Invest NI appoints IDA Ireland veteran Kieran Donoghue as CEO

24 Oct 2023

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After working with IDA Ireland for more than two decades, Donoghue will take over as chief executive of the Northern Irish agency early next year.

Kieran Donoghue has been appointed as the new chief executive of Invest NI, the economic development agency in Northern Ireland.

A veteran of IDA Ireland, Donoghue will take over as CEO of Invest NI in early 2024, replacing Mel Chittock who has been leading the agency as interim chief for nearly two years.

Donoghue is currently global head of strategy, public policy and international financial services at IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for attracting foreign investment into Ireland. He has held this and other positions in IDA Ireland, having joined more than two decades ago.

Prior to his current position, Donoghue held various executive roles at the Irish agency, including a year-long stint in Washington DC. Before joining IDA Ireland, he was manager of enterprise policy at Forfás, a former stage agency that was responsible for enterprise and trade.

Colm McKenna, interim chair of Invest NI, said that Donoghue brings with him “a wealth of experience from a long and highly successful career” in economic development and foreign direct investment.

“This is an exciting time for the organisation, and we look forward to welcoming Kieran to the team when he joins us in early 2024,” said McKenna.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Mel Chittock for his stewardship of the organisation over the last two years and to commend him on the guidance and support he has provided during that time.”

McKenna said that Chittock will continue in the role of interim CEO until Donoghue takes the helm early next year.

“I am delighted to take up this very important role,” said Donoghue, who joins Invest NI after a tumultuous few years for the agency. In December 2021, the then-chief executive, Kevin Holland, stood down unexpectedly amid reports in an independent review that there were “profound divisions” at the top of the organisation.

“I look forward to working with the staff of Invest NI, the board, the business community and our many stakeholders as we pivot [the agency] to deliver the recently launched Action Plan in response to the independent review of Invest NI,” Donoghue added.

According to an ad on Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy website, Invest NI is now looking for a new chair for its board.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic