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Magazine of of Northern Northern Ireland IrelandChamber Chamberof ofCommerce Commerceand andIndustry Industry

CIPR PRide Awards 2017 - Best Publication

july/august 2018 ISSUE 29 £2.95



Powering world leading customers

Caterpillar’s Mark McClure

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Family Businesses are complex and emotional organisations... “Over the years, we as a family business, have benefitted from the process of succession planning facilitated by PKF-FPM Accountants”

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Together from

source to success Discover how the opportunity to engage with new clients in a cross-border market was the real Sweetspot.

Experts in sourcing and manufacturing, Sweetspot, based in Co. Kildare,wanted to seek out new customers in Northern Ireland. From InterTradeIreland, they received over â‚Ź5,000 towards specialist consultancy to explore the cross-border market.

Two years on, they have new customers, a strong pipeline of business and are even looking to open an office in NI to service their growing client base. If you are in Northern Ireland we can help you grow your SME cross-border too. Discover the funding opportunities InterTradeIreland can offer to help your business succeed.

This is an exciting stage in our business and we are looking forward to seeing our growth continue Sue Dempsey, Co-Founder

July/August 2018 Issue 29



A hub of legal activity Herbert Smith Freehills’ Belfast office has taken Alternative Legal Services mainstream – interview with Director Lisa McLaughlin.

Editor: Adrienne McGill Publisher: Chris Sherry Advertising Managers: Lorraine Gill & Gerry Waddell Editorial Assistant: Joanne Harkness Email addresses: / / Websites: / Addresses: Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 4-5 Donegall Square South, Belfast, BT1 5JA Tel: 028 9024 4113 Publisher: Ulster Tatler Group, 39 Boucher Road, Belfast, BT12 6UT Tel: 028 9066 3311 Printed by: W&G Baird, Antrim Front cover and inside image by: David Cordner. NI CHAMBER PATRONS


At a Glance News: 08 Galgorm scores ‘Hospitality Hole-In-One’ 10 Pinsent Masons scoops top title 28 New look for notes

Columnists: 18 Oonagh Murtagh 20 Ian Rainey 24 Laura Jackson 66 Maureen O’Reilly 96 Jim Fitzpatrick

Appointments: 82 New Appointments Line Up Special Section: 52 Technology Knowledge


Lifestyle: 86 Business Class Motoring James Stinson 90 On Holiday With… John D’Arcy 92 Fashion - Summer Trend: Pastels - Joanne Harkness 94 Dine & Wine - Chris Rees and Andrea Mola


Chamber Chief: 30 Update 36 New names on NI Chamber Board and Council

Features: 12 A Good Sport 14 My Ambition is to… 16 Stairway to Seven 41 Tanya Talks… 42 Andras Hotels open new Hampton by Hilton 46 Keeping it in the Family 62 Keeping an eye on surveillance 74 Top Young Talent


50 Cover Story





Driving Ambition

Sun shines on hotel and tourism sector


he prolonged spell of glorious weather may lead many tourists to think that summer in Northern Ireland is like this all the time…if only it was…but the sizzling temperatures have brought a welcome influx of visitors who have been flocking to our major attractions on the coast and elsewhere which have been looking particularly alluring in the radiant sunshine. That is of course wonderful news for all the gleaming new hotels which have opened in recent months particularly in Belfast where there is major expansion in hotel rooms. Between new builds and expansion projects at existing hotels, the city is expected to increase its hotel bedroom stock from 8,000 to 10,000 in total by the end of 2018. ASM’s recently published annual hotel survey, considered a bellwether report on the state of the wider tourism industry, reveals that “unprecedented demand” for hotel bedrooms across Northern Ireland in 2017 led to approximately 2.26 million room nights being sold during the year – a new record. The average room rate increased by 10.4% to £90.48. Hotels in rural settings and those offering leisure and spa facilities also had “a very strong” 2017, with ASM reporting increases in occupancy rates and profits. There was also positive news for the north west with a combination of strong revenue growth and good cost management by hotels in Derry delivering improved profitability at 19.7% of turnover, up from 12.4% recorded in 2016. ASM notes that there was a slight level of recovery in sterling in 2017 and despite this, the demand for hotel accommodation

hit record levels suggesting that Northern Ireland as a destination has more substance to it than simply being good value which is a testament to all of the work that has gone into building a credible and robust tourism industry over the past decade. Let’s hope the tourist levels we are seeing this summer continue – with or without the wonderful weather. In Ambition’s Special Section, we look at Technology Knowledge – how businesses across a range of sectors are using technology to grow and get ready for tomorrow’s opportunities given its critical

