Business diary: Events coming up

Your weekly round-up of conferences, dinners, seminars and charity events

Business diary - events coming up
Launching the IoD Governance and Leadership Summit taking place in October are (from left) IoD national director Kirsty McManus and, from headline sponsor AIB NI, Seamus McGuckin, head of corporate, and Roisin Keenan, head of business banking (Kelvin Boyes)


The award-winning journalist who was at the forefront of reporting on the Post Office Horizon scandal is set to headline a major new event in Belfast later this year.

Nick Wallis - who presented, produced, and consulted on three BBC Panorama programmes about the subject and was a consultant on ITV’s drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office - will be the headline speaker at the IoD NI & AIB Director Governance & Leadership Summit 2024 at the Merchant Hotel on October 9.

The half-day event will shine a light on corporate governance successes and failures, in particular lessons from the Post Office. It will also look at the impact of artificial intelligence on business strategy and discuss how small and medium-sized businesses can ensure they are able to understand and implement ESG (environmental, social and governance).

Other speakers will include Donna Wilson, head of ESG transformation and reporting at AIB, while representing the Institute of Directors will be Dr Roger Barker, director of policy and corporate governance.

A new initiative that seeks to bring senior business leaders together with thought leaders in the field of ESG, AI and corporate governance, the summit will also provide the opportunity for IoD and AIB to announce the winner of the IoD NI Chair’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice.

The accolade recognises the personal imprint of a high-profile leader on the culture and success of their organisation through the implementation of good governance.

Previous winners include the late Brian Conlon of First Derivatives, Sir Michael Ryan of Spirit AeroSystems, and Dame Rotha Johnston.

Kirsty McManus, national director at IoD Northern Ireland, said: “Good corporate governance is the very foundation of any successful business, and we have seen in sharp focus through a range of high-profile examples how badly things can go wrong whenever governance is not done well.

“This new event will shine a light on good and bad examples of corporate governance and discuss some of the most pressing challenges business leaders face from a governance perspective including the opportunities and threats of AI. We will also outline some of the IoD’s efforts to establish a Code of Conduct for Directors to promote high ethical standards in the profession.”

In addition to AIB, other associate sponsors of the event include Tughans, Ulster University and the Irish News. For more information or to purchase tickets visit

Business diary
HappyFest organiser Ciara Daly (left) pictured at the launch of this years event with (from left) Michael Lyons, Momentum Fitness; mind wellness specialist Deirdre Maguire; Ciara Cruiks, BIA Yoga; Podraig Craig from HappyFest and musician Amanda St John


Award-winning Belfast businesswoman Ciara Daly, famed for her revolutionary make-up products and services, is on a mission to bring a little more ‘happiness’ to people when she hosts HappyFest 2024 on Sunday July 7 at Crawfordsburn Activity Centre.

It is a ground-breaking event igniting a wellness revolution in Northern Ireland, designed to help improve your mind, body, and soul.

Now entering its third year, HappyFest, which is supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council, has evolved into a pivotal wellness movement in Northern Ireland, and the event is expected to draw visitors from all over Ireland and the UK. Ciara says HappyFest 2024 aims to connect the Northern Ireland community with a diverse and varied selection of alternative therapies and healing practices, activities, workshops, fun and music.

She added: “We have people from all ages and all walks of life signed up to deliver a whole range of workshops, including breathwork, mindset coaching, yoga, workouts and alternative healing modalities.

“As we emerge through these post-Covid years, the world is a very different place. My mission is to help people to know that there’s a whole world of help, there’s so many options beyond the doctor’s surgery. There are a vast selection of alternative therapies, community groups, wellness experts, and health professionals with practices and expertise available to everyone.”

The day-long event will feature over 50 exhibitors showcasing offerings from the alternative therapy world, nutrition, fitness, and more. There will also be live music, mindfulness activities for kids, face painting, art classes, food trucks, dancing, and fun performers.

Neurodivergence experts will be available for young minds, while adults can enjoy inspiring speakers in an informal and relaxing speaker zone around the campfire. Topics will range from fitness, relationships, and mindset to nutrition.

Attendees will also enjoy storytelling on mythical Irish folklore and music from local artists like Belfast buskers John Garrity, Amanda St John, and Tyrell Black, who will play instruments from around the world. There will also be mindset workshops from Deirdre Maguire, workouts from Michael Lyons, Momentum Fitness and yoga by Ciara Cruiks, BIA Yoga.

Tickets are priced at £18 for adults and £15 for children and a family ticket is £39, available at

Business diary
Renowned chef-patron of Moor Hall, Mark Birchall, will headline Hospitality Exchange 2024 at the Crowne Plaza, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast, on October 15 & 16


Acclaimed chef Mark Birchall, chef-patron of Moor Hall, will be headlining this year’s Hospitality Exchange as the countdown begins to a landmark conference on October 15 and 16 at the Crowne Plaza, Shaw’s Bridge Belfast, celebrating 25 years of industry excellence.

Renowned for his culinary expertise and innovative approach during an illustrious career marked by numerous accolades, Birchall will bring a gourmet culinary experience to the event.

Born in Lancashire, he trained at Runshaw College. Before establishing Moor Hall, he was executive chef of dual-Michelin Star L’Enclume in Cumbria and won the Roux Scholarship in 2011, the premier competition for chefs in the UK. He also worked at El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, a three-times Michelin Star restaurant owned by the Roca Brothers, twice voted the world’s best restaurant.

Birchall will speak at the conference about his stellar career, culinary experiences, and his ambition. He opened Moor Hall Restaurant with Rooms in March 2017, with a focus on delicate, produce-driven menus inspired by Moor Hall’s exceptional surroundings and home-grown ingredients.

Within six months, the Restaurant at Moor Hall was awarded its first Michelin star, with a second star following in the 2019 Michelin Guide, an accolade it has retained. It also achieved five AA rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide 2020, and a World class status in the 2022 Good Food Guide.

Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) president Eddie McKeever said: “Hospitality Exchange 2024 will reflect on the evolution of tourism since 1999. This year’s programme will delve into topical issues, provide industry insights, and foster discussions on the future of tourism and hospitality.

“We are delighted to welcome Mark Birchall as our guest chef for 2024 and are looking forward to an amazing culinary experience in the Merchant Hotel on October 14. As one of the UK’s most revered chefs, we are confident that his presence will elevate the event to new heights. A great start for what promises to be an unforgettable experience for everyone.”

The final programme for Hospitality Exchange will be revealed in September. For updates and details visit