Brian Gillan

Brian Gillan

First Trust Bank

Head of Business & Corporate Banking

Brian joined the AIB Group over 15 years ago, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. Holding a number of senior business banking roles in both Belfast and Poland, Brian promotes a strong ‘customer first’ focus and is committed to harnessing the talent and capabilities of the First Trust Bank team to enhance the client experience. Responsible for business and corporate banking at First Trust Bank, Brian is focused on meeting the needs of some of Northern Ireland’s most ambitious and successful businesses across sectors.

John Houlihan

John Houlihan

Procter and Gamble

Plant Manager, Ireland

John is a Manufacturing and Supply Chain Leader with 30 years’ experience with P&G. John has worked across a variety of business units, geographies and manufacturing Plants, leading large organisations through transformational change. He has extensive mastery in manufacturing excellence/lean, high performance work systems, supply chain leadership, new product innovation and diversity/inclusion.

Ross Kane

Ross Kane

Collins Aerospace

Engineering Director

Ross is Engineering Director for Collins Aerospace Kilkeel and is highly respected and experienced within the industry. Ross is responsible for New Product Introduction for all new seating platforms and is leading the drive to move Collins Aerospace Seating factories into the digital age. Ross will talk about the Collins Aerospace Lean journey, the move toward Industry 4.0 and how this is shaping recruitment and skills development in the future.

Rory Campbell

Rory Campbell

Forde Campbell LLC


Founder and director of NI tech and commercial law firm Forde Campbell LLC, Rory has spent nearly three years as the firm’s Brexit watcher. Specialising in cross-border transactions and in what happens when Brexit meets GDPR, Rory advises NI and FDI clients on the possible Brexit scenarios, and on commercial and contractual steps to Brexit-proof business growth. In his presentation Rory will be looking at clarity from government on what Brexit means for NI businesses depending on foreign workers and highlighting lessons from clients’ experiences, in the hunt to identify the post Brexit position of foreign workers as an invaluable resource for the NI manufacturing sector.


Mark Simpson

Mark Simpson


Well known BBC journalist, Mark Simpson will be probing the panellists on their solutions to developing manufacturing talent.

Conference Schedule

  • 9.15am – 9.35am

    Registration and Coffee

  • 9.35am

    Mark Simpson welcomes delegates
    Fire Evacuation procedure
    Introduces Susan Cleland

  • 9.45am

    Susan Cleland, Deputy CEO Centre for Competitiveness
    The new Manufacturing talent rules

  • 9.55am

    QUB – Special Event Sponsor

    Claire McAlinden, Director of Operations
    Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Queen’s University
    Queen’s University supporting Manufacturing Excellence

  • 10.00am – 11.20am

    THEME 1 - Finding and Engaging Future Talent


    Eleanor Acheson, Business Development Associate
    Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, QUB
    Pathways to Inspire

    Under-graduates – Ben Lindsay and Emma McQuigan

    Lightning Talk

    , CEO Inspire Business Centre
    Delivering the link in the community between schools and manufacturing on Technology, Entrepreneurship and Design.


    Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive
    Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
    (video message)

    Ursula O’Loughlin, Head of Economic Deveopment at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council will introduce Anne

    Johanna Donaghy, Training and Development Manager
    Cranswick Country Foods


    Rachel Doherty, Compliance and Marketing Manager
    Grants Electrical Services Ltd

    Carol Fitzsimons MBE, CEO
    Young Enterprise Northern Ireland

    Edel McCrory, Head of HR
    Moyola Precision Engineering

    Emma Murray, Deputy CEO
    ASG and Partners

    Michelle Reynolds, HR Business Partner
    Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland

  • 11.15am – 11.20am

    Comfort Break

  • 11.20am - 12.35pm

    THEME 2 - Radically rethinking careers and career paths


    Ross Kane, Engineering Director
    Collins Aerospace
    Collins Aerospace’s Lean Journey
    Industry 4.0 & Recruitment and Skills Development

    Lightning Talks

    Lynsay Cunningham, Country Warehouse
    Distribution and Fleet Manager
    Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland
    A personal journey, the opportunities in Manufacturing incorporating Innovation

    Michael O’Neill, Engineering Lead
    The collaboration of Terex and South West College to develop and improve Engineering Sector early talent


    Sinead Sharkey, Co-Founder Career Boot and Head of Leadership
    Lean-In Belfast

    Mike Dawson, HR Director
    Dale Farm

    David Paul, Integrated Operations Manager
    Lycra Group

  • 12.35pm – 1.15pm


  • 1.15pm – 2.30pm

    THEME 3 - Cultural Transformation


    John Houlihan, Plant Manager
    Proctor & Gamble Ireland
    Proctor & Gamble’s Diversity and Inclusion Journey

    Lightning Talks

    , Managing Director
    Denroy Plastics
    Diversity, STEM & Succession Planning – Changing the Culture

    Kim McCauley, Design Engineer
    Denroy Plastics

    , HR Business Partner
    Hyster Yale
    Hyster Yale’s Health and Well-being Strategy


    Jennifer Doherty, Director
    Quality and Business Improvement
    Moyola Precision Engineering

    Claire McAlinden, Director of Operations QUB (Engineering and Physical Sciences)

    Orla Corr OBE, Chairperson of McAvoy Group (Conference Co-Chair)

    Simon Geddis, Director
    Avondale Foods

  • 2.25pm - 2.30pm

    Comfort Break

  • 2.30pm


  • 3.30pm

    THEME 4 - Brexit: Impact on Non-UK Talent


    Rory Campbell
    Forde Campbell LLC
    Foreign workers in NI after Brexit: the outlook?