importance to their business operations. In Lifestyle, our motoring writer James Stinson tests out ‘Peugeot Power’ while Galgorm Resort and Spa’s Head Chef Chris Rees lavishes us with luscious lamb. Meanwhile columnist Jim Fitzpatrick focuses on Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and looks at the importance of ‘trust in the customer relationship’. Enjoy the read! Adrienne McGill Editor Ambition

building interiors building relationships 028 9070 1080





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50 Y E A R S

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President’s Perspective

Growing exports and tourism


am delighted to have been appointed President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry for an extended period. My time has started with brilliant weather as Northern Ireland basks in our second heatwave of the summer, everyone is in good humour and the tourists have arrived seemingly en masse. But there are dark clouds… in the shape of APD and VAT. NI Chamber has campaigned strongly about the negative message APD is sending to tourists, investors and exporters. As a small island economy – and as the only part of the UK with a land border with another part of the EU (which does not have an air passenger duty) – it is extremely important that Northern Ireland looks at all options to remain competitive and enhance air connectivity. There are severe disadvantages which arise from the controlled application of APD which imposes a £26 levy for every passenger on a return short haul flight, whilst the equivalent tax was abolished in 2014 in the ROI. Whilst consulting with our members in the industry, it is evident that APD is inhibiting our air links with Europe and further afield. They are essential connections that bring in tourists and new firms and also provide the links that our exporters need to grow their businesses in existing and new markets. It penalises businesses who need to fly to establish trade links and export their goods, especially when our businesses are operating in an ever more competitive international market. It also puts our local airports at risk. In order for Northern Ireland to remain competitive and support strategies designed to grow export and tourism, we need APD in line with the rest of the island. NI Chamber also supports the call from colleagues in Hospitality Ulster for a sharp cut in VAT particularly within the strategically important tourism industry and one which impacts others especially the food and drink sector, as well as transport and construction. We have played a leading role in the campaign for Northern Ireland to be as competitive as the ROI hence our continued support for the reduction in corporation tax to support inward investment. We also support the campaign for a reduction in the 20% VAT

rate on the tourism sector which puts Northern Ireland at a competitive disadvantage with the ROI where the rate is 9%. NI Chamber strongly believes that reducing corporation tax, cutting VAT for particular sectors, in addition to removing APD, makes sound business sense for the Northern Ireland economy, whilst bringing a positive fiscal return to both HM Treasury and HMRC. NI Chamber has recently responded to


HM Treasury’s Call for Evidence on VAT, Air Passenger Duty (APD) and tourism in Northern Ireland. It’s time for swift action…just like making the most of the good weather.

Ellvena Graham President Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry


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Keith Graham, Managing Director Selective Travel Management with the Overall Excellence Award which the firm won at this year’s prestigious Aer Lingus Take Off Foundation Business Awards 2018 which took place in London.

Belfast-headquartered Selective Travel Management is flying high after winning the award for Overall Excellence in the prestigious Aer Lingus Take Off Foundation Business Awards and moving into 27th place in the UK ‘Top 50’ rankings of specialist Travel Management Companies. The achievements reinforce the increasing success of the business whose turnover rose last year to top £58.7m. The company, with 114 travel professionals, is now firmly established as one of the top performing businesses in its sector in the UK. Delighted at the latest double win, Keith Graham, Managing Director, said: “We are thrilled to have won top place in high profile awards which look at performance ‘in the round’, judging commercial achievements, growth and financial results, innovation, sustainability and commitment to workplace excellence.” He added: “New business wins amounting to £4.5m in 2017 have taken us from 32nd in the UK last year to 27th, and we are firmly committed to a vision of sustainable success which ensures we retain existing clients as well as generating new ones, continuing our upward trajectory.” Selective Travel Management provides expert travel services to a diverse portfolio of clients ranging from SMEs to major multi-national companies; public, charitable and voluntary sector organisations and many of the UK’s leading universities and higher education establishments.

