Wendy Close, Prestige Insurance Holdings

Wendy Close MCIPD, currently Group HR Director of Prestige Insurance Holdings Ltd, responsible for working with the Directors and Senior Managers to agree HR strategy and plan,  and ensure implementation of plan in line with key business requirements.

Previously, Wendy worked for Bank of Ireland in NI as Senior HR Business Partner.

Dr Denise Currie, Queen’s Management School

Dr Denise Currie is the Programme Director for the CIPD accredited MSc in Human Resource Management (full and part time) and a lecturer in Management at Queen’s Management School.

Denise is a graduate of Queen’s Management School where she completed her PhD on conflict management in business networks, which is a particular aspect of her broader research interests in workplace conflict and employee relations. Her most recent book, Managing Workplace Conflict: Alternative Dispute Resolution(co-authored with Paul Teague, Bill Roche and Tom Gormley, and published by the Institute of Public Administration in Dublin) explores the genesis, operation and outcomes of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Ireland.

Denise also has a keen interest in employment relations in the Non Profit and Voluntary Sector. Building on work already published in Work, Employment and Society, she is currently undertaking a project that is examining employment relations issues in novel contractual arrangements between the Non-Profit and Public Sectors.

Through her role as Programme Director for the MSc HRM, she is keenly interested in challenging the perspective of her students and encourages them to become critical analysts when evaluating complex human resource management problems. She aims to equip her students with the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide people management solutions that will bring about real business benefits.


Eileen Hanna, Hertz

Eileen has over 15 years’ HR experience, specializing in compensation and benefits in her early career. She is currently responsible for International Compensation & Benefit in Hertz International.

Eileen has worked at a number of global multi-nationals across different industries including Diageo, Coca Cola Hellenic, Citi, Iberdrola/ Scottish Power and British Airport Authority. She has worked across all aspects of the employee value proposition – compensation and benefits strategy, benefits, salary and pay frameworks, levelling, industry benchmarking, compensation policy, employee engagement, performance / talent management and wellness.


Paul Gillen, Pinsent Masons

Paul is a Partner at Pinsent Masons LLP who heads the Employment Law team. Previously, Paul worked for over ten years in HR Management within the manufacturing, engineering, retail and construction sectors. This experience supports his commercial and solutions-based approach.

Paul is qualified as a solicitor in England & Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and he is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and is Past-Chair of the Northern Ireland CIPD Branch.  Paul is Visiting Professor to the School of Law at Ulster University and sits on the CBI Employment & Skills Committee.  Paul specialises in advising public and private sector clients on contentious and non-contentious matters, TUPE, equality and diversity (including public sector equality duties), policy and procedure, organisational structure and development and strategic HR support. He specialises in employment matters in reorganisations and insolvency.

Paul is a regular employment law speaker for Legal Island, the CIPD, CBI and other organisations as well as delivering the CIPD accredited Advanced Diploma in Employment Law.

Jeanette Harrison, Ulster University Business School

Jeanette is a Senior Lecturer in HRM in the Ulster University Business School, with over twenty years teaching experience. She is Course Director for the MSc HRM and is dedicated to providing her student/practitioners with the best possible support to facilitate their learning and development and to ultimately make a positive impact on HR in their organisations.

Jeanette is responsible for maintaining the University’s relationship with CIPD and for ensuring its HRM courses meet the professional standards of accreditation. Research over the years has largely focussed on learning, training and development.

As a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, over the past decade, Jeanette has supported the wider HR community via her previous position as Lead for Continuing Professional Development and Membership within the CIPD NI Branch committee.

Having recently qualified as a Yoga Teacher, Jeanette is now sharing with others the well-being benefits that regular yoga practice can bring.

Carol Fitzsimons, MBE, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland

Carol Fitzsimons MBE has been Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland (www.yeni.co.uk) since 2009. Having previously specialised in learning & development in the private sector, she is a strong advocate for the benefits of providing young people with the opportunity to develop entrepreneurship skills from a young age. She is committed to providing young people in Northern Ireland with the best preparation for success in the new economy through her work at Young Enterprise – Northern Ireland’s leading business education charity.

In May 2019, she was awarded IoD NI Director of the Year for the Third Sector. She is an Alumni of the US Boston College Irish Institute exchange on Youth Entrepreneurship, and was a participant in the Global Ambassador’s Program with Vital Voices. Her involvement in these programmes has allowed her to benchmark the work of the charity against global best practice, and develop & implement a strategic vision to make Young Enterprise NI one of the leading providers of Enterprise Education in the world.

She was awarded the MBE in 2016 for services to enterprise education.

Lesley Richards, CIPD

Lesley is the Head of CIPD in Wales. Her HR career spans 25 years, delivered both in-house (largely in the professional services arena) and through her own HR consultancy – with a client base covering a range of sectors including local government, manufacturing, professional services, energy, charities, telecoms, hospitality and a variety of SME’s.

Following many years involvement with the CIPD volunteer network, holding a number of officer roles within the South East Wales branch, Lesley stepped down as Chair in 2015 in order to focus on developing and implementing the CIPD Wales offer.

Lesley holds an MSc in HR Management, and Chartered Fellowship of CIPD, ILM and CMI. She has also been involved with a number of local charities in a Non-Executive Director/Trustee capacity, including City Hospice, Touch Trust, and Whitchurch Rugby Sports and Social Club.


