Politics Plus would like to celebrate the successes of participants on the "Women in Public Life Programme" and recognise their achievements
A PR practitioner with 20 years’ experience in political, public sector and corporate communications, Susie is an influential and trusted professional in Northern Ireland and beyond.
Susie is currently on secondment from the NI Assembly as Interim Director of Corporate Development at Tourism NI. Here, she leads the Corporate Communications, Policy and Insights, Research and Business Improvements units to drive the development of Tourism NI as an excellent organisation.
She is also the co-founder of the exciting Be Seen, Be Heard programme, which launched in November 2016. The programme aims to increase female participation in media debate, opinion and commentary in Northern Ireland. The project aims to train expert women in local media studios such as BBC and UTV, so they reflect society in a more balanced way. Susie and the Be Seen, Be Heard steering group have just delivered the first media training and awareness session to 15 expert women from across Northern Ireland. There will be two further sessions by the Summer.
Before taking up her current temporary role, Susie was Head of Communications and Engagement at the NI Assembly. There she was responsible for the Assembly’s Communications, Engagement, Digital First and External Relations Strategies, including media relations, digital engagement, broadcasting, print and publishing, business, community and parliamentary outreach, and a unique bursary programme in partnership with Queen’s University.
Susie has been named twice in PR Week’s Power Book – the definitive guide to the most influential PR people in the UK. At that time, Susie was one of only two women and five local people named in the Book.
Susie was Head of Communications at the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland for six years. Susie developed a range of high profile public relations and public affairs campaigns on issues including bank charges, opposition to water charges and utility pricing. Before that, Susie spent four years in London as Press Officer for the British Safety Council, where she wrote for Safety Management magazine, developed campaigns for member organisations and managed a programme of UK wide events. Before then Susie was Information Officer at the National Lottery Charities Board responsible for media relations and grant announcements.
Susie holds a BA (Hons) in Combined Humanities (English and Philosophy) from the University of Ulster, a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Management, QUB and The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Advanced Certificate in Marketing.
Susie said ‘My over-riding feeling about the Women in Public Life Programme was that it shook me out of a comfortable rut and made me realise I had a greater contribution to make to public life’.
‘I’d been thinking about looking at Board appointments for years – I’d even talked to friends and colleagues about it, yet I found myself in Eileen Mullan’s Effective Chairing and Board Membership session thinking, ‘why have I not done this already?’. The answer was, I just didn’t get around to it. But as a result of Eileen’s session and WIPL, I went for two Board positions and secured a place on the NEXUS board where I spent a most rewarding year working with a fantastic group of people who work in a most challenging area of our society.
‘The session that sticks most in my mind was Strategic Thinking where we had to close our eyes and see a picture of where we wanted to be. I was a bit sceptical, but threw myself into it and bang, as clear as day, I saw a picture of what I wanted to do. The course ended in June and I took up the post of Interim Director of Corporate Development at Tourism NI in August. It’s a secondment, which is giving me the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to tourism and economic growth but also giving me the time and space to think about what’s next. That’s a great place to be.
‘Quite apart from the learning and personal and professional development I gained from being on the course, WIPL allowed me to get out from behind the desk, meet like-minded colleagues and challenge myself about things I want to do and don’t want to do and focus on the important things-in work and outside work. It has been a fantastic experience and I commend the programme to women in public life everywhere.’