Shaping Ireland’s Operational Excellence Trajectory

Analog Devices Building, University of Limerick, 16th May 2024

On the 16th May 2024 the 7th Journey to Enterprise Excellence Lean Sigma & Digitalisation Conference (Conversation) will take place in the University of Limerick in partnership with the Irish Centre for Business Excellence.

Ireland has been very successful at implementing Operational and Business Excellence models and methodologies. This year’s event will be a conversation on how this vast experience can be utilised to strengthen our competitive advantage in the face of employment, sustainability and technology challenges.

The audience driven panel discussions will feature national and international industry practitioners and subject matter experts. This is your opportunity to ask questions and have them share their advice and guidance for Lean and Six Sigma implementation over the next 20+years.

We look forward to you joining us at the University of Limerick, with Europe’s leading Lean research and educational programmes, to develop your organisation’s journey to enterprise excellence.

Register to book your place

08.30 - 09.00 Welcome Breakfast, Registration & Networking

09.00 - 09.15 Welcome & Opening Remarks – Sean Moore, UL

09.15 - 09.45 Keynote - Richard Keegan

(How Ireland built its competitive advantage in OpEx)

09.45 - 10.30 Audience led Panel discussion

  • Nick Pearn, Toyota UK
  • Ger Grace, Edwards
  • Miriam Keogh, Dawn Farm Foods
  • Josephine Lawlor, Westpharma
  • Eamonn Murphy, IBEC

10.30 - 12.00 Coffee Break & Networking Street Event - Master Black Belt Project Competition

12.00 - 12.30 Keynote - Jiju Anthony

(What does the future hold for OPEX?)

12.30 - 13.15 Audience led Panel Discussion

  • Breda O Toole. IDA  
  • Stephen Dunne, Abbott Vascular
  • Sean Moore, UL  
  • Nick Pearn, Toyota UK 
  • Sara Cuddy, DMI
  • Pauline O’Flanagan, IBEC 

13.15 - 13.30 Master Black Belt Project Competition Awards

13.30 - 14.00 Buffet Lunch & Networking

Keynote Speakers

Lean Conf

Richard Keegan, Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin. Director Seraph Consulting (Europe)

Professor Dr. Richard Keegan is a specialist in the areas of Lean/World Class Business and Benchmarking with numerous publications. He advises major companies in Europe. When working for Enterprise Ireland he developed and deployed the Lean Business Offer. During his tenure over 1,150 projects were supported helping companies improve their operational effectiveness. Many of the life-sciences and pharma companies located in Ireland engaged with either the Lean Business offer or participated in best practice visits to Toyota Deeside.

He is currently working with the Welsh Government and Toyota in introducing a tiered Lean approach to develop the competitiveness of Welsh companies. He has led best practice missions for over 2,000 managers to the Toyota Deeside engine plant, as well as leading a mission by An Taoiseach to Toyota Japan. He is the advisor to the World Class and Lean Activities of the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Co-Operation. He has worked previously for DAF Trucks, Nokia, Nestle and the ESB

Lean Conf

Jiju Anthony, Vice President of Research for the International Academy for Quality and Professor of Quality and Operational Excellence in Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University, England, UK.

Professor Jiju Antony is recognised worldwide as a leader in Lean Six Sigma methodology for achieving and sustaining process excellence. 

Professor Antony has authored over 600 journal, conference, and white papers and 14 textbooks with over 37000 citations. He has won the outstanding contribution to Quality Management Practice Award in 2019 from the Chartered Quality Institute (UK); Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Lean Six Sigma from the International Lean Six Sigma Institute (UK) in 2020 and Outstanding Contribution to Six Sigma Practice award from the Institute of Six Sigma Professionals, UK in 2021. His book on Ten Commandments of Lean Six Sigma: a practical guide for senior managers has won Walter Mazing Book Price in 2021 (International Academy of Quality, USA) and Crosby Medal (American Society of Quality, USA) in 2022. He is currently serving as the Editor of the International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, Editor of the International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management and Associate Editor of the TQM and Business Excellence Journal.

He is a certified LSS Master Black Belt through the American Society for Quality, USA and the Institute of Six Professionals, UK. He has worked as a strategic advisor for several companies in the UK and abroad especially on their journey of Operational Excellence.

Panel Discussion 1

Lean Conf

Josephine Lawlor, Director Operational Excellence, Contract Manufacturing & Devices

With 30 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical and Medical device industry across a variety of quality, engineering, operations and operational excellence roles Josephine has led continuous improvement programs across several manufacturing sites and functions.

