An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D.

Leo Varadkar was elected as Taoiseach and Leader of Fine Gael in June 2017. At 39, he is the youngest person to ever hold the office of Taoiseach (Born 18th January 1979 at 5.30am)

In 2007, Leo was first elected to Dáil Éireann for the constituency of Dublin West. Between 2007 and 2011, he served on the Fine Gael frontbench as opposition Spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and later Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. After the formation of the Fine Gael/Labour Government in 2011, he was appointed to Cabinet as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, an office he held until 2014. Between 2014 and the 2016 General Election, he served as Minister for Health. After the formation of the Fine Gael/Independent Government in 2016, he was appointed Minister for Social Protection.

Leo first ran for public office in the 1999 Local Elections at the age of 20. He was unsuccessful then, but undeterred, stood again in 2004 Local Elections, when he secured the highest personal vote in Ireland and was elected to Fingal County Council.

Leo was born, reared and lives in Dublin West, but has strong links with rural Ireland through his family. He is a medical doctor and GP by profession and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. His mother is a nurse from Waterford, his father a doctor from India. He has two sisters (a nurse and a neurologist). He is interested in personal fitness, sport (rugby and Gaelic football), music and history.

Pat Lucey, Director for Infrastructure, John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Ltd and President, CIF Ireland

Pat and has been involved in the delivery of major civil engineering works in Ireland and the U.K. These include LUAS Cross City, Crossrail C305, Limerick Tunnel, Bray Shanganagh WWTW, Greystones Harbour and many motorway projects.

He is a graduate of U.C.C. and has been with Sisk for 26 years. Prior to that he worked with Christiani & Nielsen in London, having started his career with M.C. O’Sullivan in Cork.

Pat is the President of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and is a past President of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA).

Ann Bentley, Global Director, Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB), UK

Rider Levett Bucknall, a quantity surveying and construction professional services business employs 500 staff in the UK and 3,600 worldwide, operating in over 40 countries. Ann sits on the Global Board, which is responsible for the company’s strategic direction, cohesion and governance. 

Ann is a member of the UK Government’s Construction Leadership Council (CLC), a member of the CBI’s Construction Council and an advisor to the Construction Industry Council. She is a Chartered Member of the Institution for Civil Engineers (MICE), a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS) and holds an MBA from Henley Business School.

In the academic world Ann is a visiting Professor of Business Management, Project Management and Quantity Surveying at Birmingham City University and a visiting lecturer in the School of Construction Management and Engineering at Reading University. A judge for a number of industry awards, she is also a regular commentator in national and trade media and speaker at national and international construction conferences.

With more than 35 years’ experience working in the property and construction sector Ann is experienced in working with commercial, public and third sector clients. After graduating from the University of Manchester, she joined British Rail in 1982 as a civil engineer, moving to Bucknall Austin as a project manager in 1989. With Bucknall Austin and Rider Levett Bucknall, Ann worked as a project manager and project director, developing a particular expertise in estate renewal and urban regeneration.

During her career at RLB, she has played a key role in a number of company milestones, including the management buyout in 2003, the consolidation as a leading UK independently owned company and the formation of the global practice in 2007. Ann has been a member of RLB’s global board since 2012, and was Global Board Chair between 2015 and 2017.

She is an advocate of diversity and social inclusion in the construction industry and the career opportunities open to all sectors of society.  Married with two adult children, she enjoys current affairs, is an avid reader and stoic dog-walker.

Kjetil Tonning, President of FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation), Brussels

Kjetil is a Civil Engineer (M.Sc.) by profession and a Business Economist (BBA). He has more than 30 years of professional experience in leading positions in national and international construction companies and consulting engineering firms, as well as in the Norwegian army and public administration.

He is currently the Area Manager, Heavy Construction, with Veidekke Entreprenør AS, Norway’s largest construction company. Kjetil holds numerous honorary chairmanships and responsibilities in the boards of regional, national and European companies and professional associations of contractors and consulting engineers.

Alison Watson MBE, Founder and Chief Executive, Class of Your Own, UK

Alison is a former land surveyor and the founder and Chief Executive of social business Class of Your Own.  She created the innovative “Design Engineer Construct!” (DEC) accredited learning programme for secondary school students age 11-18, supported by some of the UK’s leading companies, professional bodies and universities through the ground breaking ‘Adopt A School’ scheme.

The programme is delivered in schools throughout England and Scotland, and has resulted in young people entering the sector to pursue a wide range of technical and professional careers through technical and degree apprenticeships, and traditional university entry. The uptake in schools is growing significantly, and year, DEC rolls out internationally in South East Asia and Eastern Europe.

Alison was presented with The Survey Association’s President’s Award in 2013 and the Richard Carter Prize by the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors in 2014, both in recognition of her commitment to raising awareness of the Geospatial Surveying sector in schools.