Gillian Robinson, PBNI

Gillian is the Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development in the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI).  Gillian leads on the areas of core Human Resources, Change Management, Culture, Learning & Development, Health & Safety, Equality, Social Enterprise and Staff Health & Well-being.

Prior to holding her post in PBNI, Gillian has worked in the public, private and voluntary sector.  Gillian is a Chartered Fellow of CIPD and holds a MSc in Human Resource Management.

Helen Sullivan, PwC

Helen has more than 30 years of experience in assisting her clients to improve their business performance and achieve their strategic objectives through the development of their people and organisations.

She has worked for PwC for over 20 years in the People and Organisation consulting practice, and more recently for the PwC Deals business as the EMEA lead for a pathfinder graduate development programme across 27 countries.

Her consulting clients have included global energy, telecoms, construction, and financial services companies and national governments. Her projects have involved the development of organisational models and people strategies, the capability dimensions of change management, leadership alignment and development, one to one executive coaching for boards, consulting on talent management and engagement strategies and learning effectiveness and business impact studies.

Helen’s particular interests lie with senior HR executive effectiveness and business partner development in organisations undergoing transformation of HR service delivery.  She  has directed workstreams on some of the largest HR transformation projects in Western Europe and is sought out as a trusted advisor by many UK leading organisations.

Caroline van der Feltz, Danske Bank

Caroline is an experienced HR Director with over 25  years’ experience within the fields of Financial Services, FMCG, Travel and Retail sectors.

Currently she is HR Director for Danske Bank UK where she leads the People Strategy as part of the Banks Executive Committee.

She has spent the majority of her career in London and returned to NI in 2015.

Prior to taking up her current role she worked for a number of FTSE 100 companies including global FMCG Reckett Benckiser, where she was Global HR Director role, Executive HR Director at Coutts and she had 11 years with RBS in a variety of HR roles.

Will Young, HSC Leadership Centre

Will is an experienced Organisational Development Consultant and is currently the Assistant Head of the HSC Leadership Centre which is responsible for providing organisational and leadership development support to Northern Ireland Health and Social Care and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Services.

He has over 25 years’ experience working at a senior and executive level and is the lead for number of regional agendas including executive development, team based working, quality improvement, succession planning and talent management. He is Course Director for the MSc in Business Improvement at the Centre delivered in collaboration with Ulster University. Will is also involved in a number of significant and complex workforce reviews and modernisation initiatives across the system.

Will holds an MBA in Health and Social Care Management, and Chartered Fellowship of CIPD. He is also involved with several local charities in a Director/Trustee capacity, including Childrens Heartbeat Trust and Antrim Youth Information and Counselling Centre.

David Johnston, Police Service of Northern Ireland

A Human Resources practitioner for over 25 years, with a professional interest in equality, diversity and inclusion, most of his career has seen him working in complex and high‐profile public service organisations, including ‐ Inland Revenue, Police Ombudsman’s office, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Having first been introduced to the world of Human Resources carrying out a recruitment role in the early 1990’s, he has held a number of HR Generalist and Specialist portfolios. David’s current portfolio is Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion within the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

In addition to his full time role, David is also a part‐time lecturer and is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, holding a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management.

John Conaghan, Inspire Workplaces

John was appointed Group Director of Professional Services at Inspire in 2017, having joined the charity in 2009. Prior to joining Inspire John worked for 19 years in the pharmaceutical industry in a variety of sales,  management and healthcare development roles. As Group Director, John leads on the strategic development and delivery, across Ireland and GB, of Inspire’s Social Enterprise service delivering mental health & wellbeing support services to the Workplace, Universities & Colleges and others impacted by mental health issues. Inspire are also a leading provider of mental health and wellbeing consultancy and training services to organisations, driving a value led culture of wellbeing and compassion. Since joining Inspire John has overseen significant growth in the provision of workplace wellbeing services, reaching almost 1m employees in all sectors across Ireland and GB.

Michele Hanley, Energia Group

Michele was appointed Group HR Director at Energis Group in 2015 on joining the Group. Prior to this, Michele was Organisational Development Manager and HR Business Partner with Translink (Northern Ireland’s public transport provider). She has experience in a number of senior HR roles across various sectors, including FMCG, IT and Construction. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Chris Lillie, SHS Group

Chris is Group HR Director of SHS Group. Prior to joining SHS Group, Chris held the role of HR Director – Island of Ireland at Coca-Cola HBC. Chris was awarded the Excellence in HR Leadership award at the 2019 CIPD NI HR Awards.

Lee Ann Panglea, CIPD

Lee is Head of CIPD in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Lee is responsible for ensuring the CIPD is considered the indispensable voice in people and development and that the CIPD’s strategy reflects the diversity in policy, economic landscape, and members’ interests across both devolved nations.

Through strengthening relationships with local policy makers, employers, CIPD members, HR leaders, business communities and CIPD’s network of engaged volunteers, Lee and her team encourage influencers in the world of work to value people and development as key to better work and working lives. Lee develops relevant insight and propositions to amplify CIPD’s voice to continually enhance our support to members in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

With over 20 years’ commercial experience across the consumer, retail and professional services sectors throughout the UK, Lee Ann brings significant personal experience of the world of work to her current role.