2014 Presenters



Norman-Apsley1Dr Norman Apsley, OBE – Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Science Park

Dr Apsley joined the Northern Ireland Science Park Foundation in 2000, as its first Chief Executive, on return from England where he was involved for some thirty years in applied research and the commercialisation of research.  Since then, Norman has steered the Northern Ireland Science Park from an initial concept to physical embodiment which incorporates the Titanic campus and the North West Regional Science Park in Derry~Londonderry, which is a partnership with Letterkenny Institute of Technology, opening in August 2014.

Dr Apsley’s professional appointments include Vice President (Business and Innovation) at the Institute of Physics, membership of Matrix, and Chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Electronics, Communications and Information Technology Institute of Queen’s University Belfast and the new NI Centre for Composite Materials. He is also a visiting Professor at the University of Ulster. He is Honorary President of the NI chapter of the Association of Science Education.  Dr Apsley is also a Fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering and The Irish Academy of Engineering.

imgresTom Arnold – Director General, Institute of International and European Affairs

Tom Arnold was appointed Director General of the IIEA based in Dublin, in November 2013. He is also the Chairman of the Convention on the Irish Constitution (2012-2014).

A former CEO of Concern Worldwide (2001-2013), Ireland’s leading humanitarian organization, Tom was previously Assistant Secretary General and Chief Economist in the Department of Agriculture and Food in Ireland. Tom has served on a number of high level bodies including the UN Millennium Project’s Hunger Task Force, the Irish Hunger Task Force, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund’s (CERF) Advisory Group, the European Food Security Group (EFSG) and the Irish Government’s Commission on Taxation.

He served on the Board of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) charged with leading the reform of the international agriculture research system (2010-2012). He is a member of the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Advisory Board. In April 2012, he was appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon to the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. He is Chairperson of the Irish Times Trust and a Director of the Irish Times, Ireland’s leading newspaper.

Tom is a graduate in Agricultural Economics from University College Dublin and has Master’s Degrees from the Catholic University of Louvain and Trinity College Dublin. He has received Honorary Doctorates of Laws from the National University of Ireland and Science from University College Dublin.  He was awarded the 2014 Helen Keller Humanitarian Award.


colman_websiteColman Farrell – Director of Learning, School for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland

Colman is the co-founder and Director of Learning at the School for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. Before that he was the co-founder and CEO of Suas Educational Development.

Colman was an awardee of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland in 2005, the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Programme in 2009 and the Arthur Guinness Fund awardee in 2010. He was also vice-Chair of the Board of Dóchas, the representative body for Overseas Development of non-profits in Ireland.

Originally a doctor, with a degree from Trinity College Dublin, Colman worked in the Rwandan Refugee Crisis within 1994. He returned to Africa a year later, moving to Nairobi, Kenya, where he supported the start-up stage of Gatoto Community School – now an award winning primary school.

On his return to Ireland, he obtained a Master’s in Multimedia from Trinity and worked as an IT and Software Development Manager at Proctor and Gamble and General Electric respectively. He then joined Enterprise Ireland as an Organisational Development Manager.

Colman first became involved with Suas during its early stages, becoming CEO in June 2004. He led the expansion of the organisation, fundraising and programmes which now serve 10,000 children and young people per year.


Joanne Fitzpatrick – Peace Players International

Joanne was born and raised in Co. Down and attended St Louis Grammar School where she played basketball and Gaelic football. At the age of 14, Joanne became involved in community work in her area. She spent several years working in her local youth club, where she also became involved in the Down Youth Council for her area. Joanne first got involved with Peace Players when she volunteered at Jingle Ball in 2007. At the time, she was training with Down Vikings basketball club with Program Director Will Maloney, who recruited Joanne as a local coach. Joanne now plays for Queens Ladies basketball club in Belfast. Joanne is now the Project Coordinator and works on Curricula Development.


Carol Stormont_1Carol Fitzsimons – Chief Executive, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland

Carol Fitzsimons was appointed Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland (www.yeni.co.uk) in 2009. Having previously specialised in learning & development in the private sector, she is a strong advocate for the benefits of providing young people with the opportunity to develop business and entrepreneurship skills at a young age. She is committed to providing young people in Northern Ireland with the best preparation for success in the new economy through her work at Young Enterprise – Northern Ireland’s leading business education charity.