Galgorm Scores ‘Hospitality Hole-in-One’ Galgorm Resort & Spa, one of Northern Ireland’s leading luxury hotels, has acquired the bar and restaurant at Galgorm Castle Golf Club. Representing an investment of £600,000, the company has begun an extensive redevelopment and refurbishment exercise which will see the existing dining facilities expanded and upgraded to include a 150-seat restaurant as well as a 60-seat open air balcony terrace providing unrivalled views across the Castle grounds and golf course. The all-new restaurant is expected to open in early July and will see the creation of 50 new jobs across the food, beverage and front-of-house departments. Home to the NI Open 2018, Galgorm Castle Golf Club will attract some of the biggest names in golf this August and with the restaurant due to be open well ahead of the tournament, spectators will be treated to a food and beverage offering on par with some of the world’s leading courses. Colin Johnston, Galgorm General Manager, said: “Galgorm is already recognised the world over as a luxury leisure destination – in 2017 we won the title of Global Spa of the Year which is an incredible endorsement. With championship grade golfing facilities on offer and home to the NI Open, the acquisition of the bar and restaurant further consolidates that reputation.”

Galgorm’s Executive Chef Israel Robb and General Manager Colin Johnston alongside Gary Henry, Managing Director at Galgorm Castle Golf Club.

McConville Group Make Strategic Acquisition of Topglass in developing and delivering architectural and

Topglass’ James and Joanne O’ Kane with MJM’s Brian McConville, his son Conleth and daughter Naoimh.

The McConville family, owners of MJM Group and Mivan, has acquired specialist architectural glass company Topglass, based in Toomebridge, Co. Antrim. The multi-million-pound deal will see Topglass join marine fitout specialists MJM Group and bespoke joinery company Mivan under McConville family ownership. Topglass, which employs approximately 30 full time employees, is a market-leader


specialist glass solutions to commercial and domestic customers throughout the UK and Europe. Brian McConville, founder and Chairman of MJM Group, said: “We are delighted to take this opportunity for Topglass to join the McConville family group. We have an existing relationship with Topglass which goes back many years. There are real synergies between Topglass and the other businesses in the group and we know that we can bring long term sustainable growth to the business for many years to come.” James O’Kane, founder and owner of Topglass, said: “My family and I have worked hard to ensure we found the perfect partner with the skills, synergies, expertise and ambition to continue to grow Topglass and keep it at the forefront of the architectural and specialist glass markets. I am delighted that the McConville family are taking over the business and I have every faith in their ability to deliver.” Topglass will continue to trade under its own identity and will continue to be based in Toomebridge.



Shop ,s Challeng e 2018

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Leading businessman makes significant investment in skin cancer research at UU

Former Delta Packaging Chairman Dr

develop a more personalised approach to

Terry Cross OBE, has donated £190,000


to Ulster University to develop the David

focused upon three main nuclear receptors

son who tragically died at the age of 33

that dictate the degree of aggressiveness

from malignant melanoma, an aggressive

of the tumour and its likelihood to become

form of skin cancer.

invasive. This is an exciting focus for our

Skin cancer is the most common cancer

and potential for identifying those

people presenting as newly diagnosed

patients with primary tumours at risk for

each year.

recurrence.” Dr Terry Cross said he wanted to use his

established in 2015 and supports the

son’s unfortunate fatal experience to help

development of innovative approaches

other people.

to diagnose and treat skin cancer. The

“The David Cross Research Fund

programme of research led by Ulster

through Ulster University has committed

University Professor Tara Moore,

to making a significant, durable

alongside her colleagues in Biomedical

contribution to society and can ensure

Sciences Research Institute, aims to

that together we can transform the lives

help early diagnosis of skin cancer and

of skin cancer sufferers.”

Pinsent Masons scoops top title One of Northern Ireland’s largest law firms has been named Law Firm of the Year 2018 at prestigious awards hosted by The Lawyer magazine. Servicing major Northern Irish institutions such as Queen’s University, Allstate, and Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Pinsent Masons employ over 85 people in Belfast. The firm was recognised for its achievements over the past year, from continuing to be a market leader across its five key sectors, to expanding its revenue streams outside of traditional legal services through a range of innovative ‘New Law’ products. Head of Pinsent Masons Belfast Office and Real Estate Partner, Andrea McIlroy-Rose said: “In Northern Ireland we have enjoyed

research with respect to new treatments

in Northern Ireland with up to 4,000

The David Cross Research Fund was

Ulster University Professor of Personalised Medicine Tara Moore with local businessman Dr Terry Cross OBE.

