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The Judging Panel

All entries will be judged by our panel of leading industry experts and senior HR professionals from the public, private and not for profit sector. 

Michael McQuillan, Director of the Business Institute

Michael was appointed to the role of Director of The Business Institute at Ulster University in July 2014.

Michael is well known in Business and Academia.  Over 25 years he has created and built several businesses. Most notably, as co-founder and Managing Director of the streat, he developed the award winning cafe business from concept creation to a network of more than 90 company operated and franchised outlets throughout Ireland and Scotland. The business was acquired by the Henderson Group in 2010.

He has had a career long involvement with academia and the skills development agenda, and was appointed in 2010 as a Visiting Professor to the Ulster Business School (Ulster University). He is the Chairman of People1st Employers Forum in Northern Ireland.  In May 2013 Michael was appointed, by Minister Foster, as a member to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and sits as non-executive director on several Northern Irish businesses.

Through McQuillan Associates, a business growth consultancy he established in 2012, he has provided a range of consultancy, advice and mentoring helping businesses to identify opportunities for growth and to get to their next level. He regularly delivers keynote presentations at business events throughout UK and Ireland. 

Wendy Close, Bank of Ireland

Wendy Close MCIPD, currently Senior HR Business Partner Bank of Ireland NI, responsible for working in Partnership with the NI Senior Management Team to agree the NI HR Strategy and Plan and ensuring implementation of plan in line with key business priorities.

Previously, Wendy has held other HR Business Partner roles in BOI in both NI and GB and also had responsibility for Managing the UK HR Advisory Team.

Paul Gillen, Partner , 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 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 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.

John McGurk, CIPD Scotland and Northern Ireland

Dr John McGurk is Head of CIPD Scotland and Northern Ireland. After a career spanning train driving, academic research and strategically advising unions, he joined CIPD in 2007. Starting as skills and learning adviser, he progressed to lead CIPD’s research on learning and talent development and was appointed Head of CIPD Scotland in October 2013.

John sits on the board of the Construction Innovation Centre Scotland and believes passionately in learning, skills and innovation as the key to a competitive and equitable Scotland. He has been at the forefront of developing CIPD’s approach to the labour market Scotland’s Skilled Future. In the process he has collaborated with business, government, the education sector, trade unions and other professional bodies.

Anne Dougan, Think People

Anne Dougan MCIPD is Managing Partner at Think People Consulting, a modern HR Consultancy based in Belfast and Dublin, offering outsourced HR and People Development.

A seasoned HR executive with over 20 years within Senior Human Resources roles,  Anne’s reputation as a commercially minded HR leader has spread across Northern Ireland and the Republic in the past ten years since setting up Think People with her business partner Emer Hinphey.  Anne’s passion for HR started in one of her first HR posts at the London Stock Exchange, then from 1995 to 2002 Anne was Group Head of HR for United Dairy Farmers/Dale Farm Group of companies. She was responsible for all strategic and operational HR within the business.

Anne has enjoyed working with a vast array of businesses across every sector in Northern Ireland and the Republic and is well known for her persistence, accuracy and focus.  She has partnered business leaders at all levels and a variety of Industry from Services, Technology to Manufacturing.  She is particularly sought after for dealing with complex HR projects requiring an expected level of sensitivity and / or potential legal difficulty, due to her significant HR knowledge and her calm but firm unflustered style and general gravitas.

Helen Sullivan, PWC

Helen has 25 years of experience of helping clients improve their business performance, and achieve their strategic objectives, through the development of their organisations and the people within them.

She has worked for PwC’s People and Change Practice for 18 years and this has involved line management and consulting roles across a range of HRD areas including L&D Strategy development, project management of complex multi-sited development programmes, design and delivery of development centres and learning effectiveness and impact studies.

Her current client work ranges from global energy and financial service companies to national government. Recent projects have involved, one to one executive coaching for Boards, consulting with organisations on people management and engagement strategies and the capability dimensions  of change management processes. Helen’s particular interests lie with projects involving senior executive effectiveness and HR business partner development in organisations undergoing transformation of HR Service Delivery. Prior to PwC Helen spent seven years with Advanced Learning Systems managing a network of open learning centres and delivering on international open learning programmes.

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Judith Gillespie

Judith Gillespie was accepted into the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1982, having previously been turned down twice.

Her early police career saw service throughout Belfast, and she worked as a Detective in  Child Abuse and Rape Enquiry, and as Head of Drugs Squad.  In May 2004 she became the first woman in the history of the RUC/PSNI to become an Assistant Chief Constable.  She was a member of the PSNI Command Team for 11 years, helping to lead the organisation through significant change.

She became Deputy Chief Constable in June 2009 and was for a brief period temporary Chief Constable before the appointment of Matt Baggott in September 2009.  As Deputy Chief Constable she was also Chair of the 2013 World Police and Fire Games Company Board, and is very proud of the fact that Belfast delivered "the friendliest and best Games ever". 

A graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute, she was awarded an OBE in the Birthday Honours list in June 2009, an Honorary Doctorate from Queen's University in July 2012, and a CBE in the Birthday Honours in June 2014. 

On leaving PSNI in March 2014 she became an advisor on leadership and transformational change both nationally and internationally.  She has been appointed to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, and most recently to the new Garda Policing Authority,   

Pete Feldman, Grafton Recruitment

Pete joined Grafton Recruitment in 2014 as Managing Director and is fully responsible for Grafton’s service delivery and financial performance in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Grafton provides quality recruitment and selection solutions including temporary, contract, specialist permanent and HR consulting, with a focus on design and delivery of assessment solutions and psychometric testing.

He has a passion for providing commercially-focused people solutions to support business strategies, gained through 20 years of HR experience, with over 15 years in senior HR positions. Pete previous worked for Dixons Carphone for 15 years in the UK, Ireland and Europe in a variety of HR roles including Resourcing & Talent, HR Shared Services and in-country HRD. He also worked for PaddyPower for two years as Head of UK HR. Key implementations and projects have included mass volume hiring to support rapid growth, change management, design and delivery of assessment and development centres for management levels, implementation of new pay schemes, employee engagement surveys and improvement cycles, TUPE / M&A,

Pete is both a Fellow of CIPD and the Institute of Recruitment Professionals.

Mark Reilly, NIJobfinder and Belfast Telegraph

Book CIPD NI Awards Gala Tickets

Join us at the Titanic Belfast for this celebration of HR, L&D and People Management in Northern Ireland. With over 330 attendees last year the evening provides the perfect backdrop to network, engage and celebrate the wonderful successes of organisations.

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