Each year Young Enterprise helps over 100,000 young people aged 4-25 from across Northern Ireland explore their entrepreneurial potential, with support from volunteer business mentors. The delivery model involves participation in interactive, business simulation games which develop critical skills, such as communication, decision-making, financial management, and creativity. The flagship programme is Company, where students set up and run their own business over an academic year, with opportunities to sell to the general public at Young Enterprise Trade Fairs. As part of Young Enterprise – Junior Achievement globally, the young people are also encouraged to take a global perspective on the world of business.

Carol has participated as an Alumna of the US Boston College Irish Institute exchange on Youth Entrepreneurship, and was a participant in the Global Ambassadors Program with Vital Voices.

Niamh-Gallagher-300Niamh Gallagher – Co-founder, Women for Election

Niamh is co-founder of Women for Election, an organisation to inspire and equip women to succeed in politics and 2011 winner of the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland ‘IMPACT’ award.  Before Women for Election, Niamh worked as a Research and Policy Analyst at the Children’s Rights Alliance in Dublin. There, she was lead researcher and author of the Alliance annual Report Card to Government and represented the organisation at Social Partnership and at Eurochild, the European level network of children’s rights organisations, where she was Chair of the Policy Steering Group. Before that Niamh was a researcher at Demos, one of the UK’s leading think tanks, where she co-authored a series of influential reports.

Niamh was a Board member of We the Citizens, a member of the Advisory Council to European Movement Ireland and a former member of the Independent Monitoring Board at Pentonville Prison in London.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Politics from the London School of Economics, a BA in European Studies from Trinity College Dublin and is currently undertaking an Executive MBA at the UCD Smurfit Business School.


ttMatthew Graves- Board Member (US), Sports Changes Life

Former Belmont Abbey forward Matthew Graves is in his first season as an assistant coach for the Crusaders. Graves will also serve as head coach of the Belmont Abbey Junior Varsity team.

Graves comes back to Belmont after serving as an assistant coach for Kevin Curley at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.

A 2012 Belmont Abbey graduate, Graves played for four years under Coach Miss at Belmont Abbey, earning a spot on the Dean’s List and Conference Carolinas Presidential Honor Roll. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management and was Vice President of the SAAC at Belmont Abbey College. He was awarded the prestigious Victory Scholarship from Sport Changes Life. The Victory Scholarship Program assists deserving students from the USA in obtaining a scholarship package to study at a Master’s level throughout Ireland.

While in Ireland, Graves graduated with a Master’s of Business Studies from the University of Ulster, Jordanstown and served as Head Coach for the Ulster Elks Premier League Men’s Basketball team in Northern Ireland. He was the captain of the Ulster Elks National League Basketball Team and was an E-Hoops Counselor with Sport Changes Life.


dr-adrian-johnston-international-fund-for-irelandDr Adrian Johnston – Chairman International Fund for Ireland

Dr Johnston is an engineer with Seagate Technology (Ireland) where he identifies and implements collaborative research projects including large cross-border research initiatives. He is Chairman of Londonderry YMCA and has a strong interest in community, youth work and economic regeneration, particularly in the North West of Ireland. He was appointed to the Board of the International Fund for Ireland on 1 March 2009.



Roseann+KRoseann Kelly – CEO of Women in Business Northern Ireland (WIBNI)

WIBNI is the largest and fastest growing business network for female entrepreneurs and senior business leaders in Northern Ireland with over 1000 members spread throughout all industry sectors. Roseann joined Women in Business NI soon after the organisation was formed in 2002. Her role as Chief Executive has evolved as she held the roles of Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Company Secretary during her time as a Voluntary Director.

Roseann sits on Minister Farry’s Expert Panel for the Review of Apprenticeships and on the Youth Training Review Panel, is a Committee Member of the Women’s Fund for NI and Chairs the Special Interest Group on Social Enterprise at CO3. In 2012 she won the Services to Enterprise Award with Young Enterprise, the Belfast Business TOP 50 in 2011 and was a participant on the Irish institute Boston College Women in the Workplace Programme.


