Business First Magazine, April-March 2016

Page 1


northern ireland’s business magazine



the driving force behind the arrival of KATY major European airlines to Northern Ireland BEST


Tourism NI John McGrillen update on what the Year of Food & Drink means for Northern Ireland.

In conversation

After their move to the Soloist building, Paul McBride, Pinsent Masons talks exclusively to BF.

Thought Leader

IoD Northern Ireland chair Paul Terrington on why trust has to replace cynicism across our society.

Seeking Diamonds

2016 Northern Ireland PA & Office Manager Awards with Diamond Recruitment Group.

PLUS: Northern Ireland’s Rising Stars 40 under 40 in association with

Putting your Business First

What’s inside your issue



Are we safer & Never mind the better off in a border, think of the reformed place we work in Roseann Kelly European Union? Nigel Smyth CBI Northern Ireland

In or out: why we haven’t decided yet

As we go to press it has been five days since the referendum on the EU was called and I’ve already had people tell me they re fed-up hearing about it! So just think how they are going to feel come June 23rd. At the same time on our website we have just published a snap poll from FSB in which 43 per cent of Northern Ireland’s small businesses are undecided on how they will vote. So whether you’re an ‘inny’ or an ‘outy’ there’s still everything to play for. And I have no doubt there will be every opportunity to hear every argument on both sides numerous times before we enter the voting booth to place our marks. Meanwhile, of course, we’ll also be making our decision on who will lead Northern Ireland into the post-Referendum world as we get the added excitement of an Assembly election on May 5th. So will the two get conflated? Will we vote for Assembly candidates based on their EU stance? Or will we stick with the well-trodden route of ‘are you for us or against us’ that has served us so well in the past? There is of course a third alternative: we could make both choices - for Assembly and Referendum - based on reasoned argument and considered debate. It’s how we make our business decisions, after all, so perhaps it would be a good approach to adopt for our political ones as well.


See you on the frontline!


Katy Best, George Best Belfast City Airport See page 12 for the Cover Story

Women in Business NI


Paul Terrington, Chair, Institute of Directors Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s food and drink serves up a tasty tourism future John McCrilly, CEO TourismNI

Page 20 Page 22 Page 28 Page 58


Delivering the best Why flying Solo Rising Stars The Angry Client of the best works for Northern Ireland’s and the with Katy Best Pinsent Masons 40 under 40 2016 death of IP George Best Belfast City Airport (cover story)

Paul McBride Pinsent Masons

sponsored by Find InsuranceNI

Rory Campbell Forde Campbell LLC

It important to address workplace absence

Employment Opportunities for Northern Ireland Care Leavers

Page 12 Page 26 Page 29 Page 44


Is your business Taking a proactive in need of a approach to constitutional conflict in your amendment? business Maybeth Shaw BDO Northern Ireland

Dorcas Crawford Edwards & Co

Helen Smith Benenden

Liz McCrory UK Export Finance

Page 16 Page 18 Page 19 Page 25

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YOUR BUSINESSFIRST TEAM Editor Gavin Walker Sales Jenny Belshaw Finance Margaret Walker Design Studio Tw2



YOUR EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Articles from some of Northern Ireland’s most influential business leaders that will inform, challenge and inspire your thinking.

Maybeth Shaw BDO page 16

Paddy Savage InterTradeIreland page 24

Rory Campbell forde Campbell LLC page 44

Sinead McLaughlin Londonderry Chamber of Commerce page 17

Dorcas Crawford Edwards & Co page 18

Roseann Kelly Women in Business NI page 23

Paul McBride Pinsent Masons page 26

Colin Mullen Find InsuranceNI page 38

Wilfred Mitchell FSB page 40

Sinead Dillon Fujitsu page 46

Alistair Cooke ASM Accountants page 57

John McCrilly TourismNI page 58

In our Digital Issue you can click on any picture to be taken directly to the article. Download it from



Alastair Hamilton is winner of 2016 IoD Lunn’s Award of Excellence


he Chairman of the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland has urged Northern Ireland business leaders to overcome the challenge of establishing trust and encouraging a more honest business culture. Paul Terrington, Chairman of the IoD Northern Ireland, made the plea in his address to a business audience of over 250 people at the organisation’s Annual Dinner, sponsored by Bank of Ireland and Arthur Cox, on Thursday night. A highlight of the business calendar, the event also saw Invest NI CEO and Chartered Director Alastair Hamilton announced as the winner of the 2016 IoD Lunn’s Award of Excellence – one of the longest-running usiness awards in Northern Ireland. Referencing a recent IPSOS/Mori poll which found that business leaders were among a group of people who are least likely to be trusted, Mr Terrington said: “Locally the business community has been much criticised in the last year, with the Public Accounts Committee accusing non-executive directors on public bodies of oversight failures and concluding that non-executive directors failed to abide by the Nolan principles of transparency in public life. “We cannot escape the consequences of our actions and as directors we should be held to the highest standards of accountability – whether by the shareholders in our own companies or by government and its agencies

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI CEO and Chartered Director, is presented with the 2016 IoD Lunn’s Award of Excellence trophy and Rolex watch by Paul Terrington, Chairman of the IoD Northern Ireland, and John Lunn, Managing Director of Lunn’s the Jewellers.

where we advise and guide public bodies.”* The IoD NI Chairman was joined on stage by John Lunn, Managing Director of Lunn’s the Jewellers, to present Alastair Hamilton with the IoD Lunn’s Award of Excellence trophy and Rolex watch. Mr Lunn commented: “Now in its 15th year, this award was created to celebrate individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to local business and to society in general. “Alastair joins a long list of high-calibre leaders who are previous winners of the

award and I warmly congratulate him on his well-deserved success.” The guest speakers at the Annual Dinner were Northern Ireland snooker legend Dennis Taylor, who provided after-dinner entertainment with stories from his career, and Leo Johnson, brother of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who spoke about the opportunities and risks of sustainable leadership. (Please see page 28 where Paul expands on the issue of Trust in society)

Prof Marie McHugh , Lifetime Achievement Award


rofessor Marie McHugh, Dean of the Ulster University Business School, has won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the UTV Business Eye Awards in association with Flybe. The award is given to honour a person who has made an outstanding contribution to business and the economy in Northern Ireland throughout his or her career. In announcing the winner, category sponsor Gary Irvine from 4C Executive Search described Professor McHugh as “an innovator, an educator and a leading lady of the business scene in Northern Ireland”. He added that during her time at Ulster University she had been “responsible for the growth of the Business School which has just celebrated its 40th anniversary and has built up an international reputation.” As well as the Award, Professor McHugh was also presented with a bursary by Flybe to contribute to the Business School’s 40th Anniversary scholarship fund.


Howard Hastings appointed chair of Visit Belfast


r. Howard Hastings OBE, Managing Director of Hastings Hotels, has been appointed the new Chair of Visit Belfast. Howard replaces David Gavaghan, who has chosen to focus on other commitments. He will continue to serve as a member of the Board. Commenting on his appointment, Howard Hastings said “This is a very exciting time for Belfast, where a huge amount of investment is resulting in a growing tourism industry. “The extension of the Belfast Waterfront, a new cruise facility and new hotel developments are raising the city’s profile as an attractive

destination. I am very pleased to take on the role of Chairman of Visit Belfast and look forward to the opportunity to play my part in growing tourism further for the city. David said, “I thoroughly enjoyed my time as Chair of Visit Belfast, but given my other immediate commitments with Aurora Prime Real Estate and as Chair of the Confederation of British Industry in Northern Ireland, I am delighted that Howard Hastings has agreed to replace me as Chair and I am pleased to support him in his new role.” Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, said, “I would like to thank David for the work and dedication he showed as Chair

of Visit Belfast, and to congratulate Howard Hastings on his appointment. “ As Managing Director of Northern Ireland’s largest locally-owned hotel group, Howard is a very well-known and respected member of the tourism industry. “He serves on the Boards of Tourism Ireland and Food NI, and recently stood down as Chair of Tourism Northern Ireland after a most successful tenure. “It is this experience that makes him an excellent choice as our new Chair, and we are looking forward to working closely with him during his term.”

Olivia O’Kane to chair Belfast Solicitors Association


livia O’Kane, a media lawyer at Carson McDowell LLP, has been appointed as chair of the Belfast Solicitors Association. Olivia graduated with a first class honours degree from Queen’s University Belfast in 2004 and qualified as a solicitor in 2006 from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. She later qualified as a solicitor advocate in September 2012. Olivia represents media organisations throughout Northern Ireland on a wide range of legal issues. She contributes to debates on issues of media responsibility through the legal blog "The International Forum for Responsible Media", as well as lecturing at Queen’s University. The Belfast Solicitors Association is the largest local association of solicitors in Northern Ireland. Representing almost 1,000 solicitors, it was set up to ensure the provision of ethical and efficient legal services to the public.



Ulster Bank unveils £3m push to recharge brand


Maeve McMahon, Director of Customer Experience & Products at Ulster Bank commented: “Our customers and what matters to them are at the heart of this campaign to recharge and revitalise our brand. We are focused on improved and exemplary service, and in doing so building our customers’ trust into genuine advocacy – taking on board their feedback as we work hard to meet their needs. This campaign marks an important step on the brand’s journey towards being number one for customer service, trust and advocacy.” The new TV advertising was first shown during the first game of the RBS 6 Nations Championship involving Ireland, and will run over the coming weeks and months.

service level with new and existing clients and will continue our policy of continuous improvement in 2016 and beyond. “Delta is a multi-million pound global business employing hundreds of people at a high-tech Kennedy Way, Belfast manufacturing plant in what once was one of the most economically deprived pockets in Europe. Collectively we have made significant progress and it gives me great personal satisfaction to see the positive working environment established by Delta Packaging. “Delta Packaging produces one and a half billion food cartons a year for fast-food giant McDonald's among its many multinational clients. The portfolio includes household names and world leading companies such as KFC, Kelloggs, United Biscuits, Bakkavor and Greiner group. The company also pays nearly

£8 million a year in wages, which benefits the wider Northern Ireland economy and is heavily aware of the positive cross community job creation and responsible investment opportunity that this involves. Jobs are the cement that binds the peace process and we are delighted at the part our US customers play in this important role”.

Terry Cross attributes OBE accolade to collective effort of directors and staff


erry Cross, Chairman, Delta Print and Packaging Ltd, who was awarded an OBE in the New Year's honours list for services to the economy and voluntary sector, is accepting the accolade on behalf of all directors and staff who without whom, he says ‘this would not have been possible’. Commenting on the accolade Chairman Terry Cross says: “Receiving this OBE is very humbling, though the achievement is not an individual one; it is the culmination of shared effort, drive, ambition and professionalism. As such, I am accepting the award on behalf of all directors and staff, the support of this close family, without whom this would not have been possible. I also want to thank them all for their ongoing commitment and dedication. “We do of course recognise that much remains to be done to increase our customer



elfast will later this year welcome some of the UK and Ireland’s top legal professionals, hosting a two day conference in the city. Hosted by the British Irish Commercial Bar Association (BICBA), the flagship event will be held at the Inn of Court in April 2016, and will be organised by the NI member representatives of BICBA from the Bar Library, and law firms Cleaver Fulton Rankin and Pinsent Masons. Speakers include Lord Neuberger, President of The Supreme Court and Lord Kerr, Justice of the Supreme Court and Former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. The conference will be themed around the impact of technology on the court process and the development of substantive rights. Chairman of Commercial Bar Association in Northern Ireland, Michael Humphreys QC “The increasing influence of technology has left no area of business untouched; legal services is no different. As lawyers, we need to be offering the most innovative solutions to our business clients whilst embracing the latest technology to ensure the courts are as efficient and effective as possible.” Jonathan Forrester, Director, Cleaver Rankin Fulton added: “Developments in technology are clearly having a significant impact upon both the substantive law and the litigation process, and the conference will focus on commercial law and practice in the digital age. The conference promises to be one of the highlights of the year for the legal profession in Northern Ireland and Cleaver Fulton Rankin is delighted to be associated with the event.”

Maeve McMahon, Director of Customer Experience & Products at Ulster

lster Bank has unveiled a significant investment of over £3m in a new marketing campaign that moves away from traditional product advertising, and lets the customer take centre stage. Including TV, billboard, print and other digital advertising, it highlights the big and the small things that matter to people at different stages of their lives, and conveys the breadth of love, hope and dreams that consumers’ experience. Underpinned by the bank’s #WhatMatters strapline, the campaign, which was created by Ogilvy & Mather, is a significant move by Ulster Bank to re-charge its brand and pave the way towards rebuilding trust and delivering on its commitment to customers.

Belfast to host top law conference


Local Renault dealer is best in UK


helbourne Motors Renault picked up the "Dealer of the Year 2015" accolade from Renault UK at a ceremony in London. The Award measures all areas of performance, including business objectives as set by the manufacturer and exemplar customer satisfaction, including sales and aftersales quality surveys and mystery shop scores. Paul Ward, Director of Shelbourne Motors Renault, collected the award and said: “There are over 140 Renault dealers throughout the whole of the UK network so to come out on top is a tremendous achievement and a reflection of true team work. “These awards recognise dealers who have committed professional standards and expertise, while also achieving remarkable performances over the year. It was a great 2015 for us here at Shelbourne Renault and we’re delighted that that has been rewarded.” The Award comes as Shelbourne Motors Renault was named as one of Renault UK's recently launched specialist dealer networks dedicated to the high performance RenaultSport brand. There are only 26 specialist dealers across the UK. For over 43 years Shelbourne Motors has


Paul Ward, Director of Shelbourne Motors, [centre] picked up the award from Darren Payne, Sales Director at Renault UK, and Ken Ramirez, Managing Director of Renault UK,

been a centre of excellence in Northern Ireland and offers new cars, approved used cars, servicing, Motability and commercial vans.

Personal Best NI PA Forum launched


orthern Ireland’s newest networking organisation – Personal Best NI – the first ever forum for Personal Assistants (PAs) and those supporting Chief Officers, has issued an invite for new members. Personal Best NI is the first group of its kind in Northern Ireland and aims to provide members with opportunities to share learning, best practice, experience and also to network with those in similar occupations across the region. Membership is not exclusive to PAs and includes Office Managers, Executive Assistants and Networking and Membership Co-ordinators. The Forum was the brainchild of Jackie Erskine, PA to the Chief Executive at Helm Housing who, along with contemporaries in other organisations set the group up last year. Ms Erskine said: “This Forum aims to help put the ‘personal’ back into Personal Assistant. We bring colleagues in similar occupations across Northern Ireland together for discussions on our field, but more importantly to provide an opportunity for networking and that vital face-to-face contact with our professional peers. “While we are still a relatively new network, we have already created a wide and varied group and I ask all those who support Chief Officers from the public, private and voluntary sectors to get involved in the Forum and attend our events. “As the first of its kind, we hope this forum

8 shining in global luxury rental property market

will get PAs, Office Managers and Executive Assistants out of the office, providing them with support and guidance in a more sociable way,” she added. The Forum meets quarterly. Those interested should contact Jackie Erskine or Eleanor Morrow at Helm Housing on 028 9089 1054 or by email at or was founded by Northern Ireland property Investor & Developer Gary McCausland after identifying a niche for high quality short-stay holiday and business rental properties. ‘Our objective is to provide a secure platform that allows the owners and landlords of quality dwellings to list/advertise their properties for short term holiday and business rentals to a global audience. From one bedroom apartments to private islands the site provides affordable luxury accommodation for anyone that wants to travel in style whether they have a large or indeed very modest budget. With currently around 1,500+ listings in over 60 countries and growing rapidly has a wide selection of accommodation to suit every budget ranging from £50 to £17,500 per night! Listings include beautiful cottages in Cornwall, serviced apartments in Paris, stunning Ski Chalets in Zermatt, Villas in Florida and there are even luxury super yachts advertising on the site!’ Gary McCausland - CEO Own or manage a holiday rental property? Here are a few reasons why you should list on • Listing a property is FREE with a 10% commission payable on actual bookings after successful check-in, with all payments protected via our secure payment system. • Each listing package comes complete with a micro website & unique Luxury Let URL. • Every listing has been desk-top vetted by our experts to ensure it meets the quality standard, we speak to the owners and check the property. • Advertise your special offers & last minute deals, in our Exclusive Offers section where we guarantee the best prices on the internet. • Property owners can communicate directly with the customer and vice-versa using our private communication platform. • All deposits are held securely in our client accounts and not released until the customer has arrived and is satisfied with the accommodation etc. If you would like to list your holiday rental property or indeed book accommodation for your next holiday or business trip please visit or email also available to follow on social media which updates best deals daily. @luxurylet @luxury_let @luxurylet luxurylet-com


Will these judges decide you have a Diamond in your office?

The Northern Ireland PA & Office Manager Awards 2016 in association with Diamond Recruitment Group and Business First, are now open for nominations!


he search is on for the 2016 PAs and Office Managers of the Year and you are invited to nominate the ‘diamond’ in your business. The person (or persons) who make your business tick. The men and women who make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be when it’s supposed to be. Now in their second year, the Northern Ireland PA and Office Manager of the Year Awards are a unique way for you to say thank you to the individuals who so often go the extra mile without expecting any acknowledgement. And this year Diamond Recruitment Group are delighted to be sponsoring this year’s Business First PA & Office Manager Awards. Donna Parker, Operations Director at Diamond Recruitment said “PAs & Office Managers play a vital role in supporting the work of senior management teams and ensuring the smooth operation of local businesses. “We are delighted to sponsor an event that recognises and rewards the contributions of these professionals and we are very much looking forward to being part of the Awards in 2016.” Gavin Walker, managing editor at Business First, said, “At a time when Northern Ireland business is beginning to see the light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel, we want to work with you to help boost the morale in your office and take a moment to say thank you to the people who are often the unsung heroes of business - the PAs and Office Managers who keep us all inline and on track. “The one thing we learned from the nominations to last year’s Awards was that PAs and Office Managers are now expected to have a broad range of knowledge from the best locations for meetings to the most recent best practice in corporate governance.” The 2015 Overall Award Winner, Tracey Magee of Xafinity added, “Winning the Award was a very special moment and I have been amazed at the numbers of people who have taken time to congratulate me. “But to be honest, the most important aspect of the Awards was to be nominated in the first place. It was a brilliant feeling to know that my boss and colleagues respected and valued my contribution to the business so much that they wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge it. “I can’t begin to tell you how great a feeling that is and I hope every employer from the private, public and chairty and voluntary sectors jumps on this opportunity to say thank you to their PAs and Office Managers.


The judges for the Northern Ireland PA & Office Manager Awards 2016 are Gavin Walker, managing editor, Business First: Alyson McNutt, managing director PA2Day: Tracey Magee, overall winner of the 2015 Northern Ireland PA & Office Manager Awards, and Donna Parker, operations director at Diamond Recruitment (also judging is Kate McKay managing director AKU Training.)

“The most important aspect of the Awards was to be nominated in the first place. It was a brilliant feeling to know that my boss and colleagues respected and valued my contribution to the business so much that they wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge it.”

Tracey Magee, Xafinity

“And who knows, they may well prove to be one of the ‘diamonds’ we’ll be looking for in the judging!”


For over 25 years local businesses have entrusted Diamond Recruitment to source the best people for their business. Diamond has grown to become one of the most successful recruitment agencies in Northern Ireland and their success has been built on a strong focus on excellent relationship management with both clients and candidates. With regional recruitment centres located in Belfast, Ballymena, and Derry/Londonderry Diamond offers both temporary and permanent recruitment solutions, working with many of the Top 100 Companies. Their clients include both large and small business within the public and private sector. At Diamond Recruitment, their Consultants provide an expert approach to recruitment. Whether your experience is in Administration, Accountancy, Sales & Marketing, IT or Engineering, they have a Recruitment Consultant that is a specialist in your chosen field.




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We’re looking for the diamonds in your office

Northern Ireland Office Manager of the Year 2016 Northern Ireland PA of the Year 2016 (Private Sector)

Northern Ireland PA of the Year 2016 (Public Sector)

Northern Ireland PA of the Year 2016 (Charity and Voluntary Sector)

Nominations now open


Delivering the best of the best

After a record year for George Best Belfast City Airport, Commercial and Marketing Director Katy Best, the woman responsible for attracting major European airlines such as KLM to Northern Ireland, discusses the airport’s recent successes and plans for sustained growth.


t seems the clouds above George Best Belfast City Airport are certainly lined with silver. The past year has seen the popular terminal attract major European airlines and achieve record passenger figures, cementing its reputation as Belfast’s ‘airport of choice’. A board member at Tourism NI and with more than decade of experience in the travel and tourism industry, Katy Best has been instrumental in promoting and marketing not only the airport, but also Northern Ireland as a destination to airlines which may consider adding Belfast to its route network.

Record year

“2015 was a record year for the airport, with the launch of two new routes to significant European hubs and passenger numbers reaching 2.7 million,” said Katy. “Passenger numbers grew by 5.4% which is due to a number of factors, including new routes. “KLM’s arrival in May opened up a new market and triggered a considerable boost in passenger figures. The year round daily service to Amsterdam Schiphol has proved extremely popular and we’re delighted not only with the route’s performance, but also with KLM’s commitment to Northern Ireland. “Late last year we announced that Brussels Airlines will commence a five times’ weekly


service to the Belgian capital from Spring 2016, which is very exciting as this will be Northern Ireland’s only connection with Belgium.” So far both the airline and the airport are very happy with the volume of advance bookings. “Whilst Amsterdam and Brussels are key European destinations for business passengers, so too are our domestic routes operated by Aer Lingus, British Airways and Flybe. Throughout 2015 these services performed strongly with Flybe reporting a 10% increase in passenger numbers between 2014 and 2015. “Belfast City remains the only Northern Ireland airport to facilitate a London Heathrow service, through Aer Lingus and British Airways. This is a crucial link in itself, but also as a connection hub for mid-long haul international destinations which could never sustain direct links from Northern Ireland. “In addition to London Heathrow, Flybe’s flights to London City have proved extremely popular with business passengers and large corporates for whom landing on the doorstep of Canary Wharf is hugely beneficial.” Whilst the proximity of the airport to Belfast city centre will always attract business passengers, under Katy’s watch the airport has also achieved and developed its

market share of the leisure market, particularly on ‘sunshine’ routes. She continued, “With an improving economy and higher levels of disposable income, our domestic route network is more and more attractive to leisure passengers interested in city breaks. However, over the last number of years Aer Lingus has established a considerable network of European holiday destinations which operate in the summer months. “Bookings for its Faro, Malaga and Palma services this summer are stronger than ever, and leading the way is its new Alicante route.”

Route Development

Katy’s initial focus at the airport was on maintaining and developing the domestic network. Since then, the Northern Ireland economic and social landscape has changed considerably. She explains how this has triggered a change in strategy. “The changes which have had most impact on the direction of the business have been the economy, advances in aircraft technology and of course lifestyle. People are busier than ever and are always looking for the most convenient options, which for many people is Belfast City Airport due to its location. “That in mind, coupled with passenger

demand, our peripheral vision had to extend beyond the UK and into mainland Western Europe. “In the last few years we have seen a real shift in perceptions of Belfast and Northern Ireland in general. It is now seen as an attractive destination by airlines from outside the UK, and we have a growth plan in place to facilitate this. “Northern Ireland still does not have any direct air access to Germany which does create a gap in our route network as a province and remains a challenge. “Having said that, Brussels Airlines provides connectivity across the entire Lufthansa and Star Alliance network which is prevalent in Germany and throughout Europe. The Air France–KLM group leads in terms of intercontinental traffic which can be connected to via KLM’s Belfast-Schiphol service.” Discussing the ongoing issue of Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax, Katy points to Westminster as holding the key. “APD is confusing for passengers and disadvantages Northern Ireland as we aim to attract new airlines and routes. I believe its abolition is up to Westminster not the Executive, and if properly implemented could have a net benefit to Northern Ireland as a result of increased traffic and related economic activity. “I sit on the board of Visit Britain and APD is an issue for the majority of the UK. “In time, I believe the UK Government will scrap APD. In the meantime we will continue to work with the Executive towards establishing an Air Route Development Fund which would partially offset the APD factor and more importantly provide airlines with a marketing fund to bed down new routes, hence significantly lessening the risk for airlines.”

Airport of Choice

“We are committed to providing a prompt and enjoyable passenger journey, and to that end we continuously invest heavily in our facilities and infrastructure. “Our terminal is modern and compact which is really appealing to passengers who want to get from A to B as quickly and easily as possible,” explained Katy. As with all industries, digital advances have

We are very proud of the programmes we have in place but also of our staff and their commitment to CR. Through our Community Fund, the airport has now invested well over £250,000 into local groups and projects aimed at enhancing education, environmental awareness or social interaction. Katy Best played a significant role in shaping the travel and tourism industry. In order to maximise the opportunities presented by the ever-changing digital landscape, the airport has invested heavily in its resources to create a live two-way communication channel. She said, “When I joined the airport in 2007, we were on the brink of a digital revolution, the extent of which I think has surpassed everyone’s expectations. “The digital offering has dramatically changed how the public interacts with airlines and airports. This has progressed beyond booking online and we are now seeing passengers send instant messages via social media to check the status or their flight or to track down items mislaid mid-journey. “The airport has an active and engaged social following, which is testament to what an important channel social media is for us. We pride ourselves upon being open and transparent, and social media is a fantastic way to facilitate that, but it is also probably one of the best research focus group and we regularly listen to and act upon feedback received.”

Cleared for take off

“Belfast’s appeal as a tourist destination has gathered pace in recent years as a result of international marketing investment and its ability to host world class events,” said Katy. The level of commercial aviation interest in Northern Ireland has been confirmed with the announcement that the Routes Europe conference will be hosted in Belfast in 2017. “My team and I attend trade conferences

and events across the globe, and we have seen first-hand the impact the host city can have on airlines. We’re hugely excited to showcase Belfast’s offering and look forward to maximising the opportunities it will bring.” Katy hopes that by 2017 the debate into the removal of the airport’s ‘seats for sale’ restriction, which has spanned more than a decade, will be long since approved and put to bed. “Since the Public Inquiry, the Planning Appeals Commission has issued a report recommending that the removal of the seats for sale restriction be accompanied by additional noise controls. We will consider in more detail the findings of the report and will submit our views to the Department within the timeframe stipulated.” The airport’s clear commitment to its environment and community is outlined in its comprehensive Corporate Responsibility (CR) strategy, under which a number of successful initiatives are hosted throughout the year. “We are very proud of the programmes we have in place but also of our staff and their commitment to CR. “Through our Community Fund, the airport has now invested well over £250,000 into local groups and projects aimed at enhancing education, environmental awareness or social interaction.” The airport’s passion for enriching the community is as clear as its passion for developing a strong, robust, desirable route network. With its sights set firmly on the European market, Belfast City Airport is determined to use the next 12 months to build upon its successes of 2015. “Our determination, not just to repeat the success of last year, but to improve upon it, is what drives us. “We want to continue to provide an airport that flies to where people want to go and a facility of which Belfast, and Northern Ireland, can be proud. After all, an airport is a visitor’s first impression, and we are committed to making that a good one!” For a full list of airlines and routes at Belfast City Airport please visit The airport can also be followed on Facebook (/ and Twitter (@belfastcity_air).



Financial services firms face riskier future in a post-Brexit world, says RSM

Banks, insurers and other financial services companies face an uncertain future if the UK decides to leave the EU, Northern Ireland’s leading advisory firm RSM has said. Jon Pepper, who leads the financial services faculty within the company’s risk advisory practice is pictured above with David Gray, partner, RSM in Northern Ireland.