Having graduated with a BSc in Analytical science from Dublin City University, the first 10 years of her career were in quality roles in SmithKline Beecham and Bausch and Lomb (B&L). Her passion for problem solving led her to being the first Six Sigma Black Belt for B&L in 2001. Throughout an 18-year tenure there she successfully led the introduction of a new high volume automated platform, program managed a cost restructuring following takeover, had operations responsibility for the start-up and ramp of a new manufacturing business and managed the process excellence and training function.

As a business excellence leader in Abbott Vascular she trained and mentored many Six Sigma Green and Black Belts and developed and implemented the problem -solving framework (DMAIC 1-5) for the division.

Now working with the Global Operational Excellence team in West she has responsibility for the development and implementation of the West Business System across the contract manufacturing and devices value stream.

She is intrigued with how Lean, Six Sigma, Industry 4.0 and digitalization work together and believes this in the next paradigm shift in continuous improvement.

Lean Conf

Nick Pearn, Section Manager of the Toyota Lean Management Centre

Nick Pearn is Section Manager of the Toyota Lean Management Centre. With 18 years’ experience in supply chain and planning, he has recently been leading a group who use Toyota principles to support external organisations.

He believes those lucky enough to work for Toyota are not just custodians of an historic set of principles but they have a responsibility to develop them and by extension the company and wider society.

The group has worked not just with manufacturing companies but education, finance, and service industries. Most recently projects have been undertaken within the public health sphere where processes support people in moments of real need. This has proved a most rewarding way of delivering on Toyota’s mission to contribute to society.

With continuous improvement at the heart of Toyota’s culture a key area of current study is focused on discovering how technological advances can accelerate an improvement trend

Lean Conf

Ger Grace, Director of Business Excellence at Edwards Lifesciences in Limerick and Shannon

Ger is an experienced professional in best practice deployment in lean Six Sigma, Asset management, TPM and Class A in Manufacturing and Transactional processes. He is Director of Business Excellence at Edwards Lifesciences in Limerick and Shannon.

Ger has an undergraduate degree in Industrial Chemistry and has a PhD in Chemistry from UL. He is also an experienced Master Black Belt.

He has initiated & mentored hundreds of improvement projects since 2006 and he transferred this experience into tailored green belt, Problem Solving and TPM programs which he delivered in multiple locations.

Ger's areas of expertise include problem solving, detailed data analysis capabilities combined with clarity of communication, facilitation, and ability to interact with people at all levels of the business

Lean Conf

Miriam Keogh, Head of Supply Chain, Human Resources and Lean Manufacturing in Dawn Farm Foods.

Miriam Keogh is Head of Supply Chain, Human Resources and Lean Manufacturing in Dawn Farm Foods and sits on the Leadership team.

Dawn Farms stands as Europe’s premier B2B specialist supplier of cooked protein ingredients, exporting to over 50 international markets from their facilities in Ireland, UK and Germany. Renowned for supplying leading food brands in retail and QSR/fast-casual restaurant, Dawn Farms has over a decade of dedication to Lean practices, earning them recognition as past winners of the Lean Business Ireland awards.

With her 25 years at Dawn Farms, Miriam plays a leading role in fostering a culture of continuous improvement across all facets of manufacturing and various business functions. Currently, her focus is keenly directed towards ensuring that Lean methodologies play a central role in shaping the success of the company’s digital and technological advancements.

Miriam believes passionately in the power of effective teamwork and sustainable long term solutions. A graduate of UCC she a holds MSC in Supply chain and is a certified Lean Black Belt.

Lean Conf

Eamonn Murphy, Managing Director Irish Centre for Business Excellence Emeritus Professor of Quality and Applied Statistics, University of Limerick

I have devoted my entire academic and professional careers to developing and improving the productivity of or the Irish economy. Early in my career I identified data analytics and manufacturing systems as key components of advanced productivity. In the early 1990’s I went to MIT and saw first-hand how Industry and Academia collaborated to create a vibrant collaborative community that transformed in-company learning.

Upon return, I established the National Centre for Quality Management which became the Irish Centre of Business excellence, Ireland’s leading knowledge sharing network for business excellence. It has contributed significantly to the productivity of Irish based enterprises over the last 25+ years.

During my tenure as Associate Dean at the University of Limerick, I conceived, researched, and developed the theory and technology that currently supports the National Springboard programmes. I pioneered micro-credentials and collaborated on the introduction of Academic Apprenticeship programmes. I am Chair of the consortium of the Lean Sigma Manager Masters programme and the ICBE is responsible for the in-company activity associated with that programme.