In 2015-7, Alison represented Youth and Learning on the 2015/7 CITB Council and led the recent ‘BIM4Education’ research and development project, focused on improving the teaching of digital Built Environment subjects in the secondary, further and higher education sector.

2019 brings new challenges as Alison goes back to what she loves, writing new programmes for DEC teachers and learners to advance their learning in specialist Infrastructure sectors of the industry. This is complemented by the development of ‘ReconstructED’ – a virtual reality concept that enables DEC learners to visit and interact with their chosen site from the comfort of their classroom.

In recognition of her perseverance and dedication, Alison was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in Her Majesty the Queen’s 2018 New Year Honours for services to education.

Niall Cusson, Chief Executive and Planning Regulator, the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR)

The OPR was established by the Irish Government in April 2019. The OPR’s functions are to oversee the effective delivery of planning services by planning authorities, including implementation of national and regional policies.

Prior to his appointment Niall was Chief Planner at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government from July 2014 and he worked in the Department from January 2000 prior to that. Niall was responsible for leading the Department’s Forward Planning Section and its professional and multi-disciplinary planning team in the development of legislation and all Government policy relating to planning and related matters, including the National Planning Framework as part of Project Ireland 2040 alongside the National Development Plan. Prior to joining the Department in 2000, Niall had an extensive planning career working for local authorities in Clare, Meath and Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála.

Niall holds qualifications in economics and geography, regional and urban planning and environmental engineering from Maynooth University, University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin respectively and is both a member and a past President of the Irish Planning Institute2000, Niall had an extensive planning career working for local authorities in Clare,

Meath and Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála.
Niall holds qualifications in economics and geography, regional and urban planning
and environmental engineering from Maynooth University, University College Dublin
and Trinity College Dublin respectively and is both a member and a past President of
the Irish Planning Institute.

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 University of Ulster, has a Masters in International Business (Fordham and IMI) and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Programme, USA

Ian Kehoe, Broadcaster and Journalist

Ian Kehoe is the Editor of The Currency, a new online publication specialising in business, finance and economics. He is also a board member of the state broadcaster RTE.

In 2014, at the age of 34, he was appointed Editor of The Sunday Business Post, a position he held for four years.

A former presenter and reporter with RTÉ’s Prime Time, he has made a number of major television documentaries including Who’s Buying Ireland and The Great Irish Sell-Off.

Named Ireland’s business journalist of the year in two occasions, he has also won a Miriam Hederman O’Brien Award for his contribution to Irish fiscal policy. He is the co-author of Citizen Quinn, a bestselling book about the rise and fall of industrialist Seán Quinn.

Clare Cashin, Partner, Philip Lee

Clare Cashin is a partner in commercial law firm Philip Lee (www.philiplee.ie) and practices in both contentious and non-contentious construction law, advising employers, contractors, designers, public authorities and private entities. She specialises in dispute resolution.

Clare has experience in high value complex disputes in the construction and procurement arena. She has repeatedly managed challenges to high value procurement decisions issued by state authorities in this very current and developing area of law.

Clare lectures in Trinity College Dublin (Construction Law) and in UCD (Health and Safety Law). She sits on the committee of the Health and Safety Lawyers Association of Ireland. Clare is rated by global agencies Chambers and by The Legal 500 as “next generation lawyer” in their construction lawyer rankings for Ireland.

Dermot Flanagan S.C.

Dermot was called to the Bar of Ireland in 1987 and appointed Senior Counsel in 2000. Mr. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and acts as mediator, arbitrator and in expert determinations. He practices from the Law Library, Dublin & as an arbitrator/mediator from 33 Bedford Row, London.

Dermot has particular experience in public and private infrastructure disputes. His practice experience covers road schemes, landfill, marine and wastewater/water; metro; airport and strategic development zones. He is a member of the panel of Arbitrators of the Law Society of Ireland and the Dispute Resolution Authority of the Gaelic Athletic Association.  He has recently been appointed as Judicial Chair to Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland (SDSI).     

Dermot has achieved some major accomplishments as a Mayo inter-county footballer. Between 1982 and 1997 he won 2 All Star Awards, played in three All Ireland finals, won a Sigerson Cup and seven provincial titles. He is also a well-known GAA Coach.

Fergal Murphy, General Manager, Kingspan Insulation Ireland

Fergal is the newly appointed General Manager of Kingspan Insulation Ireland. He is a graduate of the school of Architectural Technology in Dublin Institute of Technology and he also holds a Master’s Degree in Management for Sustainable Development from Dublin City University.

Fergal started his professional career as an Architectural Technologist. He has worked in two very busy Architectural practices in both Cavan and Dublin, undertaking a wide variety of technically challenging and demanding projects. He developed a keen focus on energy efficient design and a practical approach to achieving low energy buildings.

