Business

Being open to insight will help us pave the way to brighter future

A transformative approach to leadership is needed if we are to progress past the usual stumbling blocks

Centre for Democracy and Peace Building launches 2024/25 Fellowship Programme
The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building has opened applications for its 2024/25 Fellowship Programme for leaders in politics, business, and civic society in Northern Ireland. Pictured at the launch of the programme are The First and deputy First Ministers Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly with Fellowship Advisory Board chair Darragh McCarthy along with 2023/24 alumni. Front (from left) Amy Gribbon, manager, Forthspring Inter Community Group; Dorinnia Carville, comptroller and auditor general at the NI Audit Office; ad Róisín Wood, CEO of Community Foundation NI. Back (from left) Jason Bunting, parliamentary adviser to Sinéad McLaughlin MLA; Áine Murphy, Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone; Chloe Ferguson, NUS UK Northern Ireland president; Gareth Edwards, FinTrU vice-president; Cheryl Brownlee, DUP MLA; and Deborah Erskine, DUP MLA (Kelvin Boyes)

Leadership is often perceived as a final destination, a pinnacle reached after years of experience and hard work.

However, I believe it’s how you approach the journey that sets you apart, as to be an agent for change you must embrace opportunities to learn from others.

I gained great insight and perspective from taking part on a recent development programme. The power of collaboration across sectors was evident on the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building’s Fellowship Programme.



Participants have the unique opportunity to engage with professionals from various sectors—community, business, political, and more—creating a rich tapestry of expertise and insights. Meeting people from a range of sectors that I wouldn’t ordinarily deal with made me realise that they are dealing with the same issues.

This cross-sector networking is particularly valuable in a place like Northern Ireland, a region so small that there is no excuse for silo working - a joined up approach is needed to address to societal challenges.

I found working with people at different career stages to be a formative experience. I probably learned most from some of the people who were at the early stages of their career because they just had very different approaches, very different ways of looking at things.

NI Audit Office
Dorinnia Carville, comptroller and auditor general at the Northern Ireland Audit Office (Kelvin Boyes)

This made me appreciate the real traits of modern leadership: the ability to adapt and integrate new perspectives, especially from younger generations who bring fresh ideas and a deeper understanding of contemporary tools and trends. It’s a reminder that effective leadership is not just about imparting knowledge, but also about being open to receiving it from all quarters.

A transformative approach to leadership is what is needed in Northern Ireland if we are to progress past the usual stumbling blocks. By valuing continuous learning, embracing cross-sector collaboration, and integrating fresh perspectives, we can reimagine and redefine what it means to lead in today’s society and pave the way for a brighter future.

  • Dorinnia Carville is comptroller and auditor general at the Northern Ireland Audit Office