I grew up in Kerry on the south-west coast of Ireland and now live in Limerick. I am a business graduate of University College Cork and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte in 1984 Since then, my career has focused on the financing and management of education, training and development first as Manager Financial Accounts in FAS - Ireland’s Training and Employment Authority and then from 1993 to 2015 in higher education senior management at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT).
I am very proud to have worked with colleagues in LIT’s growth and development from a college with 2,000 students in Limerick City in 1993 to an institution which in 2015 had 5 campuses across the mid-west area of Ireland with 6,000 students, 500 staff and a budget of €50m.
In October 2021, LIT merged with Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) to become Irelands latest Technological University with almost 14,000 students.
As Secretary Financial/Controller of LIT from 1993 to 2006, I was a member of the senior executive team and responsible to the President and Governing Body for Finance, HR, IT Services and Estates. LIT achieved and maintained a sustainable financial position and strategic financial capability over a challenging 13-year period of impressive growth.
During this time, I initiated the first strategic planning process at LIT and led the development not just of the budget setting and control processes and but also the industrial relations and information and consultation structures to facilitate inclusive strategy development and achievement.
I oversaw sustainable development and investment in IT and estates infrastructure which gave effective delivery of support services to academic provision.
I was Secretary to 4 LIT governing bodies over this 13-year period. This led to an academic and research interest in HE management and governance as part of a DBA programme at the University of Bath, UK.
By 2007, as my studies continued, LIT began considering its future strategic positioning within an evolving Irish higher education landscape. I was seconded to progress this and wrote the first monitoring review of the latest LIT strategic plan and developed a KPI system for future monitoring. As part of this, I developed options for LIT’s future strategic positioning which led to my secondment as Acting CEO to Tipperary Institute (TI) in 2010-11 leading the successful integration of TI into LIT in 2011. This afforded me a rich experience of merger planning and implementation, strategic level leadership of change management, and complex reporting structures all in very uncertain economic environment (in 2009-11).
In this larger merged organisation, I returned to Limerick in 2012 as Vice President for Strategy and External Affairs. I developed options for the new (post TI Integration) LIT concerning direction towards designation as a Technological University. LIT’s strategic focus now also needed to turn increasingly toward internationalisation so I led the development of an internationalisation office and plan as LIT was by then a late starter in international HE.
By 2015 LIT met its internationalisation targets and was on course for further international development.
Since retiring from LIT in 2015 the Higher Education Authority – (HEA) (the national funding body for higher education in Ireland) and several of the Irish HE institutions themselves have engaged me to provide independent - 'critical friend' - financial, governance, strategy and planning advice. Working with management and governors I have developed financial plans and strategies and monitoring arrangements to address the multifaceted challenges they face. I have also served on the Finance and Governance Committee of the Board of HEA from 2017 to 2021.
Since joining Hunter & Sparnon Consulting as an Associate in 2020, I have brought this experience to international projects helping institutions outside of Ireland to develop financial strategies to sustain their future.
Outside of work, I serve on the boards of a number of charities in education, faith based and sporting contexts I am a sometime kayaker /canoeist and cold-water swimmer. I am a member of Limerick Choral Union and I read as widely as I can in theology, history, politics, and literature, and enjoy music film and travel.