Fergal joined the Kingspan team in 2000, beginning his journey as a Specifications & Business Development Manager for Kingspan Insulated Panels, progressing into the Regional Sales Manager role for Ireland. In 2009, Fergal moved to the USA to take up the role of National Sales Director which quickly advanced to VP of Sales & Business Development for the USA & Mexico.

He returned to Ireland in 2016 to take on the role of Commercial Director for Kingspan Insulated Panels & Benchmark which lead to his current role as General Manager of our insulation businesses in Ireland.

 

Tom Parlon, Director General, CIF Ireland

Before joining the CIF, Tom served as a TD for Laois – Offaly and as Minister for State at the Department of Finance from 2002 until 2007. As Minister he was responsible for the Office for Public Works (OPW).

From 1997 to 2001, Tom was President of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), having previously held several other positions with the association.

He is from Coolderry in Co. Offaly.

Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government

Eoghan was appointed to Cabinet as the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government in June 2017 by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Prior to that he served as Minister of State at the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, with special responsibility for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement.

He is a member of Fine Gael and represents the constituency of Dublin Bay South. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 2011, and was subsequently re-elected in 2016. Between 2009 and 2011 he served as a Councillor on Dublin City Council for the Pembroke-Rathmines ward.

Before his appointment as Minister of State, Eoghan served on the Banking Inquiry, the Public Accounts Committee, the Dáil Reform Committee, as Head of the Oireachtas delegation to the OSCE, and as Chairperson of the Fine Gael Transport, Tourism and Sport Committee.

Prior to entering politics, Eoghan worked in the area of international arms control, and was based in London, Geneva and Vienna, working at various times for NGOs and the UN. He spent two years as speechwriter and advisor to the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation in Vienna. Eoghan went to school at Star of the Sea and St. Michael’s College, Dublin. He graduated from UCD with a first-class honours’ degree in English and Philosophy. He then achieved an MA in International relations at King’s College, UCL. In 2013, he was awarded a Marshall Memorial Fellowship to the US.

Jeanette Mair, Economic and Policy Research Executive, CIF Ireland

Jeanette is the CIF’s Economic and Policy Research Executive. She works with the federation’s policy committees and Directors, helping guide policy across a spectrum of economic / industry / fiscal / regulatory / development issues. She is also responsible for carrying out and commissioning new research, expanding the CIF’s information databases, preparation of submissions and strategy papers and advocating on various industry matters to support CIF’s dialogue with key policy stakeholders.

Jeanette joined the CIF in 2007 as Housing, Planning and Development Executive, a role she held until 2017. She was Project Manager of CIRI (Construction Industry Register Ireland) from 2013 to 2017 during which time she oversaw the establishment and operation of the new register. Jeanette has been Manager of the CIF’s Register of Heritage Contractors since 2011.

John Downey, Founder and Director, Downey Planning

John is a Chartered Town Planner with over 20 years’ experience both in Ireland and the United Kingdom working in planning authorities and private consultancy. Prior to establishing Downey Planning, John was a Founder and Director of Downey Hynes Partnership (DHP), now known as Future Analytics, Director of Planning at KSA and was previously a partner and Director of Planning at Ryan Walsh Associates based in Dublin. During his time in public sector planning, John was a Senior Executive Planner with Fingal County Council where he was in charge of development control. He is a former chairperson of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and is a member of the Irish Planning Institute. He is currently the Irish representative on the General Assembly of the RTPI in London. John is past-Chair of the Royal Town Planning Institute Irish Branch and regularly lectures at Dublin Institute of Technology on town planning courses. John has led many Planning and Development Projects including the preparation of local area plans, large planning submissions to Development Plans, master planning, project management of multi-disciplined professional teams, major planning applications and associated planning appeals. He has advised several organisations similar to the HSE on institutional lands including the Archdioceses in Dublin. He has also attended as expert witness at oral hearings and has advised on planning law and associated regulations. He has presented Development Control/Development Plan issues at several planning conferences. He is an active planner both in practice in Downey Planning and on the planning organisations that he is involved with giving him a highly endorsed professional reputation throughout Ireland and the UK.

Roni Savage, BEng(hons) MSc CGeol FGS CEng MSEE SiLC MCIWM, Managing Director, Jomas Associates, UK

Roni is a Chartered Engineer, Chartered Geologist and SiLC (Specialist in Land Conditions). A graduate of the University of Portsmouth with a BEng(hons) in Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics, she also holds a Masters’ in Environmental Management. Roni has worked on many major construction schemes, including the widening of the A406 and M25.

