A Donegal businesswoman has been selected by the International Association of Convention Centres to be a Future Shaper in 2024, representing the UK and Ireland on a global stage.

Ciara Davidson (nee. McKeeman) is the Head of Governance and Stakeholder Engagement, and Company Secretary at the International Conference Centre Belfast.

Originally from Letterkenny, Ciara now works as part of the Executive Leadership Team at the Convention Centre. Her role involves strategically developing the organisation in partnership with the Chief Executive and Board of Directors, providing effective management of the team and venue to deliver world-class business events for Belfast and Northern Ireland.

Ciara is one of nine new candidates accepted as a 2024 AIPC Future Shaper. This new cohort of high performers are ready to play their role in the continued evolution of the convention centre management industry in the year ahead.

As part of the programme Ciara will participate in a series of masterclasses, business case development and will have the opportunity to promote her solutions to challenges currently faced by convention centre managers on a global stage at the 2024 AIPC Conference in Costa Rica next July.

Ciara said, “I’m delighted to be named as one of the 2024 AIPC Future Shapers, representing the UK and Ireland on a global stage. My Grandmother, Maureen McKeeman, was the principal and sole teacher in a small school in Donegal and instilled in me the importance of education and continuous learning.

“Even now in my professional years, I welcome the opportunity to learn, develop and strategically change grassroots recruitment and succession planning in the industry through knowledge transfer with peers from across the globe. It is my aim to leave a lasting legacy for the development of teams in convention centres, galvanising the future for the leaders of tomorrow.”

Chief Executive of ICC Belfast, Waterfront Hall, and Ulster Hall, Julia Corkey said, “We are immensely proud that Ciara has been selected as a Future Shaper. Working so closely with Ciara day to day means I know first-hand her deep understanding of ICC Belfast’s vision and it has been truly rewarding to witness her growth and ongoing success as a leading member of our team and a driving force of our business.

“Ciara ensures that platinum standards are upheld across all areas of our business and is always on the lookout for ways to enhance our operations and is proactive in turning plans into reality. This global recognition is a testament to her dedication, skills and ability and presents a huge opportunity to help shape the future of our industry.”

As Northern Ireland’s only purpose-built international convention centre ICC Belfast underwent a £29.5M extension in 2016, funded by Belfast City Council, Tourism NI and the European Regional Development Fund. The new and improved 7,000 sq.m venue has unlocked Belfast’s potential to compete for business events with Visit Belfast on track to deliver £120M to the local economy this year through its sales, marketing, and visitor servicing activity.

Ciara concluded, “I have ambitions to not only continue to grow as a senior leader but to strengthen our industry by addressing the skills gap and necessary succession planning. I have a deep appreciation for the business events industry and know that by working together in the AIPC Future Shapers programme, we can shape the future of venues. When we win, everyone wins today, tomorrow and beyond.”