_46611159_lostyTim Losty – Director of Strategic Investment, Regeneration and International Relations in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister

Tim worked in economic development for 20 years before joining the NI Civil Service in 2003 as the Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC.

In 2007 Tim was responsible for managing the North Belfast Community Action Unit, a major government initiative addressing conflict transformation and regeneration in Belfast.

From February 2010 to August 2011, Tim was acting Deputy Secretary in the Equality, Strategy and Economic Policy Directorate in OFMDFM.

In January 2011 Tim assured responsibility for Strategic Investment, Regeneration and International Relations in OFMDFM.

Tim has a MSC in Business Improvement, a Diploma in Marketing and a Primary degree in Political Science.


MaguireGarethGareth Maguire – CEO, Sport Changes Life

Gareth has fifteen years’ experience as Head of Physical Education and Sports outreach programmes in Integrated Colleges of Education.

He led the commercial development of University of Ulster ‘Ulster’ Elks Basketball.  Gareth also led the first and only successful application for a semi-professional license for a university programme.

He has ten years’ experience in strategic basketball development at local and national level.

Gareth also has fifteen years’ experience managing and organizing basketball player improvement camps.  He is a level 3 Basketball Coach, Basketball Ireland Coach Education Tutor, Youngest and most capped Ireland Senior Men’s Basketball International having played in World Student Games, European Championship and Olympic Qualifiers. Gareth is the recipient of a four year Sports Scholarship at University of Ulster and Silver Salver award winner for most outstanding sports performer at University of Ulster.

He has received Irish Superleague Senior Men’s Most Valuable Player Award on two occasions with nominations on three other occasions. Gareth holds the Commonwealth Games Bronze medal for basketball.


johnmcmullanJohn McMullan OBE – Chief Executive, Bryson Charitable Group

After an initial 10 years of employment in local manufacturing John has been employed by Bryson since 1985 and now holds the position of Chief Executive.

Bryson Charitable Group is N Ireland’s leading social enterprise operating through 7 subsidiary companies each leading in a range of social business markets, which include social care; energy efficiency & fuel poverty; training services for people in unemployment; supporting ethnic minority families/communities and domestic recycling.  He has led the repositioning of the Bryson Brand and overseen the significant growth of the Group, which currently employs 690 staff with a turnover circa £34M per annum (2012/13).

John holds a number of voluntary roles and is a member of the Assembly’s All Party Group on Energy.


0012Catherine O’Neill – Managing Director of Amelio Utilities Ltd.

Catherine graduated from Queen’s in 2012 with a first class Master’s degree in Civil Engineering.

Catherine founded AMELIO Utilities Ltd (previously known as One-Environment) in March 2012. AMELIO Utilities Ltd is a multi-service utilities company specialising in the maintenance of drains and associated facilities management. AMELIO Utilities Ltd can provide CCTV Drainage inspection reports and drain repair services using ‘no dig’ technology. AMELIO focus on giving their clients an optimum service, based on solid drainage advice and expertise — and utilising the most advanced and innovative technology and equipment available. AMELIO’s mission is to improve, to meliorate, to make better.  The company’s formation reflects Catherine’s entrepreneurial spirit and the successful transfer of her engineering skills into industry.

AMELIO currently employ 15 members of staff and aim to increase their market share of the facilities management and drainage industry within Northern Ireland. Catherine plans to extend her business throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland within the coming months.

Catherine bases her success to date on being constantly innovative.  She is young, enthusiastic and ambitious. She has been pro-active in the face of the current economic downturn and is constantly looking for ways to diversify and grow her business.


hugo-macneillHugo MacNeill – American Ireland Fund Chairman Ireland

Hugo is a Managing Director responsible for Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking business in Ireland. He previously worked for the Boston Consulting Group in London.