Professor Moore said: “We are currently

Cross Research Fund in memory of his

Pinsent Masons Belfast Office.

working on high profile local projects including the purchase of Belfast International Airport, the £200m Gas to the West expansion, and major new Grade A office facilities for inward investors such as Allstate and Concentrix. The strength of our firm offering, and investment in technology, means we can provide our clients with outstanding service and efficiencies that are unparalleled in a regional market such as Northern Ireland.” On a global level the firm has acted on several significant deals in the past year, including advising Shell UK on its $3.8bn sale of North Sea assets to Chrysaor; and advising Redefine International on the disposal of its German retail portfolio of 66 properties for €205m.

HOTEL BOSS VOTED BELFAST CHAMBER PRESIDENT One of Northern Ireland’s most prominent

Manager at Victoria Square, who said it

and successful businessmen, Rajesh Rana,

had been an honour to hold

has taken up the Presidency role at Belfast

Chamber role.

Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

the Belfast

Rajesh Rana, whose father Lord Dilgit Rana

Rajesh is director of Andras Hotels, Belfast’s

is a past President of Belfast Chamber of Trade

largest hotel group, who own and operate five

and Commerce and also Northern Ireland

hotels in the city: Ibis Queens Quarter, Ibis

Chamber of Commerce and Industry said:

City Centre, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express,

“Belfast has so many exciting projects

Crowne Plaza, Shaws Bridge and the newly

planned over the next few years, the city is

opened Hampton by Hilton.

changing, and these are exciting times for all of

Rajesh succeeds Michelle Greeves, Centre

us who work and live here.”


Director of Andras Hotels, Rajesh Rana, the new Belfast Chamber President.

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A Good Sport Claire Bonner is a Director at leading integrated communications consultancy Morrow Communications. Always a sports enthusiast – with hockey, running and horse riding each featuring in her past – it is on the tennis court where she now finds the perfect balance between work and family life.

What’s your favourite sport and why do you like it? I’m a jack of many sports…master of few. Tennis would have to be right up there because it requires fitness, focus and effort to improve but it’s also great fun and very social. I’ve dabbled with golf and could hit the ball (thanks to hockey). Hitting it in the right direction proved more challenging. For me, giving up 4+ hours to conquer 18 holes requires too much time for too little fitness gain. Do you encourage other members of your family to play a sport? My husband is a brilliant, and fiercely competitive all-round sports star and, in his day, was exceptional at soccer, Gaelic football and golf. His current obsession is tennis. If I didn’t play myself I’d be a tennis widow. Our daughters are still young but are showing great promise on the hockey pitch and on the tennis court. I’m slightly obsessive when it comes to the benefits of sport so I’m probably a bit of a pushy mum. Sorry, girls.

inspiring our tech leaders of the future). Playing games is good for children as it teaches them to be good winners and losers. In our family everyone is equal…the girls are never given a head start or an extra chance, even if we’re playing Connect 4!

Are you a spectator or a participant? Both. Every time I watch the girls playing hockey I’m desperate to pick up a stick and run on the pitch – but my hockey playing days are over. I love the grand slams, particularly Wimbledon as it marks the official start of summer. Big events such as the Olympics are also amazing to watch and can be so inspiring. My football team is Spurs (always a fan of Glenn Hoddle). However, nothing beats the satisfaction of a great forehand pass down the line in a competitive doubles match. Do you think the games we play as children in many cases were designed to prepare us for life as functioning adults? I despair for our children as most of those games are now almost redundant thanks to the digital age and our obsession with gadgets. We seemed to be more active, more resourceful, used our imagination, fought a bit, made up and got on with it. You don’t get that from staring at a screen 24/7 (although I admit online games and harnessing digital skills are


What lessons are there in sport that can be applied to business? In the words of Nike - ‘Just Do It’. Do you think playing a sport or being part of a team makes you a better leader? Sport helps to develop skills and attitude, mostly driven by the desire to win. However, top sports stars can be totally self-focused and that’s not always the best quality for a leader. We’re not all naturally ‘sporty’ but I believe there’s a sporting streak in each of us. For some, it’s time in the gym, in the pool or treading the roads. We just need to discover our ‘streak’ and embrace it. If nothing else it’s good for our body and mind and helps keep things in perspective at work and at home. In business, do you think the phrase ‘play to win’ applies and if so why? It’s good to win, but we need to learn how to cope with being the runner-up. If you lose, find out why, up the effort and try again. And when you win – share the glory with the rest of the team. In my world, success is seldom singlehanded.

