IoD to award over £40k in bursary funds

  • The Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland (IoD NI) has announced a new bursary scheme to support five female leaders complete professional qualifications.

    Worth over £40,000, the scholarship fund will enable five women to complete either the IoD Role of the Non-Executive Director course or the Bachelors level IoD Certificate in Company Direction qualification.

    The new fund was announced at the annual IoD NI’s Women’s Leadership Conference, held to mark International Women’s Day in Belfast’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. The sold-out event was attended by more than 500 delegates from across Northern Ireland and hosted by ‘The Positive Economist’, Susan Hayes Culleton.

    The IoD’s National Director for Northern Ireland, Kirsty McManus, who made the announcement, said it was part of the IoD’s remit to push for a greater gender balance at board and executive level.

    “Increasing the representation of women on boards and leadership teams isn’t just important in terms of providing greater opportunities for female leaders but it also makes better business sense. Firms that are the most gender-balanced also tend to perform better overall so we are prepared to play our part to help local businesses here capitalise on this diversity dividend.

    “We are offering five scholarships to female directors in Northern Ireland with at least two years’ experience of director service in the private, public, voluntary or community sector to complete one of two IoD qualifications aimed at preparing professionals to take on a board or leadership position.

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    “It was particularly important to make this announcement at our annual Women’s Leadership Conference infront of a packed audience of exceptional female business leaders who are exactly who we want to see taking up these positions and hope this scheme will create a smoother pathway to make this happen.”

    This year’s Women’s Leadership Conference was headlined by presenter, author and activist, Mariella Frostrup who gave the room insight on the need to carve a “woman-shaped space” to move beyond an economic model which was still largely predicated on 52% of the available workforce staying at home. Mariella urged the audience to just “keep going” and in her usual humorous style, Mariella also urged delegates to show less gratitude and more rage.

    Other speakers on the day included internationally renowned chef Danni Barry, Booker prize winning author, Anna Burns, and Irish navy captain Sinead Gleeson who all spoke about their own experiences of leadership in male-dominated environments.

    Lisa McLaughlin (Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills) said: “Once again it has been a pleasure to support the IoD NI and the IoD Women’s Leadership Conference. I’m proud of how our organisations have worked together over the years to grow this event and broaden its reach. This partnership has also delivered a great many benefits to our own colleagues who have learned so much from attending over the years. It has become a standout event and one our Belfast team always looks forward to participating in.”

    One of the standout elements of this year’s conference was the female-founder pitching contest which saw five entrepreneurs take to the stage and pitch for their chance to win £4,000 to take their business to the next level. This year’s contest was won by Co. Antrim dairy farmer, Louise Adams, founder and CEO of Cultshe Clothing.  

    The 2025 Women’s Leadership Conference will take place on Friday 7th March, 2025.

    Source: Written from press release 

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