He is Chairman of the Ireland Funds in Ireland, Chairman of the British Irish Association and Chairman of a Working Group reporting to the Governments in Dublin and Belfast as to whether the island of Ireland should bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Hugo is a former Irish rugby international player and he also represented the British and Irish Lions. He organised the Peace International in 1996 when many of the world’s best players came to Dublin for a match calling for sustained peace in Northern Ireland.


michelleODonnellKeatingWomenforElection_largeMichelle O’Donnell Keating – Women for Election

Michelle is Co-Founder of Women for Election with Niamh Gallagher, an organisation dedicated to training, supporting and mentoring women to take the next step in their political career.

Michelle and Niamh won Social Entrepreneurs Ireland IMPACT Award in 2011, which has supported the development of Women for Election. Michelle always had a keen interest in politics since she was a teenager and was active through college. In 2001, along with Ciaran Toland and Kevin Byrne, she led the “Ireland for Europe” civic campaign, established to campaign for and inform Ireland of the benefits of the Treaty of Nice. Michelle was a member of the Board of Directors and is a member of the Advisory Committee for the European Movement Ireland. Together in 2009, Michelle and Niamh founded Women for Europe, an organisation designed to provide a platform for women to engage with the debate on the Treaty of Lisbon. Aside from European level campaigning, Michelle has also worked on a number of campaigns for Councillors, Senators and TD’s throughout Ireland from canvasser to advisor.

Prior to setting up Women for Election Michelle spent over 16 years in the Financial Services sectors focusing primarily on multinational change management projects leading and implementing organisational change for various blue-chip organisations in Ireland, UK and Australia.

Michelle is currently a lecturer in DCU in the Law and Government department where she is also a PhD candidate focusing her research upon the impact of IMF Policy on Women. Michelle recently won the DCU President’s Award for Civic Engagement 2014.

1349088116Seamus O’Prey – Chief Executive, Ortus Group

Seamus is CEO at ORTUS –The Business Development Agency, which is a commercial social enterprise based in Belfast. The company has three main functions – business start-up and growth, property rental and management and FLEX language services. Currently Ortus owns and manages over 400,000 sqft of property (retail, shopping mall, office, manufacturing, storage) with an asset base of approximately £20m.

Seamus has been instrumental in establishing a range of innovative new business development programmes within Northern Ireland and specialises in start-up, growth and equity finance for SME’s in the private and social sectors.

He currently is a director of a number of companies, which include: The Ulster Community Investment Trust; Enterprise NI the NOW Project; The Upper Springfield Development Trust; Springvale Training and Learning and the West Belfast Partnership Board.

His current areas of interest are: Social franchising; urban regeneration; equity investment schemes for SME’s and social enterprises. He is an Eisenhower Fellow and a fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs.


Darren_RyanDarren Ryan – Head of Engagement, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland

Darren works with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, an Irish non-profit organisation that supports innovative solutions to Ireland’s social problems. They do this by providing funding, training and support to early stage social entrepreneurs. Darren is responsible for building an ecosystem of support for the work of the organisation and driving investment into social entrepreneurship from Ireland and overseas.

After graduating with a BA joint Honours Degree in Economics and Politics from Trinity College Dublin, Darren spent time working in overseas development in both South Africa and Kenya. Wanting to play a role in helping Ireland’s recovery from the recession, Darren re-focused his attentions on social change closer to home, and joined Social Entrepreneurs Ireland in 2009.

Darren sits on the voluntary board of ‘Soar’, an Irish non-profit giving young people the self-belief to discover and follow their dreams. He is a committee member of the Ireland Funds Young Leaders and is the Dublin Ambassador of the Sandbox Network, a global community of entrepreneurs and innovators. Darren was recently listed in the “Top 30 Under 30” entrepreneurs in Ireland.


Peter Sheridan OBE – Chief Executive, Cooperation Ireland

Peter officially took over the role of Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland on 1 January 2009. His role is to strategically lead the organisation as it moves into the next phase in its development.

Peter was a police officer for 30 years. He started his police career as a cadet officer in 1978 and spent much of his service in the north west of Northern Ireland in uniformed policing, where he rose through the ranks from Constable to Assistant Chief Constable responsible for Rural Region.