With alarm bells ringing, could there now be a serious risk of a sharp rise in the number of financial services companies relocating staff out of the UK? Obviously, financial services is a highly regulated industry and the degree of regulation is unlikely to weaken if there is an exit from the EU. In fact, it may even increase – regulators and regulation have become a part of business life.


or the majority of businesses in Northern Ireland, the possibility that the UK might leave the European Union – commonly but not accurately entitled Brexit – is a major source of concern. Both the break with the EU and the uncertainty associated with it would be bad for business and damaging to the UK economy. For the first time in a generation, there is now a serious prospect that the UK could leave. The Conservative government, led by David Cameron, has already fired the starting gun for a major debate ahead of the June 23rd poll. With opinion polls suggesting that the outcome would be highly uncertain, a majority vote to remain in the EU is far from assured. According to RSM in Northern Ireland, among all the sectors searching for certainty, banks, insurers and other financial service providers, could be facing a riskier future than most. Currently, a wide range of “authorised” businesses including banks, insurance companies and asset managers are allowed to operate across the EU provided they have a base in the UK – a process known as “passporting”. The UK's EU membership, it could be argued, is also crucial in providing a base from which non-EU businesses can passport across the EU. For example, US financial institutions based in the UK. Passporting into the EU from the UK would thus not be technically possible following a Brexit – unless a special arrangement can be negotiated. Thus, non-EU financial services businesses keen to continue to provide services across the EU would have to establish subsidiaries in mainland Europe. With alarm bells ringing, could there now be a serious risk of a sharp rise in the number of financial services companies relocating staff out of the UK? Obviously, financial services is a highly regulated industry and the degree of regulation is unlikely to weaken if there is an exit from the EU. In fact, it may even increase – regulators and regulation have become a part of business life. If the UK corporations wish to continue to do business with the remaining EU member states following a Brexit, they will almost certainly need to comply with EU regulations

in order to do so. Banks could be faced with having to comply with the new UK rules as well as EU legislation. With regulation, inevitably, comes the risk of non-compliance, which in turn needs to be managed, resourced and controlled. For any organisation, key managers and designated staff will need regular assurance that appropriate systems are in place to manage risk and that procedures are being followed. David Gray, Partner of Risk Assurance at RSM in Northern Ireland, said: “If the UK leaves the EU the impact would depend on the new relationship between the UK and the EU – a development which will undoubtedly create a new layer of uncertainty that heighten the risks for businesses in many areas. “Companies can often fall into the trap of looking back at risks or incidents which have happened in the past, ignoring future risks at their peril. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By embracing the right tools, the process can be simplified and embracing it will provide greater peace of mind for everyone involved.” According to RSM in Northern Ireland’s Jon Pepper, risk management is a valuable tool for understanding and identifying risk, standardising the implementation of and compliance with legislative requirements, prioritising action, raising and informing awareness about risks, identifying appropriate mitigation measures and providing a scalable and balanced approach to compliance. Jon is a financial services risk assurance specialist partner at RSM in Northern Ireland. “Risk management has become an important topic for financial institutions and service providers, especially since the business sector of financial services is itself related to conditions of uncertainty. Turmoil in many forms – and particularly around the current EU vote – emphasises the importance of effective risk management procedures.” David Gray said: “Through our LifeCycle programme, RSM in Northern Ireland assists companies in moving from being reactive and compliance-driven to being proactive and visionary, ensuring risk management is seen as an accepted key of performance. “Companies should be considering, and have a clear understanding of, the relationship between their business objectives, their corporate strategy and the risks to accept, avoid or manage in order to

protect their assets and create value. “They should have a clear understanding of where risk is sitting in their organisation and where they are potentially vulnerable or positioned to exploit opportunities. “RSM’s multi-disciplinary team of accountants and risk management professionals seeks to gain a thorough understanding of your business needs and then carefully considers the key factors that will enable you to put together a plan of action,” David added. For more details visit or contact Clare Galloway, Business Development Manager at

So what do businesses need to do? RSM in Northern Ireland says that all business owners should fully assess their business operations in order to mitigate risks so that objectives can be achieved. Most will need to consider several, if not all, of the following: • Understand both upside and downside risk relating to Strategy, Operations, Finance, Reputation, Information Technology and Legal. • Create a Risk register to operate as a living document with appropriate review frequencies. • Mitigate Risk - 5 Ts (Treat, Tolerate, Transfer, Terminate, Take advantage of). • Consider ideal systems, prescribed systems and systems actually in operation. • Identify internal and external assurance providers. • Comply and actively demonstrate compliance with regulations.



Is your business in need of a constitutional amendment?


lthough the principles and beliefs that underpin many family businesses are often enshrined in the way they operate, very few seem to formalise these into any type of written document or constitution. So often this can prove detrimental, not only from a business perspective, but also in maintaining those long-standing principles that are, in many cases, the backbone of any successful family business. For those businesses that have created a formal family constitution, the document has often been instrumental in preserving the legacy of the business and helping to sustain the business for future generations. Very simply, a family constitution is a confidential family document which details the relationship the family has agreed that they will have with the business. Depending on the particular family, its business, its stage of development and the family members’ desires, a constitution can take many forms. It can be either a short document or, in some cases, a very long and detailed one. Whilst each family businesses constitution will be different there are a number of issues it will typically address including areas of leadership and strategy, management and governance. It can often include: • The family’s agreed long-term vision and goals for the business; • The family values and management philosophy; • Rules and procedures relating to the establishment and running of the Family Council and how the Council communicates the family's wishes to the Board. • The family's policy on ownership, including who can own shares, together with rules relating to the sale of shares by family members. • The employment, remuneration and appraisal of family members. • The conditions under which family members enter and exit the business • Relationships within the family – covering, for instance, the responsibilities of family members towards each other, family meetings, how communication is to be encouraged and promoted, and procedures for resolving disputes between family members, and family branches.

asks Maybeth Shaw, BDO Northern Ireland

As families and indeed businesses are often dynamic and constantly adapting, it is vital that any family constitution is kept under review if the principles underlying the document are to survive. It is important therefore in designing the constitution that it is possible to alter and amend the document in a way which will allow it to adapt to the needs of the family and the business.

The process

The process of formalising the constitution is often sensitive and, at times, complex. Indeed, one of the major factors which may go some way to explaining why a formal constitution document remains underutilised in the family business arena, is the perception that it will drag up sensitive and often conflicting family interests and perspectives. Nevertheless, it is those family businesses that invest in the idea of a constitution that very quickly realise the value and importance of carrying out such a process. In our experience, the benefits at the end of the process far outweigh any potential difficulties in getting there. However, if the process is to be successful, it is important to gain the full commitment of each family member in helping to draft the contents of the constitution. Given the sensitivities and emotional dynamics of the family business, we believe that formulating a Constitution is best done with the assistance of an external family business advisor who understands family businesses and can act as an impartial third party. In working with local family businesses, we have found the following are among the benefits that can be gleaned from the process of formalising a written constitution: • the family being unified in its approach to the business; • establishing a precedent and forum for

It is clear that while a constitution may not prevent conflicts, it can establish a way to manage and resolve them. Balancing the needs of the family and the business is often complex and at times very difficult. 16

education and development of the next generation of family members in the business; • management knowing what the family expects of it in terms of the way the business is run; and • a document that plays an important role in valuing and including those family members who are neither shareholders in their own right nor employees of the business - by involving them in establishing the tenets that make up the constitution. It is clear that while a constitution may not prevent conflicts, it can establish a way to manage and resolve them. Balancing the needs of the family and the business is often complex and at times very difficult. However, the creation of a family constitution can represent a significant step towards managing those complexities and should help foster a sense of shared purpose among owners and the wider family. Gaining buy-in from family members to a document which they have helped create and influence can undoubtedly produce a more coherent approach to how the family and operational cogs of the business function together. In our experience, formalising such a document is an invaluable “constitutional amendment” and one we believe should not be overlooked by family businesses that aspire to preserve the legacy of the business for future generations.


Needed urgently: Departments that work together by Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce


ith the Assembly elections almost upon us, it is important for us to think beyond May to the period when a new structure of Northern Ireland government will be in place. The Department for the Economy will take the place of the existing Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Department for Employment and Learning. Certainly the name will be an improvement, but will it also deliver better outcomes for our businesses? One of the problems in terms of the governance of Northern Ireland has been what is often termed a ‘silo mentality’. In other words, departments, ministers and permanent secretaries have been accused of operating independently, without sufficient co-operation and co-ordination with their peers. This issue is most obvious through the legal action taken by one department against another. It is self-evident that there is not ‘one Northern Ireland government’. Merging DETI and DEL is intended to deal with the lack of integration between the policy regarding higher and further education – currently the responsibility of DEL – with the promotion of enterprise – the role of DETI. But nominal integration is no guarantee of actual integration, co-ordination and cooperation. Northern Ireland has been a UK forerunner in the integration of social care with the NHS. Yet many social care practitioners here argue they run an under-financed service, receiving less support than their colleagues in acute health services. Moreover, the problems of higher and further education in Northern Ireland go deeper than a lack of connection with enterprise policy. It was the Northern Ireland Executive as a whole that decided to cut funding to DEL, which led to cuts in spending on universities, undergraduates and vocational training coming out of our further education colleges. The issue, at its heart, was about the lack of support across government for higher and further education. It cannot be taken for granted that the merger of departments will address this policy issue. There is another important challenge after departmental reorganisation. The silos will not disappear with the restructure. The building blocks for a strong economy in the North West include skills, digital connectivity, transport connectivity, energy

connectivity and total business costs. The Department for the Economy will be responsible for only part of this agenda. Take energy, for example. A few months ago there was a disturbing report that a large Northern Ireland business was strongly encouraged to locate new plant East of the River Bann instead of the West, simply because the electricity infrastructure was better in the East. Transport is perhaps the biggest challenge for us in the North West. Our region is blighted by poor road connections with both Belfast and Dublin. We also have a slow rail service to Belfast, with unacceptably long gaps between trains. While all these infrastructure failures are now being addressed – and we are enormously happy that they are – it is vital for our regional economy that there is fast progress in plugging this infrastructure gap. If the new Department for Infrastructure does not deliver quickly on road, rail and energy connections, it is our economy that will suffer. Another example lies with our schools system. The new Department for the Economy will be responsible for further and higher education – both of which are central to the capacity of our businesses to employ people and to generate wealth. But education does not begin when pupils leave school at 16 or 18. Can we be certain that the skills taught in schools will dovetail with the provision in our further education colleges and two universities? Will coding be taught to children from a young age? Is there a sufficiently strong reform programme to raise standards in under-performing schools? Can businesses be confident that the scandal of thousands of children leaving school without basic skills will end? Even in health, there must be policy integration with the economy. Our region is building a promising life sciences sector, which can improve the

delivery of healthcare, achieve efficiency savings within the NHS and yet also provide a boost to local businesses that are at the forefront of medical research and development. Nor should we forget the role of the new Department for Communities. It will take over the running of the Employment Service, which has to work closely with local businesses and fit with the broader economic strategy of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly. That department will also have some responsibility for regeneration – where we would like to see much faster progress in our city and region than in the past. In short, we look forward to improved integration of economic policy within and between departments. But what we need is integration of purpose across the Executive table and a willingness by everyone in government to make that government, including the economy, work. That will be the basis on which the Executive and Assembly will be judged when the following election is held – in 2021.

The new Department for the Economy will be responsible for further and higher education. Can we be certain that the skills taught in schools will dovetail with the provision in our further education colleges and two universities?



The Better Way – taking a proactive approach to conflict in your business A fter over 20 years as a litigation lawyer and several years conducting a high profile piece of litigation (Northern Ireland’s longest running civil trial) Dorcas Crawford, senior partner at Edwards & Co Solicitors, began to re-evaluate the whole area of dispute resolution and concluded that there was a better way. She trained as a mediator with CEDR in London in 2008 and has since conducted numerous commercial mediations and added workplace mediation and facilitation training to her cv. Some years later, Dorcas applied her skills to a wider range of disputes both in client organisations at board level and between staff. The financial cost to an organisation and the implications of conflict and dispute for the people involved can be destructive, depressing and debilitating on a personal level. When left unresolved, disputes can paralyse an organisation. They can also escalate into costly litigation which leaves reputation and relationships beyond repair. Having identified the need among clients for a more constructive solution, Dorcas has developed The Better Way - a unique service aimed at preventing, diagnosing and resolving disputes through education, facilitation and mediation. As the service developed from its launch in June 2015, Dorcas has seen its benefit for business clients who want to embed mediation and facilitation techniques into their organisation from the top down. Much of the initial market research for The Better Way was carried out with Edwards & Co Third Sector clients who, in particular, could ill afford disputes and costly litigation. However the statistics that apply to Third sector boards and organisations apply equally to the private sector. A global survey of 191 directors carried out by the International Finance Corporation and CEDR (the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) in 2013 found the following startling results: • 29.6 per cent of directors have experienced a boardroom dispute affecting the survival of the organisation • 42.8 per cent reported that conflict affected the level of trust amongst board members • 67.2 per cent are involved in unresolved board disputes. The figures are startling because it is not hard to imagine the impact on the organisation, but to look at the converse, imagine how effective the organisation could be without this kind of baggage.


Another stark indicator that businesses need to approach conflict and dispute resolution in a radically different manner is the recent CBI report on the cost to organisations of workplace conflict. It found that £33billion per annum and 20 per cent of managers’ time is spent on workplace conflict. It’s easy to say that every organisation has its issues and that sometimes conflict is just unavoidable, but what if there were a means of doing things better and preventing conflict from reaching a level where it impacts on the organisation, its people and its ultimate success? The Better Way works alongside organisations from the top down or the bottom up, teaching people to take a proactive approach to conflict. The idea is that an organisation embeds positive approaches to dispute resolution at all levels, from board meetings and engagement with non-executive directors, right down to staffing issues and resolution of grievances, as well as disputes that arise externally with other businesses.

This means conducting a health-check, selfdiagnosing issues, training people to spot the signs and deal with issues earlier rather than later when they have festered. At board level members actively engage in drawing up conduct charters that they all buy into, at employee level, clauses are included in contracts that mean staff will resort to mediation as a first, not last, resort; and between businesses mediation clauses are included in contracts so that mediation is attempted early to avoid, where possible, costly litigation. With the right approach to conflict in your business you could do things The Better Way.

28 Hill Street, Belfast, BT1 2LA (0) 28 9570 4404

It important to address workplace absence, no matter the size of your business by Helen Smith, Group Business Development Director at Benenden


orkplace absence is a concern for a whole manner of businesses. After all, lost work days can have the potential to delay projects and upset deadlines. Therefore, at Benenden, we recently surveyed 2,500 employees about their sick days, trying to pinpoint the most prolific workplace ailments and the ways employers could try to guard against them.

We have recently launched Benenden Business Healthcare, a bespoke package designed to improve the rate of long-term absenteeism. Targeted towards SMEs, the package provides a practical and affordable solution to managing workplace wellbeing: cutting down wait times and insuring conditions like musculoskeletal and mental health issues. The benefits for employees could include higher morale, increased productivity, a less demanding workload and job satisfaction. All are important facets of the workplace that a good quality healthcare benefit can help provide. For employers, having a business healthcare package in place could help to keep existing employees in work, preventing staff turnover from rising. This, in turn, could help to keep costs balanced.

When is it considered acceptable to call in sick?

When respondents were asked when they thought it was acceptable to call in sick, these ten ailments were mentioned most frequently: 1. Vomiting 2. Diarrhoea 3. Flu 4. Sickness bugs 5. Migraines 6. Stress 7. Mental health problems 8. Hospitalisation 9. A head cold 10. A headache This top ten suggests that physical health is very much the sickness-norm, while mental health is approached with a degree of stigma. Our survey showed the gulf between physical and mental illness: 73 per cent, 71 per cent and 59 per cent of those surveyed thought that vomiting, diarrhoea and flu were, respectively, the most acceptable reasons for calling in sick. In contrast, just 19 per cent of employees thought that stress was an acceptable reason for taking time off, while 17 per cent thought that broader mental health issues warranted a period of absence. Not only that, 42 per cent of the employees we surveyed consider their workplace to view stress as a sign of weakness. This is despite stress being the source of most UK absences, according to data from the Health and Safety Executive.

A lack of understanding

It’d be unfair to assume that this is all down to deliberate stigma. A lot of the time, it’s simply due to a lack of understanding. Stress doesn’t just involve feeling the pressure, it comes with a host of physical symptoms that can make working next to impossible. Nausea, headaches, stomach upsets, heart palpitations, dizziness and aches and pains can all stem from stress; disrupting concentration and, sometimes, leading to more serious mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. We also found evidence that employers

How might our Business Healthcare Package help your business?

Here’s a summary of the benefits on offer to your employees

could be neglecting employee wellbeing in other ways, too. 28 per cent of employees reported being forced to use a full day of their holiday allowance in order to attend a doctor’s appointment. 48 per cent of survey respondents even said that they didn’t feel like their employers care about their physical and mental wellbeing at all.

What can we do?

76 per cent of employees say they perform at their best when they feel good about their health. This suggests that an investment in health and wellbeing could prove much less costly to businesses in the long-run (when compared to working days lost to sickness). Currently, 82 per cent of employers don’t contribute to healthcare, while 91 per cent of employees told us that their employers don’t contribute to things like gym memberships and other activities. This is despite the NHS reporting that exercise can improve both our physical and mental health. With the Health and Safety Executive reporting that working days lost to absence numbered 27.3 million in 2014/2015, it appears as though an investment in employee health could not only benefit employees themselves, but businesses as a whole.

• Diagnosis – we cover your employees for all diagnostic consultations and tests (including x-rays and scans) necessary to reach an initial diagnosis of symptoms • Musculoskeletal - we cover diagnosis, advice, treatment, physiotherapy and surgery for any muscle, bone or joint disorder with an easily accessible, initial phone diagnosis and no GP referral required • Mental health and wellbeing – a comprehensive 24/7 psychological wellbeing service to provide employees and their families with treatment for a range of mental health issues including stress, anxiety and depression. Support ranges from telephone counselling to face-to-face therapy sessions • 24/7 HealthLine – 24 hour, UK based advice line providing your employees and their families with access to medical help, advice and support from qualified GPs and nurses at any time These services are available via a network of over 700 private health facilities spread throughout the UK making treatment easily available and accessible wherever your employees are based. Discover more about how our package for SMEs could help your business at or call 0345 266 0856



Are we SAFER, STRONGER, BETTER OFF in a reformed European Union? asks Nigel Smyth, director, CBI Northern Ireland


he UK’s relationship with the European Union (EU) will be an even hotter topic of conversation in households, offices and pubs across Northern Ireland now that a referendum date has been confirmed for 23

June 2016. The CBI will continue to play an active and balanced role in the debate. We speak on behalf of 190,000 firms, together employing around 7 million people in the UK – the vast

Based on our in-depth review of the most credible academic studies available on the overall impact of EU membership on the UK economy, we judged that the net benefit of membership is most likely around four to five per cent of GDP per year, £73-91bn, which works out at around £3,000 per household. Nigel Smyth


majority are small and medium and across every conceivable industry. The vote is of course in the hands of the UK public, but based on the biggest consultation and research project in the CBI’s 50 years, it’s clear that the majority – although not all - of our member companies wish to remain within a reformed EU. This includes The Henderson Group, a leading employer in retail; and SDC Trailers, one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing manufacturing companies. Based on our in-depth review of the most

credible academic studies available on the overall impact of EU membership on the UK economy, we judged that the net benefit of membership is most likely around four to five per cent of GDP per year, £73-91bn, which works out at around £3,000 per household. That is roughly equivalent to the size of the economies of the North East and Northern Ireland combined. Our members in Northern Ireland tell us how important delivering reforms within the EU are. While the EU certainly has its frustrations for businesses, some 57 per cent of Northern Ireland’s exports go into EU markets, considerably higher than the 45 per cent for the UK as a whole. And we have a very large and growing agri-food sector which has a massive dependency on the EU, in both the supply side and as end markets. The Prime Minister’s EU deal announced on weekend of 19th February certainly was a clear step forward. • UK businesses want to see changes to the EU that will put Europe on the path to a more competitive and prosperous future the Prime Minister’s reform package looks to be a major step forward on that journey. • Being part of the Single Market guarantees businesses tariff-free access to 500 million consumers in Europe and is a cornerstone of the UK’s economic success. • These reforms protect the UK’s place and influence inside this important market and a renewed focus on EU competitiveness will help Northern Ireland firms succeed in creating jobs and economic growth at home in the years ahead. Firms will particularly welcome a commitment to reduce unnecessary regulation. •Most CBI members – though not all – have told us that being in a reformed EU is better for jobs, growth and prosperity. Those calling for a “Brexit”, must offer a credible explanation of how a new relationship will look and how the UK will not lose out economically. They need to explain how this will benefit the large agri-food sector in Northern Ireland. Some suggest we have a Norway-style relationship with the EU, but they still pay much into the system but with no control over the rules. And it took Switzerland nine years to renegotiate individual trade deals with the EU, which still don’t come close to matching the benefits of being inside the largest trading block in the world – both are obliged to still apply freedom of movement rules. The UK could of course compete outside the EU, but the question is would the levels of investment, growth and jobs be the same as we have enjoyed on the inside? With a final deal in place and so much at stake, the CBI will meet with employers

Why is a reformed EU good for our economy?

across the UK to hear their views on the deal and in Northern Ireland we are holding a seminar at the end of February to discuss the implications of Brexit for Ireland and Northern Ireland. We are featuring a number of company case studies on our website. We would welcome your views – please send to: While progress has been made in recent years on the burden of regulation for our businesses, more can be done. We want to see more trade deals being agreed with the rest of the world and the single market completed – which delivers barrier-free trade to sell in Europe for our businesses. We want to see the EU doing less where it doesn’t add value – lifestyle and employment issues in particular. The deal is certainly a big step in the right direction on these issues. At the end of the day, it’s not about whether we could survive outside the EU, it’s about whether we would thrive. We believe we can win the EU arguments both here and in Brussels to ensure we have an economy that can deliver growth, jobs and prosperity in the future for Northern Ireland. The business case to remain in a reformed EU is clear.

CBI Economic Briefing & Lunch

To find out more about the economic impact of Brexit, attend the CBI Economic Briefing & Lunch on 14 April at Malone Lodge Hotel, Belfast– contact

• Access to over 500 million customers. • Some 57% of Northern Ireland’s exports go into EU markets. • Much of Northern Ireland’s sales into GB market actually end up being exported. • Large and growing agri-food sector in Northern Ireland has a massive dependency on the EU, in both the supply side and as end markets. • The prosperity generated through trade means people generally have more cash in their pockets to spend. • Smaller firms find it easier to take that first step to export and break into new markets within a Single Market. • Being in the EU lets us set the trade agenda with our European allies. Randox in Antrim believes a successful trade deal with the US will improve their market access and make the company more competitive in the US. • With a lower Corporation Tax rate we expect Northern Ireland to attract many FDIs, but being part of the Single Market will be a key requirement for many potential investors. • As well as opening up markets, common EU standards have led directly to safer and more environmentally friendly products, from fridges to medicines.


• We would look to negotiate trade deals on our own if we left. • The European Commission has a strong tendency to regulate, giving a sense of ‘mission creep’. But the signs are that Brussels recognises this and progress is already being made to reduce that impact. In the past few years, the number of new EU initiatives has fallen from 314 in 2010 to less than 30 in 2015.



How can businesses hire the right people today... and tomorrow? by Tina McKenzie Managing Director of Staffline Ireland


he first few months of 2016 have been good to Northern Ireland business, with new job announcements seeming to come nearly every week, particularly in our growing IT sector. According to research by Tech City UK, the number of digital technology businesses in Belfast grew by more than a third between 2010 and 2014, contributing £521m to our local economy. Luckily for Northern Ireland workers, this trend is set to continue. With announcements in the last month from point-of-sale software firm Cayan and cybersecurity firm Alert Logic, we have seen a commitment to invest a total of £7m – between the two companies alone 133 jobs have been created. The difficulty for many technology firms is finding the right candidates to fill the roles. Whilst Northern Ireland is undoubtedly good at attracting employers, with every announcement we need more people with the right skills to fill the increasing demand. This is not so much an issue for large recruitment companies in the region. At Diamond Recruitment our reputation with IT jobseekers as the largest recruitment company in Northern Ireland puts us in a position where we can better match employers with candidates as vacancies arise. However, smaller IT firms without recruitment resource can find it a struggle to attract the best candidates in a job market flooded with employers. Building relationships with a local recruitment firm is an obvious quick fix for companies looking for a solution today, but there is a larger risk tomorrow if Northern Ireland does not start thinking more strategically and long term by promoting more flexible work options and helping develop innovative digital skills training.

Flexible working solutions for a wider candidate pool

According to research conducted by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), 46 per cent of employees say they would like to have more flexible working arrangements with their employers. By providing this flexibility, employers are more able to attract candidates based on the skills they have rather than limiting themselves to the pool of candidates who can work the traditional 9-to-5, five days a week. Whether it’s creating opportunities for two candidates to work 20 hours a week, giving employees the flexibility to work from home,


or making other small accommodations based on someone’s ability to travel, employers can easily and quickly widen their pool of candidates. Flexible working ensures recruiters and employers are focused on the skills necessary rather than whether someone’s commitments outside of work fit around the traditional work day. This would also help our unemployment statistics in innovative ways, encouraging a more diverse workforce as those with worklimiting health conditions or caring responsibilities would find it easier to move out of economic inactivity and into a flexible work environment.

Working towards innovative digital skills training

In many cases, the private sector relies on schools and further/higher education institutions to provide relevant training so that school leavers and graduates have the skills employers want. Cooperation between both means many courses can be built around these needs, but with changes in digital

technology happening quicker every year, any input provided at the beginning of someone’s course could be outdated by the time of graduation. At face value, better public/private cooperation is a long term solution as candidates would not be available for many years, but innovative digital skills training does not need to be. For school leavers considering further or higher education, the years out of the ever changing labour market means we are starting to see highly gifted school leavers opting out of traditional routes and moving straight into employment with training provided while in work. Starting work with an employer that will provide the exact training necessary helps these young people succeed in the long-term whilst providing companies with the right employees today, rather than waiting years for a candidate to complete their qualification. As youth training and apprenticeship options are re-evaluated in the coming year, Northern Ireland could be a trailblazer in developing innovative digital apprenticeships and skills programmes that allow employers to play a larger role in developing the highly skilled workforce we need. Taking these steps may not be as easy as picking up the phone to a recruiter and getting a candidate’s CV today, but these are solutions looking to the medium to long-term. Doing this, we can stop the skills gap from widening, and we can ensure every new job announcement is met with the right person with the right skills. Tina McKenzie is an award-winning managing director with 20 years experience in the recruitment and employment support sector. Tina is currently Managing Director of Staffline Ireland, which includes PeoplePlus NI and Diamond Recruitment Group, Northern Ireland’s largest recruitment company. Tina is also the Regional Director for the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, the industry body for the recruitment and employment sector. You can hear more from Tina on Twitter @tinamckenz and from Diamond Recruitment @diamondjobs.

Never mind the border. . Think of the place we work in by Roseann Kelly, CEO Women in Business Northern Ireland


f you are not intending to move any time soon then it’s a fair bet that you would like your health service, your education system, your economy, your society to be better? Of course you would. Place and infrastructure is more important to many of us than political borders: we live where we live whether you choose to call it the UK, the island of Ireland, Ulster or Northern Ireland. Our Fresh Start Agreement needs to really make a difference because no matter what happens externally or politically we need to make the place in which we live and work better for society and better for business. Our fresh start will require all of us to work together while acknowledging and respecting our differences. Our vision and focus needs to be on a better economy and society for all of us. That means working together, team building and team work. And this needs to start in Stormont, showing us the vision and leading by example. The business community of Northern Ireland knows this better than anyone. Team work is essential and indeed, team-building is a huge business. The Bruce Tuckman Model of Team Stages was created in 1965, and has been applied to

countless organizations and scenarios. With four main stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing, this theory is commonly referred to as the origin for successful team building. We are currently stuck in the unproductive “storming stage” and are well over due to “performing”. We all celebrate AP Mc Coy, Rory Mc Ilroy, Seamus Heaney, Liam Neeson, and the recent news of Rory Best being picked to Captain the Irish Rugby Team. And there are women to celebrate President Mary Mc Aleese , Dame Mary Peters, Wendy Houvenhagel, Claire Curran, Tiffany O’Brien among them and our amazing Integrated Education campaigner Baroness May Blood. And all women in Northern Ireland, and those from the north of Ireland, will acknowledge the huge success of Arlene Foster in becoming our first female First Minister. Finding many more areas for agreement, even celebration, is the way forward. Starting more indigenous businesses, creating more jobs, improving our health service, reviewing our education are all areas where we can and should find a common ground and something to celebrate. Business success is dependent on people,

on collaboration, on teamwork, on confidence, on hard work, on passion, on determination, on communication, on attitude, on flexibility and on a vision. We all live here together, now we need to find a way to work here together and deliver the profits/ rewards/improvements in all sectors we deserve. You can join Women in Business NI online at, follow the organisation on facebook at or on twitter @wibni.



Six steps to exporting success

For a first-time exporter, trading cross-border is the perfect place to begin, writes Paddy Savage from InterTradeIreland, who is responsible for their suite of trade programmes aimed at helping SMEs and microbusinesses identify new market opportunities.


ne of the biggest challenges currently facing small business owners is dealing with a decrease in demand in their home market. Exporting is a logical option, which can significantly help increase turnover and enhance business performance. Ireland holds many advantages for businesses based in Northern Ireland (and vice-versa). It is geographically closer than our other European neighbours and there are no language barriers. It can give experience of working in a different currency which can then make a move into other European countries more straightforward. With cross-border trade currently valued at €3.048bn, it is clear that significant opportunities are there for the taking. Points to consider for businesses considering exporting for the first time

1. Take stock of your performance in your home market

• Identify the challenges and opportunities (SWOT analysis) • How well have you the home market covered geographically and how do you perform? • How do you compare against your competitors? • Are any markets closed to you?

2. Discuss with your team the opportunities and challenges of entering a new market

• Discuss why you want to extend and grow (have facts and figures to hand). • Ascertain your readiness, identify all challenges and fix any blockages. • Set ambitious but achievable targets and potential rewards.

3. Visit your target marketplace

• Spend time in your target marketplace meet and talk to as many relevant people as possible. • Understand the retail or distribution channels for your product and their marketing and promotional approach. • Examine competitors closely and look at pricing points. • Estimate volume required to understand the scale of the task.

4. Engage an experienced market research consultant based in the target marketplace • A professional marketer based in the


target market can assemble facts and figures and reach sources more quickly than you may do yourself and can provide realistic feedback on the opportunities and challenges. • InterTradeIreland’s Acumen programme offers a number of tailored supports to help you with this research.

5. Pull together all your information and research • Collate all the information and material you have assembled in a research analysis report – this will clarify the issues, needs and possible opportunities for you.

6. Draw up a market entry plan

• A formal market entry plan, setting out the dos and don’ts and identifying priorities and musts dos will establish your date of readiness. • Know the physical, human and financial resources required to achieve your objectives. • This will give you the opportunity to test likely outcomes, before serious money and resources are committed and increase the likelihood of success.

Supports currently available from InterTradeIreland

InterTradeIreland can help your business capitalise on the extraordinary possibilities

that exist right here on our doorstep. • Acumen can help fund key sales and marketing personnel in the cross-border territory for established businesses while Elevate funds specialist consultancy support to help micro-businesses identify cross-border markets and customers to win new business. • The Trade Accelerator Voucher scheme provides small businesses with financial support towards professional advice in relation to cross-border trading and regulation, such as legal, accountancy, marketing and other business services. • The FREE Simple Guide to Cross-Border Business can help business owners with straightforward, practical advice on all aspects of cross-border trading.

Discover how InterTadeIreland can support your business To discover more about any of the InterTradeIreland export supports, including eligibility criteria and application details, contact the Trade Team on 028 3083 4110 or visit

What is trade finance, and how can it help you export? Want to grow your business by exporting, but have questions about how to fund the extra work, or manage the risk? Liz McCory the government’s export finance advisor for businesses in Northern Ireland, demystifies trade finance. payment issued (for a fee) by the buyer’s bank, subject to the seller meeting agreed conditions such as supplying their goods or services to the right standard. A credit period can be built into the LC, whereby the payment is made within 30 or 60 days of goods being shipped. A UK bank may then confirm and then discount the LC, meaning they can provide funds in advance of receiving payment from the buyer’s bank, helping the seller with working capital.

Lines of communication


rade finance is a specialist area of banking which helps buyers and sellers of goods and services to access higher levels of finance for trade than would be achieved through conventional lending. It can support and de-risk funding gaps between the time exporters have to pay for their own supplies, and the time they receive their final payment for the end product. Here’s my whistle-stop guide...

Explore the possibilities

Trade finance should not be seen as inaccessible. While your account manager at the bank may not be an expert on all available options, he or she will be able to consult a trade finance adviser. Even small firms should not be nervous about investigating the possibilities. Because it is lending against the value of an overseas order, businesses that have been turned down for loans and overdrafts may be successful in raising money with a trade facility.

Remove risk

Letters of credit are among the most common trade finance instruments. These address a fundamental concern of exporters that they do not want to ship their goods out without payment, while at the same time addressing the corresponding reluctance of importers to pay for goods they have not yet received. A letter of credit (LC) is a guarantee of

Documentary collection is a slightly weaker but generally cheaper alternative to using letters of credit. Under this system, exporters use their UK bank to issue shipping documents to the buyer’s overseas bank, along with instructions that payment should be made before the buyer takes ownership of the goods at the docks. While it does not guarantee your buyer will pay you, the element of formal communication between banks can reduce the risk of losses.

Take cover

Trade credit insurance is an insurance policy taken out to cover the risk of non payment from an overseas buyer. A claim can be made under the policy if for example the buyer becomes insolvent causing the exporter a loss or wasted costs; there are unacceptable delays in payment (more than six months overdue); or payment is blocked by currency controls or political unrest. This type of cover is useful if an exporter needs to offer credit to win an order, but no letter of credit is available from the buyer. Having an invoice credit-insured can also allow banks to advance funds to an exporter, as payment risk is reduced.

Strong bonds

Bonds are promises to pay sums of money if contractual obligations are not met, and are generally issued by the seller’s bank to the buyer’s bank for a fee. For example, a bank can issue a performance bond which gives the overseas buyer confidence that if you do not deliver your goods or services to an agreed quality (or at all), the buyer may be able to reclaim money paid in advance under the bond. The issuing of bonds can form a crucial part of contract negotiations. Offering your

customer a bond can lead to improved payment terms.

Bridging the gap

As you can see, there is a wide range of options that can help you with cash flow as you gear up to meet your export orders, while managing the risk of bad debts. Banks and brokers can often help with trade finance, but where they cannot meet all your needs, you can talk to UK Export Finance, the UK’s export credit agency. We are tasked with bridging gaps in the trade finance market – and there is a network of export finance advisers like me who are your first point of contact. We provide information for free, and can signpost you towards all kinds of support, not just government support.

Other options

Remember, these are just a few of your trade finance options and there is a wide range of other solutions available that can help you generate additional working capital, from a cross-section of service providers. UK Export Finance can help signpost these too, alongside all the other service providers who will form your network of export support. So, you are not alone in facing these challenges.

For more information

If you think I can help some more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch For more information, visit the UK Export Finance website




best of both worlds for Pinsent Masons

It's over three years since Northern Ireland gained its only full-service international law firm in the form of Global Top 75 player, Pinsent Masons. Business First checked in with Head of Belfast Office, Paul McBride and some colleagues in the Soloist Building to find out how the unique model was working.


ecounting the experience of the 2012 merger, Paul McBride’s verdict was "we had an advantage. Being through a similar process joining McGrigor's (previously l'Estrange & Brett) just three years earlier meant our leadership had experienced cultural shifts before, and a fair idea what to expect." Indeed it is those roots that provide the bedrock for one of Northern Ireland's largest legal practices. "The vast majority of our lawyers are from the region, giving us a strong appreciation of the business ties and culture vital to any modern practice. “We have an outstanding team of people embedded in the local market, and this means we are supporting many landmark projects and organisations here." The firm's investment in new offices at the heart of the legal quarter was a statement of intent, and when you enter you get the feeling it's an organisation confident in its ambition. "Moving to the Soloist was a game-changer. We wanted something to reflect the standard of service we provide for our clients, and that included the impression upon walking in the door. It's a great space, and we try and accommodate local charities for their board meetings and training programmes." With a contemporary finish and impressive vista spanning Belfast's court complex, the River Lagan and Titanic Quarter, it's easy to see why it has been in demand as a backdrop for corporate and boardroom scenes in both film and TV drama as well. However working in the context of an international firm, did not just add a new sign and shining glass veneer over old servicing. Dig below the surface, and you start to see just how different the model is. Paul McBride said, " There is no doubt, working within a larger firm allows us to benefit from economies of scale, offering access to an unrivalled bank of specialist expertise. Whether its pensions or procurement, shale gas or software, our 1800 lawyers in 21 offices will cover it." "We have been able to introduce some ground-breaking products as well. Cerico, is an online compliance and risk management portal, empowering organisations to track and manage onerous regulatory and compliance programmes, all from a cloud platform. “Our SmartDelivery products allow us to manage complex matters and transactions,


providing clarity on costs at the out-set, cutting 11,000 hours annually through document automation, and delivering client savings of up to 25 per cent." According to McBride it was these initiatives and others that saw Pinsent Masons pick up the highly-coveted Financial Times Most Innovative Law Firm in Europe Award last year.

The advantage of innovation

So what does this innovation add up to in the market? McBride said "Changing client perception of a profession as established as law is always going to be a challenge, but we are seeing real return on our efforts. For example, in much of the stand-out local activity over the previous year we played a central role." And it's a view backed-up by his colleagues. His fellow partner in the Corporate Department, Hilary Griffith commented, "Our mainstay is traditional M&A and corporate structuring, but where we really stand out is in specialised transactions. “Northern Ireland private equity activity is traditionally low, but our skill-set supported

Lyceum Capital's investment into tech startup Total Mobile. Public flotation is even rarer, but when Cairn Homes listed on the London Stock Exchange raising €385m it was Pinsent Masons at the heart of that deal. “Similarly we advised Queens University Belfast when its spin-off Kainos went for an IPO worth £161m. Those are deals where experience counts." The recent period has also seen a series of major retail developments change hands, and when you speak to Property Partner, Andrea McIlroy-Rose it's easier to list those Pinsent Masons didn't handle. "It has definitely been a busy time for real estate in Northern Ireland. International investors are seeing opportunities and investing in assets here for the first time. “In the last nine months we have been involved in the acquisition of Bloomfield Shopping Centre (Bangor), Erneside (Enniskillen), Showgrounds Retail Park (Omagh), and Valley Retail Park (Newtownabbey) with a couple more in the pipeline." The lack of Grade-A office space is a refrain for the business community but Andrea

alluded to some Pinsent Masons clients taking matters into their own hands. "Some of the large US companies are seeking their own solutions. For instance we have advised on two of Belfast's largest stand-alone owner-occupier developments for Allstate Insurance and Concentrix at Maysfield, Belfast along with the negotiation of a major expansion of Liberty Mutual's footprint at Adelaide Exchange. “As one of the largest property legal teams in Belfast we handle major UK and Ireland asset portfolios for international investors like Kennedy Wilson, Lonestar and Jeffries LoanCore, whilst supporting more traditional clients such as Queens University Belfast with their new £72m student accommodation development.” Targeting a global Top 50 spot the firm set out its strategy around four key sectors, Advanced Manufacturing and Technology, Financial Services, Infrastructure, and Energy. It is in the latter category that has seen Pinsent Masons take its place as the leading Energy practice in Northern Ireland. Energy Partner Richard Murphy explained, "The technical challenges of the industry mean it prefers working with specialist expertise. “Our locally-based team know the market and stakeholders involved, and have worked on some high profile local mandates this year including 'Gas to the West' which will transform fuel availability for business and consumers alike. “Another key strand is renewables projects, and we have supported the sale, acquisition and financing of wind assets for clients such as NTR and TCI Renewables. Where the firm's mix of local and international work makes a strong play is in Infrastructure according to UK Head of Projects and Concessions and Partner Adrian Eakin. "Local work is important to us and we are always centrally involved in any major project, for example the sole bidder for arc21's residual waste scheme, and one of the bidders for the management of the Northern Ireland Infrastructure Fund." But with much of infrastructure spending constrained by Stormont day-to-day budgetary pressures the opportunity to work on projects outside Northern Ireland has also driven growth for the local practice. Eakin said "We are advising on UK schemes like the £4bn Thames Tideway Tunnel; the £1bn Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Project; and act for bidders and lenders on all of the Republic of Ireland's major PPP schemes". Another practise area where the Belfast Office plays a wider role is under the

leadership of UK Head of Procurement and Partner Stuart Cairns. He said, "We have a strong client-base in Northern Ireland, particularly in local government, as well as other key institutions like Queen's University, various housing associations and major utilities such as Mutual Energy and George Best Belfast City Airport. “But we also service major UK organisations such as Aberdeen Harbour, Manchester Airport Group, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority as well as several Whitehall government departments. In working on those external projects we bring innovation and best practice into the local marketplace."

So what is the success built on?

A big part of it, according to Paul McBride, is in getting the best out of people. "We want to make Pinsent Masons a great place to work. As well opportunities to work on the best projects, people need to feel respected and valued whilst doing so. “Our position as the top law firm in the Stonewall Diversity Index, achieving our first ever Top5 spot is something of which we are particularly proud. “We are well on target to meet the first milestone set by our firm-wide programme

'Project Sky' improving gender-balance at leadership level. The intention is to increase to 25 per cent female partners by 2018, removing any barriers to career progression. In Belfast we are well ahead, already represented at 33 per cent. Reflecting where the firm will be in another three years, Paul McBride says all the evidence points towards optimism. "2015 saw us open two offices in Australia, and already this year we have doubled our German footprint with an office in Dusseldorf, a regional economic power-house. From a Belfast perspective we expect our growth to continue, breaking the 100 employee barrier very shortly, with over 70 lawyers." And does he expect others to have followed the Pinsent Masons model by then? "It's hard to say? Obviously other global names have entered Northern Ireland via their backroom and case-management facilities, but so far no others have taken our full-service approach. “Occasionally you pick up chatter that others could enter either organically or via merger. If it were to happen we would probably view it as a vindication, but we are certainly happy to have the best of both local and international at the minute."

"Moving to the Soloist was a game-changer. We wanted something to reflect the standard of service we provide for our clients, and that included the impression upon walking in the door." Paul McBride



TRUST by Paul Terrington, chairman, Institute of Directors Northern Ireland


cross the nation we are experiencing a growth in cynicism and a decline in trust. The latest Social Attitudes survey says that 81per cent of citizens trust the statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics. However the research also found that only 28 per cent of people believe that Government and politicians use official figures honestly. And if that is an indictment of politicians, only 19 per cent agree that newspapers present official figures honestly. But politicians, government and newspaper editors are not alone in the sinbin of the unbelieved. Last year an IPSOS/Mori poll found that doctors, teachers, scientists, the clergy and even newsreaders are the most trusted professions in the UK. Between 80 and 90 per cent of people believe they could be relied on to tell the truth. At the other end of the scale, politicians, estate agents, journalists, bankers and business leaders are thought the least likely to speak honestly. Our business community has been much criticised recently. The Public Accounts Committee has accused non-executive directors on public bodies of serious oversight failures. Private contractors to government have been accused of hiding behind a loophole in the Freedom of Information Act to avoid accountability for failures in service delivery, while the Financial Conduct Authority is to investigate the performance of some directors in the financial services sector. In addition, the accounting and legal professions have both been subject to public scrutiny over their alleged involvement in the sale of the NAMA property portfolio. We cannot escape the consequences of our actions and as directors we should be held to the highest standards of accountability – whether by our shareholders, or government and its agencies where we advise and guide public bodies. Two years ago I urged politicians to tackle

the lack of trust that was undermining the institutions and delivery of outcomes. However, if we criticise our elected politicians when they fail to live up to our expected levels of governance and trust, we should be prepared to take our own medicine. As a frequent traveller, I trust my life to Aer Lingus, Flybe, BA, Heathrow Express and Transport for London. We draw money from ATMs and trust our money to banks despite their involvement in LIBOR and FOREX scandals and mis-selling of PPI and derivative products. And we purchase from vendors we have never met by typing our credit card details into the internet.

All this requires a large degree of trust.

So given our continued dealings with organisations we know – or suspect – have mis-sold, misled or otherwise misbehaved, public attitudes may not represent a fundamental lack of trust in business in quite the way it is portrayed. Rather they represent a widespread disapproval of certain business practices at particular organisations, whose leadership, objectives and personal rewards often seem at odds with customers and employees. What underpins trust are transparency, honesty and a tone from the top that defines the purpose of an organisation, its values and place within wider society. A tone which says

We cannot escape the consequences of our actions and as directors we should be held to the highest standards of accountability – whether by our shareholders, or government and its agencies where we advise and guide public bodies. Paul Terrington 28

that enduring businesses are about more than simply making money, just as enduring political structures are about more than simply winning the next election. We need a business model where the board and leaders are role models for doing the right thing professionally and personally, underpinned by a desire to trust and be trusted. Seeking to build public trust in business, our challenges are even more acute today. In this 24/7, digital world, the lens we use to consider whether organisations are trustworthy needs to be common and consistent. And the rules have changed. With the speed and reach of social media, truth and lies can be retweeted worldwide hundreds of times in minutes. At that moment it’s our people on the front line and they want to be able to respond to their families, friends and clients because it is not only the organisation’s reputation that is at stake, it is their own personal reputation. Where our people understand and support our organisation’s transparency and honesty, believe in its purpose and values, and share its place within wider society; and where the tone from the top is about doing the right thing – they will respond. They too will use social media, but they need to be supported with the facts to enable them to respond. As a consequence, we all need to invest in the capacity to provide those facts at the same pace and intensity. So, not only do we need transparency, honesty and the right tone from the top – we need to ensure that our people understand it, believe it and are an integral part of delivering it. Business leadership in this key area is the most impactful factor on an intangible but critical business asset - trust.



Northern Ireland’s Rising Stars 2016



under FORTY


ack for a third year and with an overwhelming list of nominees, the Northern Ireland Rising Stars: 40 under 40 is this year generously sponsored by Find Insurance in association with the Ulster University Business School. On the following pages you will find a wide range of business talent representing just about every sector in Northern Ireland. It’s a mix of entrepreneurs, directors and managers each of whom has shown that they have what it takes to make their business fly. In their own way each of this year’s Rising Stars 40 under 40 representatives are working hard to secure both their own, their company’s and their community’s economic futures. As we begin to see the establishment of recovery it’s encouraging to know that there is a new generation following where we have led and ready to take up the challenge to move Northern Ireland plc into a new era. They are all champions of Northern Ireland business ready to launch themselves into a positive and exciting future. And we at Business First wish them all every success throughout 2016 and beyond. Gavin Walker Managing Director Business First



Nuala Campbell, 33 Managing Director, Titanic Creative Management

Nuala Campbell is a highly resourceful and innovative entrepreneur, business woman and make-up artist. Within a traditionally male-dominated industry, Nuala has evolved into an experienced entrepreneur establishing and running several businesses. With a background in accountancy and financial management, Nuala has used her expertise in business and strategising coupled with her passion as a make-up artist to drive the vision of Titanic Creative Management. This social enterprise has developed and grown as Nuala has recognised challenges faced by local creative professionals struggling to break into the film industry here due to lack of local training. Nuala addressed this problem by offering professional training schemes taught by global industry experts, allowing local artists to improve their employability both locally and globally. On a wider level, Nuala’s vision will improve Northern Ireland's economy and greatly assist in adding to Ulster’s increasingly renowned reputation as the filming destination for the world's film industry. #titaniccreative

runner up for QUB’s ‘What’s the Big Idea’ for her ideas on social enterprise within Northern Ireland, She was a commended finalist in QUB’s Dragon’s Den for her work on social issues within Northern Ireland and represented the university at the FEXCo Asian Games in China, she also won the CIMA award for Best Performance by an International MBA student. She plans to carry on with her work on social issues once her PhD has been completed and would ideally like to work with at risk youth across both communities. @MVFNP


Anna Morris, 32 Managing Director, Clearbox

Anna is the founder and Managing Director of consumer PR agency, Clearbox. A Communications with PR graduate from the University of Ulster, Anna has injected a refreshing and innovative approach to public relations in Northern Ireland. After gaining several years of experience and knowledge working for other agencies, she decided to bite the bullet and do it for herself. With her passion for developing exciting and captivating campaigns, Anna set up Clearbox in 2013 with a laptop, a mobile phone and a desire to do things differently. Two years on Clearbox has grown into a thriving company delivering campaigns for globally recognised clients such as Amazon and Universal Pictures. The agency has made headlines throughout the UK and Ireland, winning two Gold CIPR Pride awards for its work with Universal Pictures and last year Clearbox was named the UK’s Best New Consultancy at the PRCA National Awards in London. @ClearboxPR


Meghan Van Portfliet, 33 PHD Candidate, Queens University

Meghan Van Portfliet was an Experienced Project Manager at Cricket Communications (AT&T) who moved from Denver, Colorado to Northern Ireland in 2014 to complete her International MBA. After finishing Top of her class with Distinction (With a Degree Plus in InnovateHer), she was awarded a scholarship for her PhD through QUB’s Management school. Alongside her studies In 2015, Meghan was



Gareth Morrison, 39 CEO, Lava Group

Gareth Morrison is the CEO of The Lava Group, a technology company that has been developing unique software and innovative solutions for the criminal justice market for over 20 years. Under his leadership The Lava Group is embarking on a successful growth strategy, diversifying into new sectors including connected health and targeting export markets such as Canada and Australia. Since 2014 the company has increased its staff numbers by 50 per cent. Last year the company won its largest ever contract to provide access control solutions for a new prison currently being constructed in Cork. Gareth also oversaw the launch of Lava Monitoring, a new company set up to design innovative monitoring technology with a focus on life saving equipment. Recently appointed to the board of the Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC), Gareth is leading a partnership between The Lava Group and CHIC. R&D has already started on a major behavioural analysis project. @GarethRMorrison


Stephen McCann, 35 Managing Director, P2V Systems

Stephen’s career developed as an IT Consultant working in the entertainment industry and for various multi-nationals. He then took the entrepreneurial step of setting up his own company. The business Stephen started back in 2008 working on smaller contracts, quickly developed and was soon working on IT projects for large companies. In Stephen’s ninth year as owner and MD of IT solutions provider, P2V Systems, the pace hasn’t slowed. Building on an already enviable client base, the past year has seen Stephen expand the business as a service provider in the financial services sector, for a renowned multi-national. Inevitably, with business growth comes team, and in this case, office expansion. This year has seen P2V Systems office size double to cater for new team appointments including Senior Management and Consultant roles. In such a competitive sector, part of Stephen’s focus is always on business development. As such, Stephen is working on opportunities for international export. @p2vsystems


Claire McFall, 34, Director, BDO Northern Ireland

Claire McFall joined BDO Northern Ireland as a trainee, rising through the ranks to become a Director within the audit department. A Law and Accounting graduate from Queen’s University, Belfast, Claire challenged herself further when she completed a Masters in Advanced Accounting at the University of Ulster and qualified as a chartered accountant in 2008. As Director, Claire manages a wide portfolio of corporate clients across numerous industry sectors. These include agri-food, wholesale, retail and professional practices throughout Northern Ireland, the UK and Europe. Since joining the company in 2005 Claire has built up an extensive skills set and gained vast experience in statutory audit assignments serving an diverse range of clients. She also has experience in non-statutory audits of special purpose financial information, limited reviews, systems reviews, accounts preparation and reporting to The Law Society under Solicitors’ Accounts Regulations. @clairelmcfall1


Emma Gribben, 27. Managing Director, Digital By Emma Emma’s entrepreneurial spirit started at the tender age of 13 when Emma sold Avon cosmetics to family and friends for pocket money as a teenager. Fast-forward 14 years and Emma is the founder and Managing Director of Digital By Emma which works with start-ups, SMEs, brands and agencies in NI, ROI, UK, Dubai and Australia across digital strategy, social media, content marketing and digital training. A graduate in Communications, Advertising and Marketing, Emma has a varied background in digital marketing. Emma’s first graduate position saw her manage one of NI’s

largest re-brands to date; the transition from household name NIE Energy to Power NI. Moving on to establish the digital marketing function at global food manufacturer Linwoods, Emma led her team to pick up the 2013 Eircom Spiders Retail Excellence Award. With her sights set on a new challenge overseas, Emma was appointed as Digital Marketing Manager for Dubai based Free Trade Zone – DMCC. @emma_gribben


Judith Brannigan, 36 Director LIBRA events

Judith co-founded LIBRA events in 2015 and has over 15 years’ experience in the events industry, having delivered hundreds of varying event formats including conferences, awards ceremonies, concerts, sporting events, exhibitions and festivals. Her events career began in the NI Policing Board Press Office before working at the SSE Arena, in their Operations Department. She then moved on to the King’s Hall Complex where she developed her sponsorship and venue sales skills whilst also working on a variety of events including Balmoral Show for five years. In 2012 she was appointed Show Director of a new and large consumer exhibition, the Food and Drink Show NI, which she managed in 2013 and 2014. LIBRA events is a fast growing full service event management company in which Judith specialises in the event operations, sales and sponsorship management for their extensive list of clients. She is also a member of the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers. @judithbrannigan

Lynsey Cunningham, 30 Entrepreneur Development Manager, Ulster Bank

Lynsey emerged as talent during her time working in Ulster Bank Corporate. Working with a diverse range of clients from large Plcs, Education, Charity and Public Sector bodies, it was clear that she had a clear focus on the needs of her customers. Promoted recently into the Entrepreneur Development Manager role, Lynsey demonstrates strength across a range of skills to identify and position her as real talent amongst her peers. Already, Lynsey has been

LYNSEY CUNNINGHAM identified with leadership potential and is regularly relied upon by senior management within the bank for her opinion and contribution. Professional, considerate, focused, determined, passionate and enthusiastic are all words that simply resonate when you think of Lynsey. Lynsey is a high potential, high energy individual who is a great ambassador both internally and externally for the bank. She is a great collaborator whose passion sets her apart from others. Through her leadership, Entrepreneurial Spark is set to flourish and be a driver and supporter of enterprise in NI.