In 2009, after gaining several years’ of industry experience, she established Jomas Associates serving land developers across the UK and achieving a turnover of £2m in 2017. Jomas undertakes site investigations, engineering and environmental surveys on construction projects across the UK. Under Roni’s stewardship Jomas focuses on providing clients with high quality, high value, expedient engineering solutions with the emphasis on delivery. In 2017 Jomas was acknowledged as a high growth company by Goldman Sachs.

A mother to 3 boys, Roni is extremely passionate about gender diversity and social mobility, volunteering her time to mentor and coach others. She is a role model to other women as she has successfully combined being an entrepreneur with motherhood while finding time to empower and inspire others. Jomas was awarded “Best Consultant to Work With” in the Construction Enquirer Awards 2018. In January 2019 Roni was appointed Federation of Small Business National Lead for Women in STEM and was also appointed a Director/Trustee of YMCA SPG in March this year. She was also awarded Best Consultant and Most Distinguished Winner in the European Women in Construction & Engineering Awards 2019.

John O Shaughnessy, Managing Director, Clancy

John has worked for Clancy, a medium sized national main contractor, for over 26 years in various roles prior before being appointed Managing Director in 2013. He is a member of the National Executive Body of the CIF, Chairman of the South East Branch of the CIF, Chairman of the Education and Training Sub-committee, Chairman of the building control and regulations committee, and Chairman of the Technical committee of the CIC Council. John is also a Past President of the MBCA and Thurles Chamber of Commerce and is a current member of the CIRI board. He holds an MBA, a diploma in Site Management, is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building (FCIOB) and is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (ACIArb).

Andy Clifton, Application Engineer – Geospatial

With over 20 years’ experience in the survey industry, Andy Clifton is one of Topcon’s Application Engineers. Providing product support on survey grade positioning technologies and solutions including 3DMC, Andy’s expertise includes training on geospatial software and hardware, while he is currently delivering a series of MAGNET webinars. As well as assisting Topcon clients and distribution partners throughout the UK and further afield. Andy’s specialisms encompass land surveying, site engineering and earthworks. In addition to this, his continued involvement with educational programmes suchas Class of Your Own and Design Engineer Construct!®(DEC)demonstrates his commitment to shaping the future engineers of UK & Ireland. As an ambassador ofDesign Engineer Construct!® (DEC)Andy provides training on all elements of surveying to students and teachers as part of the DEC curriculum.

Michael Carey, Chairman of the Housing Agency

Michael has extensive experience in overseeing state bodies having served as Chairman of Bord Bia (2011-2018), and as Chair of the Grow Dublin Tourism Alliance in 2016.  He is the Executive Chairman of The Company of Food, a specialist food investment business, providing equity to start-up and established high-growth food businesses. Michael is also Chairman of East Coast Bakehouse, Ireland’s largest biscuit manufacturer. He has been involved in several not-for-profit initiatives: Chair of Soul of Haiti Foundation (2009-2015) and Tradelinks Uganda (2013-2016), a member of the Clinton Global Initiative (2009-2015); and a current Member of the Emeritus Advisory Board of Smurfit Graduate Business School

Matt Gough, Innovation Director

As Director of Innovation for Mace, Matt is responsible for steering the company in its ambition to be the catalyst for the next evolution of the construction industry. Focused on the disruption of Mace’s traditional business model across markets, Matt is leading the company’s digital transformation, and how Mace both creates and operates the built environment it is responsible for. He drives the organisation’s innovation strategy and the identification and implementation of step-change improvements, helping to embed a culture of innovation and a firm focus on productivity.

Matt supported the top line growth of Mace’s construction business from £600m to £2bn in 2017, and he played an important role in some of the business’ biggest wins during that time. His career started in digital, having studied computing as part of his degree, and he is now aligning Mace’s interests with the innovation and technology being driven by the digital sector, as part of the transition to Industry 4.0.

Johanna Gill, President, SCSI and Director, Cushman & Wakefield

Having served on the Board of SCSI for 2 years, Johanna took on the role of President of SCSI in May 2019. She is passionate about us “Building Better Buildings” – better for the people who occupy them, own them and better in terms of sustainability and the environment.

Johanna is also a Director in the Valuation and Advisory team in Cushman & Wakefield where she runs the fund valuation area of the business. They value a variety of asset types for clients such as Hibernia REIT, Hammerson plc, Irish Life Investment Managers and Goodbody. This includes providing market update presentations on a regular basis and responding to auditors.

Johanna also works with the wider V&A team on instructions for banks and other clients including Bank of Ireland, Deutsche Bank, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Cardinal Capital.  She has been heavily involved with the graduate training programme within Cushman & Wakefield; she is an APC Assessor and is a supporter of on-going professional development and often delivers CPD for SCSI.  Having studied in DIT and Oxford Brookes University, Johanna previously worked in Birmingham and London and returned to Dublin in 2005.