  • 3.45pm

    Workshop feedback and Conclusion

  • 4.00pm - 4.15pm

    Brian Gillan, Head of Business & Corporate Banking
    First Trust Bank

  • 4.15pm - 5.30pm

    Wine reception


Susan Cleland
CforC Logo

Susan Cleland

Deputy CEO

The Centre for Competitiveness is pleased to convene this critical conference which allows the manufacturing sector and key external stakeholders to come together and explore constructive solutions to bridge the skills gap and highlight future employment opportunities involving functions and skills that are not part of today’s norm.

The Centre actively supports the development of an internationally competitive economy on the Island of Ireland through supporting productivity, innovation and quality excellence in the private, public and voluntary sectors. We are acutely aware of the role that our manufacturing sector plays in underpinning the Northern Ireland economy. Yet ironically despite an array of well-paid, highly skilled career opportunities the sector’s competitiveness is being threatened by the effects of outdated and erroneous views on the careers, career paths and opportunities it offers and the culture of its organisations.

For more Information contact:
Centre for Competitiveness Innovation Centre, N.I. Science Park, Queens Road, Belfast BT3 9DT

T: +44 2890 737950


Titanic Belfast

1 Olympic Way,
Queen's Road


Navigating the Impact of Brexit on Manufacturing Talent

If there is an end to Free Movement of EU Citizens post-Brexit many Northern Irish businesses will face a significant challenge. This workshop will provide manufacturers with an overview as to proposed changes. It will also examine how manufacturers can put plans in place to prepare for any changes brought about after 31st October 2019.

Delivered by immigration law specialist Sarah Henry of Granite Legal Services and David Drysdale and Sheila Davidson of Inspire Business Centre these practical and informative workshops will:

  • Advise manufacturers how best to support non-UK workers at this uncertain time.
  • Signpost information resources and support services available to non-UK workers currently working in Northern Ireland.
  • Give an overview of the current settlement system in place and proposed changes post-Brexit (including likely costs)
  • Provide advice on how manufacturers can now begin pragmatically planning for these post-Brexit changes
  • Outline how manufacturers can utilise Programmes such as ‘Bridge to Employment’ to further engage local talent and close the skills gap

Manufacturing Talent Rules! will be managing and facilitating a Brexit/HR meet up which will meet on a regular basis and discuss issues relating to how the unfolding story of Brexit is impacting on resourcing. Organisations attending the Coleraine workshop can attend these meet ups (at no extra cost).

Sarah Henry

Director of Immigration Services with Granite Legal Services

Sarah Henry is Director of Immigration Services with Granite Legal Services, based in Newry city. Sarah has extensive experience in a wide-range of immigration matters having advised individual and corporate clients in both Ireland and the UK. Sarah trained with a highly specialised immigration firm in Dublin before moving back home to Northern Ireland where she practiced in Belfast and provided immigration advice to organisations such as Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, local start-ups and established businesses. Sarah has frequently contributed press and media commentary on immigration matters including recent interviews with BBC Newsline, publications with the Guardian and will later speak at a series of events and workshops on immigration in the context of Brexit.

Granite Logo

Granite Legal Services

Granite Legal Services is a niche commercial law practice offering a wide range of legal advice for businesses. From employment law advice to managing the legal requirements of any enterprise, clients access a full, professional and tailored package servicing their specific business needs. Solicitors are dual qualified and provide legal services in both UK and Irish jurisdictions. Granite Legal Services is a new and innovative business operating from the Granite Exchange co-working space in Newry. Company founder Jonathan McKeown who is also the owner of JMK Solicitors and Crash Services offers an alternative way to do business and invites you and your team to meet with us to find out more.

Inspire Logo

Inspire Business Centre

Inspire Business Centre Ltd develops bespoke Academies and training programmes enabling the SME manufacturing sector to avail of a healthy-skills orientated pipeline of talent, through the sustainable development of an innovative entrepreneurial ‘Eco-system.


First Trust Logo
Safeguard Logo


£225 per attendee (£150 per attendee for Manufacturing Talent Rules! partners).

For further information please contact Susie Cleland, Deputy CEO Centre for Competitiveness at

Numbers will be limited to 12 attendees per workshop. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Venues and Dates

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Offices
66 Portstewart Road
BT52 1 EY

Thursday 10th October