Michael Graham, 37 Director, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

As Head of the Private Client Department, Michael specialises in wills, trusts, tax, the administration of estates and issues affecting elderly and vulnerable clients. He is a founder and former Chair of the Northern Ireland branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and also sits on the Law Society of Northern Ireland committee for Non-Contentious Business. He is a Full Accredited Member of Solicitors for the Elderly, one of only two such members in Northern Ireland. Michael is also heavily involved with Will to Give, a local charity created to promote charitable giving by will. Michael has been instrumental in developing and growing the private client offering at Cleaver Fulton Rankin and the department now has a team of eight, including five qualified solicitors. Michael has been recognised as a “Leading Individual” by esteemed legal directory The Legal 500. @CFR_Law



Robert Carmichael, 33 Managing Director, The Jungle

Robert Carmichael is founder of Ireland’s leading outdoor adventure centre, The Jungle, based just outside the small village of Moneymore. After studying at university in England, Robert returned home to a family farm in crisis and on the verge of being repossessed. He refinanced the debt and set about changing the direction the farm would head. With £400,000 debt on his shoulders, Robert opened The Jungle in 2005. He took the farmland and transformed it through a farm diversification project and an ethos of hard work and good fun. Since opening as Northern Ireland’s first paintball site, the centre has catapulted into an award winning adventurer’s paradise. The Jungle employs 60 local staff and has invested over £2million in the facility during the past 10 years. During its decade in business, the centre has played host to over 250,000 visitors who have enjoyed everything from llama trekking to zorbing and ziplining to the famous heart scaring ‘Fright Night’, to name a few activities. The centre was recently awarded ‘Best Thrillseeking Provider’ and ‘Best Unique Outdoor Experience’ in the OutdoorNI Awards 2015. @TheJungle_NI


Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support NI in 2013. It is in this post Claire has managed to secure some of the highest earning charity partnerships from all sectors within the business world. Claire has tremendous skill in research, engagement, development and retention, working to targets of nearly £0.5m per year, she consistently achieves. Going above and beyond her role, she has a tremendous work ethic and will do whatever is necessary so as to ensure that people in Northern Ireland living with cancer receive essential services. @macmillanNI


Neil Logan was appointed as a partner in Wilson Nesbitt Solicitors in April 2015 having spent 9 years with the firm. Now in his 10th year with Wilson Nesbitt Neil oversees the firm’s increasingly busy commercial department. A graduate of the University of Ulster Neil was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 2011. His elevation to partner within 4 years of qualification is testimony to Neil’s achievements both inside and outside of the firm. Neil is a former president of the Newry Junior Chamber and was the winner of the Herbert Smith Freehills Young Leader of the Year in 2014. Neil has been instrumental in gaining new business for the firm in an area that has experienced an overall downturn in recent years.


Ronan Donaghy,35. Senior Actuary, Xafinity

He advises some of the most prestigious companies in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, helping them to navigate the financial turbulence caused by volatile investment markets, identify and manage the risks associated with their pension schemes and overcome the complexities and pitfalls of recent changes to pension taxation. Ronan has helped lead the growth in Xafinity’s local Pension Advisory business since joining in 2010 and takes an active role in the development of its highly-regarded actuarial team. He spent two years in Xafinity’s head office in Reading where he played a key role the development of cutting-edge actuarial software. Ronan is currently putting the same focus and commitment into his training for the London marathon in April where he hopes to raise much needed funds for the Concern charity. @xafinity

Claire Brown, 34, Regional Corporate New Business Manager, Macmillan

From Belfast, Claire graduated from the Belfast Metropolitan College (then BIFHE) with a HND in Marketing. From here, she moved onto the Premiere Graduate Management development programme, at the same time gaining experience in retail before taking up the role of Community Fundraiser with the Northern Ireland Hospice. After 4 years with the NI Hospice Claire assumed the post of Regional Corporate New Business

Neil Logan, 32. Partner at Wilson Nesbitt.



Gareth Loye, 35. CEO, M&M Contractors

35-year-old Gareth Loye is CEO of Belfastbased M&M Contractors, which provides turnkey telecommunication infrastructures encompassing civil engineering, construction and fibre optic cabling/testing. Since becoming CEO in 2012, Gareth’s led a growth strategy that’s seen the firm make the leap from regional specialist to international principal contractor, working directly for major blue-chip clients and becoming the only specialist in its sector to export beyond UK & RoI. After recently completing a landmark Principal Contractor project for Hibernia to install the lowest-latency data cable across the Atlantic (linking UK, RoI, Canada and USA), Gareth’s now utilising the firm’s strengths to diversify into the rapidlygrowing Electrical sector. Since becoming CEO Gareth has grown turnover from £1.5m to £12m and his workforce from 12 to 120. His accolades include Young Business Person of the Year (Belfast Telegraph Awards), Exporter of the Year (NI Chamber Awards) and SME of the Year (UTV Business Eye Awards).


Connaire McGreevy, 33, Founder and MD CTS Projects & Mourne Mountains Brewery

Connaire established his first business, CTS Projects Ltd back in 2005 when he was just 23. The award-winning company, which operates in the construction and heating sector and specialises in high efficiency boilers and renewable technologies, has grown every year under Connaire’s leadership. CTS Projects works mainly with social housing associations, providing energy efficient home heating systems with second to none maintenance response rates. Connaire has invested significantly in bespoke, innovative technologies that ensure real-time reporting and rapid response to issues, something that has proved a major benefit to tenants, especially for the elderly or vulnerable. A craft beer aficionado with a passion for all things local, Connaire was inspired to launch Mourne Mountains Brewery after travelling and visiting craft brewers all over the world. His brewery is producing some of the finest artisan beers in the country, quickly becoming a major part of Northern Ireland’s blossoming craft beer sector. @CTSProjects / @MourneBrewery


Ciaran McGuigan, 27, Director, Orior by Design Ltd

Following his return from university at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) in Georgia USA, Ciaran recognised that the quality of product produced by his parents company, Orior by Design, had not been reaching its full potential. The handmade bespoke furniture produced in Newry is made using traditional manufacturing methods by its highly skilled

workforce and has an extensive portfolio including hotels in Ireland and the UK as well international private clients. Following a feasibility study, the design of a new range of furniture geared toward the North American market and approaches made to almost every interior designer in New York City, Ciaran opened the 4,000 sq ft outlet in the newly emerging area of Brooklyn, Williamsburg, in May 2015. His first order was in excess of $100,000 and others have quickly followed. The annual target of $750,000 that was set at the outset, and used as a basis for seeking the appropriate funding, has been exceeded without great difficulty.


Eimear Kearney, 34 Managing Director, Magnitude Digital Marketing

Eimear has worked in retail, hospitality and tourism for 13 years, beginning her career with a global food company, and proved her worth in the marketing world with numerous promotions in a short space of time. She was based in Manchester and London before returning to her beloved Lough Neagh, where she is currently responsible for marketing her native destination; Lough Neagh & Its Waterways. Eimear’s sought after experience has led her to establishing Magnitude Digital Marketing, assisting SME’s in their digital marketing planning. As a licensed Digital Business Skills trainer, she runs monthly training courses for businesses, provides mentoring and training, speaks at conferences and lectures in Digital Marketing with The Chartered Institute of Marketing. Eimear is a chartered marketer and is dedicated to her professional development, she was the brains behind River to Lough Festival; promoting Lough Neagh Eels, and was a Chartered Institute of Marketing Ireland, award winner two years in a row for her work on the festival. @magnitudedigi

Anna Devlin, 31. Head of Forensic Accounting, CavanaghKelly With 10+ years’ experience in delivering accounts, tax and business solutions to a diverse range of clients, Anna has also developed a core specialism in Forensic

ANNA DEVLIN Accounting. Heading up CavanaghKelly’s Forensic offering, Anna has successfully built up a portfolio of solicitor referrers. She is regularly in Court providing expert opinion in shareholder dispute, company valuation, personal injury and medical negligence cases. A qualified Chartered Accountant with an Honours degree in Mathematics, Anna has a Diploma in Forensic Accounting with Distinction (Chartered Accountants Ireland) and is an accredited Expert Witness. Anna was recently appointed Head of CavanaghKelly’s Enniskillen office. She takes a hands-on role with the firm’s clients and has recently been appointed Chairperson for the Enniskillen BID task team, working with local businesses to develop a five year programme of projects and services to ensure that Enniskillen BID area excels as an area of excellence to live, work and shop. @annaldevlin


Kathryn Walls, 39, Director, Mills Selig

A graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, Kathryn is a recognised expert in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, private equity and business law. She advises clients across a wide range of industries, including finance, technology, agri-foods and engineering. Her clients include international corporations, entrepreneurs and ownermanaged businesses. Kathryn has been a key advisor to First Derivatives plc since it listed on the London Stock Exchange, becoming one of only three listed companies in Northern Ireland. Most recently she advised First Derivatives PLC in a series of transformational acquisitions across Ireland, UK, USA and Canada. Kathryn also leads the Intellectual Property


and Technology team, advising clients on IP/IT and commercial contracts including licensing, R&D, collaboration and supply agreements. Clients rely on her expert knowledge and understanding of business and technology issues. She has an ability to effectively break down the complexity and get to the heart of legal issues with clarity and ease for all stakeholders. She is a keen runner, regularly taking part in races from 5ks to marathons to raise funds for charities. Her greatest achievement is completing the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC! @wallskathryn


Kieran Quinn, 32.Managing Director, Crumlin Road Gaol

Crumlin Road Gaol has established itself as one of the most unique, award winning tourist attractions as well as a conference and events venues in in Belfast and throughout the rest of Northern Ireland. As Managing Director with 10 years of management level experience within the Travel & Tourism industry, Kieran has established an effective management infrastructure of Crumlin Road Gaol in order to underpin business growth and to develop and implement the company’s vision. Through effective leadership as well as enterprising initiative and entrepreneurial flair, Kieran has been instrumental in the remarkable success of Crumlin Road Gaol. He encourages innovative thinking and culture of constant improvement across a team over 70 full-time, part-time and seasonal staff. This is evident with the enhancement of the existing services offered to customers, as well as the increased variety of services offered. Awarded ‘Best New Business’ at the 2015 Belfast Business Awards, for demonstrating how it has translated a great idea into a viable and successful business venture, the business has grown to be a multipurpose tourist and business destination with plans of expansion in 2016. @crumlinroadgaol

Jonathan Ireland, 29 Partner. Lanyon Communications –

Lanyon Communicatons is a boutique advisory firm specialising in corporate communications, investor media relations and strategic business marketing


JONATHAN IRELAND consultancy. Jonathan has worked with leading retail banks, international law firms, investment funds and real estate clients, as well as a diverse portfolio of blue chip companies drawn from a range of other business sectors in the UK and Ireland. A specialist in reputation and strategic issue management, he has advised clients on a wide range of high-profile crises and issues. He sits on the Economic Affairs Committee of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in Northern Ireland and is a Non-Executive Director of Audiences NI – an audience development agency that aims to increase and diversify audiences for the arts sector in Northern Ireland. In 2012 he was named by PR Week in the ‘Top 29 Under 29’ in the UK. @J_IrelandPR


Mark Haslam, 36. Managing Director, Loud Mouth Media

Mark is the founder and Managing Director of Loud Mouth Media, a specialist digital advertising agency based in Belfast, with offices in Dublin and Glasgow. Having gained valuable online advertising experience working as a web consultant in the telecommunications industry, Mark’s passion for digital instilled his vision and motivation to set up his Pay Per Click advertising agency. Less than five years later, Loud Mouth Media stands as one of the top ten SEM agencies in the UK, attracting a wealth of market leading clients including Invest NI, Almac Group, Titanic Belfast and George Best Belfast City Airport. As a lecturer for the Digital Marketing Institute and regular industry speaker at business and marketing events, Mark has become recognised as an expert in effective digital advertising strategy. @markhaslam1979


Jayne Gallagher, 34. Managing Director Legal-Island

Legal-Island is the go to place for expert workplace compliance information and training. Jayne has been instrumental in strategic leadership, staff development and propelling overall company performance – Legal-Island has matured from strength to strength. Jayne has driven the adaptation of some first-class systems, helping to deliver consistent quality information to clients. She is a member of the Northern Ireland IoD and Vice Chair on the Board of The Orchardville Society. Jayne led the company through Investors in People which culminated in Legal-Island achieving Gold status. Commenting on the award Jayne said: “I believe that it is essential for the development of a business to engage all team members. My vision for Legal-Island has always been to be an employer of choice where everyone feels valued and respected. We have developed a culture where everyone is free to grow as a person, team member, or manager.”


Sinead Fox-Hamilton ACA, 30 Business Manager, McKinty Associates

Sinead, a Queen’s University Law graduate and qualified Chartered Accountant, is the appointed Business Manager for McKinty Associates - Northern Ireland’s leading specialist Accountancy and Finance recruitment firm. Her career has seen her enjoy varied Finance and Consulting positions with KPMG, Bombardier and Ulster Bank and now her current role involves recruiting Accountancy and Finance professionals across a variety of sectors as well as undertaking management reporting responsibilities for the company. Drawing on her first-hand knowledge and experiences has empowered her to develop a unique personal and professional service offering

which adds value, and ultimately allows her to more effectively help candidates and clients alike. Sinead is passionate about people, development and building relationships and invests time in a number of Chartered Accountants Ireland committees (eg. Young Professional Group (current chairperson), Ulster Society, Member Services Group, Chartered Accountants in Business Group) and she also notably chairs the Young Leaders Northern Ireland committee. @SFoxHamilton

Tracy O’Toole, 33. Marketing, PR and Events Manager, HMS Caroline

STEPHEN McKEOWN as well as completing an MBA in the Kellogg School of Management, Chicago. He has held a number of executive and non-executive director positions. st3phenmck


Will Brown, 30, Chef and Owner, The Old School House Inn

In 2003 aged 17, Will Brown landed in London with ambition to be a top chef, his only qualifications were energy, and passion for food. Thirteen years on Will is now an established ‘par excellence’ in culinary terms, and is regarded as one of Ireland’s top ten chefs. An outstanding food ambassador, Will trained with renowned chefs Gordon Ramsey, Marco Pierre White, Bruce Poole and Paul Rankin. Returning home, the chef and food ambassador has been running the Old School House in Comber with his partner Karena Eccles, since 2012. Here locally sourced food is intertwined with Will’s passion for fine dining, and the best seasonal home grown ingredients. Leading his team of chefs, Will holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand and 2 AA rosettes for his award winning restaurant. Bringing his fusion of food together, Will sources crab and mussels from the nearby Strangford Lough, venison from Finnebrouge sits alongside beetroot grown in the restaurant’s vegetable garden, and Ballydugan Estate pheasant is served with homemade sea beet. A visit to Will Brown’s is ‘plot-to-plate perfection personified’. @schoolhouseinn

Dr Stephen McKeown, 33. CEO Analytics Engines.

Analytics Engines.t allows organisations to easily and quickly adopt advanced business analytics capabilities. Stephen previously held roles with companies including Microsoft in their European Development Centre Dublin and as a consultant with Accenture in their Systems Integration and Technology group, prior to Analytics Engines he was Commercial Director of CapnaDSP. He holds a PhD in High Performance Computing


Tracy O’Toole, Chartered Marketer, is an award winning marketing professional with over 10 years experience. By immersing herself in her various roles, she developed a keen understanding of the brands she has represented over the years and positively influenced their growth. Tracy is an expert in content creation and collaboration and is committed to innovation and excellence no matter what the budget, as was recently demonstrated by her CIM Marketing With Impact award. She is also passionate about delivering creative solutions to maximise brand potential. Tracy has recently taken up the role as Marketing, PR and Events Manager for HMS Caroline. Belfast’s newest visitor attraction and conference/event destination due to open 1st June. Tracy started her marketing career at Limetree Advertising in Dublin before moving to Belfast where she has held marketing, public relations and events roles at the King’s Hall Complex, Balmoral Show and the Crescent Arts Centre. @tracyotoole1

Cliona Arthur, 38, Media Sales Manager at George Best Belfast City Airport

Cliona Arthur is responsible for advertising, branding, experiential and promotional opportunities at Belfast City Airport. She has cultivated fifteen years’ experience in the ‘out of home’ advertising industry in Northern Ireland and has developed a portfolio of key clients across both the private and public sectors. Cliona works closely with airport clients to deliver first class advertising campaigns tailored to suit individual client needs. Since being appointed Media Sales Manager in 2011, Dungannon-born Cliona has been instrumental in developing the airport into one of the most effective advertising platforms available in Northern Ireland and has established long-lasting relationships with key clients across NI, UK & ROI. Cliona holds a degree in Communications Studies, MSc in Communication, Advertising & PR from the University of Ulster & Premiere Graduate into Management with a specialist in Marketing.



Gareth Macklin, 35. Director, The Macklin Group

Gareth is director of The Macklin group which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and is a family business, employing over 400 people in the Hospitality and Nursing home care sector across N. Ireland through Malone Lodge Hotel & Macklin Care Homes. Gareth spent time working outside the group in London before returning in 2003 via a 4 month detour of America, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Thiland and South Africa! He has worked across all aspects of the group over the years and currently sits as Finance Director. Gareth is a published author, haven recently written “The Promise”, a 50,000 word book in 30 days for charity. Following on from this, his latest charity venture is setting up the “One Pound Push-Up Challenge” where he is aiming to help one million people in Africa get clean water but his proudest achievement is being a recent dad, with his wife Rose, to baby Patrick! @garethmacklin


Marketing, Publicity Association of Northern Ireland and also a member of Belfast City Centre Management’s Economic Performance Action Group.


Mimi Turtle, 35. Chief Executive, Strand Arts Centre.

Mimi, formerly a chartered surveyor, helped establish the Strand Arts Centre as a not-for-profit charitable company in 2012 and has been its chief executive from its inception. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that the Strand Arts Centre is a focal point for the arts and culture in East Belfast, bringing film, theatre, music events, creative workshops, performing arts classes and more to the local community. Mimi continues to develop the vision of the Strand Arts Centre as the high-class arts venue East Belfast deserves and real progress is being made in terms of its programme and facilities. Given that she is also an owner of a travel company it is hard to know where she finds the time to bring up three young children! @MimiTurt


Diana Atchison, 34. Business Development Manager, Core Systems NI Ltd

Diana Atchison is Business Development Manager at Core Systems – a company who are global experts in offender self-service solutions for use in prisons and in the community. We work with justice services providing innovative solutions offering a more personalised and effective justice experience for the offender; empowering him/her to participate fully in their rehabilitation and return to a contributing member of society. Since taking up the role of Business Development Manager in 2013, Diana has driven the company through a programme of development and growth into international markets, and continues to exploit new opportunities and markets on a daily basis as well as managing a growing team. @CoreSystemsTech


Joanne Deighan, 36. Commercial Manager, George Best Belfast City Airport

Joanne Deighan is tasked with increasing revenues at George Best Belfast City Airport through identifying new business opportunities and maximising returns with existing commercial partners. This includes retail units, food and beverage and service partners. Having joined the airport in a market research capacity over 10 years ago, Joanne has a wealth of experience in managing relationships with the airport’s non-aviation partners and overseeing the strategic direction of advertising. As Commercial Manager, Joanne is also responsible for the preparation and management of the airport’s annual commercial budget and forms part of the senior management team involved in the strategic direction of the organisation. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of


Whilst building a strong company Conor, who was diagnosed with MS in 2007, has also found time to complete two marathons, two triathlons, a half Ironman and an Ironman triathlon in 2015 raising substantial monies for the MS Society. Conor is considered to be an expert in the field of property and debt and has acted as a spokesperson on the industry to a variety of Northern Ireland media. @Conor_Devine


Ellie McGimpsey, 32 Business Development Manager at George Best Belfast City Airport

Ellie McGimpsey manages the growth of aviation and car parking revenue streams for George Best Belfast City Airport. Her role involves developing new routes, supporting the existing UK and European network and managing the airport's charter business, along with the commercial management of the airport’s car parking business. Ellie is passionate about developing new air access for Northern Ireland and has played a significant role in bringing both KLM and Brussels Airlines to Belfast City Airport, routes which provide hub access to global destinations. As a member of the airport’s senior management team, Ellie is also responsible for managing the airport’s relationships with national and international tourism bodies. Ellie is also a Non-Executive Director of the Oh Yeah! Music Centre and holds a First-Class Honours degree in Management from the University of Bath.


Conor Devine, 38, Principal, GDP Partnership

Conor, a Chartered Surveyor and member of the RICS, is a founding partner of GDP Partnership formed in 2010 after having identified a niche in the market and a demand for a group of professional experts who could negotiate with banks on behalf of borrowers through the process of mediation. In the last five years Conor has been instrumental in helping many businesses and families who have found themselves in negative equity and in 2015 the company was able to assist with over £18 million of debt write downs, changing lives in the process.


Stuart Mansfield, 34,: Partner, Finance Arthur Cox

Stuart Mansfield is a Partner in the Finance Group of Arthur Cox, a leading commercial law firm which provides a full service

offering. Stuart advises domestic and international financial institutions on a wide range of finance transactions – whether structured as bilateral deals, as club deals or as banking syndicates. He has led some of the most significant financing transactions in Northern Ireland over the past few years, including some of the loan portfolio sales by local banks and the financing of secondary sales and discounted pay-offs by purchasers of loan portfolios. In a challenging debt market in Northern Ireland, Stuart has been at the forefront of almost all of the key financing transactions including how to structure those transactions. In addition to having a significant practice dealing with financial institutions, Stuart also advises local corporates, across all market sectors, on their debt financing arrangements.


Michael Howe, 37, Director, 2020 Architects

2020 architects have been designing buildings since 2000; however, their current success based on their sustainable modern designs only came with the recruitment of three highly regarded young designers and the now owners, Gareth Boyd, Michael Howe and Richard McKinney. 2020 are now regarded as one of Northern Ireland’s leading design Practices and Michael has created a reputation for striking buildings which incorporate a sense of modern drama while utilising the best of sustainable design principles. This has brought him to national attention as only the third architect from Northern Ireland to appear on the highly regarded channel 4 program 'Grand Designs' and he has helped 2020 architects to become Ireland most popular architects on social media with over 27000 followers. This design led ethos has also seen a year on year increase in turnover for the company of over 33% and an increase in the practice from three to nine people in less than three years..

Declan Callaghan, Contract Manager, Brook Street Belfast

Having completed a Law degree at Queen’s University Belfast, Declan embarked upon a career within recruitment, building a reputation as a trusted strategic recruitment partner for locally-based companies.

Renewables at its 2015 awards in the category of Best Energy Saving SME. @RNNComms

DECLAN CALLAGHAN Declan works in the Belfast branch of Brook Street recruitment agency. He has provided permanent, temporary and fixedterm recruitment solutions to clients and has operated as Contract Manager for several major contracts in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Having recently secured new contracts, Declan has grown Brook Street’s Belfast team and relocated the branch to new premises at Law Society House. As Brook Street employ their temporary staff, Declan completed a MA in Human Resource Management and secured membership of CIPD to ensure Brook Street’s clients and employees receive a best-in-class service and benefit from regular legislative updates. Declan’s service to Brook Street’s clients in Northern Ireland resulted a personal accolade in the form of a Contract of the Year award, and his branch recently won a Branch of the Year award within Brook Street.


Riki Neill, 35, Director, RNN Communications Founded by Riki Neill in late 2012, RNN Communications is a young and exciting integrated communications company that likes to do things a little differently. Riki established RNN Communications in a bid to create a more fluid communications agency, that taps into our 24/7 world, is flexible in its approach and fosters partnerships. 2015 was a huge year for Riki, with RNN Comms being named ‘Outstanding Small PR Consultancy’ at the annual CIPR PRide awards. RNN Comms was also recognised for its work, with a campaign, created and directed by Riki being named as Best Sponsorship by a Retailer at the Irish FMCG awards. Reflecting Riki’s expertise in renewables, a new division of RNN Comms – RNN Green - launched, and in its first three months was commended by Actions


Philip Bain, 39, Director, Shredbank

Philip has grown ShredBank to become the largest on-site shredding company in Northern Ireland winning 12 awards including Investors in People Gold. Philip also Chairs Chartered Management Institute, and is on the Council for Prince’s Trust for which charity he has raised over £40k. He recently published a business book called Start to Grow which has ranked at 22 on Amazon Best seller! Philip has 15 years experience in setting up and growing a diverse range of SME's in Ireland having, graduated with a First Class degree in Business Studies from the University of Ulster where he is now a visiting Professor. He was awarded the Business Leader of Tomorrow Award by Lord Sainsbury in 2002 and has since gone on to win Entrepreneur of the Year 2010, Young Businessperson 2011 and Young Business Personality 2011. @ShredBank

Northern Ireland Rising Stars 40 under 40 Networking Lunch

Academy Restaurant Belfast April 13th 2016


The key to modern leadership is INNOVATION A by Colin Mullan, Operations Director at Find Insurance NI

s Steve Jobs famously noted, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Innovation is the profitable implementation of new ideas. It occurs when the growing needs and demands of consumers is met with intense competition. It may come as no surprise, but the insurance industry isn’t exactly a market leader when it comes to innovation. Rather it is often perceived as static and conventional, with a focus on minimizing risks. As a result, it is one of the last remaining industries to embrace innovation. For years, the insurance industry didn’t face the pressure from outside entrants that exists today. Therefore in the current ever-changing economy, the ability to innovate rapidly and more profitably than your competitors is now essential for both business growth and success. The majority of industry sectors will undergo disruption at some stage. When customer expectations shift, businesses are forced to immediately respond and adapt in order to remain in the game. Innovation is a catalyst for business growth, but as a leader, your team must be managed effectively in order for innovation to thrive or even exist in the workplace. Ultimately, for your team to embrace an innovation mindset, leaders have the challenge of both creating and maintaining dedication from each individual. Innovation must be embedded within the company culture. An effective leader recognises the importance of utilising the differences that exist within each member of the team. They know how to connect the dots between those differences in order to achieve the most successful and efficient outcomes. At Find Insurance NI, we try to adopt the mantra Sir Richard Branson has instilled within the backbone of his companies. This mantra is A-B-C-D. (Always Be Connecting the Dots). This creates a company culture that thrives on continual improvement and innovation. A leader knows that when individuals come together and different ideas and thought processes begin to flow, the result can be a range of ideas and innovations that individuals could not have achieved alone. Embracing innovation is therefore essential to creating a workplace environment that encourages motivation and enthusiasm among the team. The innovation process begins by identifying the role of each individual within the team. A leader must recognise how they can add value and the tools required in order for them to adapt to positive change. As a


leader, you must design the appropriate structure and processes that encourage and manage innovation. Below are practices that leaders can implement with their teams to promote and encourage an environment of innovation. At Find Insurance NI, we implement these factors to break the traditional, staticcontrolled barriers that exist, particularly within the insurance industry.

1. It’s all about Trust

As mentioned, innovation requires encouragement and motivation among staff in order to generate new ideas. However, as a result, each member of the team risks becoming more transparent than ever. Therefore a feeling of trust between you as a leader and your team is imperative. When you earn this trust and the team can trust you, you will observe and welcome the new relationships and ideas being formed around you which will impact positively on the workplace environment.

2. Communicate and Reward

Without strong communication, teams don’t function effectively. The way in which you communicate to your team sets the scene. If done correctly, this can create an environment that encourages thinking in a variety of creative directions, which is more likely to lead towards new innovations. By also creating adequate measurements and incentives, innovation can be promoted within the team.

3. Work Together as a Team

Innovation flourishes when you have a team with a pulse on the marketplace. Work together and in conjunction in order to discover new ways of thinking and create inspiring outcomes.

4. You are the Catalyst for Change

For teams to acquire the ability to innovate, leaders must constantly challenge each team member to think more critically in order to continually improve and develop. As a leader, you must learn to embrace risk and see the opportunity in everything. Leave your competitors at the starting line and go against the norm. This is your chance to be a leader in the marketplace and not a follower. It’s also important to not only create products or services that add value to your business, but you must have the patience to foresee and work towards achieving longterm results, not just short-term.

