Strategy - Assessing Progress and Impact [Online]

23 September 2021



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The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all organisations, be they in the public sector, non-profit sector or private sector. The pandemic impacted on traditional ways of delivering, requiring organisations to be more agile and respond to existing and new demands. In some instances, ‘normal’ business was paused or impacted as other priorities took hold. The pandemic also impacted upon the senior team and Board’s ability to assess progress on their existing strategies, and to meet in-person to review strategy and consider new initiatives. All of this has likewise compounded the challenges around better defining desired impacts and outcomes from the work public bodies and public benefit entities undertake.

This Forum event will bring together three highly experienced practitioners and experts to take stock of where we are and the future. Key questions will include:


Ronnie Downes

Ronnie is Assistant Secretary at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) in charge of Central Expenditure Policy & Reporting, whose responsibilities include preparing the annual budget, overseeing national infrastructure investment strategy, promoting budgetary reforms (including performance-related budgeting, gender budgeting and spending review), and public accounting and governance standards.

Ronnie was previously Deputy Head of the Budgeting & Public Expenditures Division at the OECD. He holds a M.Sc. (Econ.) from Trinity College Dublin, as well as graduate diplomas in Law, Accounting and Corporate Governance. 

Orla O'Brien

Orla took up the position of CEO at the Irish Blood Transfusion Service in 2020 having previously been CEO at LauraLynn Children’s Hospice.  She has spent over 30 years working in the Irish healthcare system. She qualified as a Registered Children’s and General Nurse in 1989 and subsequently as a paediatric intensive care nurse before taking on several management and leadership roles. Orla was previously Project Manager at the Department of Health and more recently Chief Operations Officer at Children’s Health Ireland.

Orla holds a BSc in Nursing Management (Hons) from UCD and an MSc in Leadership and Management (Hons) from the RCSI Graduate School of Healthcare Management. She maintains links with academia by supervising dissertation students in the second year of their Masters Programme with the RCSI Graduate School of Healthcare Management where she is a member of the Adjunct Faculty. She’s also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.

Dr Cedric Chau

Cedric is a Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Human Resource Management at the Institute of Public Administration (IPA), where he manages and directs a number of Masters and Bachelor Degrees as well as Diplomas, Professional Diplomas and Certificates programs at the Whitaker School of Government and Management.

Cedric had designed and delivered bespoke executive training for a number of Civil Service organisations, including most recently, the Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Health and the Houses of the Oireachtas Services.

Prior to joining the IPA, Cedric worked in both industry and academia. His prior professional experiences include managerial entrepreneurial partnership with the Industrial Development Authority of Ireland; and his prior academic involvements were mostly with world ranking universities, including the Smurfit Graduate School of Business at University College Dublin, the Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester, and the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai.