Board-Executive Relations

02 December 2021


IPA, 57-61 Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4

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An underlying pre-requisite in sustaining fit-for-purpose organisational governance is clarity of roles and responsibilities so that all of those charged with governance of the organisation are aware of and fulfil their respective obligations. The Board/Governing Body will have overall responsibility for setting and overseeing the strategic direction of the organisation and for ensuring that the accountability, control and assurance obligations are fulfilled. This being so, in practice delivering and sustaining good governance (in performance and conformance terms) is a shared endeavour between the Board and the Executive. There should be effective holding to account arrangements and challenge and support within the relationships and a level of reciprocity where both parties benefit from professional and respectful engagements, openness and interactions.

This special event focuses on board and executive relationships, an area of growing importance and one where the experiences in some organisations have been challenging and difficult. We are pleased to have available to us very experienced practitioners who have their own views and perspectives on this critical governance relationship.

Among the questions which will be addressed include

The guest speakers will be:

The event will be moderated by Kate O'Donnell, Governance Specialist, IPA.


John Treacy

John is the Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, the authority tasked with the development of sport in Ireland. He is also the Chairman of Concern Worldwide, Ireland's largest humanitarian agency.

As Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John provides strategic leadership in sport, including participation in sport, high performance sport, anti-doping, coaching and the development of the Sport Ireland Campus. Sport Ireland supports the building of strong sports organisations, financial oversight and sets the operational direction ensuring the organisation operates to the highest standards of corporate governance.

Under John’s leadership, Sport Ireland established an Organisational Development and Change Unit, which has introduced a range of training and targeted conferences to support all funded bodies to work towards the successful adoption of the Code and building organisation capacity. Sport Ireland has also put in place a range of monitors and supports to ensure that funded bodies are adequately responding to the governance issues they face.

Previously, as Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council, John oversaw the development of the organisation, the introduction of the Irish anti-doping programme, the allocation of state funding to national governing bodies for sport, the implementation of high performance systems and the roll out of the local sports partnership initiative to promote sport and physical activity in local communities. 

Cormac O'Rourke

Cormac is a Director of Goodbody Corporate Finance specialising in energy, infrastructure and healthcare. He has nearly 35 years experience in investment banking, covering energy, infrastructure/public private partnerships and Telecom.  Prior to Goodbody, Cormac was previously European Head of Project Finance of KBC Bank NV and Investment Director of ESBI. He started his career in the ESB as a power station engineer, specialising in steam and gas turbines and afterwards specialised in Management Systems.  Prior to his work in International Project Finance he specialised in aircraft finance.

He was appointed Chair of both the National Roads Authority and the Railway Procurement Agency in January 2013 and became the first Chairman of TII following the merger in August 2015. Cormac was re-appointed Chair in February 2018 for three years and was further reappointed in February 2021 “pro-tem” pending the appointment of a permanent chair

Dr Tom Ward

Tom is a Senior Governance Specialist in the IPA Governance Team, and re-joined the Institute in May 2017 having previously been a member of staff between 2006 and 2011. He co-manages the Governance Forum with Aidan Horan and works on a range of governance assignments for clients, including board effectiveness reviews and governance reviews, strategy development, and delivering training and workshop sessions on governance matters for boards and senior teams. He has worked with a range of organisations, including government departments, state agencies, local authorities, higher education institutions, and sport, community and charitable organisations.

Prior to re-joining the IPA in 2017, Tom was a Senior Manager and Consultant at Crowe, managing and delivering a range of assignments in the areas of governance, organisational design, and strategy. Prior to this, he held senior strategy and governance roles at the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Tom started his career as a Parliamentary Assistant in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Tom is currently a non-executive member of the Audit & Risk Committee of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, and was previously a non-executive Director and Vice-Chair of Badminton Ireland (2017-2022), the national governing body for the sport.