5. Keep It Simple

An excellent example of keeping it simple is Google’s innovation strategy. They adopt a strategy which is straightforward yet effective; eliminate any unnecessary extra steps in the process, and give the consumer the ease and simplicity they desire. At the end of the day, leaders must possess the ability to alternate between the creative mind and the operational, technical and business mind at different stages of the innovation process. As displayed by Steve Jobs, innovation done right has the power to change everything. If you facilitate your team to embrace innovation and encourage them to present their own visions and ideas, they become the foundation for business growth and sustainability. For competitive Personal & Commercial Insurance quotes, visit: or call us free on: 0800 012 6367


Will our educations system continue to create Rising Stars? by Wilfred Mitchell OBE, FSB Northern Ireland Policy Chair his month Business First is celebrating the Top 40 under 40, which shows the remarkable achievements of many of our successful younger businesspeople and the extent to which they are establishing Northern Ireland on the global map as a leading place to do business. Unfortunately, the potential of young talent and this positive placing of Northern Ireland is being placed increasingly under threat as substantial cuts are made to further and higher education as well as the threat of removing business studies as a GCSE option. This cannot continue if the Northern Ireland Executive is serious about growing our economy. Wilfred Mitchell OBE, FSB Northern Ireland Policy Chair said: “Northern Ireland’s current education system is neglecting a large number of young people who have the potential for great success outside of academia. “Unfortunately, there is a tight definition of success as progression to University and onto a professional career. “This is ultimately having a detrimental impact on realising the huge potential of many our young people who succeed outside traditional education; and is having a knock on effect on our economy. “For that reason, there is the need to encourage our young people that there are alternative routes to success in life, routes in which they can nourish their interests and develop those through entrepreneurship to successful businesses. Mr Mitchell added: “We have reiterated this in FSB’s 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Manifesto, entitled Realising the Potential of Small Businesses. “Our political representatives must ensure that practical, vocational education is a viable option for young people. Additionally there needs to be a focus on business skills and alternative routes to employment within the curriculum.” Northern Ireland has a particularly low rate of entrepreneurs and business start-ups. Consequently it is devastating news to the private sector economy that key topics such as Business Studies and Economics are likely to be left off the GCSE syllabus in the future. These are topics that not only should remain on education syllabuses but be introduced at an earlier age to increase confidence amongst our future economic leaders and entrepreneurs. One of the most vital, yet overlooked resources within the education structure to



develop student confidence is the role of careers guidance. There is a real need for reform of careers guidance at secondary school level to include input from all available sectors, including small businesses, which not only will provide inspiration for future entrepreneurs but are the largest private sector employer in Northern Ireland. Mr Mitchell continued by outlining that entrepreneurship needs to be fostered at all levels of the education system. “Our young people need to be provided with the confidence and resilience to shape their own futures, however this at present is being left to probability as opposed to being nurtured. “Children are born with imagination, energy and creativity, essentially the entrepreneurial spirit. With time, this declines as it is not nurtured and often is nonexistent by the time they complete their GCSEs. “It is for that reason; the Department of Education must look at redressing gaps in the current curriculum in teaching the entrepreneurship mindset – developing much needed skills within our economy such as innovation, flexibility and creativity which have been omitted as they do not sit easily within standardised examinations such as GCSEs and A-Levels. “In fact, research commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2011 highlighted the experiences of many local young people who stated that they were

forced to choose between their best subjects in order to fit in with a curriculum timetable and following the only vocational course or limited selection of A-Levels from fear and limitation of alternative choices rather than any informed career planning. “Consequently sectors, such as hospitality, are often overlooked within schools as a route to a successful career and entrepreneurship even though it is one of the fastest growing sectors, and consistently is one of the largest contributors to private sector turnover in Northern Ireland.” He concluded. Research commissioned by FSB and carried out by the Ulster Business School, on The Contribution of Small Businesses to Northern Ireland has revealed that small businesses in Northern Ireland are the largest employer, creating more jobs than the private and public sectors combined. With youth unemployment (ages 18 to 24 years) increasing to 22 per cent in 2015, as well as the need for innovation and sustainability, the Northern Ireland Executive in supporting entrepreneurship can equip today’s young people with the confidence and inspiration required to start their own business, and employ tomorrow’s workforce. Developing the skills and educational pathways required for businesses to survive, thrive and grow will enable businesses to create long-term and sustainable employment opportunities.

How Local Universities are helping Northern Ireland businesses grow

by Michael McQuillan, Director, Business Institute, Ulster University Business School.


he challenges that we face in Northern Ireland are well documented. The need to keep peace building progress on track, the necessity to rebalance the economy, the importance of addressing some glaringly obvious macro-economic and societal quandaries that simply don’t add up - around health, welfare, an aging population and a highly reputed education framework that needs to dramatically change to survive - the list goes on. Collectively, all of us have a part to play in preparing and supporting our people, our organisations and our communities to ensure that Northern Ireland plays its rightful leading role on the global stage. From the Ulster University’s perspective, as a true civic university, we need to continue delivering on our responsibility to energise positive and progressive socio-economic impact by working as a part of that journey not apart from it. Ulster University is open for business and that means to work with business, bringing the university’s resources through collaborative research, innovative learning and knowledge transfer to leaders and entrepreneurs with optimal impact. At the core of Northern Irelands future sustainability is the need to enhance the capability of our businesses to internationalise their growth. The energising and encouraging of many more wantrepreneurs and entrepreneurs is also critical, leading to the hatching and development of new start-ups that survive, scale and prosper.

The Ulster University Business School has more than 60,000 alumni from its forty years and enjoys a rich relationship with Northern Irelands business, political, and civic arenas. The team at the Business Institute are completely focused on and active in the socioeconomic fabric of Northern Ireland. The team work very closely with individuals, businesses and business units across the private, public and third sectors with the aim of collaboratively designing and delivering innovative learning that can have an immediate impact on the learner, their organisation, their community and the economy. With this approach the Business Institute is working with individuals and learners to make positive change a reality. A brief snapshot of Business Institute activity in 2016 will see more than 1000 learners across a range of uniquely designed programmes. These include the award winning open programmes on the ‘Management Practice’ framework where learners from a wide range of backgrounds consolidate and professionalise their management practice through engaging on a fresh and innovative programme of learning. Through a process of scoping out the future needs, challenges and opportunities for sectors, industries and organisations the Business Institute team collaboratively craft programmes and interventions that are aimed at energising real impetus for improvement and growth. This approach has brought about sector specific programme design, construction and delivery over the past eighteen months for the arts sector, third sector, the contact management industry, financial services industry, health and agri-food. The Business Institute is uniquely positioned to work with colleagues across the university, from all academic and research base disciplines to garner relevant, impactful research and emerging teaching methodology. We can work on long term projects or short term initiatives optimising the research/learning/business practice nexus. This ensures that Northern Ireland businesses can be at the leading edge of change, prepared to grab the growth opportunities presented by, for example, new technologies and digitalisation. At the Ulster University Business School we know that business leaders are looking for graduates and aspirational employees who

are genuinely more employable. Employability is not just about learning the analysis of business and hoping that you know how to write a CV and perform well at an interview. It is more about knowing that you have enhanced your practice of business, your ability and capability to add value to your role at work or in your community. We have worked with colleagues from industry to ensure that learning and knowledge transfer focuses more on the ‘ability’ bit of employability. Charles Handy (2016) who has led in the field of management, leadership and enterprise education for nearly four decades points to the need for more focus on the university/society relationship with a shift to more management development as opposed to management education. Without losing the necessity to present and signpost the theory and ensuring that learning is underpinned with Ulster University’s highly regarded academic rigour the Business Institute is presently engaged with hundreds of developing managers, leaders and entrepreneurs. The engagement is based on using innovative teaching methodology, action learning, international best practice and comprehensive futureworld thinking to help individuals, businesses, communities and economies grow and prosper. With the aim of reinvigorating the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Ireland the team at the Business Institute are also embarking on a number of initiatives both within the university and in partnership with the government, local authorities, statutory agencies and business. The goal is to build and support an ecosystem across Northern Ireland that is supportive of and responsive to the needs of entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs in the coming years. The incentive is to see numerous new start-ups that survive and scale to become tomorrow’s generators of jobs, wealth, innovation and international recognition for Northern Ireland.


TECH [2020]

Making IT good for society

by Bill McCluggage, Managing Director, Laganview Associates Ltd


orthern Ireland is brimming with creativity, creative people and creative communities, and particularly in the tech sector where for decades, if not centuries, we’ve been exporting this creativity across the world. As an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Northern Ireland Science Park, I’ve been privileged to witness some really innovative local new start up companies develop a range of exciting new technology-based products that are reshaping the way people interact with one another, businesses grow and survive in the ever increasing online global jungle and we address some of the key health issues facing an increasingly ageing population. What I’ve learned is that our young entrepreneurs are full of great ideas on how to exploit new technology and, given the right encouragement, mentoring and environment they can help Northern Ireland to flourish economically socially and environmentally. But recent high profile cyber security and cyber bullying and extortion incidents have also highlighted that there are also dangers lurking in the increasingly complex digital world we are creating. A key tenet of the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, is that over the coming months and years our most important role is in ‘making IT good for society’. Over the past few months across the UK we’ve been engaging with partners, other organisations, government and individuals to

address what we see as the wider issues associated with the role of technology in society. We’ve identified four key challenges that affect us all and these involve: personal data and the need to put people back in control of their data; education, and the need to ensure everyone in our society can benefit from digital opportunities; health and care, where we need to ensure people are at the centre of the services they use; and, finally, the need to give IT professionals the tools and skills to make IT good for society. In terms of personal data, as a society we continue to struggle with the significant issues of both data protection and data sharing. On the one hand we see a major debate going on in the USA over Apple devices and the request by the FBI to unlock the iPhone of Syed Farook, the deceased San Bernardino shooter. Only late last year Northern Ireland was at the centre of attention as a 15-year old boy from Country Antrim was arrested and bailed over the TalkTalk hacking incident which the company reported resulted in some 1.2 million email addresses, names and phones numbers and 21,000 unique bank account numbers and sort codes being accessed. And, in terms of data sharing, there is continued controversy over the NHS Care.Data programme underway in NHS England while the Cabinet Office is leading the development of new data sharing legislation which should make it more straightforward for government departments to share citizens’ personal data. Personal data is only one out of the 4 key challenges that affect us all that are being addressed by the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT. If you’d like to learn more about how the BCS is stimulating dialogue and open discussion then please take a look at our web site at While we have great talent and creative flair in Northern Ireland, if we wish to

continue to be a pacesetter in technology, creativity, and professionalism we need to stimulate a similar dialogue to the open debate that is currently happening in England on how we help ‘make IT good for society’. To this end, the BCS Belfast Branch has invited Adam Thilthorpe, Director of Professionalism at the BCS, to Northern Ireland during the week commencing 25th April to help kick-start a series of IT Impact Debates. These debates will help us understand how the impact of IT is reverberating through society, how developments such as the Internet of Things, virtual reality, robotics and automation will impact our society, and we can make sure that, insofar as we can, we make IT good for society. The debates will be inspirational and will hopefully make people think differently about the potential impact technology is having upon all of us. After all, it is down to us all to stand and be heard on the pressing challenges we face as technology become more pervasive in our lives. Within the BCS Belfast Branch we believe that by stimulating debate we can make people think differently and by exploiting our local innate creativity help continue to drive technology in the right direction.

As an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Northern Ireland Science Park, I’ve been privileged to witness some really innovative local new start up companies develop a range of exciting new technology-based products that are reshaping the way people interact with one another, businesses grow and survive in the ever increasing online global jungle and we address some of the key health issues facing an increasingly ageing population.. Bill McCluggage 42

A lean approach to forming technology ‘spin outs’ by David Moore, Head of Spin outs and Investments, QUBIS Ltd


he recent loss of manufacturing jobs in Northern Ireland underlines the urgent need to create new knowledge and technology based employment. Both universities in Northern Ireland have a strong track record in creating technology startups and jobs - and are a vital part of the local ‘knowledge economy’. But the scale of challenge to grow and rebalance the Northern Irish economy means we need to double - at least - our company and job creation activity. To step up to this mark and to accelerate university startup activity, Queen’s University and Ulster University combined forces with Imperial College London to deliver a preaccelerator programme - the Lean Launchpad - aimed at helping budding academic entrepreneurs turn their inventions into new products and spinout ventures.

Lean LaunchPad

The Lean LaunchPad is a US import from Silicon Valley where it is used to ‘stress test’ the commercial feasibility of new innovations. Conceived by entrepreneur Steve Blank named one of the 30 most influential people in tech by Forbes magazine in 2013 - the Lean Launchpad encourages entrepreneurs to put customers at the heart of their product development. The Lean LaunchPad moves the focus from the technology itself to the needs of their target customers: by finding out what customers want and need. On this feedback the inventors will iterate and develop their business plan and product according to real market insights, in the hope of increasing the likelihood of creating sustainable businesses. This was the first time that the Lean LaunchPad has been run outside of the US or London, and by working in partnership with Imperial College London, the Northern Irish universities managed to benchmark this programme and its entrepreneurial teams against the best in the UK. Working together, Queen’s and Ulster recruited eleven teams of hopeful entrepreneurs from the two universities to test the robustness of the startup propositions. These hopeful teams ranged from green chemistry, through video analytics, to composite materials and the innovative tissue engineering solutions. Each venture had to find at least three people interested in commercialising their technology and who were prepared to subject

themselves over a number of weeks of evenings and weekends for constant business ‘stress testing’. Those not prepared to commit to this journey were rejected. As part of the journey each week the teams were told to ‘get out of the building’ and actually talk to at least 10 potential customers in order to find out if the customer was really interested in the proposition. This was a tough test for many - but all teams stepped up to the mark, with one even getting thrown out of the customer's building! But on the back of these valuable customer insights the teams were able to constantly improve their business models before having to present their progress on a weekly basis to a panel of successful local entrepreneurs for scrutiny. These local entrepreneurs were drawn from a number of successful indigenous and international businesses based in Northern Ireland, such as: Opal Perry (acting CEO, All State), Tom Gray (CTO of Kainos PLC), Colin Reid (CEO of Total Mobile) and some local venture capitalists and their participation was critical to the success of the overall programme. This constant build/measure/learn feedback loop proved to be a powerful mechanism for refining the original business concept and identifying a viable potential business model through 100 customer interactions over the 10 week period. There was an added element of competition as the teams measured their customer engagement progress against one another and benefitted from the constructive feedback from the faculty panel. Despite the intense nature of the programme, and it being the first exposure to a business environment for many of the

participants, all of the teams successfully completed the programme. The outside entrepreneurial mentors were astounded at the progress made by the teams during such a short but intense programme and their level of dedication to taking the refined business ideas forward. The journey was different for each of the teams. For one there was the realisation, during week two, that the original business model and indeed business plan that had been developed was not going to work and that a complete rethink was required. Another felt that the programme was a steep learning curve but they wished they had completed it six months earlier. Nearly all the teams are still building their startups, some are on the tipping of becoming revenue generating businesses, others have generated investment interest or generated grant income. All enjoyed the process and the positive feedback reinforced the value of such a programme. The ‘winning’ local team presented alongside the top team from Imperial London and did Belfast proud. Now both universities are looking to recruit a new cohort of potential business propositions and also local business people to help test them. So if you’re interested in participating in the next Lean Launchpad programme, get in touch! David Moore, Head of Spin outs and Investments, QUBIS Ltd 028 9097 1521 Web link to video of team providing feedback on programme


TECH [2020]


AND THE DEATH OF IP? by Rory Campbell, Forde Campbell LLC


he prospective client was furious. “So what’s the point of this intellectual property then? What the @@@’s the point of it?” The prospective client had designed an app. The app advised on and monitored different luxury grooming styles for pets. Turns out that pet grooming is a cut-throat business: the prospect was terrified that a competitor would “rip off” the app. What could we, as IP lawyers, do to protect her app? I explained that, from the moment a line of software code was written, it was automatically protected by copyright. This


pleased the prospect. Then she asked if that stopped competitors copying the app. Things started to go downhill from this point. I told her that no-one could copy the code. But nothing could stop a competitor downloading the app, understanding what it did and writing fresh code to achieve the same end. I explained the difference between an idea, which couldn’t be covered by copyright, and the expression of that idea in code, which could. I warmed to my theme. I leapt into the Da Vinci Code trial, which looked at a comparison between Dan Brown’s bestseller and a book published 25 years earlier, suggesting that the Holy Grail was in fact the bloodline of Jesus’ family. I explained that even though Dan Brown had copied the idea of Jesus having a child, who became the ancestor of the Merovingian kings, and whose bloodline was protected by the mysterious Priory of Sion, he hadn’t infringed copyright. He had duplicated all these idea, but he had used his own words. Either the heresy or the Merovingians had enraged the client. Her business partner hurriedly asked if a software patent on the app was a possibility. I explained that patents certainly could protect underlying ideas. However, the UK’s patent office was traditionally reluctant to grant patent protection for software programmes which were simply functions in themselves, as opposed to programmes which had a technical contribution (such as making a computer operate faster and more reliably).

Pet grooming triage was unlikely to constitute the required technical contribution. This meant that a patent wouldn’t help: there was no way to prevent a rip-off scenario. The prospective client exploded. She ventured a robust belief that I was already engaged by her competitors. She expressed violent dismay at the amount of money wasted on our meeting (regardless of the fact that it was our standard off-the-clock initial consultancy meet). She went down the stairs shouting that IP was no good to anyone, and was simply legal legerdemain calculated to rob businesses of money. Her business partner sadly shook my hand and left.

IP: What’s the point?

I consoled myself with a coffee and a dip into the excellent IP blog, The IPKat. “Do Lean Start-ups mean less IP?” thundered the blog. “To all the IP attorneys out there – goodbye and good luck!” The article focussed on Lean strategies, which aim at basing future business development on decisions informed by carefully collected facts. In Lean business, decisions are based on validated information. Conversely, the process of IP development is necessarily speculative: blue-sky thinking rather than based on proven fact, “disruptive” rather than directly linked to proven evidence of customer requirements. For example, there’s a lack of evidence that spending large amounts on patents to protect businesses from competition is a successful strategy. There’s little public information on

The prospective client exploded. She ventured a robust belief that I was already engaged by her competitors. She went down the stairs shouting that IP was no good to anyone. Her business partner sadly shook my hand and left. Rory Campbell exactly how valuable patents are. Few organisations publish figures setting patent spend mapped against predetermined success/value metrics. Businesses which engage in Lean strategies focus on iterative development processes, which are tested against validated data: this means that intuitive development of IP could become increasingly unjustifiable. And so there would be fewer patent applications. And so there would be fewer IP lawyers. Was my angry no longer so prospective client actually right? What’s the point of IP? What’s the good of copyright if it can’t protect ideas? And aren’t patents in fact a costly and unvalidatable burden – particularly when imposed on impoverished startups? Some statistics evidence this. In her study of major US companies Edison in the Boardroom Revisited IP guru Suzanne Harrison’s reports that only 5% of their patents are deemed “strategically important”. In the context of Lean development, how far is IP really worth it for SMEs and start-ups?

IP Strategy

I think there’s currently some confusion about the role of IP, typically summed up in the opaque phrase “IP Strategy”. Far too often the answer to the question, “What’s the IP strategy of your business?” appears to be, “To have as much IP as possible.” IP creation is not a business end of itself: few companies exist simply to drool IP. As a first step, a business should look at a particular product, and work out the best way for the business to use the product. This might be to increase sales revenue - but alternatively it might be to market it as a high-end signature product to position the business brand. IP should only be looked at after the business route has been identified, to see which type of IP protection best supports the identified business route. Similarly, I think the idea of Lean business strategies (or any other strategy) resulting in less IP confuses two different concepts. Lean business is a process by which businesses can develop. IP is a product of the business. A business might use Lean strategy to decide whether or not to develop a product, and then might use Lean strategy again to decide what sort of IP protection should be applied to the product. Looked at in this light, patents are worth

considering if the company has decided that the product’s real value is in being able to sell it free of competition. Patents can be extremely important to a start-up: my clients who hold patents hold credibility and commercial clout in licensing negotiations with much bigger organisations, for example. And patents are also of real value to start-ups in an acquisition/exit situation.

But protection from competition isn’t the only strategic direction for products. For example:

- Brand. A product may well be capable of imitation by competitors, but branding of the product can create an important identity in the minds of customers. Similarly, the fashion industry loves identifying newcomers and promoting new labels. This means that fashion start-ups should concentrate on trademarking their brands and logos, in order to protect the brand (as opposed to the product). A business can even partner with an established brand to take advantage of the brand’s standing to promote sales. By protecting a brand through trademarks, a business is using IP as tool in a way which is both possible to measure, and which avoids the immediate concentration on defensive, “stop them ripping off the product” measures. - Design Rights. The “iconic” product. The ribbed body of the Coke bottle, the gliding curves of the iPad, and even the tough, nononsense bars of Kanes’ silage and grain trailers are each capable of protection by design rights, a particular type of IP. Design rights aren’t about preventing a competitor from copying the purpose of a product – they’re about stamping the inventor’s ownership on the product’s design; protecting design style as well as its brand. We register design rights frequently for startup clients, including kitchen designers, boot-makers and jewellers. - Open Source. Increasingly, businesses forgo preventing competition in favour of using IP to encourage competitors to access and use products. Many software companies distribute their products on an open source basis – making the human-readable source code of the software available usually for free. Inviting competitors into the palace to enjoy

the crown jewels? In fact, it’s often commercially used as a sophisticated way to encourage growth use of a base product by competitors or customers, with linked upgrades or services available for a fee. And it’s never free, in the sense that the user is free to do whatever they want. The small print states that users can’t sue the provider if the code didn’t work, or ripped off someone else’s code. In some cases (particularly GPL protected software) users are even required to ensure that any derived code which the user distributes is marketed on an open source basis. Complicated stuff, but the point here is that the open source code distributors are using their IP rights – copyright – in the code to force users to comply with the distributors’ identified open source strategy. - IP as a delaying tactic. Sometimes, as with the pet grooming app, there’ll never be anything you can do to stop a competitor. However, the competitor would still have to develop their own product – copyright would stop them from reproducing the code of the original pet groomer’s app. The competitor takes time to produce its version, and the wise originator of the pet grooming app might use that period to introduce the premium version of the app, or to turn the app into a portal to new services. One canny client recently signed up a licence deal to release his installed content management system to eager users, safe in the knowledge that the profitable cloud version is ready to go once enough businesses have bought in. In summary, Lean business is a fascinating strategic approach. But it won’t result in “less” or “more” IP simply by being Lean. Processes shouldn’t be confused with products. And IP isn’t simply about preventing others from copying what you do – after all, there are more than one ways to skin a cat. A function presumably not offered by the pet grooming app.


TECH [2020]

Are you walking the digital tightrope? by Sinead Dillon, Principal Consultant, Fujitsu


rom an ageing population and unprecedented urban migration to continued economic uncertainty, food and water shortages and the need for sustainable energy, the world is rapidly changing. Technology is at the heart of this social, political and economic upheaval. We are seeing the development of a hyperconnected world where connectivity between people, processes, information and things is the new currency. As soon as 2020, Gartner reports suggest there will be 50 billion connected devices. Other experts are predicting there will be a trillion sensors in everyday objects in the same timeframe. To survive in this hyperconnected world, organisations and businesses need to digitalize. From customers demanding new approaches to business, employees expecting to work in new ways and the emergence of more agile competitors free of the burdens of the past – change is upon us and digitalization isn’t a choice.


Fujitsu has undertaken research across Europe to discover how well companies are meeting their digital destiny. We’ve talked to over 600 CEOs and senior IT decision makers and asked them how the process of digitalization is handled within their organisation. On the surface over 92 per cent of the decision makers said they would class their organisations as either somewhat or extremely mature with regards to their digital maturity. They were also quick to recognise the crucial role that digitalization plays in business growth and success, highlighting the major benefits as attracting and keeping talented employees (43 per cent), greater market responsiveness (38 per cent) and improved customer retention and loyalty (37 per cent). However, when the study scratched the surface it became clear that organisations across Europe are walking a digital tightrope. Faced with tough decisions the optimism expressed masks a mix of competing drivers, priorities, stakeholders and budgets. The results suggest that only one in four are actually confident in their digital decisions, while 70 per cent admit that their digital transformation projects are a gamble. The majority are precariously balanced between two opposing pitfalls: stagnation and acceleration – or put another way the risk of falling behind and the dangers of racing ahead. For many organisations there is a hesitancy to adopt digitalization, with one in six reporting no appetite to accelerate digital adoption, a third believing their organisations already invest too much in digital projects and one in four identifying a lack of board level commitment to digital initiatives.

While such hesitancy is understandable with the major drivers confirmed as customers (20 per cent) and employees (18 per cent), digitalization is a reality that must be faced. The reverse of this, is not without its challenges however. Moving more quickly tends to narrow organisations options, leaving less time for strategic planning, essential recruitment and the implementation of appropriate security controls. In truth, this is much more than a technology problem - it should be a business one. To make the right choices and successfully walk the digital tightrope, businesses need a clear strategy and strong leadership. Equally clear is that the view of digitalization as a technology challenge impacts on budget with only 27 per cent of organisations having a separate budget to support digitalization projects. In balancing the priorities, two thirds of those surveyed felt it was better to combine new technologies with existing solutions. This would address the greatest barrier to confident decision making, highlighted by a third of decision makers, the ability to integrate with legacy infrastructure. Not surprisingly perhaps, that is why we have already helped over 5,000 businesses adopt Hybrid IT and to harness the power of the cloud and digitalization effectively, alongside their legacy systems by striking the perfect balance between innovation and safety and between delivery and costs. By walking the digitalization tightrope with confidence, Fujitsu believes that companies here can be empowered to deliver new business and social value, enrich lives and set us on a path towards a safer, more prosperous and sustainable future.

Protect your business with an information security assessment by Pat Larkin, CEO, Ward Solutions


he well-documented rise in cyberattacks in recent years is starting to earn the attention of the boards of Northern Ireland businesses. One of the most important activities as part of a wellstructured information security management programme to keep your business protected is conducting information security assessments. The goal of information security assessment is to test and identify whether appropriate security controls are being deployed and where gaps lie. It reveals the current state-of-play with respect to the scope being assessed and provides the insights necessary to devise the right strategy to ensure your business is safe. On a communication level, a detailed assessment enables CIOs or CISOs to communicate awareness objectively of where problems are and what needs to be addressed at C level.

Identifying the right assessment

As one of Northern Ireland ‘s leading information security providers, Ward Solutions sees a number of challenges organisations face when trying to choose the right assessment. This list of the different types, what they provide, and how they stack up in terms of value, frequency and cost and will help you decide what’s right for your business: Organisational Risk Assessment – An assessment used to identify, quantify and plan mitigation of the risks that the organisation faces in the day-to-day use of their information systems (Typically strategic, high value, low frequency, medium cost, high maturity). Security Design Review – A more tactical approach, this assessment is usually completed at the early stage of a project’s lifecycle allowing security to be baked in (Operational, medium value, low frequency, low cost, high maturity). Vulnerability Scanning – A more traditional automated scan to identify vulnerabilities in infrastructure and applications that may lead a service to be attacked or compromised. It tends to focus on breadth rather than depth. (Tactical, lower value due to poor context and false positives, high frequency, low cost, low maturity). Penetration Testing – A combination of tools and expertise to exploit identified weaknesses in infrastructure or applications. Focus is usually depth by attempting to breach a more mature set of security defences (Operation, higher value

than vulnerability scanning, medium cost, medium to high maturity). Social Engineering – An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in an organisation’s two pillars of people and processes (as distinct from the third pillar of technology). For example, it would assess the ability for an employee to be compromised as part of an attack (Operational, medium value, medium cost, medium to high security). Compliance Audit – Typical examples include ISO27001, PCI / DSS, Data Protection, FDA or financial standards such as SOX. This assessment is set against the specific standard to determine whether your business is compliant and what gaps need to be filled. For general financial audits a best practice audit is usually completed. This demonstrates to financial auditors that information security has been assessed and that identified issues are being remediated (Operational, medium value, medium cost, high maturity).

