The Team

Our Leadership Experiences are designed and facilitated by a team of internationally experienced academics, business practitioners, and professional coaches committed to helping people transform their minds.
Professor Connell Fanning, Director

Professor Connell Fanning is a business economist with a special interest in the development and application of ideas and the role and use of theories in business reasoning. He is Professor of Economics and Head of the School of Economics at University College Cork (UCC). Connell has wide teaching experience at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and in professional, executive and continuing education programmes.  

He also has strong links with the business and external community. He has undertaken consultancy projects for businesses and public agencies, including the European Commission, has contributed to local and national Print, T.V. and Radio media on economic affairs, and has made presentations to a large range of public forums, conferences and seminars. He has published extensively on various themes, including John Maynard Keynes’ macroeconomic and business theory, local entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial renewal, worker management and labour-directed firms, Porter’s clusters theory, nurturing indigenous entrepreneurship and Penrose’s theory of organic growth of the firm. 

Connell holds Primary and Masters degrees in Economics from University College, Cork, and Masters and Ph.D. degree in Economics from Cornell University. 

Personal website: 
UCC research profile:  

Dr. Marija Laugalyte, Research Assistant

Dr. Marija Laugalyte holds a PhD from University College Cork, with a doctoral dissertation on feminism and contemporary female-centred US TV series. She also holds a BA in Arts and an MA in Film Studies from University College Cork. She has published on the series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and has taught screen adaptations to postgraduates students and worked as a tutor in University College Cork’s Writing Skill Centre.


Dr. Assumpta O’Kane, Chartered Occupational Psychologist (COccPsychol.)

Assumpta coaches, facilitates and advises on leadership and organisational development.   She works with individuals and teams to guide the acceleration of their capabilities to meet the opportunities and challenges of modern organisational life.  She set up her own practice in 2009 to work with both large corporations and SME’s on their leadership and organisational development.   

Her earlier career was as Head of HR & Organisational Development in Pfizer Ireland Pharmaceuticals from 1998-2009; Price Waterhouse Coopers, London and Dublin as a HR Consultant from 1993-1998, and with BDO Binder Hamlyn, London in Graduate Recruitment and HR management 1989-1993. She holds a primary degree from NUI Galway in Pure and Applied Psychology; a Masters in Occupational Psychology from Queen’s University Belfast and a DBA Business Economics from University College Cork.  

Brid Bourke, Director, The Forté Institute

An Organisational Development professional, Bríd has over twenty five years’ experience working with blue chip clients to diagnose HRD issues, to develop organisational leaders, and to provide design and implementation services. Bríd is a Master Trainer for The Forté Institute’s suite of tools.  Most recently she was contracted as OD Director for over three years to work closely with the client’s emerging executive team during a time of unprecedented transformation.  During this time, and in parallel, Bríd was contracted by the Board of a sister company to design and implement a transformative leadership development programme.

Bríd was the first executive coach in Ireland to be invited for assessment to join the global premier coaching organisation for corporate executive coaching: CoachSource.  She has been selected onto the Global Executive Coach Panels for Dell, Intel and Google.

She holds primary degrees in both Agricultural Science from UCD and Psychology from OU, a Post Graduate Diploma from UL in Adult L&D, and a Master’s Degree in Education from University of Sheffield, along with Executive Education Certificates from MIT, Wharton and University of Manchester.

Barbara Rapaport, Founder and President of Real­-time Perspectives, Inc.

Barbara has worked in the U.S. and global consulting service for more than 75 varied clients, including Fortune 500 corporations, educational and health care institutions, professional services organizations, government and nonprofit agencies. She had a 20-year tenure at Steelcase, Inc., where she led senior leadership teams through unprecedented economic decline, internal culture transformation and a global culture analysis involving 14,000 employees. 

She is currently President of Real-Time Perspective, a consulting practice focused on organisational effectiveness in the areas of executive coaching, leadership team development, strategic planning, organisational culture assessment and transition management, performance management systems, nonprofit board capacity development.  

She is also one of a select group of individuals certified to coach executives and leaders in the Immunity to Change ™ coaching process. Authored by Dr. Robert Kegan and Dr. Lisa Lahey of Minds at Work; this is a research-based approach helping individuals and teams overcome previously unrecognized obstacles that hinder their ability to achieve professional or personal goals. 

She is also certified by the Leadership Circle to deliver several leadership and organizational culture 360° assessments. The most prevalent is The Leadership Circle Profile™. For clients interested Emotional Intelligence, she is certified by the Hay Group to administer the Emotional Competency Inventory™. 