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My Ambition is to... Claire Winter Group Marketing Manager at the 3fivetwo Group


y passion for marketing started two decades ago as a 4th year pupil when I discovered the subject during a module for GCSE Business Studies. I remember being fascinated by the principles around marketing and advertising and knew that I had to take A Level Business Studies if I decided to stay on to Sixth Form – not overly common in a secondary school at that time. After passing all my GCSEs I returned to progress A Levels in History, Geography and Business Studies. I avidly recall the conversation I had with my Business Studies teacher, during which I had expressed my desire to progress into a career in Marketing and her telling me not to get my hopes up! “Jobs in marketing aren’t easy to come by, particularly in Northern Ireland,” she advised. Brushing off the negativity I continued my studies and when I came across the Communications Advertising and Marketing (CAM) degree course in the Ulster University prospectus, I knew I could pursue my dream at a university, here at home. After studying extremely hard I achieved the two A and one B grades that were required and after deferring my place for a year (to gain some work experience) I was delighted to start the course in 2001. Upon graduating in 2005 with a 2:1 Honours Degree in Communication, Advertising & Marketing, I started my career in advertising sales with a local publishing house. It was a great experience. However, I knew I never wanted to pursue a sales role and continued my quest for a career in marketing. After taking a job as a marketing assistant for local company Laser Electrical I soon progressed to the role of Marketing Manager. Unfortunately, after three years the company went into administration and the role came to end. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and owe a great deal to the company and Managing Director who taught me a lot about retail marketing. I continued along the retail marketing route

and took up an Account Manager role for an advertising agency. My client was Charles Hurst and it was great to apply the principles I learned at Laser to the motor trade. Working with major brands including Ferrari, Maserati, Nissan and Toyota I continued to develop my experience in marketing and my passion for branding and advertising. I loved my time in retail marketing. However, after five years of working on the agency side, I wanted to return to an in-house marketing role. When I landed my job as marketing manager with the 3fivetwo Group in Belfast, I was so chuffed. Private Healthcare was still a relatively new arena, but they were leading the way, winning awards and expanding rapidly. I’ve been with the Group now for almost three years and have progressed from the role of Marketing Manager to Group Marketing Manager – overseeing the marketing communications for eight companies within the Group. The role is demanding but I relish the challenge and continue to learn and develop my marketing skills including those in the digital marketing field – something which wasn’t even touched upon in the early


noughties at university. The best part of the job is the variety. Each day is different and although all the companies within the group are healthcare focused encompassing Kingsbridge Hospital, Sweeney Eye & Ear Care, 3fivetwo Training Academy, Cransford Health Insurance Brokerage, Smart Care Doc, Cosmetech, 3fivetwo Healthcare Services, 3fivetwo Medishop and H3, each one has its own target audience and offering. Ultimately, my ambition is to continue my role at the 3fivetwo Group as the company is dynamic and ever changing. I also work with a great team which certainly helps and makes your job easier. The marketing and advertising industry has grown substantially in Northern Ireland over the last number of years. I am proud to have been part of that and welcome the challenges that lie ahead over the coming decades with technology rapidly evolving and changing how we market our products and services. I am also very proud to have proved my teacher wrong and carved out a career for myself in the world of marketing, without having to leave home.

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Stairway to Seven My seven steps for business success

Conor O’Hagan is the Assistant Manager of Brightwater’s Northern Ireland office. Prior to starting his recruitment career, Conor had over 10 years’ experience working in sales and management roles within the sports industry. He joined Brightwater in April 2016 where he recruits for engineering professionals from graduate to senior level across Northern Ireland working with a range of clients from SMEs to large multinationals.


You’d be amazed how much information and insights you get by simply listening to others. It is very easy as a recruiter to ask closed questions and talk over your people to fill in awkward silences. Ask open ended questions and build rapport with candidates and clients alike, it is amazing what you can learn from them and it also makes the job that little bit more interesting.


TIME MANAGEMENT When I started in recruitment I found it very hard to fit everything into one day. Despite being very busy, you can feel like you are getting nothing done. Try to plan your day out the evening before and stick to it – this method has helped me grow my career and keep on top of things on a daily and weekly basis.


I have used this method through my football career and brought it through to my everyday working life. Within football, it is about finding the strengths of each player and using them to your advantage to create tactics with the overall goal of winning the match. Recruitment is no different, no matter how junior or senior someone is in your team, they all can add value. Listen and watch those around you, recognise your own weaknesses and adapt what you can from others to improve.


