Sir Ciarán Devane, took time out from his visit to Ireland to receive an honorary doctorate from UCD, to speak to us about his perspective on successful programme delivery in the not-for-profit sector. Certain insights particularly resonated and echoed core themes of a previous presentation by Sir Ciarán (at the 2015 Davy Charity Conference). They include:

Clarity: Clarity of strategy is key and growth tends to naturally follow.

Talking about what you do:  As well as doing brilliant work it is very important to talk about it as this will maximise impact.

Collaboration:  The key tenet to success is collaboration. Their best allies are other charities. Leveraging partnerships can make a significant difference.

Authenticity:  Be as you say you are and stay consistent to your values; all else will follow.

Ambition:  Institutions of all types should be stronger and aspire to be better.

Empowerment:  As a leader it is imperative to empower your team to work with you and match skills accordingly.

In summary, collaborate to make the greatest impact, have clarity of strategy and act as you say while remaining ambitious.

Picture: Sir Ciarán Devane & Brian McKiernan, Chief Executive Davy Group


Sir Ciarán Devane

Chief Executive of the British Council

Former CEO, Macmillan Cancer Support


Sir Ciarán Devane took up the role of Chief Executive (CEO) in January 2015. Ciarán has focused on ensuring that all stakeholders understand and value the contribution that soft power, cultural relations and the British Council makes to security, prosperity and influence.

Prior to this, Ciarán was Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support from 2007 to 2014. He transformed the scale and impact of the charity, both on a standalone basis and in collaboration with other organisations. He also raised its profile as an authoritative voice on cancer and on health matters, leading to Macmillan being the UK’s ‘Brand of the Year’ in 2014. Ciarán was educated at University College, Dublin (UCD) where he gained first-class honours in biochemical engineering. He started his career as an engineer and manager for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) before becoming a management consultant, mostly with Gemini Consulting. He specialised in complex change programmes with companies such as AstraZeneca and Rolls Royce.

He holds a Masters degree in International Policy and Practice from George Washington University, Washington DC. Ciarán has also held non-executive roles on the board of organisations ranging from small local charities to NHS (National Health Service) England.

Ciarán was awarded a knighthood in 2015 for his services to cancer patients.



Ian Brady

Head of Davy Charities and Not-for-Profit Group

If you would like to know more about Charity Events at Davy or Davy Charities' Investment Services, please contact Ian Brady on +353 1 614 3344 or by email at