CUBS Conference explores and challenges the changing ‘Workforce of the Future’

Over 500 delegates from academia and the business world attended the 2nd annual Cork University Business School (CUBS) Conference on Thursday, March 8th in Cork Opera House, where the ever changing workforce was discussed, challenged, and explored by a range of expert guest speakers and panellists from the spheres of business, finance and technology.


The day-long event, titled ‘Workforce of the Future’, was Ireland’s largest student-led, student-focused conference, and was organised by students from Cork University Business School’s Accounting and Finance Society, Business Information Systems Society, Commerce Society, Entrepreneurial and Social Society, Economic Society, and Foodies Society, all of which are based in UCC.


The conference, which coincided with International Women’s Day, kicked off with a ‘Women in Leadership’ panel, featuring one of Ireland’s most senior businesswomen, Glanbia CEO, Siobhan Talbot; together with Poppulo’s Stephanie Sheehan, Angela Duffy from NDRC, and Oonagh O’Hagan of Meagher’s Pharmacy Group.


A digital innovation panel discussion on the importance of self-taught skills in start-up era was chaired by Derek Lande, Technology Strategy Practice Lead at ‎Accenture; who was joined by Dragon’s Den investor Barry O’Sullivan, CEO and Co-Founder of AltoCloud; Michelle O’Donovan, CEO of TAPSTAK; Chief Peoples Officer, Gavin O’Brien; Vuk Mirkovic, CEO at Razor Communications; and CEO of Republic of Work, DC Cahalane.


Embracing disruptions in financial services was the topic of discussion for a finance based panel which featured Brendan Touhy from the Centre of Marine and Renewable Energy (MAREI); economist Jim Power; Kevin O’Leary, CEO of Qumas; Barry O’Sullivan, Commercial General Manager of OpenConnect Payment and FX FEXCO; and crypto enthusiast and social entrepreneur, Graham de Barra.


Entrepreneurs making waves in the food sector featured in an afternoon panel discussion titled ‘Changing Foods for a Changing Consumer’. Rebel Chilli founder and CEO, Paul Moore; Director of Kinsale Spirit Co and Electric, Ernest Cantillon; and Catherine Buggy of Boutique Bake were joined by industry stalwarts, Mark Faherty, Strategic Marketing Director of Kerry Group; and food industry veteran, Jim Corbett, the former Managing Director of Bewleys who has just been appointed as Director of the Food Institute UCC.


A discussion on the exploitation of social media in business closed out the day’s proceedings. The panel featured popular social influencers, James Kavanagh and Lisa Jordan; together with RedFM’s Head of Marketing, Stephen Ryan, in a discussion chaired by conference MC, Jonathan Healy. Over the course of the day, delegates also heard keynote speeches from Derek Lande, Technology Strategy Practice Lead at ‎Accenture; and Stephen Moran; Head of R&D, Open Enterprise & Innovation at Bank of Ireland.


Closing the conference, newly appointed Dean of CUBS, Professor Thia Hennessy said: “The enthusiasm and professionalism of the student organisers is what’s really impressive about the CUBS Conference. At UCC, we’re really spoilt for choice to have such a wealth of outstanding talent among our student body. At CUBS we strive to produce graduates who will influence the changing workforce of the future, both in Ireland and internationally in the years to come.”


Effective since January 2015, CUBS at UCC is one of the two largest business schools in Ireland; and is home to the largest number of full-time undergraduate students in any business school in Ireland and the second largest number of full-time postgraduate students. Together with the recently acquired Irish Management Institute, CUBS is also the largest provider of executive education in Ireland. The former Cork Savings Bank building on Lapp’s Quay, which UCC purchased in 2016, is currently being transformed into a state of the art centre for executive education to be launched later this year.


Sponsors of the 2018 CUBS Conference include Bank of Ireland; the Local Enterprise Offices in Cork City and county; Accenture; and media partner, Irish Examiner. For more information on Cork University Business School visit

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