11 October, Stormont Hotel, Belfast
A tireless advocate for the new and resurgent Belfast. He first entered Belfast City Hall in 1987. He left the council in 1997 to develop what became the Belfast Media Group, building new offices and commissioning a printing press in the heart of West Belfast. He returned to political life in 2011 as the first-ever Sinn Féin councillor for the Balmoral area of South Belfast. He served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from June 2013 to June 2014 and was returned to the Assembly in the May 2016 elections in South Belfast. He served as the Finance Minister in the Executive from May 2016 until January 2017.
Alix Bedford is a strategic risk professional with over 15 years’ experience working both with and within the public sector initially as a Strategic Risk Consultant with Zurich Municipal. Alix's current focus is supporting the delivery of strategic risk management solutions across Zurich Municipal segments through the provision of risk insight, training and coaching. Prior to this Alix spent seven years as the lead officer for risk and performance management at Swindon Borough Council, and has experience in a variety of fields including policy development, corporate planning, performance management, programme and project management and business resilience. Alix is a member of the Institute of Risk Management and was their Certificate Qualification Student of the Year for 2016.
Jonathan has extensive experience in environmental research, teaching, policy and practice. He possess a PhD in Environmental Planning and has published in a range of international journals. He is Policy Manager at Northern Ireland Environment Link where he has led on a range of successful funding applications and works to influence regional, UK and EU policy impacting on the natural and built environment in Northern Ireland. As policy lead at NIEL, he coordinates a range of cross-sectoral task forces and seeks to develop and promote shared policy positions for the environmental sector. He is a part-time lecturer at both Queen's University and Ulster University. Jonathan is an Irish hockey player and represented Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Audit Director, Audit Scotland
Stephen Boyle is an Audit Director with Audit Scotland and leads its central government external audit work. He is the engagement lead on the audits of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and the European Agricultural Funds Account. Stephen is also the appointed auditor of the Scottish Police Authority, the Scottish Public Pension Agency and Registers of Scotland. He has wide experience of auditing the public sector, including local authorities and the NHS. Before joining Audit Scotland in 2013, Stephen was the Assistant Director of Finance at Glasgow Housing Association and before that, the Head of Finance and Corporate Services at Cube Housing Association, both now part of the Wheatley Group. He previously worked for the Scottish Housing Regulator, where oversaw the financial viability assessments of all housing associations in Scotland. Stephen is a qualified accountant and a member of CIPFA.
Dr Esmond Birnie joined the UUEPC as Senior Economist in October 2016. Prior to that he was Chief Economist for PwC in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Previously he was Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast (co-author of 17 journal articles and six books), a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (1998 to 2007) and a Ministerial Special Adviser (Employment and Learning, 2007 to 2010).
Andrew Burns is President of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA); Director of Finance and Resources for Staffordshire County Council (SCC) and Chairman of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB). He was elected to CIPFA Council in 2010 and has chaired the Group Board, Policy and Standards Board and led CIPFA’s Aligning Public Services Working Group.
As Director of Finance and Resources for SCC, he has strategic responsibility for finance, HR, ICT, digital, property, commercial and customer services and is Treasurer of the Staffordshire Pension Fund. Andy led the financial transformation programme that delivered £150m savings and significant service improvement in Staffordshire.
For his CCAB role, Andy takes leadership of the group representing the main UK accountancy bodies, which has a combined membership of over 380,000 professional accountants worldwide. He has an MBA from Aston Business School and is former President of the Society of County Treasurers.
Gavin Chalmers is a strategic risk professional with over 15 years’ experience working both with the private and public sector. Following a short career as an industrial chemist he joined Zurich, working initially in the Casualty Practice. After obtaining a MSc in Risk Management Gavin joined the Practice in 2011 as a Strategic Risk Consultant.
Jamie is twice winner of the NI Business Journalist of the Year award and has forged a career in business journalism. Jamie began his career in journalism working in the Irish News before moving to Downtown Radio. In 1980 he joined UTV. Since then he has worked on and edited current affairs and consumer programmes, before moving back to news. As former Business Editor for UTV and U105 Radio, Jamie has covered the big stories in the industrial and commercial world and he was one of only a few voices warning of an overheated housing market. He has consistently offered critical support for the introduction here of a reduced rate of corporation tax.
In 2014 he launched Northern Ireland’s first user-friendly energy price comparison website, which in addition to uncovering the best electricity deals provides a wealth of information about the energy market. He is currently carrying out research into the use of solar energy to dry firewood.