The only way to progress is to constantly challenge yourself and prove to your directors that you can be trusted with new projects/responsibilities. It’s also the quickest way to progress. Stand up and be counted, go the extra mile, prove what you can do and you will be amazed what opportunities arise.


This is a great way to give others on your team a chance to take on bigger responsibilities and instil confidence in them. It also allows you to work on other projects and manage your own time better. It shows your team that you trust them which is the quickest way to get buy-in from your team.


Put yourself out there, go to Chamber meetings and networking events. If you’re a


member of a professional body, make sure you attend events to speak to like-minded people and also keep abreast of the latest technologies/legislation affecting your area. People buy into people. I have found it is essential within business to attend meetings and events. It not only enhances your name in the market but allows you to learn more about the industry, trends and jobs alike.


It is very easy to fall into the trap of not enjoying your work and losing the heart in it. Throughout my career I have been involved on both sides of the spectrum. I believe a successful team is a team that get on well together and enjoy each other’s company, both in a work setting and outside of that. Try to organise team building days, nights out and end of month reward nights. It is important to reward effort and success will continue.

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Oonagh Murtagh, Head of South Business Centre at Danske Bank

More than a step in the right direction

It’s not just big businesses that are thriving in export markets.


hen commentators list the Northern Ireland companies who are successfully exporting their goods to external markets, it is normally the largest, best known businesses that are used as case studies. The likes of Norbrook, Randox, Westland Horticulture and Wrightbus all crop up on a regular basis. Economists have long told us that increasing the value and quantity of the province’s exports will be one of the key drivers for sustainable economic growth in Northern Ireland and it is clear that many of our leading indigenous businesses have realised there is a wealth of opportunities for them to tap into globally. But while we rightly celebrate the wide variety of large scale exporters in Northern Ireland, we often forget about the small, family-owned companies who are increasingly carving out a successful niche for themselves and winning customers beyond our borders. A great example of this is a company that Danske Bank has supported recently, a familyowned business in Banbridge called Donaghy Shoes. The bank part funded a substantial investment made by the company in a new e-commerce platform that is designed to support its future growth. Operating from a traditional shop in the town, Donaghy’s is one of those businesses that has flown under the radar as an exporter. And yet, from its 25,000 sq ft store on the main street of Banbridge, the business is selling

Danny Hughes, Business Acquisition Manager, Danske Bank and Peter McVeigh, Director, Donaghy Shoes.

internationally to customers in more than 50 countries. Donaghy’s ‘bricks and mortar’ destination store is still as popular as ever, but it realised that the way consumers buy products has changed for good and so it made the conscious choice to adapt to their behaviour rather than fight it. Donaghy Shoes identified an opportunity to grow the business in GB and launched an online store targeted at British consumers in 2010. It has proved incredibly popular and has grown year on year to the point where today, around 90 per cent of the company’s sales go to customers in Great Britain. Succeeding in the e-commerce world has allowed the company to upscale its premises and expand its core business into clothing and sportswear. But it has not rested on its laurels, instead identifying a need to upgrade its systems. The company switched their banking to Danske earlier this year and our own systems have given Donaghy Shoes the flexibility to work in different currencies, a necessity in the fast-paced world of online sales, where customers could be anywhere in the world. Director Peter McVeigh has seen many challenges in the sector over the years but the company has shown an ability to evolve


with the times. Peter’s team of e-commerce specialists has now increased to eight to support the continued growth of the company. The business goes from strength to strength and with an ambitious owner at the helm, it seems unlikely they will be complacent about the future. Donaghy’s is not an isolated case either. It is just one of the many ambitious small business customers that our relationship managers meet every week in our branches and business centres across Northern Ireland. Donaghy Shoes is breaking new ground in shoe sales, but others are doing equally as well selling everything from baby products to savoury snacks! Our exporters are not always obvious but they are many and varied. Danske Bank, as ever, is committed to working with and supporting these companies as they invest in their export capabilities and target new customers around the world.