During this time he was heavily involved in the sensitive negotiations between the various parading organisations and the residents groups in Londonderry, which resulted in an accommodation that facilitated a series of peaceful parades in the city centre.

Peter assumed responsibility for Crime Operations Department in February 2006.


JS-Head-shot-Feb-2014Dr Joanne Stuart OBE – Director, Attrus Limited

Joanne has over 25 years’ experience working in the IT industry including nine years with the Oracle Corporation where she held various senior management roles in Sales and Operations.  Joanne is currently working with Northern Ireland Science Park Trust as Director of Development.

A former Chairman of Institute of Directors NI, Joanne chaired an independent review on University fees, at the request of the Minister of Employment & Learning, which led to a published report in February 2011.

In May 2011, at the request of the Ministers for Education and Employment and Learning, Joanne took on the role of Northern Ireland Champion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to oversee the implementation ‘Success through STEM’ government strategy, and to facilitate better engagement between industry and the education sector. This dovetails with her position on Matrix, the NI Science Panel.

Joanne holds a number of voluntary roles including; Chair Arts & Business NI; Trustee of the Integrated Education Fund; Vice Chair of NI Assembly & Business Trust; Ambassador for the Women’s Fund NI and Non-executive director and Treasurer of Tides Training.


Aaron2Aaron Taylor – Chief Executive, GoPrezzo

GoPrezzo is a casual games tournament platform based in New York and Belfast, Ireland.

A serial entrepreneur, Taylor’s start-ups range from selling custom print T-Shirts featuring work from aspiring local artists, to attempting to set up Irelands first static bungee jumping business from the iconic Harland and Wolf Cranes in Belfast, while in University. For these past several years his ventures have focused on tech, primarily within gaming, namely retention, monetization and engagement.

An engaging public speaker, Taylor has spoken and keynoted at various industry leading conferences and events such as Games Monetization EU, CultureTech, Digital DNA, and Young Enterprise NI Awards. Outside of his entrepreneur lust, Taylor can usually be found reading books on politics, playing football and spending time with his fiancé and young daughter.


rosemary-morrison-directusRosemary Morrison – Directus

Accredited by The Chartered Management Institute (CMI, 2013), Rosemary is a Certified Business Adviser as well as a qualified Business Counsellor (UUJ, 2001) and has a Chartered Institute of Marketing Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing, (CIM, 1997).  Rosemary has been training, mentoring and coaching owners of SMEs since Directus was established in 2002 through various business start-up and growth programmes and is passionate about her business adopting a pragmatic approach to overcome obstacles to business sustainability and growth.  Having established her first business in 1986, she has a broad level of experience and expertise earned throughout her career as an Information Officer (Belfast First Stop Business Shop) and subsequent self-employment in Food Retail, Outside Catering, Tourism and Training & Consultancy.


Dr Tony Gallagher – Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning, Staffing and External Relations, Queen’s University Belfast

Tony Gallagher is a Professor of Education and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast. He was Head of the School of Education from 2005 to 2010. In his role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor his main responsibilities cover academic planning, staffing and external relations – with the Communications and External Relations Office of the University he won a 2012 CIPR Excellence Award for a campaign on higher education funding. His main research interest relates to the role of education in divided societies, a theme on which he has worked in South East Europe, the Middle East and Northern Ireland. In his academic role in the University he is currently leading the Sharing education Programme, a major project encouraging school collaboration between Protestant and Catholic schools, with the aim of promoting higher standards and reconciliation.


webwwDr. William Wright – Founder of the Wright Group

The Wright Group is one of the Europe’s leading suppliers of accessible public transport vehicles.  Founded in 1946 the Wright Group pioneered low floor buses in the UK, and has earned a reputation for producing vehicles which are stylish, durable, high in quality and packed with innovative features.  The Wright Group has a comprehensive and versatile product range for every aspect and application of modern bus operation.  Catering to a variety of client requirements The Wright Group offers midibuses, full size single deckers, two and three axle double deckers and articulated vehicles.

