Forfás appoints new chief executive

19 Jul 2010

Forfás, the policy advisory board for enterprise and science, has announced the appointment of Martin Shanahan as chief executive.  

The appointment has been approved by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD.

Shanahan was previously divisional manager of science, technology, innovation and human capital policy in Forfás.

“Martin Shanahan has demonstrated the vision, leadership and enterprise skills to take Forfás forward in its pivotal role in informing Government strategy on enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation,” said Eoin O’Driscoll, chairman of Forfás.

“He has an excellent blend of experience and understanding of enterprise in Ireland, both from a business and a policy development perspective and has outstanding communication and relationship skills.  The board of Forfás is delighted that he will be leading the talented and dedicated Forfás management team and staff in providing evidence-based, analytically rigorous enterprise and science policy advice to Government over coming years.

“At a time of significant economic turmoil and high unemployment, Forfás has a key role to play in advising on the policies required to position and enable the enterprise sector to drive future growth and job creation.  Martin has demonstrated the necessary leadership and skills in his role heading up the innovation and labour market, education and skills policy areas to lead Forfás at this critical time.”

Shanahan said he was honoured by the appointment.  “I look forward to working with the wide range of stakeholders who contribute to and inform the essential work of Forfás and leading the organisation as it continues to promote enterprise development and the consequent employment creation that Ireland so desperately needs.”

Martin Shanahan’s background

A native of Kerry, 37-year-old Shanahan joined Forfás in 2005 as manager of the human capital and labour market policy department, before becoming part of the Forfás executive team in 2008 and leading the science, technology, innovation and human capital policy division. 

Prior to moving to the agency, he was head of the professional development section of Fáilte Ireland. Shanahan also previously worked in senior management roles in the hotel industry, including positions with the Great Southern and Sinnott Hotels Groups.

He has represented Ireland at international and EU fora and worked as a consultant for international bodies, including the OECD and the International Labour Office (ILO).  He holds a BSc (management) from Trinity College Dublin, a higher diploma and MSc in hospitality management from the Dublin Institute of Technology and an MRes (educational research) from the University of Lancaster.

He is a member of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, the Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, and is Ireland’s representative at the Strategic Forum on International Cooperation on Science. 

As chief executive, Shanahan has joined the board of Forfás, is a member the high level implementation committee for the Innovation Taskforce, a member of the National Competitiveness Council, and a member of the management board of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

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