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Ian Rainey, former international Banker and current non Executive Director at 4c Executive

Reform and transform

Will President Ramaphosa return some semblance of economic sustainability to South Africa?


t is easy to predict that South Africa is bound to follow most African countries into bankruptcy and economic oblivion. The one chink of light lies in the fact that their new President, Cyril Ramaphosa is a breath of fresh air and has the intellectual and business flair which escaped President Mbeki and Zuma who followed Nelson Mandela. Not only has Ramaphosa a strong business background he has a political history worthy of note. Last month the Irish President Michael D Higgins was at Queen’s University chairing The Harri Holkeri lecture. Holkeri, the Former President of Finland was responsible with Ramaphosa for verifying the disposal of IRA weaponry as part of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Following a successful career in business, which included owning McDonald’s food chain in South Africa before selling it in 2016 to MSA Holdings in The Emirates, Ramaphosa’s estimated wealth is some $450 million. While he has considerable opposition and has had to play his cards close to his chest, since taking over the Presidency on 18th February this year, there is a strong body of opinion that he is slowly building a larger majority which should see him renew his Presidency in early 2019 and give him another five years to prove that South Africa can remain, for the foreseeable future the one country in Africa with a chance of not deteriorating into oblivion. The excitement of my going back to South Africa earlier this year was heavily underscored by the beauty of the country. To lie on the beach

at Plettenberg Bay on the Eastern Cape with the massive Drakensberg Mountains on the horizon while the dolphins were jumping out in the Indian Ocean, just a few hundred yards away, is something few countries can offer. While lying there I was reminded of some of the experiences I had during my 10 years living in South Africa from 1967 to 1977. One particular holiday highlighted the nature of the population explosion, which is unfortunately endemic to Africa. A group of six of us from Durban went pony trekking for six days in the mountains of Lesotho. On our final evening we were engulfed in a storm with the thunder and lightning making the horses almost unmanageable. We called on two African Kraals (homesteads) but were turned away. At the third one we were lucky when the owner agreed to corral our horses and put us up for the night. This involved him disposing of his No 1 wife and her two children by placing them with his No 2 wife, while he stayed with us, as we slept with him and our wet belongings in his mud hut. It was interesting to note that his Kraal had six other thatched huts suggesting he had at least six wives. This underscores some of the statistics in the 2017 Economist year book which highlights that South African women average 2.3 children per mother. This does not even put South Africa in the top 25 countries in Africa. Niger Image: MARK WESSELS/ EPA-EFE/REX/ Shutterstock

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.


heads the list with 7.5 children per mother. The lowest in the world is Taiwan with an average of 1.1 children per mother. When I emigrated to South Africa in 1967 the population was 22.5 million. Today it is 56 million. The UK in 1967 had a population of 54 million and today that has only increased to 67 million. While Ramaphosa has a chance to return some semblance of economic sustainability to the country, it will never regain its credit rating with the world’s top rating agencies which underscored bank lending to the country pre 1994. During my 10 years with Philadelphia National Bank from 1967–77 we were lending money to the country’s banks for up to 5 years. Today only one of the three rating agencies approves of International Bank lending for up to 6 months. Ramaphosa’s challenge is to get economic productivity under control which he will have to do at the same time as quelling the demand to take over farmland. However, I believe he is the one man in South Africa who is capable of differentiating that country from the rest of Africa. To understand Africa better I recommend one reads Paul Kenyon’s fascinating book “Dictatorland – the men who stole Africa”. Ramaphosa has already proved he is both a businessman and a politician who stands out on that continent when compared to those who stole Africa.

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Laura Jackson, Partner at BDO Northern Ireland

Action not words

Businesses must not be distracted from laying the foundations for prosperity.


ithin hours of becoming the new Prime Minister, an emboldened Theresa May told waiting media “Brexit means Brexit”. The slogan was, to borrow Northern Ireland phrasing, constructively ambiguous – bold yet purposely vague, offering everything and nothing. If you had to ask what it meant, then you weren’t in the know.

The lack of definition has seen a wealth of Brexit metaphors rise. Politicians, pundits and the public have worked tirelessly to tease out the perfect allegory evoking comparisons with cake, fudge, cherries, buses and much more. There is probably a good dissertation in the food analogies alone! Long-term ambiguity, however, is kryptonite for business. Clarity and certainty rather than metaphors and symbolism are needed if we are to perform at the highest capacity. This is a call that has been made strongly by the Chambers of Commerce, CBI, Institute of Directors and countless other business advocacy groups. While government has given some statements of comfort, there remains a worrying lack of detail on how trade will change when the UK leaves the EU in March. Time is running short, but what can or should companies do at this stage to prepare for Brexit? To borrow one final metaphor, the focus should be on getting ‘match fit’ so we can stay competitive as the rules of the game are adjusted. Knowing where to start can appear daunting. For most companies there are likely to be impacts on pricing, relocation and migration, tariffs and customs warehousing to name just a few key factors. Despite the unknowns, each set of possible changes can generally be condensed into manageable scenarios that allow business leaders and entrepreneurs