In recent years, The Wright Group has focused increasingly on overseas markets and with contracts from Great Britain, Republic of Ireland, the US, Hong Kong and Singapore, the company has established itself as a leading global player. In line with international requirements and market demand, recent projects tend to be for high-specification and technologically-advanced vehicles, whether developing the highly acclaimed StreetCar RTV for the exacting standards of the Nevada desert, introducing the high profile low-emission hybrid-electric “New Bus for London”, or design and manufacture of our new integral StreetLite range of midibus’ range. All vehicles designed and manufactured conform to the exacting quality standards of IS0 9001:2008. Working in partnership with a number of world-leading chassis manufacturers including Volvo and VDL, The Wright Group tailor products and provide customers with options to suit specific needs and preferences.

During Dr Wright’s management reign the company grew into the provinces leading commercial body builder.  He was key to the company’s change in strategic direction, from Northern Ireland focused commercial bodybuilding into one of the UK’s leading bus manufacturers. Dr Wright currently uses his entrepreneurial skills to advise the company on its future development strategies.  He continues to work closely with Key Bus Operations within Great Britain and Northern Ireland and also many legislative bodies, helping them to identify future transport requirements.


Professor Matthias Beck

Chair in Public Sector Management, Queen’s University Management School

Professor Matthias Beck, PhD (MIT) March MUP (Kansas) FRSA is chair in Public Sector Management and Subject Leader (Management) at the Queen’s University Management School, Queen’s University in Belfast. His main research interests are in the areas of Risk, State-Business relationships, and the Political Economy of Management more generally. He has held lecturing posts in economics and economic history at the University of Glasgow and in economics at the University of St Andrews. He became Professor of Risk Management at Glasgow Caledonian University in 1999, and Professor of Public Sector Management at the University of York (UK) in 2005; before joining Queen’s University in Belfast in 2011.

Michele Crilly

Teaching Fellow, Queen’s University Management School

Michele Crilly has been a Teaching Fellow in Queen’s University since 2004.  During this time, she has been a programme director for Undergraduate and Postgraduate programmes and a Director of Education in the School of Education.  Prior to this, Michele was Higher Education Manager for Edexcel in London and Distance Learning Manager with the British Council. She started her career as Lecturer in Scotland, teaching at Paisley University and after that at Strathclyde University.

Leigh Warren

Commercial Accountant, Queen’s University Belfast

Leigh Warren (BA (Hons) ACMA) has worked at the University for almost 2 years as Queen’s University Commercial Accountant.  Leigh studied Economics & Business Management at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. She is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.  Leigh has worked predominantly in retail and FMCG, specialising in Commercial Finance. Leigh has over 15 years of commercial and accounting experience working for companies such as Nestle, Debenhams, Diageo , John Lewis and New Look.


Lauren Brownlee                                     

Director of Social Action and History Teacher, Stone Ridge School

Lauren Brownlee is Director of Social Action and a History teacher at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland.  She organizes the bi-weekly Upper School Social Action days, serves on the Student Leadership and Diversity and Social Justice Teams, coordinates summer service opportunities, and maintains a Social Action Blog for the school.  She was previously Assistant Director of Auxiliary Programs at Sidwell Friends School, coordinating the summer school and overnight programs, as well as a History teacher.  She graduated from the Friends Council on Education’s Institute for Engaging Leadership and received her MA in Global, International, and Comparative History with a focus on conflict and conflict resolution in the Middle East and Africa.  Lauren is currently a member of the DC Peace Team and the Quaker Palestine-Israel Network.

Maryam Nassiri

Director of Professional Education and Training, MultiLingual Solutions, Inc.

Maryam Nassiri serves as the Director of Professional Education and Training where she oversees all area studies, regional studies, language and cultural training programs for domestic and international clients. An experienced foreign language and culture educator who has taught both in the United States and overseas, Maryam’s tenure as a manager and instructor spanned a period of 20 years, during which she collaborated with numerous non-profit and international organizations as well as key political and academic leaders. Her years living abroad culminated with her appointment to the faculty at Azad University of Tehran’s Department of Translation Studies. She holds a BA in Translation Studies and obtained her MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.  Maryam spent over 25 years living in Iran which has given her  first-hand experience with a country undergoing  revolution, war, rebuilding post-war as well as reform movements.