Chaired by Belfast City Council, the Steering Group will play a leading role not only in driving the strategy for Belfast Partners, but across the greater Belfast agenda. We welcome them to Belfast Partners and thank them for their commitment to Belfast.


Suzanne Wylie, 

Chief Executive, Belfast City Council, 

Belfast Partners Chairperson

Since taking up the post Suzanne has been leading the Council’s new City Plan, the Belfast Agenda 2035, which is focused on economic growth and connecting neighbourhoods and people to the opportunities it creates.  Suzanne is also driving forward the Council’s £400m Investment Programme, in the city centre and neighbourhoods, to establish Belfast at the heart of economic growth in the region.

Suzanne has worked for Belfast City Council for 28 years and previously held the position of Director of Health and Environmental Services from 2010, and she is focused on positioning the City Council as a key driver in the continued growth of Belfast.


Karena Vaughan, Managing Director, Catalina Consulting, 

Belfast Partners Programme Lead

Karena is a specialist in the strategic development of business, with a successful track-record of enabling companies to realise ambitious growth plans.  Her expertise is drawn from a highly successful career in international business and economic development, leading to the formation of  Catalina Consulting.

Karena works with fast growth companies for whom access to location-related resources is critical to their business, providing practical support with business development & new customer acquisition, location selection for cost-efficient expansion, offshoring & consolidation, merger & acquisition.  Her expertise is in financial & professional services, fintech & cybersecurity.

Her experience spans enterprise businesses including Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills and Convergys, as well as mid-cap & start-up businesses including FinTRU, Augentius Fund Services, Heritage Fund Services and Moola.


Patrick Magee,

Chief Commercial Officer, British Business Bank

Patrick is an experienced investment professional. He was instrumental in setting up the British Business Bank and has a high level of expertise in helping UK businesses to access funding & finance. He is involved in a number of Irish networking associations affiliated with both the North and South.


 Lisa McLaughlin, Director – UK, US & EMEA,

Alternative Legal Services,  Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills, a leading global law firm, established its Alternative Legal Services (ALT) practice in response to demand from clients for a more innovative and cost-competitive approach to the delivery of legal services.   As Director for the UK, US & EMEA region of the firm’s ALT practice, Lisa is responsible for the strategic management of ALT teams based across Belfast, Johannesburg and London.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ Belfast office was the first UK-based, near-shore legal operation to be set up by an international law firm when it opened in 2011. From 19 fee-earners then to over 200 today, it has gone from strength to strength and is a prime example of how a Belfast-based operation can successfully service a global network of offices.

Prior to re-locating to Northern Ireland for her role in the establishment of the Belfast office, Lisa completed her legal training within Herbert Smith Freehills’ London team and worked in the firm’s market-leading international arbitration practice for six years.  During the London-based chapter of her career, Lisa also spent time working with the judiciary at the Court of Appeal and on secondment to a global consulting firm. Lisa holds a first-class honours degree in Law and Accounting from Queen’s University Belfast and is a member of Women in Business NI, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Directors.


Tom Kirkpatrick, 

Independent Financial Services Consultant

 Tom Kirkpatrick is European COO for SS&C GlobeOp. He is responsible for business strategy and operations in Europe and is a member of the Board of the firm’s regulated entities. He previously served Credit Suisse First Boston as the European Regional Head, Product Control, where his responsibilities included Quality Assurance and the development of Operational Risk metrics.

Prior to CSFB, he held management positions at Bankers Trust, London, including European Senior Control Officer, European Head of Derivative Products Operations and Regional Product Controller for Derivative Products. Kirkpatrick holds a Master of Arts in Modern History from St. Andrews University in Fife, Scotland.


Tom Yoritaka,

Venture Capital Investor & Non-Executive Director

Tom Yoritaka is a London-based venture capital investor, a non-executive director for startups & the former Global Managing Director of Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) – the company’s corporate venturing group for early-stage companies.  As the global head of Cisco EIR in Silicon Valley & London, he worked with startups & scaleups innovating in the Internet of Things, AI/Deep Learning/Big Data, Cloud, Enterprise Mobility, Security & Blockchain.

He was previously the Senior Director & General Manager of Social Solutions & Platforms, building & managing Cisco’s Web software products designed to advance social interactions, knowledge management & collaboration for Cisco customers & partners.  Prior to joining Cisco, Tom held various executive & leadership positions at Yahoo! & Microsoft in the US.  He also worked as a strategy consultant at The Boston Consulting Group & McKenna Group in the US.