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What does the best in Government Policy Masterclass look like? Sharing successes, failures and lessons learnt.

Monday, September 27, 2021 - 08:30 to 10:30

Suppose we all pledge to share our successes, failures, and lessons across countries to examine how Governments across the world are leading the way in deciding policy priorities and reviewing policy goals and effectiveness.

In that case, we might support better decision making and make a difference to people's lives, wherever they live.  This workshop provides us with the opportunity to take an instructive look at what is happening in other countries and, in turn, what learning we can bring to Northern Ireland.  In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tabled a Wellbeing Budget in 2019; a year prior, Ardern's government formed the Wellbeing Governments (WEGo) initiative with Iceland and Scotland, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas on improving the lives of citizens and the success of their countries.

The Workshop provides us with the space to engage with a wide range of leaders to look at who is best in class at designing and delivering policy with a greater focus on health and wellbeing and measuring what really matters to people.

International panellists

Pétur Berg Matthíasson, Director General for Iceland

Alice Charles, Project Lead, World Economic Forum 

Alice has nineteen years' experience working for the public and private sector in the areas of city and urban planning, real estate, urban development & regeneration, construction, infrastructure, environment, climate change and public policy. Leads the World Economic Forum's cities & real estate work streams, including the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, the Real Estate Industry Action Group, the Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative and co-leads the Systemic Efficiency-Transitioning Energy & Buildings initiative and the production of all city and urban development related content and curation of events at World Economic Forum summits. External Member of the Board, National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) Planning Advisory Committee, Ireland. Formerly with: Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Ireland; Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament), Ireland; Jacobs Engineering; Avison Young, London, UK. Master’s in Global Leadership, World Economic Forum, in conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Cornell Tech, INSEAD, London Business School and the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS); MBA, University College Dublin; Postgraduate Diploma in Town and Country Planning, Queens University Belfast; degree (Hons) in Environmental Planning, Queen’s University Belfast. Chartered Member, Royal Town Planning Institute; Member, Irish Planning Institute. Recipient, Irish Echo Irish 40-Under-40 Award 2017 for Irish and Irish Americans who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of work before the age of 40.

Dawn Baxendale, CEO Christchurch Council, NZ 

Originally from Huddersfield in the north of England, Dawn has had a long ambition of moving to and working in New Zealand. So when her husband spotted the advertisement for the role of CEO at Christchurch City Council, the opportunity was too good to pass by. Dawn had spent more than 30 years working for local government in the UK. She also worked at the European Commission in Brussels and, for a short while, at the World Bank in Romania. Her technical background in economic development and regeneration, always focused on driving ambition and realising potential, has been vital to Christchurch’s position and growth. 

Alongside the hurdle of leading during a pandemic, Dawn also has to take note of Christchurch’s painful past. The devastation of the 2011 earthquake and the 2019 terrorist attack are paying dividends in the approach to COVID-19, Dawn says.

“It can be summed up by saying, ‘doing things better by doing things together’. Our call to action is that we need to reimagine our future together,” she explains.

“We are working closely within the council and with our partners to use an approach that is based on response, recovery and repositioning in terms of economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing.

Local panellists

Ann Watt, Director, Pivotal 

Ann is a former civil servant with 20 years experience in Belfast and London. Most recently Ann was Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland. Before this she worked in London in the Treasury, Cabinet  Office and Home Office. 



Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council 

Suzanne Wylie took up the post of Chief Executive of Belfast City Council in 2014. 

During her time, she has built strong relationships with the private and wider public sector – pitching Belfast globally as a great place to live, work, visit and invest.  

Suzanne has led the creation of and significant progress on the city’s 20 year strategy, The Belfast Agenda, which in the context of COVID-19 is more important than ever.  With the buy in of Belfast’s key stakeholders she agreed a shared vision and created long-term ambitions for the city which include job creation, inward investment, and investment in neighbourhoods and skills. This includes targets on health and wellbeing, reducing inequalities creating 46,000 new jobs, attracting 66,000 more city dwellers and to achieve over £1bn of real estate investment.  The city is also focused on climate change and has set up a joint commission with the universities focused on how green investment can stimulate the economy.  Suzanne has also developed an inclusive growth framework to ensure that those excluded or at risk of being excluded are able to access opportunities and support.

Suzanne also led the Local Government end of the £1bn Belfast Region City Deal – this investment will be a key pillar in how the city and its region rebuilds and recovers in the wake of COVID-19 with a huge focus on innovation and digital investment to propel competitive advantage.

Working with key city partners Suzanne is committed to weaving digital innovation into all aspects of our city’s economy, infrastructure and healthcare services through the establishment of the city’s first Digital Innovation Partnership and has recently appointed a Digital Commissioner to help create smart innovation districts with business clusters in growth sectors such as tech and health diagnostics and analytics.

Suzanne has led the Council in its city leadership role during the response to COVID-19 and has started the careful planning for rebuilding and recovering with elected representatives and the city’s key stakeholders.

Ciaran Martin - Professor of Practice in the Management of Public Organisations, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Prior to joining the School, Ciaran was the founding Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ. 

Ciaran led a fundamental shift in the UK’s approach to cyber security in the second half of the last decade. He successfully advocated for a wholesale change of approach towards a more interventionist posture and this was adopted by the Government in the 2015 National Security Strategy, leading to the creation of the NCSC in 2016 under his leadership. Over the same timeframe, the UK has moved from joint eighth to first in the International Telecommunications Union’s Global Cybersecurity Index and the NCSC model has been studied widely and adopted in countries like Canada and Australia. The NCSC’s approach has been lauded for responding quickly to incidents and giving the British public clear and prompt advice on responding to them, putting previously classified information in the hands of industry so that companies can defend themselves more effectively, major improvements in automatic cyber security like countering brand spoofing and rapidly taking down malicious sites, and projecting the UK’s leadership in cyber security across the world. Ciaran’s work, which led to him being appointed CB in the 2020 New Year’s Honour’s list, has also been recognised and honoured in the United States and elsewhere across the world.

We will also be joined by a speaker from the Executive Office.

Event Details

Date: Monday 27 September 2021

Time: 8:30 AM - 10:30 AM

RSVP here