Main Speakers

Shane O'Mara

Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College Dublin/Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator

Shane O’Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College Dublin and a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator. His research explores the brain systems supporting learning, memory, and cognition, and the brain systems affected by stress and depression. He also explores applying brain science in business and organisations. He has published >120 papers, has edited 3 books, and has written a book examines brain function under stress and duress. His latest book – ‘A Brain for Business – A Brain for Life’ – was published by Palgrave Macmillan in their ‘Neuroscience for Leaders’ series in 2017.

Shane has delivered many specialist workshops and seminars on the applications of the brain and behavioural sciences to organisations and organisational contexts.

Shane is a graduate of the National University of Ireland, Galway, and of Oxford University.

Laurie Knell

Management Consultant/Associate Lecturer on the Open University Business School’s MBA program

Laurie Knell is a leading international management consultant in the area of creativity and innovation with over 20 years’ experience working in Ireland, Europe and Australia. Laurie has advised senior business leaders and international companies on organizational change, strategic realignment and business growth across a wide-range of sectors including technology, transportation, finance, pharmaceutical, FMCG, and agri-business. Laurie has been invited to deliver keynotes, inspirational speeches and guest lectures on creativity and innovation  in the workplace to multinationals, public bodies and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland and Europe.

Laurie is an Associate Lecturer on the Open University Business School’s MBA program, focusing on key aspects of general management, creativity and innovation in the workplace. He has been commissioned by the Open University to write an MBA text on creativity and innovation to be published in Autumn 2018.

He is co-founder of Brain for Business and director of Strategic Innovation Partners.

Guest Speakers

Conor McPherson


Conor McPherson is one of Ireland’s leading playwrights and screenwriters, and has won awards across the world.  He attended University College Dublin where he began to write and direct stage plays. Works for the theatre include Rum  & Vodka, The Good Thief, This Lime Tree Bower, St Nicholas, The Weir, Dublin Carol, Port Authority, Shining City, The Seafarer, The Veil, The Night Alive and most recently, the Olivier Award winning musical, Girl from the North Country (with Bob Dylan). Adaptations include Strinberg’s Dance of Death, Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds and Franz Xaver Kroetz’s The Nest.

Awards for his plays include the Laurence Olivier Award, Three Tony Award nominations, The Evening Standard Award, London Critics’ Circle Award, Meyer-Whitworth Award, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, The George Devine Award, AWB Vincent Literary Award and an honorary D.Litt from University College Dublin.

Gráinne Millar

GM Innovations

Gráinne Millar is a director of GM Innovations and is a leading management consultant in the area of collaboration and innovation with over 18 years experience working in Ireland and Europe. Gráinne has advised organisations on strategy, innovation and creativity across tourism, arts, heritage, enterprise development and agri-business.  She established and successfully developed the much lauded innovation project Culture Night from a small scale start-up in 2006 into an all-island phenomenon in partnership with the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht. She is an associate lecturer with the Institute of Project Management and Institute of Arts, Design and Technology. 

Gráinne will facilitate a conversation with Conor McPherson on the power of the creative process, touching on themes as varied as where ideas come from, developing and refining creative ideas, and the creative power of collaboration. 

Past Speakers

Sacha Dekker

Senior Director of Sales Learning at Oracle

Sacha was born and raised in the Netherlands, and, before moving to Ireland in 2012, spent large chunks of time in Geneva and South Africa. She’s a travel enthusiast and loves exploring new cultures.

In April 2009 Sacha was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy, after having her first seizure in January of that year. In August 2015, she had a right temporal lobectomy, with the aim of taking out the brain tissue causing the seizures. After waking up fully paralysed on her left side and being told she wouldn’t walk again, she fought her way back and on the anniversary of the surgery, 24 August 2016, walked down the 1,5 km long pier in front of her house.

Sacha went back to work after a year and is currently working as Senior Director of Sales Learning in Oracle, having previously held senior Learning & Development roles with both LinkedIn and Shell.

Massimiliano (Max) Bianchi

General Manager & Scientific Director Transpharmation Ireland Ltd

Max joined Transpharmation Ltd in January 2014 as General Manager and Scientific Director of the Irish subsidiary Transpharmation Ireland Ltd, a Campus Company at the Trinity College Dublin where he is also an adjunct professor at the school of psychology. Dr. M. Bianchi has 16 years of research experience on neuropharmacology, neuronal cytoskeletal plasticity, and drug discovery. He worked with the former Psychiatry Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery of GlaxoSmithKline (Psychiatry CEDD-GSK) and during this time successfully completed is Ph.D. on the neuropsychopharmacology of cytoskeletal microtubules (University of Nottingham, UK). He then joined the French Biotech MAPREG in 2007 to establish and lead a new psychopharmacology unit. Transpharmation Ireland Ltd. is the only Contract Research Organization in Ireland specifically focused on psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders currently formed by an international team of 10 people. In only a few years the company becomes a recognized world leader in the field with a global portfolio of clients including the major pharmaceutical companies. Dr. M. Bianchi is the author of several scientific publications and patents, he is also engaged to facilitate the understanding of the neurobiology of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders to lay people.