Identifying the right provider

Figuring out which security assessment is fit for purpose is just the first step. One of the key problems is that many organisations task management or financial advisers to conduct these assessments. We would always recommend seeking the help of information security experts with the depth of resources and expertise necessary to provide true value and real guidance. With the right provider in place, you can avoid other common mistakes in the assessment process and activity following it and ensure the most value is brought to and extracted from the process. Another common error organisations make

is going on the defensive. IT staff managing the assessment focus on narrowing the scope to a minimum, providing limited information or reacting adversely to any findings. An independent and expert advisor working in partnership with your team can ensure that the assessment is embraced holistically and that mistakes are fixed and not hidden. Getting value from the assessment is crucial. Often an organisation will put a huge amount of effort into the assessment itself and once completed, findings are addressed on a random basis and sometimes given a lifelong home on the long finger. A pragmatic approach is needed. When it comes to compliance, many organisations place too high an emphasis on the compliance framework to which they’re aiming to become accredited. These frameworks often have a specific and often narrow set of objectives. Operating exclusively to satisfy these parameters can leave holes in your information security infrastructure, and leave your business open to attacks.

Taking a holistic and systemic approach

Information Security is a journey, not a destination. Cybercriminals are constantly thinking of new and more creative ways to target your organisation. Organisations typically spend five to eight per cent of their IT budgets annually on information security and often ineffectively. An appropriate continuous mix of security assessment should be a key part of your information security governance and operation as it allows you to stay ahead of the game. To ensure effectiveness, it’s important to have a strategy that clearly communicates issues found during assessment to the business so that resources can be targeted to address these issues on a prioritised basis. If your business requires a security assessment, act now before it’s too late. Email us today at to arrange the right assessment for your business and to secure your peace of mind. For further information, go to


TECH [2020]

Are Legends (Of Rock)! L

oud Mouth Media is delighted to be announced as second place in Google’s Legends of Rock challenge! Of 1600 agencies across the UK and Ireland, 154 elite agencies qualified to participate putting Loud Mouth up against some major competitors including Latitude Digital Marketing, Click Tap Media, Finsbury Group and Climb Online. Despite being pitched against the biggest in the business Loud Mouth once again came out in the top three agencies and are the only local agency to make it into the top 25!

So what does it mean to be a legend?

In a nut shell – we generated the second highest amount of client advertising spend amongst all of our competitors during the final quarter of 2015. We put this down to the massive amount (over 90%) of inbound business we generated through happy client referrals! See below for the full Top 25 list: 1. Latitude Digital Marketing 2. Loud Mouth Media 3. Click Tap Media 4. Finsbury Group 5. Total Media 6. Climb Online 7. Web Marketing Group 8. Klood 9. Net Natives 10. Dream Agility 11. Fast Generations 12. Oban Multilingual 13. Genie Goals 14. Innovation Visual Limited 15. Search Star 16. The Media People 17. Space & Time Media Limited 18. Ignition Search Ltd 19. Colewood Internet Ltd 20. Visualsoft UK Limited 21. Niddocks 22. Click Convert 23. Digital Incubator Limited 24. Fountain Partnership 25. Biddable Solutions Congratulations to all of the other winners…now for that number one spot!!


Who Is Loud Mouth Media?

Loud Mouth Media is a leading Digital Advertising Agency with offices located in Belfast, Dublin and Glasgow. Specialising in Pay Per Click advertising, we provide a fully managed service across several platforms including AdWords, Bing and Social Media. Since launching in 2011, we have experienced remarkable growth to become one of the Top Three SEM agencies in the UK (Source: Google) and will be celebrating our 5th birthday in August 2016. We’re PPC experts who strive to generate the best results for our clients by making the most of their advertising budgets, no matter how large or small.

Why Choose Us?

At Loud Mouth Media we have the experience and expertise to make your campaign a success. A reputation built on fantastic results and happy clients means over 90% of our business is inbound, and our promise is to only take on campaigns that we genuinely feel will offer the client positive performance and returns. After all, your campaign’s success is our success. Being recognised by Google as one of the top three agencies in the UK provides us with direct access and support from the IMEA Google Headquarters. Loud Mouth Media gains access to industry trends, new product launches, strategic one-to-one training and invitations to exclusive events such as Mobile Gurus. Having access to new betas enables our clients to access new innovations and be first to market before competitors flood this space.

aSpecialist agency focusing exclusively on PPC management

aBespoke service to meet the individual aFully managed service including needs of your business

in depth research, account build, management and reporting

aRegistered Google Agency with access

to exclusive tools and training directly from Google

aIndustry experts ranked in the top three SEMs in the UK (Source: Google)

aCertified in Google AdWords, Search

Advertising, Display Advertising, Shopping Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising, Google Analytics and Bing Ads Accredited Professional

What Is PPC Advertising?

Unlike many other forms of advertising, PPC is highly targeted, measurable and best of all, you only pay when you get results. With PPC you can choose exactly who sees your ads and where they are positioned, whether that’s text ads on the Search Engine results page or display ads on websites and social media networks. We create and manage PPC campaigns to help you grow your business, reach promising new markets and connect to your target customers at the perfect time. Simply choose a budget you are comfortable with and leave the rest to the PPC Professionals. After all, you’ll be too busy running your business!

Is PPC Advertising suitable for my business?

No matter what you specialise in the answer is yes - our clients span across a wide range of industries including FMCG, Retail, Financial, Healthcare, Technology and Tourism.

Where do I sign up?

We would love to hear from you! Drop us an email at telling us a bit about your business and your objectives for a no obligations bespoke proposal outlining exactly what we can do to ensure your campaign is a massive success!

Atlas Communications brings Wi-Fi to key fishing ports in Northern Ireland


tlas has been working throughout 2015 and into 2016 to deliver our wireless based Internet Services across Northern Ireland, from over two hundred of Belfast’s businesses to delivering free public Wi-Fi into Derry City and Strabane District council public buildings. Two years ago provision of public access wireless was a small part of our business, since then it’s grown rapidly. What’s not to like about wireless? For the user it’s convenient and there are more wireless devices out there than wired. For a business, it looks convenient for both internal and guest use, but it is challenging to deploy with a lot of factors to consider. If you have ever used a public Wi-Fi service that seems to

freeze or disconnect frequently you will know it’s not so straightforward to get it right. In late 2015 Atlas Communications secured a new contract to provide public Wi-Fi at three of Northern Ireland’s key fishing ports funded by the European Fisheries Fund. This project was a perfect case study in how many variables could be involved in getting it right. The contract, with Northern Ireland Fishery Harbour Authority, has seen the ports of Kilkeel, Portavogie and Ardglass become wireless hubs for tourists, visitors and locals alike. Delivering a unique solution to the busiest working fishing harbours in Northern Ireland, under a tight time restraint proved to be a challenge. The fully wireless solution was installed in a difficult environment, with engineers battling saltwater and occasional high winds to get the solution up and running. Getting good wireless coverage was key but unlike an office, the area wasn’t flat. Normal surveys of the wireless spectrum reveal sources of interference that have to be worked around, for this project; there were ships radars to contend with.

by Richard Simpson, managing director, Atlas Communications.

Then there was the accessibility question. The fishermen and Harbour Authority set the challenge of ensuring that the solution was accessible in multiple languages including Romanian, Polish, Lithuanian and Tagalog, to meet the needs of expats working in the local fishing industry. The installation of a public access Wi-Fi service based around the three fishing harbours will be of use to the fishermen, other business users as well as promoting the harbour and local communities. It will be available to tourists and visitors ensuring connectivity during their visit so they can make the most of the attractions available. Atlas aims to provide ubiquitous wireless coverage that can be easily accessed by the public through a login landing page which displays tourist information provided by the local council. Atlas provides in-premises and hosted data and telephony solutions to businesses across Northern Ireland and can be contacted at 028 9078 6868.



Digital marketing: THE BIG QUESTIONS by Nick Read, chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Ireland


he fast-paced growth of the digital landscape provides an opportunity for businesses to reach new markets, communicate their brand and drive sales. But the dynamic nature of online media has proven to be a challenge for marketers in companies of all sizes. The big questions: How do I keep on top of new developments so that I get impact from my investment? And what happens if something goes wrong? An area of concern for businesses is how to manage time, talent and knowledge in order to maximise their return on investment with online assets. A fuller understanding of the capabilities of new technology and how they can benefit an organisation are imperative. To support marketers, CIM has organised a masterclass from two experts in the world of digital marketing on 12 April 2016 at Ulster University Business School in Belfast. Digital Allies’ Managing Director, Steven Parker, and paid search specialist John Cave from Biddable will host the half-day conference, bringing you up to speed on the latest in the industry so that you can gain a competitive edge online and learn insider tips for the future. The masterclass is open to CIM members and non-members, and can be booked on the CIM website. An added benefit of attending is that each business will receive a report on their website presence as a starting point to create positive changes. The way Google evaluates and ranks your website is always changing, but this session will help future proof your business. You'll be equipped with practical, easy-to-implement advice on how to employ effective and up-todate SEO and PPC practices so that you can attract more traffic to your site.

Rethinking SEO for 2016

Steven Parker, a CIM tutor, will focus on ‘Rethinking SEO for 2016’, providing practical tips on a range of topics such as achieving technical excellence, content marketing, creation and syndication, strategic search considerations, and the role of social media in


assisting visibility. Steven said: “This seminar is relevant to all businesses, particularly those within the service sector as they are now starting to understand the importance of being visible in search engines. With Google becoming more of a knowledge engine, publishing content which answers questions is becoming more important. We will be touching on the changing environment within search engines, how they have evolved over time and looking at the technical aspects of setting up a website. We will also be dispelling a few myths that having a social media presence means you have a good SEO presence.” John Cave will comment on 'Expanding your paid campaigns in Google and beyond' and cover PPC, the top 10 tips to optimising your AdWords, the emergence of native advertising, Facebook’s paid adverts and using paid traffic to benefit your content outreach efforts. Digitalisation provides many business opportunities, but it also brings increased competition – for visibility, engagement, brand awareness and ultimately sales. With the potential for communications to go viral through social media, the fear of making a mistake looms large in the minds of many businesses. If staff do or say something negative online or offline, this could expose your business to criticism. The potential for customers to voice their opinion of your brand has never been greater, with the ease of rating and review systems playing a huge part in so many websites like Trip Advisor and social networks such as Facebook.

Social media – the legal perspective

It’s important to understand that in today’s digital world, no person or company will ever have 100% control over what is said about them. But this was never the case – customers have always talked about the good or bad experiences they have had with a company. It’s just that now those comments have the capability to move from a small circle of friends or colleagues to a much wider,

potentially global, audience. As part of your brand’s reputation management, putting practices in place that give your online communications better structure is a good place to start. Controlling access to outgoing content, whether it’s on your website or social media, is imperative. One company director recently said to me: “We take a huge amount of time and care over our advertising and press releases, yet when it came to our social media, we let so many people get involved - from our marketing intern to our branch managers who really weren’t writers. Our message wasn’t clear or consistent, and had the potential to go wrong.” This is a common error, which was well publicised when HMV’s company Twitter account was taken over by staff members who’d been made redundant in January 2013. To help companies look at the legal perspective of their employees’ social media usage, CIM will be running a lunchtime seminar on 22 March 2016 in Belfast, which is free for members but open to all. Aisling Byrne, associate solicitor from Cleaver Fulton, will look at recent law cases on social media, with a focus on issues and actions marketers can take to protect and enhance their brand’s online reputation. For more information about upcoming events organised by CIM, go to

Are you missing out on R&D? R esearch and Development (R&D) is considered a valuable tool for growing and improving your business, playing a critical role in the innovation of your products, services and processes. When a business takes time to invest in R&D, they also increase the knowledge that they have access to – useful knowledge that can be used to further develop main products, services and processes.

What does R&D mean?

R&D involves researching your market, customer and your business needs; it also involves developing new and improved products, services and processes to meet those needs.

Does R&D require a large capital investment?

Whilst there are companies that have billions to spend on their R&D, this is not a requirement and should not be a barrier to small and medium companies taking time to invest in further development of their products and processes. Governments are recognising the importance of innovation to the economy and funding and tax reliefs for investment in R&D are becoming more readily available. As such R&D has become a major buzz phrase throughout Northern Ireland. Depending upon company size, there are generous tax reliefs available for R&D expenditure. However, our experience has shown that many companies are unaware that they are eligible and therefore are not claiming their full tax reliefs.

What could R&D tax credits be worth to my business?

From April 1 2015, the R&D tax relief was increased to 230 per cent of the qualifying R&D expenditure incurred by the business. For example: Qualifying Profit Making Companies: A profitable SME, that spends £100,000 on an R&D project can get an additional deduction of £130,000 from its taxable profits with a tax saving of £26,000. Qualifying Loss Making Companies: For a loss making SME, the loss can be carried back against the prior year profits and get a tax refund; or carried forward against future trading profits; or can be surrendered to HMRC in return for money back. If a loss making SME spends £100,000 on an R&D project it could get back 33.35p for every £1 spent.

What qualifies for R&D expenditure?

R&D expenditure can be of two types:

Product Development: where your company has invested into the development of a new or significantly improved product. This can range from a food producer adapting a recipe so it has a longer shelf life or a distributor improving its packaging to make it stronger and reduce damage to the product during transportation.

exploring the use of newer cheaper materials in its products. From experience, process development is one of the main areas where a company has engaged in innovation but is not aware of it, doesn’t make the claim and therefore loses out on the relief. It is important that as you develop and grow your business, you recognise the areas that may be eligible for additional tax relief as getting back investment through tax reliefs can bring a welcome cash injection.

Is my business eligible?

Process Development: where your company has developed a new or improved approach to how you carry out your operations or finds a solution to a problem which results in a better manufacturing process or delivery of service. Examples may include a manufacturer changing their processes to increase efficiencies and reduce downtime or a manufacturing company

So long as you are a limited company, often the answer is yes. Sole traders, partnerships and LLPs do not qualify for this significant relief. If your company is making something better, faster, cheaper or more efficient then your R&D project may qualify. The important thing to remember is that to qualify as R&D, the project doesn’t have to succeed nor does it have to be something revolutionary. Talk to our team for a free initial consultation and we can work with you to see if you are eligible to make a successful claim.

For further information contact:

Leona Leonard Head of Tax Planning



Ensuring a vibrant family business structure will secure economic growth by Ian Smyth, Ulster University Business School

The statistics around family firm’s survival have often been quoted – the Family Business Institute suggests that only about 30 per cent of family businesses survive into the second generation, 12 per cent into the third generation, and only about three per cent of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond. Ian Smyth 52


pproximately 75 per cent of firms in Northern Ireland are classed as being ‘family firms’ according to recent statistics. Given the focus on the region’s private sector in driving economic growth, shown by the recent agreement on corporation tax, what challenges face these family firms that form the backbone of the Northern Ireland economy? The research on Family Controlled Businesses (FCBs) has grown in recent years, particularly with regards to what makes such firms unique. Whilst family firms come in all shapes and sizes, the vast majority of Northern Irish family firms are both owned and managed by the family in question, with one or more family members being involved in the day-today control. The majority will be small to medium sized Enterprises also, given that 99.88 per cent of Northern Ireland companies are SME’s (classed as 1-240 employees). It is recognised that ensuring competent family leadership across the generations is one of the most relevant challenges for a family firm’s continuity. The issue of generational succession, i.e. the transfer of leadership from one family member to another, has dominated the family firm landscape for the past few decades. The statistics around family firm’s survival have often been quoted – the Family Business Institute suggests that only about 30 per cent of family businesses survive into the second generation, 12 per cent into the third generation, and only about three per cent of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond. Ensuring success for the economy in Northern Ireland therefore means also ensuring success for its family firms. In looking at this issue, the Ulster University Business School, in partnership with Harbinson Mulholland, held an event to celebrate the Northern Irish family firm sector and also ask what the keys to success are for family firms. Over 100 delegates heard keynote addresses from Andrew Keyt, President, Family Business Network in North America, Vincent Carton, Managing Director of Manor Farm and William Barnett, CEO of W&R Barnett. Issues that were highlighted included strategic planning for the future of the family firms units; criteria for ownership and

involvement in the running of the family firm; trust between the top management teams and across the generations and communication through regular family meetings were just some of the insights gathered from the varied keynote stories. This was followed up with a panel Q&A involving the keynote speakers along with Stephen Stewart, Managing Director, Mervyn Stewart; Patrick Leonard, Partner, Harbinson Mulholland; and Lorraine Bell, Sales Director, GPS Colour Graphics Ltd. In one of the many highlights in the event, Real Learning Ltd provided originally scripted role play scenarios. Two actors interspersed the panel Q&A with scenes that were designed to provoke thought and audience interaction – one delegate noted that after the event, he and his father had a conversation on the way home that they had previously avoided around the future of the company. It is important to shine a spotlight on the vital role that family businesses provide in our economy and some of the unique challenges that they can face. Starting the thought process around issues like succession as early as possible will go a long way to meeting the challenge head on. Many great firms can often be synonymous with the family name over the door – how does that translate into better loyalty for your customers and greater longevity for your firm? Whilst some challenges for family firms remain constant, the thorny issue of succession being the prime example, others shift with the economic and social landscape. Preparing for the challenges ahead will enable greater success for the future. For more advice and to sign up to the mailing list for future family business workshops, please visit the Ulster University Centre for SME Development’s website at or email for more information

9 out of 10 firms are stable or growing: InterTradeIreland Business Monitor T he latest quarterly Business Monitor Report (October to December 2015) shows that for the first time since 2013 almost nine out of 10 (89 per cent) firms are stable or growing, although the momentum of growth is showing signs of diminishing and being replaced by stability. The research by InterTradeIreland shows that 41 per cent of companies from Northern Ireland are reporting growth. Interestingly this figure drops slightly to 37 per cent for Co Antrim based companies, perhaps a reflection on several recent high profile closures in the area. Conversely, in spite of global pressures, the strongest sector of all is manufacturing with almost half of firms questioned reporting growth. In a sign of concern about the strength of the domestic market, the leisure, hotels and catering sector was weakest with less than a quarter (23 per cent) anticipating an increase in trade. The priority of pressures for businesses has changed over the last quarter and is now topped by concerns typical of a growing economy. More than half of businesses are citing competition and discounting by competitors (both at 54 per cent) as a key issue for their business. While this is not ideal for individual firms, it is a sign of a relatively healthy market. When coupled with cashflow worries at 49 per cent, it is indicative of business conditions with low margins in a competitive market. However, this needs to be balanced by 68 per cent of firms reporting to be quite profitable or very profitable which can perhaps be linked o increases in business efficiency. Companies are ‘running lean’ with 77 per cent close to or at full capacity and encouragingly this picture is fairly consistent across all company sizes and sectors. Once again the trends are showing that businesses which export are forging ahead of those solely focussed on their home markets. 54 per cent of companies with cross-border sales are experiencing growth compared to 30% which don’t. This is particularly dominant in companies with more than 50 employees where 70 per cent of those that export are experiencing growth compared to 51 per cent of SMEs and 35 per cent of micro companies. Aidan Gough, Strategy and Policy Director at InterTradeIreland said; “An intensely competitive market, relatively low input costs

and discounting from competitors, while signs of a healthy market place, especially from a consumers’ point of view, are nonetheless constraining firms’ ability to grow. Those that are, are characterised by their investment in innovation and exporting to new markets, including the cross-border market on the island.” Employment has remained fairly static this quarter with most gains in those with 50 or more employees where 40 per cent increased their workforce compared to just five per cent for small or micro companies. Encouragingly 17 per cent of companies are expecting to increase their employees over the coming months, with only three per cent concerned about any shortage of skills. Aidan continued: “With the lack of inflationary pressures in the marketplace the immediate threat of an increase in interest rates appears to have abated again for the present. “We asked companies what they felt the effect would be in terms of borrowing or debt if rates were to increase in the future. “Two fifths (39 per cent) of businesses felt that there would be consequences for them with 15 per cent of those with more than 50 employees feeling this would have a lot of impact, presumably as borrowing and leverage is higher in these firms. “Although almost half of companies (45 per cent) felt that they were in a good position to apply for funding, this appears to be along the tried and tested avenues which may be less economically advantageous and not viable for

a sustained period. “Seventy-seven per cent of companies had no knowledge of other options open to them including crowd funding, private equity, trade credit, peer to peer lending and mezzanine finance. “Our upcoming Meet the Funder events in Belfast and Dublin will seek to address this knowledge gap for many firms on the island.” he finished. “ InterTradeIreland’s quarterly Business Monitor survey is the largest and most comprehensive business survey on the island and is based on the views of more than 750 business managers across Northern Ireland and Ireland. It differs from other surveys in that it is seen to be the ‘voice of local businesses’ feeding directly from telephone interviews conducted with a robust sample of firms of all sizes from across a range of sectors to track all-island economic indicators such as sales, employment, business outlook and other specific topical research areas on a quarter by quarter basis. For more information on InterTradeIreland and its business support programmes, please visit A copy of the 2015 Q4 InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Executive Summary can be viewed at: researchandpublications/business_monitor

Business Monitor highlights

• 89% of firms now stable or growing • 41% of Northern Ireland firms reporting growth • New competition (54%) and discounting by competitors (54%) top of business concerns overtaking cashflow (49%) • 77% of firms close to or at full capacity • Manufacturing strongest sector with almost half of firms in growth mode (47%) • 40% of manufacturers with more than 50 employees increased employment levels



New Managing Partner for Arthur Cox Catriona Gibson becomes first female to lead a top-tier Northern Ireland law firm

Arthur Cox managing partner Catriona Gibson with Alan Taylor who is now to be Chairman.


eading law firm Arthur Cox has appointed Catriona Gibson as Managing Partner of its Northern Ireland practice. Catriona becomes the first female to assume leadership of a top-tier law firm in Northern Ireland and will lead a practice of 90, whilst continuing to head the highly respected Dispute Resolution team. She takes over the Managing Partner role from Alan Taylor, under whose eight-year tenure the firm has gone from strength to strength. Alan, meanwhile, becomes Chairman of Arthur Cox’s Belfast office. Catriona joined the firm 10 years ago, following a very successful career in England. She specialises in commercial, product liability and finance litigation, and has worked on many of the most high-profile cases to come before the courts in Northern Ireland and London. Speaking of her new role, Catriona said: “It’s a tremendous honour to lead one of the


most respected advisory teams in Northern Ireland. Our firm in Belfast has a history that stretches back almost 100 years, and it is remarkable what we have built under Alan’s term – a firm with truly global reach and capabilities, one that is a natural adviser to the largest multinationals operating here. “Looking forwards, we are committed to the local marketplace and committed to providing trusted and innovative advice to an ever-growing national and international client base. “I have learnt much from Alan’s leadership and will continue to value his counsel as we further build our reputation for nuanced and pragmatic advice.” Alan Taylor, now Chairman of Arthur Cox in Northern Ireland, commented: “Catriona is unparalleled locally within professional services for the strength of her capabilities and the international locus that she has brought right to the heart of Northern

Ireland’s professional service community. “She has been a leading light within the practice for many years, highly regarded by clients and peers alike as an excellent advisor who is not only technically very strong but also very commercially-minded. “Catriona has been a major driver of Arthur Cox’s success and has been heavily involved in a number of genuinely pioneering legal developments in recent years. I look forward to working closely with Catriona in her new role, in which I know she will be a huge success.” Arthur Cox is ranked as one of the leading law firms in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by both Chambers and Legal 500 and currently advises Government, leading corporate clients and the SME sector. The firm employs over 90 people in Belfast with additional offices in Dublin, London, New York and Silicon Valley.

What ‘Making Tax Digital’ may mean for your business T by Patrick Gallen, chairman, Chartered Accountants Ulster Society

We believe that any proposal to increase the frequency of payments from small business to HMRC would be anticompetitive due to the increased compliance burden and inevitable cash-flow difficulties. We also need some urgent clarification of what the phrase ‘simpler payments’ is likely to entail. Patrick Gallen

he November 2015 Autumn Statement was the Chancellor’s fourth tax speech in just under a year. While new tax announcements were few and far between compared to the Summer Budget, the proposed move to quarterly on-line record keeping for taxpayers, as part of the “Making Tax Digital project”, has the potential to be transformative. A key feature of the project is that changes may oblige small businesses and the selfemployed to report to HMRC four times a year, instead of just once a year on their annual tax return. An obvious concern is that an increase in the regularity of reports to HMRC will eventually lead to an increase in the frequency of tax payments for small businesses and the selfemployed. If introduced, this could lead to serious cashflow problems for businesses across Northern Ireland and could create a great deal more compliance and red tape. How would you like to report on and pay your taxes four times a year rather than just once? This proposal was originally born in the March 2015 Budget with scant details emerging since then. If delivered, the changes could have a significant impact on the nature of tax compliance work right across the UK. However, it’s well known that HMRC’s track record of delivery on digital services has not been particularly strong in recent times. In December 2015, HM Revenue & Customs officially launched the project roadmap. Under the government’s “Making Tax Digital” project, £1.3 billion is to be spent to transform HMRC into “one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world”. HMRC are planning to make available free apps and software for smaller businesses who in future will be required to update HMRC at least quarterly via digital tax accounts. Neither pensioners nor employees will be required to join this brave new world, unless they have other income aside from pensions or salaries totalling more than £10,000 per year. The government is to consult on the details of quarterly reporting later in 2016. A second arm to this project is to consider options to “simplify” the payment of taxes, including considering whether to align payment dates and bring them closer to the point when profits arise, so that taxpayers make a single regular payment that covers all their tax affairs. Consultation on the “simpler” payments aspect of the project is expected over the next few months.

These announcements prompted a parliamentary debate on Monday 25 January 2015. Prior to that debate, Chartered Accountants Ulster Society wrote to all Northern Ireland MPs to advise them of the profession’s concerns around the Making Tax Digital payment and filing proposals. We believe that any proposal to increase the frequency of payments from small business to HMRC would be anti-competitive due to the increased compliance burden and inevitable cash-flow difficulties. We also need some urgent clarification of what the phrase ‘simpler payments’ is likely to entail. At the debate on Monday 25 January, several MPs were particularly vocal in their support for smaller businesses. Sammy Wilson MP pointed out that the proposed new arrangements would involve substantial extra work for businesses. He wanted to know will businesses find themselves overpaying tax at the beginning of the year and then having to get a rebate at the end if end-of-year adjustments have reduced the tax burden, if there is a quarterly requirement to pay tax? That, as Mr Wilson rightly pointed out, would cause havoc for a business’s cash flow. Fearghal McKinney MLA and Margaret Ritchie MP have also been quick to raise their concerns on the impact for local businesses. All of this follows the announcement in November 2015 of the next steps in HMRC’s ten year modernisation plan. This will mean the closure of many of their existing offices across the United Kingdom; by 2020-2021 there will be one single regional centre in Northern Ireland based in Belfast. As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, the biggest number of office closures is scheduled to take place over 2017/18. Chartered Accountants Ireland and Chartered Accountants Ulster Society will be engaging with HMRC on the Making Taxes Digital project. It will be equally important for business and our MPs to make their voice heard as the proposals develop and take shape.


Top 10 Tips for your business in 2016

In this article, Alistair Cooke, director, ASM Chartered Accountants outlines his top ten business tips for 2016 some interaction with new technology, whether its emails, social media or cloud accounting. In many businesses new technologies can improve the way a business operates or allows the business to reach customers not possible before. Don’t rush out and follow every new trend which appears but do allow technology to help you grow your business or improve the efficiency of your business.

8. Be charitable!

1.Decide on goals or a plan for your business.

If we don’t have any plans or goals for our business how can we measure if the year will be successful or not? This does not have to be a 50-page full business plan, it can be three simple things which you have decided you are going to do or achieve in your business this year. Write them down and review them on a periodic basis.

2. Chase up late payers sooner!

Cash flow is the lifeblood of all businesses, and poor controls over cash is the biggest reason that businesses fail. You can be running a profitable business but if your customers are not paying you on time, very quickly your business will cease to exist. Set aside a specific time in the week or month to follow up those people who promised you the cheque was in the post!

3. Keep your books in order.

Keeping the records of your business in order is vitally important for all businesses for many different reasons. Aside from helping you to meet any tax/statutory obligations it also allows you to regularly review the performance of your business and also the keep an eye on money owed by customers or owed to suppliers. If you struggle with the record keeping don’t be afraid to ask for help, a few hours a week spent now can save you a lot of time and anxiety later.