Paddy Crowe, Transformational Consultant and Lecturer at UCC’s DBA Programme

Paddy began in the early 1970’s in the field of engineering and then over the course of the next 20 years employed in social work and teaching until establishing his own private practice working with individuals and groups in the area of personal transformation. Having studied and qualified in both eastern and western approaches, methodologies and therapies he brings his own unique and holistic insight to the often narrow view of transformation. As well as his practice, Paddy has been involved with the MBA programme University College Cork (UCC) for a number of years and currently facilitator/lecturer on the DBA Practitioner Doctorate programme at UCC. He is a graduate of UCC.

Michael Buckley, Chairman of KKR Alternative Investment Managers and of KKR Credit Advisers (Ireland)

Michael Buckley is Chairman of KKR Alternative Investment Managers and of KKR Credit Advisers (Ireland). He is also a Non-Executive Director of UK Asset Resolution Ltd, a Member of the Advisory Board of CapGen Financial (US) and Senior Adviser to a number of privately owned Irish based commercial firms in the software, professional services and retail sectors.  

He is also Adjunct Professor at University College Cork’s School of Economics,  

In the not for profit sector, he is Chairman of Irish Chamber Orchestra and serves on the Investment Committee of an international charitable organisation in the healthcare sector. 

Michael has extensive experience in  business in Ireland and abroad. He was Chairman of DCC Group (2008-2014), Senior Independent Director of DCC Group (2005-2008), Non-Executive Director of US based M&T Bank (2003-2012), Non-Executive Director of Bramdean Alternatives Ltd (2007-9), Group Chief Executive AIB Group (2001-2005), Executive Director AIB Group 1995-2005, Non-Executive Director of Singapore’s Keppel Tat Lee Bank (1999-2001), and Director, and subsequently Managing Director, of NCB Group (1986-1991). 

In the public service arena, he was a member of Taoiseach’s Clearing House Committee (1987-1999),            Chairman of Review Group on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector (1995-2002), Chairman of the Enterprise Advisory Group at the Department of Emterprise and Employment (2005-2007), Non-Executive Director of  Enterprise Ireland (2009-2011),  Non-Executive Director of the Custom House Docks Development Authority (1987-1997) and a Civil Servant in Ireland and in the EU (1967-1986). 

He has a First Class Honours BA (1965) and MA (1970) from the National University of Ireland. His professional qualifications include CCMI (Companion of the Chartered Management Institute [UK]), MSI (Member of the Securities Institute (UK and Ireland), and FIB (Fellow of the Institute of Bankers (Ireland). 

Dr. Dave Kirwan, Managing Director at Bord Gais Energy 

Dave is responsible for leading the Bord Gais Energy business through the successful sale to Centrica.  Prior to the sale, Dave worked in Bord Gais Eireann for 15 years and was responsible for the launch of its Northern Ireland business, firmus energy, the development of the Whitegate power station and the acquisition and subsequent merger of the SWS wind business.  Prior to joining BGE Dave worked in power generation sector for ESB/ESBI in Ireland, US and Vietnam.  Dave holds a BE electronics from University College Dublin and is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland, he also holds an MBA and a DBA from University College Cork. 

Pearse O’Donovan, Head of Banking, Strategy and Business Organisation at Moore Stephens Nathans  

Pearse has 25 years of experience in Commercial Banking up to Regional Banking Manager level. He has a Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Financial Services and is the last stage of the DBA Business Economics programme, at University College Cork. He is particularly interested in the development of entrepreneurial business skills, in enhancing the sustainability of business ventures through development of entrepreneur’s risk, financial and organisational skills to support market product/services innovation.  



Dr. Laura Aguiar, Community Engagement Officer & Creative Producer at Nerve Centre

Dr. Laura Aguiar worked as a freelance journalist in Brazil, Ireland and Sweden where she worked with storytelling, online media management and with developing internal communication strategies. As part of her practice-based PhD research, she edited and co-directed the documentary film ‘We Were There’ (2014), about the women’s experience of the Maze and Long Kesh prison during the conflict in Northern Ireland. She also managed the Prisons Memory Archive website and social media and helped develop the concept and design for the project’s online interactive documentary on the Maze and Long Kesh Prison.  

She has taught in Queen’s University BA programmes and guest lectured across Ireland, Canada and Sweden. She has published on various themes, including collaborative media practice, gender representation, media and war, and interactive storytelling.She holds a BA in Journalism from Fumec University, an MA in Media and Communication from Stockholm University and a PhD in Film Studies from Queen’s University Belfast.  

Photo portfolio: 

Pedro Cunha

Kate Kelly

David O’Donovan

Carlo de Nuzzo

Tatiane Freitas