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THEA Colloquium Speakers

THEA Colloquium Speakers

Professor Vincent Cunnane

Professor Cunnane joined LIT in September 2016 from IT Sligo, where he had been President since 2014.  
He was formerly Chief Executive Officer of Shannon Development until its merger with the Shannon Airport Authority to form the Shannon Group.  Prior to that, he was Vice President of Research at the University Limerick, where he also lectured and researched.  
Professor Cunnane is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of physical electrochemistry.  He is Chair of the Governing Council of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, and was a member of the board of the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research & Training until recently.


Mr. Oisin Hassan

Oisín is the Vice President for Academic Affairs with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the national organisation representing over 374,000 on both sides of the border.
He is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast in Law with Politics, and has begun an LLM in Law and Governance. He previously served as Vice President Equality and Diversity (2015/16) and Vice President Education (2016/17) in Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union, before election to USI.
His priorities include developing the student voice in quality enhancement, lobbying for publicly-funded third level education, developing postgraduate engagement, further growth of the National Student Engagement Programme, and engaging students in Further Education.
Oisín is a member of the QQI Board, National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning Board, and also works with various partners of USI."

Mr. Michael Loftus

Michael is ex General Manager of BD and ex chair of Irish MedTech Association ( formally IMDA). He is current Non-executive Chair of Advant Medical and a NED on a UK based start-up company. Engagement with the IoT’s has occurred via Innovation Vouchers; Innovation Partnerships and as an assessor of CSF and Commercialisation Fund applications into EI. He was deeply involved in the GMIT Gateway application and advises many companies on the network opportunities available to assist Enterprise in Ireland. 


Ms. Breda O’Toole

Breda O’Toole, Head of Product Development & Transformation IDA Ireland.

A native of Connemara, Breda joined IDA Ireland 14 years ago after spending much of her career in the UK.  She has worked as IDA’s Head of HR, Regional Business Development and most recently Heads up a team supporting the growth of 300 small multinational companies in the IDA portfolio supporting their transformation journeys.  Breda’s team also works on new product offers for clients of IDA and particularly for those clients who need to re-invest in their business here in Ireland, expand their remit and remain competitive. 
Previously, Breda worked as Head of HR and Policy at Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, UK and achieved a master’s degree in Strategic Human Resource Management with Manchester Metropolitan University.  Breda was educated in Kylemore Abbey, Co Galway and Shannon College of Hotel Management.  The strong business and organisational development background has proved critical in understanding the needs and supports of the small multinational organisations in Ireland.  


Dr Eoin Langan 

Dr Eoin Langan is a graduate of GMIT undertaking a National Diploma in Business Studies in Accounting in the late 1980s prior to qualifying as a Chartered Management Accountant in London, where he worked in varied roles as a senior finance manager for a number of multinational companies including Lloyds/TSB, at the time of the merger of Lloyds and TSB banks. A career change into IT consulting saw him become a Senior SAP project manager which included delivering many projects for Élan Pharmaceuticals both in Athlone and the US. He transitioned into education as Head of Department in 2004 shortly after completing an MSc IT in Education in Trinity and became Dean of the Faculty of Business & Hospitality in 2011.  Eoin recently completed a Doctorate of Education in DCU and his research area was on supporting students with the transition to Higher Education. Originally from out the road in Moycullen he always welcomes the opportunity to come back to Galway.

Professor Irene Sheridan 

Professor Irene Sheridan leads the CIT Extended Campus and the Enterprise Engagement and Experiential Learning research group. Irene's research interests include mapping and measuring engagement between academia and enterprise. She has led a number of national projects in Irish higher education and has authored and contributed to many reports and publications.  Irene is a member of the practitioners committee of the UIIN, has acted as Lead Assessor for the Knowledge Alliance Action for the EACEA for a number of years, is a European Expert on the ProCSEE project and a member of the Research and Evaluation team on the VISKA project.  


Mr. Tim Conlon

Interim Head of System Development & Performance Management, 
Higher Education Authority

Tim Conlon currently leads the system development & performance management unit at the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Ireland’s statutory planning and policy development body for higher education and research. The system development & performance management unit is concerned with the strategic development and public accountability of Ireland’s higher education system. Tim graduated from the University of the Creative Arts (UK) and has an MBA from the Smurfit School of Business at UCD. Tim has worked at the HEA for over ten years, holding various posts at the national research council, HEA research and infrastructure programmes and in policy and planning. Tim has worked on strategic instruments designed to improve ICT Skills provision, labour market activation and has carried out research on the nature of relationships between business, enterprise and academia.

