The group meets on average four times per year and although we do not have a regular location for our salon events we normally meet within the Belfast area as most of Northern Irelands IT suppliers are based within the city. Over the last two years we have held several salons outside Belfast both to increase the visibility of Digital Leaders network in Northern Ireland and also to make it easier for some of our subject matter experts to attend. These regional events, whilst more difficult to organise, have often resulted in some of the more lively debates and discussions. In the past three years we have also altered the timings of our meetings to make them attractive to participants. The one thing we have established is that people in Northern Ireland generally do not want to stay in the city at the end of the working day so evening meetings are definitely out for the time being!
The salon topics discussed by the Northern Ireland DL group to-date have included Digital Leadership in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Citizen Engagement, Open Data, Agile Procurement, Cloud Services, Digital Inclusion in Rural Areas, Talent Management and Digital Apprenticeships. While all of the topics have produced interesting, informative and stimulating discussion those focusing on recruiting, developing and supporting our local digital talent have proven to be the most popular and resulted in the greatest amount of post-salon networking.
Northern Ireland DL could not have developed to the extent that it has without the support of sopra seria and in particular Marguerite Clarke who not only led and helped develop the steering group but also working alongside Laura Appleton helped to sort out the salon logistics. We also depend to a great extent on the chairmanship of Robin Knowles who, despite having to take the red eye flight to Belfast for each salon, still manages to get the discussion started, manage the debate and bring the discussion to a successful conclusion.
Going forward Digital Leaders NI will continue to develop in parallel with our growing IT industry and hopefully we will even be able to take over our own chairmanship releasing Robin from his early morning starts.