Panel Discussion 2

Breda O'Toole

Breda O'Toole, Head of Talent Transformation & Innovation, IDA Ireland

A native of Connemara, Breda joined IDA Ireland 20 years ago after spending much of her career in the UK and holds a master’s degree in strategic human resource management with Manchester Metropolitan University.

Breda joined IDA Ireland as the Global Head of HR&OD, moved into Regional Business Development and Client Operations. Breda is currently heading up a department for IDA developing Ireland’s proposition on talent and innovation and supporting company transformation. Breda’s team works with IDA Ireland client companies on innovation, talent development, digitalisation, and sustainability. Her team is responsible for the development of supports and services in these areas to drive transformation across Irish sites and works closely with UL and other stakeholders to provide some of these supports to client companies.

Lean Conf

Stephen Dunne, Head of the Operational Excellence group in Abbott Vascular Clonmel

Stephen is Head of the Operational Excellence group in Abbott Vascular Clonmel. The site has over 1600 employees producing a vast range of medical devices with customers all over the world. The site is the holder of the much coveted Shingo prize and most recently has held a Shingo institute discovery workshop on site to further embrace & enhance our own Shingo benchmark.

Stephen has 13 years’ experience across the medical device and food industries. He has held numerous roles from Operations, to logistics, to supply chain & most recently this OpEX Mgt. role which he has held with the last 18 months.

He is adept at building strategies, enabling cultural change & driving performance with an ever-changing workforce. Digitization & Analytics is a key focus in 2024 for his team

Lean Conf

Sean Moore, Associate Professor in Lean and Six Sigma Systems University of Limerick

Dr Sean Moore has a PhD in analytical statistics through the Dept of Mathematics & Statistics (UL) and has an MSc in Manufacturing with a thesis on Lean Manufacturing in Aerospace Environments and also Post Graduate Diploma’s in Quality (Lean and Six Sigma) (UL) & Manufacturing (OU). Sean is a certified Black Belt and has completed two Black Belt Training programs through GE & Six Sigma Associates.

Sean has contributed as an industrial partner in two Industrial/Academic collaborations and is currently leading four research partnerships in Pharma and Diagnostic Calibrators, Aerospace and medical devices industries. The most recent industrial research involved the development of spectroscopy applications in API and excipient quantification on coronary stent medical devices and the PI was 100% industry funded in this research.

Lean Conf

Sara Cuddy, Director of People, Skills and Transformational Culture at Digital Manufacturing Ireland

Sara Cuddy is the Director of People, Skills and Transformational Culture at Digital Manufacturing Ireland, an organisation established by the Government of Ireland through IDA Ireland to assist MedTech companies with the adoption of nextgeneration technologies and practices.

Sara is an experienced HR strategist with over 18 years of experience in the Medical Device industry, in various leadership roles, both in the USA and in Ireland. She has led global transformation initiatives & organisational excellence programs, coupled with deploying customer-centric HR programs for impactful business results

Lean Conf

Pauline O'Flanagan, Director, Engineering Industries Ireland Chair, Lean Business Ireland

Pauline O’ Flanagan, Director, Engineering Industries Ireland, Ibec’s newest Trade Association, representing the interests of engineering business sectors in Ireland. Member of Orgalim, representing European Technology Industries. Chair, Lean Business Ireland. Member, Solas, Skills to Advance Micro-Qualifications Oversight Team. Previously, Head of Funded projects for Ibec Medtech & Engineering Skillnet, Springboard & Apprenticeships.Held senior leadership positions in Medtech research and manufacturing for 15 years. Managing Director of own consultancy business for 10 years. Academic qualifications BSc (University of Galway), H. Dip. App. Sc. (University of Galway), MBA (UL), Diploma in Managing Networks (TU Dublin), Diploma in Quality Mmt, Lean Blackbelt (UL), Certificate in Training & Development (University of Galway), Certificate in Corporate Sustainability (TU Dublin)

Lean Conf

Robert Hernan, Senior Lean advisor in Enterprise Ireland’s Lean / Operational Excellence Team

Robert is Senior Lean advisor in Enterprise Ireland’s Lean / Operational Excellence team. Currently supporting Enterprise Ireland’s food companies in implementing Lean transforms having previously managed Lean Start and Plus business offers. Managed the successful Lean for Micro (LEOs) pilot in 2015, supported the roll out of the IDA Lean initiative, 2016 and Lean Business Ireland’s roll out of regional lean networks, 2018.

Member of Lean Business Ireland and West-Northwest Lean network committees.