Dr Sarah Bowman

Director of Strategic Engagement, Trinity College Dublin

Sarah Bowman is Director of Strategic Engagement for the Trinity Centre for Ageing and Intellectual Disability, and Director of the Health Research Board-Irish Research Council Ignite Programme at Trinity College Dublin, which advances public, patient involvement in health. Sarah has eighteen years of experience as a public engagement specialist, guiding teams and ensuring programme work plans and products advance initiatives. Sarah is co-author of the Engaged Research Report: Society & Higher Education Working Together to Address Grand Societal Challenges and her Engaged Research Framework has been endorsed by major funders and the Irish Universities Association. Working with more than 1,200 communities, Sarah has managed a wide range of community engagement projects ranging from single-day workshops to multi-year efforts, in addition to developing educational tools for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, AARP, Federal Highway Administration Transportation Research Board, Quebec Ministry of Health, Abu Dhabi Municipality, Honolulu Department of Transportation Services, National Association of Realtors, Blue Zones, and others.  In 2009, Sarah co-founded the 501c3 non-profit organisation, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, facilitating $2M in public engagement activities in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Arab Emirates. Prior to this, Sarah led community engagement activities at the University of Notre Dame, working with land owners during campus expansion of facilities and ensuring proactive environmental stewardship to protect sensitive areas.  

Dr Allison Kenneally 

Dr Allison Kenneally is the Director of the Office of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at the Institute of Technology Carlow, where she has previously held posts as Head of Department of Humanities and Senior Lecturer in Law. Allison holds a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Bath, where the focus of her research was Mergers, Change Management and System Reconfiguration in Higher Education, with a particular focus on the Irish Institute of Technology sector.


Bill Kearney

Bill Kearney is Vice President of the IBM Ireland Software Development Lab and Director of the IBM Dublin Campus.  IBM employs over 3,000 people in Ireland across a broad range of businesses including Digital Sales, Software Development, Research, Services Hubs and Treasury.  The Lab is active in research, development and innovation across various industry and technology areas with good patent output and is the largest commercial recipient of H2020 funds in Ireland.

Outside IBM, Bill is active on the following groups:
Member of Irish Government Technology Futures Steering Group
Member of IBEC Innovation Policy Committee
Member of Technology Ireland Council
Member of Governing Board of the LERO Software Engineering Centre
Member of National Design Strategy Steering Group
Member of judging panels for Technology Transfer Awards; Tech Ireland Software International Growth Award and eir Digital Design Awards
Vice President of the Dublin Fingal Chamber of Commerce

In 2016, Bill was the IBEC representative on the STEM Review Committee whose recommendations are being implemented as part of the Education Plan.

Prior to IBM, Bill worked for Lotus Development Corporation, Wang Laboratories, General Electric Corporation and MacDonald/Jane's Publishers.  Bill holds a BA and MBA from the University of Limerick in Ireland.


Dr Michael Hannon

I am interested in the broad area of higher education management with a specific interest in: 
• strategic issues in higher education development and management,
• strategic organisational change in higher education,
• quality assurance and enhancement in higher education,
• evolution of teaching and learning,
• widening participation and access.
My education philosophy places the student at the centre of the learning experience. 
I believe interest is the best stimulus for learning and I am an advocate of the ‘spiral curriculum’ (Bruner, 1977).
I regard myself as an extended professional. I believe higher education needs to further engage with industry and business in providing choice, flexibility and pathways into and through higher education for work-based learners. 
I am fortunate to have had opportunities to enact my education philosophy and to have made a difference to the world of education to-date. Further information available at:

Ms. Kathleen Gavin

Kathleen Gavin is head of the Skills Planning and Enterprise Engagement Unit in the Department of Education and Skills. The Unit which was established in 2016 gives a dedicated focus to enterprise engagement and ensuring there is a co-ordinated response to skills needs across the different sectors of education and training. To date it has overseen the development of 9 regional Skills Fora and also the establishment of the National Skills Council.
Having worked in education for most of her career Kathleen took ten years out of the Public Service to work as CEO of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA). Named as one of Irelands top 1000 companies and with over 2,500 staff, working in IWA provided an opportunity to expand her experience into the world of business. Kathleen successfully led IWA through a period of development and growth for the Association and also notable achievements including the coveted National Q mark award for the Best Not for Profit company in Ireland for Quality Management Systems in 2014.
Kathleen is a member of the expert group on Future Skills needs as well as a member of a number of cross Government Departmental committees.

Ms. Deirdre Garvey 

Deirdre Garvey is the Chief Executive Officer of The Wheel – Ireland’s national association of charities, community/voluntary groups and social enterprises, with over 1,400 members. The Wheel represents and supports the sector to achieve positive social change. Deirdre has represented the sector’s shared interests on many fora over the years including most recently: the Charity Regulator’s consultative panel on the ‘Regulation of Fundraising’ (2016), and the Working Group on ‘Citizen Engagement in Local Government’ (2013/2014). She is a regular public speaker on the topics of corporate governance in non-profits, best practice in the non-profit sector and citizens engagement in public decision-making. 

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