The leading business organisation will once again unite a community of inspiring and innovative leaders for two virtual events, sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills, on Friday 5th and Friday 12th March to coincide with International Woman’s Day on March 8th.

Now in its 14th year, the conference will see an impressive line-up of speakers to include IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley and spacecraft operations engineer Nagin Cox who is part of the team that operates NASA’s rovers.

Hundreds of delegates are expected to join the virtual conference, which is open to women, men as well as IoD non-members.

IoD NI Chairman Gordon Milligan, commented:

“Northern Ireland is fortunate to benefit from a multitude of successful business leaders and we look forward to gathering them together for the 2021 Women’s Leadership Conference.

“The event will be held virtually for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic but shall remain one of the most significant annual events on the business calendar.

“For 2021, the event will take the theme of ‘Great Leaders Rise out of Adversity’ and that is exactly what our leaders will be showcasing.

“We are eager to hear their stories of success and are sure the keynote and panel sessions will be thought-provoking, engaging and inspiring for us all.”

The virtual conference will also include panel sessions across both dates from a range of speakers, and the 4k Pitch competition, which provides entrepreneurs with a chance to win funding for their start-up business, will also return.

Nadiya won series six of The Great British Bake Off in 2015 and since has been honoured with an MBE for her services to broadcasting and to the culinary arts.

A columnist for The Times Magazine and a children’s author, Nadiya has also signed contracts with the BBC for a range of cooking series as well as her own documentary. She has also been included as one of the 500 most influential people in the UK and featured on BBC News’ 100 Women list.

Lisa McLaughlin, Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills, Alternative Legal Services, UK & EMEA


“Herbert Smith Freehills is proud to once again sponsor the IoD NI Women’s Leadership Conference. The theme of ‘Great Leaders Rise out of Adversity’ is one which really resonates with many businesses given the particular challenges we have all faced this year.

“There have been so many examples this year of leaders meeting these challenges and tackling huge changes head on, and it is great to see a lineup of speakers who will undoubtedly inspire us with their own experiences and how they have overcome adversity to succeed.”

Associate sponsors of the event include The Open University, Translink, NIE Networks, Investec, SONI, and KPMG.

For further details about the conference and to book, visit