4. Review your business’ tax savings Get educated on the savings you can make


with regards to tax – and if you don’t know – ask your accountant! If you run a family company, consider employing your spouse or taking them into partnership as a way of redistributing income and reducing your tax liability.

5. Individual Savings Accounts – are you maximising your options? For you as an individual, take maximum advantage of Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) – they provide an income tax and capital gains tax free form of investment. This tax year you can invest up to £15,240 in ISAs - the tax year runs from 6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016 – so investments must be made by then. ISA’s are a great way of keeping your tax liabilities down whilst increasing your savings.

Charitable donations made under the Gift Aid scheme can result in significant benefit for both the donor and the charity. Currently the charity is able to claim back 20 per cent basic rate tax on any donations and if the donor is a higher rate taxpayer the gift will qualify for 40 per cent tax relief. Always remember to keep a record of any gifts you make.

9. Capital gains tax - Annual Exemption

The first £11,100 of gains made in 2015/16 are CGT free, being covered by the annual exemption. Each spouse has their own annual exemption, as indeed do children. A transfer of assets between spouses may enable them to utilise their annual exemptions. Consider selling assets standing at a gain before the end of the tax year on 5 April to use the annual exemption.

10. Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice!

6. Review your employment contracts.

When you are in the midst of running a business, it can be hard not to try and do everything yourself. But by taking the time to speak to professionals, whether it be in HR, marketing or accounting, you can actually save yourself precious time and money. Shop around, ask for trusted advice on who is the best to meet your individual needs.

7. Don’t be afraid of new technology.

ASM Chartered Accountants has six offices, Dungannon, Belfast, Dublin, Dundalk, Magherafelt and Newry. The 120 strong team specialises in a range of accountancy disciplines including, corporate finance, insolvency services, forensic accounting, audit & accounting, consultancy services, internal audit, tax, hotel, tourism and leisure. To speak Alistair Cooke, Director, ASM Chartered Accountants, Dungannon, email or call 028 8772 2139 or visit for further details.

Employees are a vital part of most businesses but all too often the relationship we have with our employees is based on trust, and terms and conditions agreed verbally many years ago when things were done differently. A business without employment contracts and proper HR policies is potentially leaving themselves wide open for claims from unhappy or disgruntled employees. If you don’t have the expertise in-house to draw up this documentation, consider engaging an HR consultant who will guide you through the steps you need to take. Not many businesses exist today without



Northern Ireland’s food and drink serves up a tasty tourism future says Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen


udging by the flying start to the year, the tourism industry's appetite for Northern Ireland's 2016 Year of Food and Drink is going to be nothing short of voracious. The volume and range of announcements, events, launches, promotions and general participation in the initiative's opening few weeks, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, has been both impressive and very welcome. No-one can doubt that local fare is now top of the agenda and extremely important to the tourism industry; the trick, of course, will be in sustaining our energy, imagination and commitment throughout a busy year. The celebration of Northern Ireland food and drink is aimed at integrating our unique local offerings into all levels of the tourism experience and in doing so Tourism NI intends to increase food-related visitor satisfaction by five per cent, generate £10 million of positive PR, and support the increase of export sales of our food and drink to £30 million. There is an excellent calendar developing for the year, and I am therefore more than optimistic that these targets will be achieved. This immensely important initiative is giving tourism related business of all types an opportunity to intensify existing efforts to showcase the outstanding taste, quality and variety of our award-winning producers and chefs to local people, at the same time as strengthen our appeal to tourists and business visitors to Northern Ireland.

Programme of events

With Tourism NI as the lead body, in partnership with Food NI, Invest NI, local authorities and government departments, our approach is to focus on a series of events that will take place over the course of the year. Collectively, we're looking at every opportunity to be innovative and to either enhance existing events or create new ones to take advantage of Year of Food and Drink opportunities. From the Balmoral Show to St George’s Market to the LegenDerry Food Festival to the Armagh County Agricultural Show and the Hans Sloane Chocolate festival in Killyleagh, we will be working across the board and with every local authority. The event calendar got a great boost with the announcement that the BBC Good Food Show is coming to the expanded Belfast Waterfront in October; it will provide a superb opportunity to showcase our local produce. Tesco Northern Ireland’s announcement of a £500,000 Year of Food and Drink promotional programme was a further helping of good news. This is already providing an excellent platform for the local food and drinks industry and Tesco will also be supporting the Taste Northern Ireland Festival, set to be the biggest and best yet. Throughout the year, Tourism NI is providing a wide range of support, including a

Tourism NI is determined both to drive the positive momentum forward in 2016 and to keep on target for becoming a £1 billion industry by 2020. John McCrillen

Cate Conway, Q Radio, Ann Moreland, Year of Food and Drink 2016 Project Manager, Tourism NI, Stephen Clements Q Radio


dedicated Year of Food and Drink 2016 events fund, as well industry toolkits, brand guidelines and an integrated marketing and communications plan. We've also completed a series of very successful fully subscribed roadshows, while our annual Tourism Conference in 2016 will explore the importance of food and drink at events, and across attractions and accommodation.


Northern Ireland's food and drink offerings are one of the best vehicles for encouraging visitors to learn about our heritage, landscape and culture and to engage with our people.

Sam and Jean Brown of Brown's Country House, Bushmills with food writer Trish Deseine

First and Deputy First Ministers and Minister Bell with Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan (centre), Laura Biggs BBC Good Food Show and food critic Nigel Barden

Food and drink is also a highly significant proportion of visitor spend: money is generated into the economy every time a visitor goes to a food festival, books a B&B, enjoys a meal out and signs up for a food tour or cookery school place. So our fantastic array of fresh ingredients, wide range of eateries and food events, talented chefs, culinary pioneers, artisan producers and indeed a flourishing foodie culture is hitting its stride at just the right moment. The potential this great food revolution offers for the wider economy and to the local businesses that can reap benefits, publicity and profits from getting involved is huge. I am convinced that as our message about the quality of our local produce spreads out

domestically and internationally in 2016 we will capture the minds, hearts and taste buds of our visitors. Though not yet fully complete, the tourism figures for last year are extremely encouraging. We've had an excellent 2015 and more people than ever are choosing Northern Ireland as a destination. Tourism NI is determined both to drive the positive momentum forward in 2016 and to keep on target for becoming a ÂŁ1 billion industry by 2020. There is potential for an even tastier future for tourism if we maintain our recent impetus and successes, and so the importance of the Year of Food and Drink in driving more uplift in the industry cannot be underestimated.

Niall McKenna, James St South, and Diane Poole OBE, Stenaline, participate in Tourism NI’s attempt to break the world record for flipping pancakes as part of activity for Year of Food and Drink

Tourism NI will be doing everything possible to ensure it achieves everything it is setting out to do. I think it will be a great success and that it will make a major contribution in the drive to grow Northern Ireland tourism to a new level. For further information, toolkits and events please visit

Tourism NI’s Fiona Cunningham celebrates Ulster Fry Day at Connolly Station



A unique conference experience in the heart of Armagh City

rmagh’s Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre has gained a strong reputation, not only for presenting the best in arts performances and activities, but also as one of Northern Ireland’s leading Conference Venues, offering top-quality conference facilities to suit every occasion.


licensed restaurant, coffee house and bar areas so all requirements for hospitality can be expertly catered for in elegant, spacious surroundings.

Disability access…

Auditoria And Meeting Rooms…

We pride ourselves on the versatility and flexibility of our facilities with five rooms available for meetings and conferences of different scales. Our Main Auditorium capacity of 393 makes it an ideal venue for medium to large conferences and product launches. In The Market Place Studio, versatility is the key word with retractable seating for 100 people and flexible seating for 128. The Studio can be configured to suit every type of occasion. The Market Place Theatre’s three other multipurpose rooms offer a host of possibilities for


meetings, breakout sessions, rehearsals and other activities, and can be booked individually. With capacities of 18 to 80 people, these rooms cater for all scales of meeting, and can be configured to suit your needs. Free Wi-Fi is available front-of-house and can be made available in the auditoria and meeting rooms.


The Market Place also houses a fully

Wheelchair access from top level of rear car park. Wheelchair available on site. Lift serves all levels of the building. Infra Red Loop system in Main Auditorium and Studio Theatre. Copper Wire Loop system available in Workshop Room 1 and Workshop Room 2.

Leave Everything To Us…

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff handle all the arrangements for you, leaving you to concentrate on the important business at hand. Contact us to view on [028] 3752 1820 E-mail Visit


Now is the time to invest in Belfast, say experts N ow is a time of unlimited opportunity for investment in Belfast – that was the message coming from the Northern Ireland Commercial Property Investment Review, held in London recently. The event was hosted by MSCI in association with Ulster University. Representatives from the real estate sector in Northern Ireland joined international funds and investors to hear from a range of speakers on why now is the time to invest in commercial property in Belfast. Professor Alastair Adair, Pro Vice Chancellor at Ulster University, said: “Our research has provided us with valuable intelligence which highlights the significant opportunities that Belfast has to offer property investors seeking higher yields in a transparent UK market. “Returns on offer in Belfast are the third strongest of any city in the UK and Ireland, and the risk profile is no different to other UK cities. “The reduction of corporation tax in April 2018 is likely to have a positive impact on commercial property rental growth and demand. Our highly skilled graduates are already a key factor in securing investment across Northern Ireland. “Coupled with the knowledge base and the positive global impact of university-based research, this makes Belfast, and Northern Ireland as a whole, an extremely attractive investment location.”


According to Colm Lauder, Vice-President at MSCI, “Income returns in the Belfast market are amongst the highest in the British Isles, despite the city displaying a similar level of income risk to other cities. This may entice new investors into the market as they eye up discounted assets with strong income profiles and good international tenants.” Belfast City Council Chief Executive Suzanne Wylie told delegates that there has never been a better time to invest in Belfast. “Momentum is gathering pace in Belfast. The planning system is packed full of applications, there are schemes coming out of the ground, the economic outlook is positive – even before the impact of the reduction in corporation tax in April 2018 is properly felt. “It is a good time to invest in Belfast due to the alignment of the conditions which are driving economic growth – particularly FDI, current land values, a coherent strategic approach to developing the city and the planned reduction in corporation tax down to 12.5 per cent. “Our visitor economy has also quadrupled over the past decade and we’re looking to double this over the next five years,” she continued, “and according to the UK Attractiveness Survey 2015, we secured the highest levels of employment from FDI in the UK last year. This is all driving demand for development and investment projects in the city.

“From HBO’s Game of Thrones to Deloitte, IBM, Citi and First Derivatives, our roll call of investment businesses buying into the reality of our story is the main indicator for us that we’re getting this right.” Bill Montgomery, director of International Investment at Invest Northern Ireland also addressed delegates. He commented: “Northern Ireland and Belfast have had a huge success story in securing FDI in key sectors in recent years, far exceeding investment targets and growth of new first time investors. “There is significant confidence and optimism in FDI pipeline and the enhanced Northern Ireland proposition for the future.” FDI Intelligence named Belfast as the most business friendly city of its size in Europe last year, with the Financial Times also referring to the City as ‘a thriving node in the complex network that is the modern international finance market’ last week. Delegates at the event heard that ambitious plans for growth in Belfast are being led by Belfast City Council in a real partnership approach with the private and public sector. The pending reduction in corporation tax, combined with the talent and technology already in place, has presented potential investors with an unprecedented time of unlimited opportunity to invest in commercial real estate in Belfast.


Why does Leadership Matter? Build organisational success in 2016 by focussing on leadership By Olivia May, Programme Director, William J Clinton Leadership Institute


If we can clearly highlight the ways in which leadership contributes to success, then we can ensure that we hold our leaders accountable, and support and develop them as they fulfil their critical role. Olivia May


oo often we see media reports of business failures on a grand scale, Volkswagen being only the latest case in point. Attempting to diagnose what went wrong, the reason given is often a “lack of leadership”. We know, instinctively, that leadership is important for all organisations, but can we precisely put our fingers on the reason why? How does leadership indeed become the vital ingredient in both business success and business failure? If we can clearly highlight the ways in which leadership contributes to success, then we can ensure that we hold our leaders accountable, and support and develop them as they fulfil their critical role. At the William J Clinton Leadership Institute we believe that leadership provides the four fundamental ingredients for organisational success. Without these, a business is like a house built on sand that can wash away. For this reason, we think of them as the four “cornerstones” of organisational success, and they can be summed up as “change”, “culture”, “commitment” and “capability”. Change: we know only too well that businesses that do not change do not survive. Leaders challenge the status quo and drive change, even when it is uncomfortable and difficult. For any organisation it is always much easier to carry on doing things as they have always been done than to reinvent. This is particularly difficult when the organisation has been successful, but leaders recognise that the seeds of failure are present in every success, and the pace of global change requires businesses to be ever more agile, adaptable and forward-looking. Culture: Peter Drucker famously said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. This doesn’t mean that strategy doesn’t matter, but that the culture of an organisation, the invisible set of behaviours and attitudes that drive peoples’ behaviours – “the way we do things round here” - has a more direct impact on every single person in the organisation, and thus on its performance. Where does the culture come from? The answer is that the tone is largely set by the people at the top of the organisation. Effective leaders recognise this and know that when they need to communicate what they

say is meaningless unless it is congruous with what they do. Commitment: leaders, particularly front-line managers, can make the difference between an employee who is committed and motivated, and one who is disengaged and disaffected. The degree to which engaged employees deliver better customer service, solve problems and drive creativity is well understood. Nonetheless, not enough managers recognise and are accountable for simple actions that they can take to build commitment – sometimes it can be as little as thanks for a job well done, or taking into account the fact that the member of staff is a person with responsibilities and a life outside the workplace. Capability: successful organisations use the talents of all their people, at all levels. Too often we see decisions pushed upwards, with front-line staff not being empowered or up-skilled to be able to tackle and solve problems at their level. This causes bottlenecks and wastes human potential. Great leaders realise that their job is to build capability – to continually coach people, build skills and delegate properly so that the people in the organisation get better all the time. This then enables them to take on new tasks, in a continual process of learning and performance improvement.

So how can leaders ensure that they build these cornerstones of success?

The first task we often ask leaders who come on our programmes is to work out how they, in their businesses, add value as a leader. A simple question on the face of it, but critical, and often an eye-opening exercise for the individual as they realise that how they add value as a leader can be very different from those factors that have been important in their career success to date. They recognise that as a leader it is less about what you do personally, and more about what you enable others to do. It is less about the results themselves, but more about creating the conditions for sustainable business success. It is less about responding to today’s crisis, but more about looking forward and predicting tomorrow’s problems.

R&D tax relief – reward for your innovation R esearch and development tax credits are the Government’s most generous funding mechanism, but they are also its most under-claimed. Introduced in 2000 as a means to reward innovation and increase the overall competitiveness of the UK economy, the scheme enables companies that incur costs in developing or improving their products, processes, knowledge or technologies to receive a cash payment or tax deduction. To date, around 5% of UK businesses have taken advantage of R&D Tax credits, with average UK claims sitting at a whopping £46,000. But here in Northern Ireland, only 1% of businesses have tapped into this generous HMRC scheme. This means that as a region, we are losing out on millions of pounds of valuable income. The good news is that one team of local experts is helping businesses to successfully claim what they are legitimately due. Momentum R&D has sustained a 100% success rate in helping Northern Ireland’s innovative and eligible companies maximise their R&D tax relief. Managing Director Tom Verner explains what he and his staff are doing: “As a company, we combine two

essential ingredients in making successful claims. Firstly, we have extensive knowledge of HMRC’s R&D qualification guidelines. And allied to that, we have the ability to gain an intimate understanding of our clients’ businesses in order to identify areas of legitimate R&D. The process itself is simple. We do 90% of the heavy workload, allowing our clients to get on with running their businesses. It’s complex work and we have an experienced team of financial and R&D experts. This means we’re able to prepare all mandatory technical reports along with supporting financial documentation to comply with HMRC’s guidelines. ” It would seem that Momentum’s efforts can be well worthwhile, for with enhanced uplifts of up to 230% on R&D expenditure, there is substantial relief to be claimed. In fact, in 2015, Momentum identified over £24 million for their clients, which in some cases proved a ‘game changer’. Yet as Tom points out, most eligible businesses that could apply are not exploring the relief scheme at all. “I believe this is down to a number of reasons. Many of the companies we deal with are either unaware of the scheme or simply

don’t believe that they qualify. Others that we have gone on to win payments with us were initially advised that they would not qualify. It’s an area that falls outside the expertise of many accountancy practices, so we work closely with a number of forward-thinking accountants, helping them to make successful claims on behalf of their clients”. “The point to remember is that businesses across all sectors in Northern Ireland are performing R&D on a daily basis, and are unnecessarily absorbing costs that qualify for R&D tax relief. HMRC’s most recent statistics show that Northern Ireland still has the lowest claims rate. We’re committed to the increasing the awareness of R&D tax credits in Northern Ireland, making sure local businesses don’t miss out!” Momentum’s model has no upfront costs, and is based on no win, no fee, which eliminates any financial risk in submitting a claim. If you are still in doubt, check out the testimonials on Momentum’s website. Some clients received six to seven figure sums directly into their bank accounts within weeks of claim submission. Now that sounds like good business.



Fire Safety Legislation Northern Ireland by Brendan Doody, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service

The Legislation

The Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 Part III Fire Safety & The Fire Safety (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2010 which came into effect on 15th November 2010.

What has changed?

Fire Certification process has ended. We have now moved to a risk based approach to fire prevention. This is based on self-compliance rather than the previous prescriptive approach. The new Regulations have primacy over the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001.

Where does the legislation apply?

The legislation applies to all premises with the following exceptions:Domestic premises, Construction sites, ships and hovercraft, mines and offshore installations. Premises occupied by armed forces. Borehole sites. Any premises and land other than buildings used as part of agricultural or forestry undertaking.

Who is responsible?

In terms of the legislation this is deemed the “appropriate person” . This can be the: • Employer (including self –employed) • Owner • Occupier • Managing Agent • Landlord or • A person with any degree of control over premises.

What must the appropriate person do?

They must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and ensure that people are able to escape safely in case of a fire. • Carry out a risk assessment to identify any risks to the safety of the persons who legally would be on the premises • Take, in relation to the premises, any fire safety measures that are necessary for the safety of persons in or near the premises. • Review the fire risk assessment. • Ensure the fire risk assessment is carried out by a competent person* • If the appropriate person does not feel capable or if the premises are complicated , they can appoint a competent person* to assist but the appropriate person still retains responsibility. • They must co-operate and co-ordinate with other persons with shared responsibility in premises Competent person* - is someone with


sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities, to enable them to implement the appropriate fire safety measures.

What does a fire risk assessment involve?

It is an organised and methodical look at the premises, the activities within the premises, the potential for a fire to occur and the harm it could cause to the people in and around the premises. • The existing fire safety measures are evaluated and kept under review to establish whether they are adequate or if more are necessary. • Identify the fire hazards and risks associated with the premises, materials/substances, activities etc. • Identify the people, or groups of people at risk and anyone who may be especially at risk • Remove and reduce the risks as far as reasonably possible • Put in place general fire precautions to deal with any remaining risks • Implement additional preventative and protective measures if flammable or explosive substances are used or stored on the premises • Develop and implement appropriate emergency procedures in the event of a fire v If you have five or more employees, or require a licence or registration, you must record the significant findings of the fire risk assessment and any actions you have taken to remove/reduce the risk. • The Fire Risk Assessment should then be reviewed periodical.

What is the role of NIFRS?

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service is the enforcing authority and will visit premises to ensure compliance with fire safety legislation. Primarily we will seek to: Educate Inform and Enforce Except in the most serious of cases, NIFRS will work with you to achieve a satisfactory level of fire safety. The Audit process may be initiated in any of the following ways: After a complaint After a fire As part of NIFRS risk based targeted program.

The Audit process

Premises will be initially contacted by phone to arrange a time and date to carry out

the audit. If we fail to gain contact by phone written notification by NIFRS of request to carry out audit of the premises will be made. This will usually be 5 week’s notice. Advisory note will be included with request stating documentation to be audited. The Inspecting Officer may audit all or part of the building may talk to various members of staff. Documentation required: • Fire Risk Assessment • Fire Precautions Logbook • Records of testing / maintenance of firefighting equipment, and fire safety systems such as fire alarm, emergency lighting, sprinkler systems etc. • Records of staff training and fire drills. • Written management policy. The outcome of the audit will determine what, if any enforcement measures are needed.

Methods of Enforcement

This will take the form of Informal and Formal Enforcement. The informal enforcement will take the form of:• Notice of deficiencies. • Action plans. This will be were the Responsible Person has shown a willingness to comply with the Regulations. Where there are more serious breaches of the Regulations or the Responsible Person has not shown a willingness to comply with the Regulations then we may do the following:• Enforcement notices. • Prohibition notices. • Alterations notices. • Public Register • Prosecutions. NIFRS believes in firm but fair enforcement:• Principles of proportionality • Consistency in approach • Transparency in how we operate • Accountability for our actions NIFRS Enforcement policy can be downloaded from fireSAFE section at

Additional Information

Additional Information can be found in the following sources. • fireSAFE leaflets and booklet • – fireSAFE section • NIFRS Community fire safety offices • CLG fire safety risk assessment guides


CD Fairfield announces opening of new insolvency department T

Ed Walsh has joined CD Fairfield and will lead the new Insolvency Department


his welcome addition extends the level of service available to new and existing clients to include advice and implementation of Individual Voluntary Arrangements to complement our hugely successful consensual debt and debt restructuring products. The natural progression of the business is to make this much-needed service available to both new and existing customers in-house. The credentials of Edward Walsh are second to none. A Licensed Insolvency Practitioner of high standing and authorised by Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI), he works in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. For twenty years he has served as a representative of CAI on the Insolvency Committee of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies in Ireland (CCABI), the entity which represents all of the major accountancy bodies in the country. In addition, in autumn 2002 he became a member of the Insolvency Licencing Committee of the Chartered Accountants’ Regulatory Board (CARB). Fourteen years on, he continues to serve the ILC in this prestigious position. Managing Director Phil Davison had the following to say on Ed's appointment, "The ability to add somebody of Ed's experience and skillset to our team is a great achievement for CD Fairfield. We're looking forward to taking the success of our personal insolvency service over to the mainland over the next year". Director Tom Cardwell adds, "Ed's addition to the team is a culmination of 2 years' hard graft to bring CD Fairfield to the forefront of personal insolvency. We're happy to welcome him and look forward to working together." The creation of this new insolvency department places CD Fairfield in a unique and coveted space; being one of the few holistic debt companies in Northern Ireland to offer statutory and non-statutory debt solutions under one roof. This is no mean feat

and requires direct authorisation from the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), while Ed is directly regulated by CARB. CD Fairfield’s unique, all-encompassing status enables both clients and their representatives to engage their services with total confidence. Not only have they operated at the forefront of the secured debt solutions industry for over five years in Northern Ireland, they have assisted hundreds of clients to resolve millions of pounds of problematic and generally historical property debt. This worthy addition increases the capability to advise and represent clients with the best possible outcome in mind and all from within their busy nerve centre based at 20 Mount Charles, Belfast. Ed is supported by CD Fairfield stalwarts Kyle Waterworth (Associate Director) and Heather Macartney (Insolvency Manager). Kyle has more than nine years of experience in this field, having previously worked for the local insolvency and restructuring sectors of Moore Stephens Chartered Accountants and KPMG. Prior to joining CD Fairfield as an Associate Director in November 2014, he worked for the Ulster Bank within the RBS Capital Resolution Group, dealing with customers with distressed loans of up to £15m. Heather brought a wealth of expertise to CD Fairfield in the form of 16-plus years of experience specialising in personal insolvency matters as well as corporate insolvency cases including liquidations and administrations. Ed commented, “This is a phenomenal business and I’m delighted to be working with CD Fairfield. I like the business, I like the modus operandi and there is a fantastic opportunity to provide essential debt services to the huge number of individuals who require both statutory and non-statutory debt advice. The team here are committed, experienced and knowledgeable and that’s the backbone of a great working environment.”

Improve wellbeing and save money


overnment-led salary sacrifice schemes have for years allowed companies nation-wide to contribute what they normally pay in tax towards pensions, childcare vouchers or the bike to work scheme. Thanks to this government-led initiative for all UK businesses, both employers and employees can also take advantage of this tax benefit scheme that allows individuals to invest in their health and wellbeing. The ability to simultaneously improve wellbeing and save money is exactly what Randox Health is delivering through their Workplace Wellbeing programme. By taking what you would usually pay as tax and investing it in your health instead, employees can save up to 62 per cent on their income tax and National Insurance and employers can save 13.8 per cent on their National Insurance Contributions. Jason Webster Business Manager of Randox Health, says the significance of our Workplace Wellbeing initiative is that by taking a simple

yet sophisticated blood test, employees not only benefit financially, but also gain personal insight to prevent ill health and disease at a stage when corrective action can be taken. The payment plan for the scheme operates on a monthly basis, which means that the cost is spread over 12 months. No need for cash or card transactions, monthly payments are transferred at source. Depending on tax bracket savings of up to 62 per cent can be made on the cost of a Randox Health preventative programme. “The Randox Health Workplace Wellbeing programme is the most advanced diagnostic service in the world. Both employers and employees can have access to our unique premium service at a fraction of the cost, as a completely tax-free initiative at no extra cost to the business. In addition to this, taking care of the health and wellbeing of your employees will reduce absenteeism and costs, resulting in improved productivity making this a win-win programme,� says Jason. From a simple blood test, which can take

place within the workplace, results can comprehensively identify the health and function of your organs, cancer surveillance, nutritional health, sexual health and fertility amongst our portfolio of 150 disease indicators. This is followed up with a scientific report, personalised health plan, consultation with a GP and ongoing retesting where necessary for each employee. The Randox Health Workplace Wellbeing programme can save you from potential illness and disease in the future. Empower your employees to find out how healthy they really are and how they can continually improve their wellbeing. Don’t leave the health of your workforce to chance. Let Randox Health Workplace Wellbeing take control of your future business health. For more information contact the team at Randox Health now. Tel: 0800 2545 130 Email: Website:



Categories, compartments and the problems they can create by Simon Bridge, visiting professor at Ulster University


e like categories. The world is complex and therefore, to try to make sense of it, we like to group similar things together to reduce the apparent variety with which we are faced. For instance, when we study nature it helps to divide the different organisms that we see into categories. Birds have a lot in common and so do trees - so, if we think something is a bird, we can expect it to look and behave like other birds – for instance to walk on two legs and often be able to fly, and if we think it is a tree then we expect it to be a large static plant with a hard woody trunk. So, by categorising them in that way, we do not always have to assess each creature we encounter separately. When dealing with living organisms there are usually evolutionary reasons for placing them in objectively distinguishable groups between which there are real intrinsic differences. Thus, when we are dealing with categories such as different species of animal, the distinction can be helpful. But when the categories are invented, not real, it can lead to problems. Sometimes, because it is convenient to categorise things, we do invent categories -


and often then we come to believe that the categories we have invented actually exist and we assume that everything we have placed in them conforms to uniform stereotypes. Further, having categorised things, we then compartmentalise them by assuming both that those things which we have placed in the same category are very similar to each other and that the things we have placed in different categories are so different that they should be treated in a distinctly separate way.