Since retiring from UTV last year, he has continued to act as a business commentator on radio and television and has also been working as a business analyst and media trainer.
In addition to an MA in Philosophy from Cambridge University, he also has an MSc in Finance and Investment from the University of Ulster.
Paul Gosling is a financial journalist and economic commentator, based in Northern Ireland. He is the Holywell Trust's 'Brexit expert', providing a monthly podcast and blog on Brexit developments and how they affect the north west of Northern Ireland.
He was a contributor to The Independent newspaper for 20 years and has been a frequent contributor to CIPFA's Public Finance magazine. Paul is also a regular contributor to BBC Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle.
Neil is a Director in the Northern Ireland Audit Office, responsible for work in the justice, agriculture and environment sectors. Before this he worked as an auditor and inspector for the Audit Commission in London, where he specialised in performance management and organisational culture.
Catherine is a Director of Finance, Audit and Assurance at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive with the recent addition of responsibility for ICT. Prior to this she has been working at a senior level in Local Government with responsibility for delivering major change programmes. Her most recent post included the merger of Councils under the Review of Public Administration. Catherine is a member of the Governing Body of North West Regional College, where she chairs the Staffing Committee, and is a guest lecturer for the University of Ulster on the Masters in Innovation Programme.
Celine McStravick is Director of the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), a leading research and development charity working to improve the experiences and life chances of children and young people across England and Northern Ireland. Celine has led a large and high-profile assignment on behalf of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) to devise a Child Poverty Outcomes Framework which was delivered as part of the Delivering Social Change initiative.
Celine has led several significant policy development strands and has also led the campaign to introduce the full implementation of OBA (also known as RBA outside the UK) in Northern Ireland where the draft Programme for Government now includes high level outcomes and population indicators. In addition, Celine was Chair of the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum and currently chairs the working group for the development of new anti-bullying legislative guidance.
In her spare time Celine is a board member of CO3 (Chief Officers of the Third Sector) and was a board member of Sport NI from January 2015 to February 2018.
Paul McVeigh was a professional footballer for nearly 20 years, playing for clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Burnley and Norwich City, while gaining 40 caps internationally for Northern Ireland. He made over 300 appearances and was a key member of two Championship-winning teams and rose to the pinnacle of English football.
Paul has recently finished his studies, making him the first person in history to play in the Premier League and qualify with a masters in sport psychology. He is also a published author of the book ‘The Stupid Footballer is Dead’ and started his own company, which works on the mental aspect of performance. He will share some of his experiences and learnings on the subject of what it takes to cultivate a high-performing mind.
Angela is a Senior Lecturer in equalities and public policy at Glasgow Caledonian University. Her research examines the advancement of equality in public policy, particularly gender analysis of government budgeting at national and local level. Angela was a member of the Scottish Parliament/Scottish Government Budget Review Group that presented recommendations for a revised Scottish Budget process in June 2017. She was a member of the Commission on Local Tax Reform and is currently a member of the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Group.
Angela is convenor of Close the Gap, and convenor of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group. She is the join co-ordinator of the European Gender Budgeting Network and a member of the management committee of the UK Women’s Budget Group. Angela is currently leading a small research team evaluating the impact of Scottish Government funded activity in participatory budgeting in Scotland.
Margaret Pratt was CIPFA’s first female President (1998). She joined Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in 1979 as its first graduate trainee at the age of 25, qualifying in 1982. She became active in the Midlands Student Society and CIPFA nationally in the early 1980s and played a key role in establishing CIPFA in the Midlands as the first integrated CIPFA Region. She was an elected member of the CIPFA Council between 1988 and 2003.
Margaret has had a varied professional career working in local government, consultancy and the NHS before establishing her own consultancy in 1999. She has worked in a range of executive, non-executive and advisory roles.
Chris is a civil servant with the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS). His 30-plus year career in public service started in 1987 at the Public Records Office NI. Since then, Chris has worked across a broad range of departments and agencies including the Child Support Agency NI, NI Water Reform, and Account NI.
Chris joined Land & Property Services (LPS) in October 2009 as Head of LPS Human Resources and Corporate Governance, later becoming Director of Transformation and Organisational Development. In January 2018, he was appointed Transformation Director of NOVA, a £45m programme aimed at fully transforming how LPS delivers services through better data management, new technology and a ‘digital first’ approach to service delivery.