Private and Public economies

For instance in our economic thinking it is convenient to divide an economy into the private and public sectors – or also the third sector because it is clear that there are some organisations which clearly are in neither of the other two sectors. But then we start to think that those organisations we have placed in the same sector are all very similar and very distinct from organisations in the other sectors. Sometimes, however, our categorisation leads us to group together things that actually are very different. We put both caterpillars and butterflies into the same category when we

insist that Cabbage White caterpillars and Cabbage White butterflies are the same species, even though they look, and behave, very differently. Often we construct diagrams showing the different categories separated by boundaries between them - for instance drawing lines to distinguish the different sectors in a diagram of an economy. Then problems arise when we start to believe that the lines we have drawn on a diagram must have some relationship to reality and that they represent clear real boundaries between those things we have artificially categorised as being separate. Traditionally we categorise the colours in the spectrum of visible light into the seven different shades of violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. But can we objectively state where the boundaries are between those shades and, without clear boundaries, can we reliably and meaningfully categorise them like that? We may be able to distinguish the core of one colour from the core of another - but there are so many graduations between them that we cannot say where one changes into

Often small social enterprises and small private sector businesses have much more in common with each other than either of them do with larger organisations supposed in the same sector. However, because we categorise then separately, we think of them as being different. Professor Simon Bridge another. And economies are similar – the cores of the different sectors may clearly be different but often the boundaries are very vague. Inappropriate categorisation therefore can lead us to see false similarities or false differences – and both of these problems can arise when we try to categorise businesses. We refer to some organisations as businesses and then we tend to assume that all businesses are alike - although it was over 50 years ago that Edith Penrose’s observed that: ‘The differences in the administrative structure of the very small and the very large firms are so great that in many ways it is hard to see that the two species are of the same genus. ... We cannot define a caterpillar and then use the same definition for a butterfly.’ It is also over 35 years since David Birch pointed out that it was small businesses, and not big businesses, which were the net creators of new jobs – and it was probably his work, more than that of Edith Penrose, which led us to recognise small businesses as a separate category from big businesses. Nevertheless, despite referring to them separately, we still think of small businesses as a form of business and consider them, and the enterprise which creates them, to be a sub-set of business. So enterprise is pigeonholed with business which prevents us from appreciating its wider applications and usefulness.

Business is more than the big ones

Often our thinking about businesses is based on big businesses, because that is the basis of much professional business learning and teaching in business schools. But unthinkingly we apply that big businessbased thinking to anything we label a business – thus assuming a false similarity instead of recognising that, even within the private business sector, there are many differences and small businesses are both very diverse and not small big businesses. As well as small businesses, another category of businesses which we now seem to recognise is social enterprises. One reason why we didn’t give much thought to them earlier may be because we didn’t have a vocabulary for them and therefore, while we might have encountered social enterprises, without a label for them as a category we often overlooked them and failed to recognise their overall contribution. Now, however, having categorised them as

social enterprises, we tend to pigeon-hole or compartmentalise them as distinct from other enterprises. That leads us to the problems that can arise from seeing false differences. Often small social enterprises and small private sector businesses have much more in common with each other than either of them do with larger organisations supposed in the same sector. However, because we categorise then separately, we think of them as being different. It is as if the label ‘social’ conferred some special dispensation from the rigours of normal markets and the need to compete to survive. That in turn allows us to think that social enterprise are somehow easier to establish and are more beneficial (particularly for disadvantaged communities because they are supposed to create the social capital those communities need). Therefore we have separate policies for supporting social enterprises and separate institutions for aiding and assisting them because we see them as some sort of a magic solution to community problems. But, whereas small businesses are not small big businesses and often are usefully considered separately from big businesses, the essential thing about social enterprise is that they are enterprises and, like other enterprises, have to generate enough income to be sustainable if they are to survive. The reality is that social enterprises have to compete for funding and for markets just like other enterprises and, while they may not remit any profit they make to individual backers, that does not make them any easier to start or run, and it does not make them inherently able to address issues which other enterprises ‘cannot reach’. Social enterprises and other enterprises are all enterprises and small enterprises in either category have more in common with each other than they do with bigger enterprises supposedly in the same sector. So compartmentalising social enterprises separately from other enterprises can often be misleading and even damaging. At a different level do we tend to compartmentalise business affairs separately from other aspects of life? One benefit of highlighting social enterprises is that it recognises that enterprises can and do have a social impact. But that is true of all businesses – and their longer term sustainability

depends on recognising that. We shouldn’t compartmentalise what we do in business from the rest of our life. As business people we lobby our politicians for things like a reduction in corporation tax because we think it will be good for business. But shouldn’t we also lobby them to address issues like those groups of our young people who leave school with no or inadequate qualifications – because if we don’t help them they will hinder us and reduce out future prosperity. Look what damage the troubles did because we had a significant group of people who felt excluded. Therefore, when we think as businesses, we should try to prevent it happening again. It has been said of South Africa what it was lobbying businesses, not elected representatives, who persuaded de Klerk that he had to end apartheid. The elected representatives felt that only they had the mandate to speak for people, and therefore resented input from others but they usually interpreted that as a mandate to maintain the status quo. So it was civic society speaking through business representatives who lobbied for change. As business representatives they didn’t see themselves as separate from political life – so they didn’t exclude themselves from political influence by a false compartmentalisation.


Business First celebrates your success [1] Grant Thornton Northern Ireland has appointed Ian Davison as Assistant Manager. His role will include managing the Recovery & Reorganisation department’s portfolio of cases and advising under-performing clients on turnaround strategies. Ian has five years’ experience in the Recovery & Reorganisation field and is an Associate of the Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). [2] Grant Thornton Northern Ireland has appointed Gareth Latimer as Director. His role will include leading the Recovery & Reorganisation department in Belfast, with responsibility for managing a portfolio of formal insolvency appointments. Gareth has 15 years’ experience in the insolvency field, is a licensed Insolvency Practitioner and a Fellow of the Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA). [3] Grant Thornton Northern Ireland welcomes new Audit Partner Neal Taylor to the business advisory firm’s Belfast office. The announcement of Neal’s appointment as Audit Partner was made as Grant Thornton revealed that it saw a 45 per cent increase in annual revenues in 2015. [4] Danielle Black has been appointed Senior Account Executive at Genesis, a multi-award winning advertising, design and digital agency. Working as part of the Account Management team, she will support the day-to day management of a number of key accounts including Invest NI and firmus energy. [5] Peter Thompson has been appointed Senior Account Director at Genesis, a multiaward winning advertising, design and digital agency. He will be responsible for leading a number of key accounts including Invest NI, SPAR UK and Henderson Group, as well as supporting the continual development of the agency’s digital capabilities. [6] Lawrence Boal has been appointed Digital Media Manager at Genesis, a multiaward winning advertising, design and digital agency. Working alongside the Media Director, he will be responsible for the strategy, planning, buying and evaluation of digital media campaigns. [7] Kathryn Thomson has been appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director of the National Museums Northern Ireland Kathryn is currently the Chief Operating











Officer at Tourism NI, and prior to that held the post of Director of Finance and Business Planning at the organisation. She will assume her post at National Museums Northern Ireland on 1st March 2016. [8] Ortus: The Business Development Company has appointed Sheila Harper as Marketing and Communications Executive Sheila will oversee all internal and external marketing campaigns for Ortus: The Business Development Agency and its subsidiary companies.: Sheila is an experienced marketing professional previously working for over five years at international manufacturer Muster Simms Engineering. Sheila also provides marketing support for the Belfast Community Gospel Choir. 9. Natasha Deeney has joined JPR in the role of Digital Marketing Consultant Natasha Deeney joins JPR as Digital Market

Consultant, working on social media and digital projects for clients across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Previously she was with the Northern Ireland Science Park, where she managed content creation, email marketing, social media, websites and provided marketing support for the umbrella brand. Before that, Natasha delivered high impact campaigns for major cultural events such as the critically acclaimed Lumiere Festival of Light, Turner Prize, London Symphony Orchestra, global dance sensation Hofesh Shechter and the Royal Ballet, as part of the City of Culture 2013 celebrations.

Good Occupational Healthcare makes perfect business sense


ccording to research (XpertHR, 2014), the average employee in the UK will be absent from work for a total of 6.5 days each year due to sickness, costing businesses an eye watering £16 billion. With that said, it’s little wonder why organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors, are now recognising the importance of workplace health and its influence on a company’s bottom line. With 20 years of experience, local occupational health specialists, Blackwell Associates, has helped some of Northern Ireland’s most esteemed businesses reap the benefits of increased productivity and employee morale through effective healthcare provision. Using Northern Ireland Electricity Networks (NIE Networks) as a role model organisation, Dr. Alan Black, Director of Blackwell Associates, explains how employers can follow in its footsteps by embedding workplace health policies into their strategic goals. “Since the economic downturn in 2008, many companies – both SMEs and large scale corporations – have historically viewed occupational health as a luxury commodity. However, with the CIPD (2014) reporting that sickness absence costs an average of £609 per employee, with two- fifths of organisations reporting an increase in stress-related absence and mental health problems, more businesses are reevaluating their corporate practices when it comes to workplace health. “The fact is, by investing in the services and expertise of an occupational health provider, employers will not only see a boost in

employee engagement and retention, but in profitability too thanks to considerable cost reductions associated with absenteeism . “It goes without saying that looking after current employees also ensures there is interest from external stakeholders such as jobseekers, business associates and customers, who hold staff well-being in high regard. “To help those wanting to realise their strategic workplace health goals, we provide accurate, helpful and timely advice in accordance with current professional guidelines, to cultivate a healthy workforce and assist in the continued employment of those with disabilities. “Since our establishment in 1997, we have been providing customers such as NIE Networks with a full range of occupational health services. “We work closely in collaboration with the HR and Health and Safety departments to assist in the promotion of workplace health, by optimising the surrounding environment and accommodating the needs of those with medical conditions. To do this we offer a bespoke healthcare package to NIE Networks that includes pre-employment and sickness absence health assessments, along with management support. We consider this to be key in facilitating the appropriate management of individuals and further reduce sickness absence rates. “As part of our health surveillance procedure, we assess the early signs of work related ill-health in workers who are exposed to certain risks, such as carcinogenic hazards from polymers of isocyanates, which may involve breathing tests to check for signs of damage caused by chemical exposure. “In the case of NIE Networks, common industry hazards include live line working, cable jointing and overhead line work. To address these, we devised and implemented the NIE Networks cable jointers respiratory screening programme, which firmly placed NIE Networks at the forefront of the electricity supply and distribution industry in establishing this as best practice. “Blackwell Associates understand that employees are the most important resource of every company and therefore, investing in their health and well-being is essential to ensure a productive, healthy and content workforce. “Through the provision of employee health checks, Blackwell Associates Ltd will help encourage employees to recognise the status of their own health and empower them to find

ways of actively improving their well-being. “This benefits not only the health of employees, but will improve the overall culture of the organisation too thanks to safer working methods, reduced accidents and incidents of ill-health, and increased motivation and retention levels of skilled staff.” Julie Henderson, HR Business Partner of NIE Networks, added: “NIE Networks regards the health and well-being of employees as an essential component of its HR strategy and we have in place a number of proactive initiatives which play a fundamental part of it. “The partnership approach adopted by Blackwell Associates has proved invaluable to NIE Networks as they have continued to assist us in managing absenteeism and employee health and well-being by providing professional and specialist medical advice. “Our company objective is to proactively focus on health promotion, prevention of health issues and restoration of health within the context of a safe and healthy working environment, with the aim of supporting our employees return to work as early as possible following absenteeism. “Blackwell Associates has helped us achieve this through both medical and nursing support, which has been led by one of their occupational health physicians. In our opinion, this is the key to the success of this important service. “The services provided include preemployment medicals, medical referrals, annual health surveillance, drug and alcohol testing, administering the flu vaccine, and the provision of occupational health advice to both management and employees. “We believe that working in partnership with an occupational health provider has contributed to a substantial reduction in our overall sickness absence which is currently 2.6 per cent.” Blackwell Associates provide various healthcare services for businesses of all kinds, with 20 years of experience in the health industry. If you would like to know more about the occupational health services, training and consultancy Blackwell Associates provide, please call 028 9065 6131 or follow them at @BwellAssociates.



Winning Partnerships take Centre Stage T he Grand Opera House, Belfast played host to over 250 guests recently for the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2016. Dr Wendy Austin, MBE compered the awards ceremony, steering the proceedings with her characteristic finesse guiding the audience on a journey of artistic excellence. There were nine awards presented in total to winning arts - business partnerships with award pieces designed and created by local artist, Lynsay-Erin Mercer. The Awards showcased examples of innovative creative collaborations between the business community and the arts sector, delivering a diverse range of tangible business benefits. The winning partnerships represented a varied section of the business community and arts sectors. Guests were entertained by a fantastic selection of home grown artistic talent, enjoying powerful performances by local musician, Duke Special, the talented Pintsized Productions, Premiere Circus, the agency for artists established by the Belfast Community Circus School with local actor, Stephen Beggs, a superb Master of Ceremonies gluing the performances together and drawing the audience into the world of the stage. Presenting the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards Brendan Murphy, CEO, Allianz, congratulated the partnerships and all the winners saying: “The innovative partnerships celebrated here tonight between business and the arts are excellent examples of best practice, helping to foster cultural intelligence and provide a blueprint for the collaborative pathway that can prove to be the cornerstone for success. “Congratulations to all this year’s very worthy winners and indeed to all those partnerships who showcase exactly just what artistic engagement can achieve.” Business of the Year was picked up by Belfast Harbour, a clear winner due to its recognition of the importance of art in its various forms, from the public sculptures and the extensive art collection housed within the office building itself to supporting many artistic partnerships.

Allianz Arts & Business NI Business of the Year Award Belfast Harbour

Belfast Harbour has entered into several arts partnerships over the years, mainly with community-based projects. Working with arts organisations such as Wheelworks, Talent Tribe, Open Arts and DU Dance. Last year Belfast Harbour went up a gear in terms of scale and public focus in its support of Culture Night Belfast for the first time with


Winner of Business of the Year Award – Belfast Harbour.Dr Joanne Stuart, OBE, Chair, Art & Business NI; Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour; Mary Nagele, Chief Executive, Arts & Business NI and Brendan Murphy, CEO, Allianz

a partnership that led to the creation of a Culture Night Belfast Almanac. Recognising the success of all the partnerships, Mary Nagele, Chief Executive, Arts & Business Northern Ireland commented: “Many congratulations to all award winners, the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards give a platform to showcase local cultural talent and excellent arts, business partnerships. “These partnerships continue to grow and develop showing creativity, innovation and the talent that can be created when arts and business work together. I would also like to thank Allianz for their continued support which is invaluable.”

Award Winners

Allianz Arts & Business NI Corporate Responsibility Award Campsie Karting & Millennium Forum Theatre & Conference Centre Allianz Arts & Business NI Cultural Branding Award Iris Colour & Belfast Photo Festival Allianz Arts & Business NI Sustained Partnership Award Exitex Ltd & Sestina Music

Allianz Arts & Business NI Employee Engagement Award Edwards & Co Solicitors & the Lyric Theatre Allianz Arts & Business NI New Sponsor Award Gentle Dental Care Belfast & Cinemagic Film and Television Festival for Young People Allianz Arts & Business NI Arts Board Member of Year Award Glenn Murray & Pintsized Productions Allianz Arts & Business NI Business of the Year Award Belfast Harbour Allianz Arts & Business NI Community Art Award Beat Carnival Allianz Arts & Business NI Arts Award Arts Care

Helping businesses raise awareness about cancer and other long-term conditions in the workplace O ver 100 employers from across Northern Ireland attended the fourth annual ‘Healthy Working Lives’ conference at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast on Thursday 3 March. The free half-day event, which was delivered by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Business in the Community, focused on helping businesses recognise how they can do more to prevent cancer as well as support workers living with cancer, or other longterm conditions. Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the PHA, said: “It is important for employers to play their part in raising awareness and helping to prevent cancer as well as recognise the impact that cancer can have on employees when they return to work – some may need time and assistance to return to work. “Many employers already understand this need so we are using the good work that already exists to encourage best practice in the wider business community. “It is important to highlight the steps that can be taken in the workplace to prevent the onset of long-term chronic conditions. “We have seen workplaces encouraging staff to develop healthy behaviours by introducing schemes to enable staff to get more active when travelling to and from work, to eat more healthily through changes to the food on offer in the workplace and programmes such as the ‘£ for lb, 12 week challenge’, and also to quit tobacco through Workplace Stop Smoking Challenges. Introducing these practical changes can greatly impact on the quality of life we can enjoy.” Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Carson McDowell and Macmillan Cancer Support shared their experiences at the event which focused on ensuring that employers are well-informed about the prevention of cancer, whilst raising awareness of the important role the workplace can play in influencing health behaviours and, in turn, overall wellbeing. Denise Cranston, Workplace Campaign Manager from Business in the Community, said: “With recent research proving that cancer and some long-term conditions are overwhelmingly caused by environmental factors rather than just bad luck*, it’s vital that organisations take a proactive stance in relation to ensuring the health of their workforce.

Gillian McKee and Amy Kieran from Business in the Community with Dr Eddie Rooney from the Public Health Agency.

“Our aim is to support employers to raise awareness about health behaviours which can prevent cancer and long-term conditions. We also seek to empower those living and working with cancer and other long-term conditions to be able to continue working. “Long-term sickness is a serious issue for employers in Northern Ireland. With an estimated 140 million working days lost across the UK per year, the knock-on effects for business cannot be underestimated. By prioritising health and wellbeing, employers can help to protect their business and ensure long-term success.” For more information on Business in the Community, visit *Source of research showing that cancer is overwhelmingly caused by environmental factors: Nature Journal, 2015

How many people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with cancer each year? The number of people diagnosed with cancer in Northern Ireland has risen in recent years:

2009 – 8,497 2010 – 8,435 2011 – 8,949 2012 – 9,143 2013 – 8,859

(NI Cancer Registry)


XE-cellent Jaguar


xcellent you say? Yes, the new Jaguar XE really is that good. A completely new car from the road up this takes Jaguar right to the top of the medium-sized executive car market by a good margin and has left its German rivals with a headache and a fair bit of work to do to catch up. Jaguar has been producing a really good up to date range of cars in recent years completely refreshing or renewing every model in their line-up. The XJ, XF and F-TYPE are all well designed, well engineered and are setting benchmarks in each of the markets in which they are sold. The big question was; can Jaguar do the same with the XE? The answer is yes. Jaguar built the XE on a brand new modular chassis, brand new designed suspension and even a brand new engine. The XE carries the trade mark Jaguar grille and also some characteristics in looks from both the XJ and XF models, which is no bad thing at all. The XE is a little smaller in size than the XF and fits perfectly into the market place to rival the BMW 3 series, the Mercedes C class and The Audi A4. The first XE out of the box comes with a diesel engine and that is the one I tested fitted with an 180bhp 2.0 i4 diesel engine driving through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The engine is super smooth and very quiet for a diesel; it’s a nice punchy engine offering 060 mph in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. Along with the superb gearbox, it is also economical and I averaged 64 miles per gallon on various types of journeys. The interior is clever in that it is not cluttered in any way. Most of the controls are operated from a simple to use touchscreen in


the centre of the car. The driving position is excellent for both comfort and visibility and the rear of the XE is capable of carrying three passengers in comfort. Along with that, the boot is just about the right size. Where the XE comes into its own is its build quality and the way it drives. The new suspension is class leading and the car copes with bumps, pot holes and sleeping policemen with ease, no sign of any crashing or banging in the cabin. When you take the XE on to a twisty road and flick the transmission into sports mode it is just remarkable how well the car is set up. The steering is so direct and offers so much

by Ian Beasant, BUSINESSFIRSTMAGAZINE motoring correspondent feel that you sense a change in the ripples on the tarmac. The suspension gives more of a feel of a very well balanced agile sports car rather than a saloon and at the same time being very comfortable. The XE in diesel form with 180Bhp engine is very very good. The build quality throughout the car is exceptional and the attention to detail is excellent. I think Jaguars upward trajectory is going to become nearly vertical. I know when you read this you will be thinking that Jaguar is an old man’s car- well my only answer to that is go and drive one as Jaguar is more advanced now than any of its rivals both in looks and driveability.


or the last 25 years Mazda have been producing probably the best pound for pound sports car in the world. The MX5 is loved by all who drive and own it as it really has kept that pure driving experience alive at an affordable price. The new fourth generation MX5 has stayed with that tradition and it is all the better for it. The new MX5 weighs in 100kg lighter and slightly shorter than the previous model; its design lines are a bit sharper and it has a manual folding roof- yes manual, which is great and easy to use. On offer are two petrol engines a 1.5 litre and a 2.0 litre both use the same short throw six-speed gearbox which is an absolute joy to use. The 1.5 litre revs eagerly to it redline of 7500rpm and is great fun to drive offering a 129 BHP and I was able to achieve an average of a very impressive 45miles per gallon. The MX5 is all about fun and with its light and agile chassis, its pinpoint accurate steering and its well-balanced suspension which has been lowered on this new car by about 10cm. Show this car a twisty road and it will reward you with a fantastic driving experience. You need to use the sweet six speed gearbox a lot to keep the engine in its sweet spot which adds to the experience as you really do feel part of the MX5. The brakes are discs all round and offer more than enough to stop this lightweight flyer. The interior of the car is well finished and well put together. Yes it may be little snug if you had two six footers in it, but this is a sports car.


The driving position is quite low but offers good visibility and the controls are all top class and easy to find in a smart clutter free dash. Storage space is really just in the boot which is a decent size. If you go for the two litre model you end up with a more torquey engine and a limited slip differential, this adds a little more weight so the performance between the two models is not a lot with the 0-60mph sprint 8.3 second s for the 1.5 Litre and 7.9 seconds for the 2 litre – they really just deliver power in a different

way. I enjoyed the free revving 1.5 litre as it felt more eager to me. The MX5 has been and I am sure will be the world’s bestselling sports car and Mazda have kept that magic ingredient of making the MX5 fun to drive , easy to use and MX5’s do well residually. Now add that to the excellent fuel economy and with prices starting at £18,310 I have no doubt the MX5 will continue to perform as well on the sales charts as it does on the road.


Renault Kadjer


enault has a history of introducing quirky yet practical vehicles onto the market – maybe some with names that we really are not sure about. The Kadjar, for instance being one It’s the big brother of the very successful Captur which was introduced to the market earlier in 2015 and has become a Northern Ireland favourite. Based on the "C/D" version of the new CMF (Common Module Family) platform, the

by Ian Beasant, BUSINESSFIRSTMAGAZINE motoring correspondent

Kadjar is almost identical underneath its sheet metal to the successful Nissan Qashqai, which is now in its second generation. Designwise, the model is closer to its little brother, the Renault Captur, meaning that the Kadjar will play more on its seduction card when going for a piece of the action in the compact crossover segment. The crossover market is a very important market to all manufacturers as we all look for

Subaru Levorg.GT W ith a rich heritage in powerful high performance four wheel drive cars Subaru was always a niche market car - and a good one at that. Their model range has now added the oddly named Levorg. I found it a bit confusing at first when I read the specification of the car; it is a five door estate car, four wheel drive, with a 1.6 petrol DIT turbocharged engine and sixspeed CVT transmission. I must admit I did think that small engine in what is a relatively large car driving a four wheel drive system would be a bit underwhelming. But I looked a little deeper and found that the engine produced 170 hp and the transmission was actually very good. The Levorg fits in as replacement to the much loved Legacy Estate which was a load lugger with tremendous power and a joy to drive. The Levorg is only available in this specification in the UK, in some ways that is very good thing as the Subaru have loaded the Levorg with standard features, including auto on-off LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear fog lamps, metallic paint, 18-inch dark grey alloy wheels,


privacy glass and a subtle roof spoiler. Inside, the Levorg’s cabin offers keyless access and push-button start, unique-toLevorg heated leather sports seats in the front, 60/40 split-folding and reclining rear seats, boot lamp, two 12-volt power outlets, four USB ports (two in the front, two in the rear), Subaru’s new 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system with Subaru STARLINK connectivity, dual-zone air-conditioning and rear parking camera. Which normally would only be found on an

a vehicle that does everything, that is Practical, economical, comfortable and good to drive. Renault has done an extremely nice design job on the exterior of the Kadjar, it has muscular side view and looks similar to its sibling the Captur at the front. It certainly is a subtle and very smart looking vehicle, sitting just high enough of the road to ensure you know it’s a crossover. The interior is more designed to be practical, plenty of space and a lot of nice soft touch plastics. One thing that really did impress me was the build quality and the use of quality materials throughout the Kadjar, Renault have been guilty of poor build quality in the past but not this time , add to that a four year warranty and it is all starting to add up in the right direction. The Renault Kadjar will be available in both two and four-wheel drive. I drove the 110bhp 1.5 litre diesel engined two-wheel drive version. On the road it really is impressive, you can feel the quality of the build and the suspension soaked up all the potholes and surface changes on our roads without any drama whatsoever. The 1.5 litre engine is sharp enough and quiet, the six speed gearbox is light and easy to use. Even though the Kadjar is taller than the usual hatchback or saloon car, it felt as if I was driving a car as body roll is not noticeable and the steering is sharp and accurate.

extras list. Once in the driver’s seat , the first thing I noticed was how plush and very modern the interior is , the seating position is great, The dashboard is uncluttered with clean lines and good quality materials are used throughout. There is plenty of room for the driver and four passengers’ and plenty of space behind the rear seats for carriage I averaged a respectable 35mpg although Subaru reckon closer to 40 mpg is attainable. Priced at a smidgen under £27, 500 .


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The Final Word

Gauging Social Impact by Chris Brown, Director, MCE Public Relations


ast year I was lucky enough to be appointed as a board member of the NOW Group which is a leading player in the social economy in Northern Ireland. It fact, it even won the prestigious accolade of Social Enterprise of the Year in 2014-2015. At its core it provides a range of services that supports people with learning difficulties and gets them into employment, training, transition and volunteering positions. It also runs Loaf Catering, the Bobbin Café in Belfast City Hall and recently opened the Café & Bakery on the Grosvenor road in Belfast. Another social enterprise that it runs is called Gauge NI – a professional service that helps companies measure their Social Return on Investment (SROI). The concept of Social Return on Investment in Northern Ireland is growing rapidly. In simple terms it is an approach to understanding and managing the impacts of a project, organisation or policy that can be expressed in a financial return. A SROI evaluation can determine the true impact that an investment has made into the communities in which a company works. As a professional who runs public affairs campaigns and corporate social reasonability programmes for big businesses, national charities and various initiatives I’m often asked about the likes of social impact and social value. Frequently, I am required to work in partnership with economists to develop Economic Impact Assessments for creating evidence based arguments for development applications, setting up initiatives or convincing elected representatives of an argument. Increasingly, the idea of measuring the social impact of a particular programme before or after a project is becoming an important facet of the lobbying game – not just setting out the bare bones of an economic argument.


In my own recent experience I have been questioned about social clauses in procurement contracts for clients that are undertaking big builds or developments. This is not only limited to construction, for example, but also for other types of contracting by the likes of the public sector. The Social Value Act which came into force in 2013 in England and Wales, requires people who commission public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits. This means that before they start the procurement process, those who commission are required to think about whether the services they are going to buy, or the way they are going to buy them, or how it could secure these benefits for their area or stakeholders. This means that it is no longer accepted practice to throw the local under-14 football or rugby team a few quid for a new set of jerseys to keep the locals sweet when a big company wins a contract in a local area. This new approach is about building a relationship with that community, and investing in those people, and that place, over

the lifetime of a contract. It is only a matter of time before the push to have a Social Value Act in Northern Ireland is successful, so we must start to adapt now to be ahead of the game. Much of the private sector is brilliant at creating social value through corporate social responsibility programmes, but don’t often fully measure the impact that its makes. And often through procurement, and the various types of people that they employ, are probably not remotely aware of the social value that they actually create. A big part of my day job is to help brands and organisations build stories that make a difference, which in turn has a cumulative impact on their overall corporate reputation. It is worth time and money to find out and track the progress of the social impact that a company makes, not after just one event, but over weeks, months and years. Gauge NI is helping companies do that across Northern Ireland. To help you understand, measure and communicate the social impact that your company is making go to to find out more. Connect with Chris @CB_PAandPA