to consider how they should look at their business structures, cash flow, supply chains and regulation and compliance. BDO Northern Ireland is not complacent about the scale of that challenge. We have invested our knowledge and experience into a suite of tools specifically designed to help clients respond to the evolving market conditions. Our free Brexit Planning Guide categorises and outlines possible trade outcomes into a number of easy to navigate sections that examine the prospective direct and indirect tax and legal consequences. Critically we also outline that practical actions should be taken now to minimise the impact of change and seize potential opportunities ahead. Our multi-skilled local Brexit taskforce team also draws on further expertise from our Dublin and London teams, resulting in a comprehensive client service that keeps businesses informed of latest developments; identifies emerging risks and opportunities early; and advises management on the best responses. The best way for businesses to take control is to reflect on the sensible decisions they can take now rather than dwelling on the granular progress of Brexit negotiations. It’s time to leave the metaphors behind and concentrate on actions that can ensure resilience and a prime position to seize the opportunities that change can bring.



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BROADBAND INFLUENCING HOME BUYING IN NORTHERN IRELAND - BT SURVEY ‘Location, location, location’ is usually the most commonly used phrase when it comes to property searches. However, having access to good broadband speeds is now up there as one of the deciding factors for prospective homebuyers and tenants in Northern Ireland, according to a new survey commissioned by BT’s NI Networks. The results of the survey revealed that three out of five people (63%) said that having fibre broadband in their household was very important, rising to seven out of 10 (71%) among 18 to 35 year olds. The survey also showed that six out of ten people (60%) would be put off from a property when moving to a new house because of poor or slow broadband. As people across NI make increasing use of their broadband – with nearly a quarter (22%) of respondents being online for between 4 and

6 hours a day and close to half (41%) for more than 6 hours a day – the survey also shows that many people are doing their homework and checking available broadband speeds before they move. More than half (60%) of 18-35-year-old respondents, who make up the bulk of future homeowners, stated that they would check broadband speeds in advance of buying a property. 54% of those in this age bracket also said they would pay ‘a lot or a little’ more for property if it had access to Superfast fibre broadband, showing the importance of internet speeds for people in the region. Frank McManus, BT’s Head of Wholesale Sales and Marketing in Northern Ireland, said: “As the use of broadband continues to grow – with 82 per cent using it for social media at least several times a week, 80 per cent for

email, 63 per cent for watching films or TV and 58 per cent for downloading or streaming music - understanding what greater download speeds can deliver is critical. “Better download speeds make all these activities faster and, with more people within households using devices, from smart TVs and laptops to phones and gaming consoles, speed and reliability are essential if you don’t want to slow down other users in the home.” Samuel Dickey MRICS, Partner at Simon Brien Residential, said: “We are seeing an increase in buyer enquiries about broadband speeds, as so many people rely on fast internet in their everyday lives. Whether working from home, shopping online, gaming and entertainment, fast internet is crucial for the enjoyment of your property.”

BOOSTING PLAYERS’ PERFORMANCE AT THE WORLD CUP STATSports is one of the world’s leading performance technology companies based in Newry. Co-founded by Sean O’Connor and Alan Clarke, STATSports’s revolutionary monitoring devices track athletes’ performance during practice sessions and games to provide direct and invaluable real-time feedback to coaching staff and players. In a little over ten years, the company has earned a global reputation and now works with many of the biggest sporting organisations including the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, MLS, NFL, NBA, Rugby Union and NHL. BT provide STATSports with a BT NET dedicated and private internet circuit, combined with a hosted BT Cloud Voice phone system, which together provide capacity and flexibility – both crucial for the growing business. The cloud-based solution can work across multiple sites, thereby helping to futureproof the business infrastructure. It is BT’s cloud connectivity that instantly streams the individual performance data to coaching and medical teams to help them stay on top of their game. Paul McKernan, CIO of STATSports says: “It is vital that we are able to deal directly with clubs across the world in real time and the cloud technology that BT Business in Northern Ireland provides enables us to do just that. “By installing the BT NET dedicated and private internet circuit, we have capacity, flexibility and, crucially, the reliability which have helped us to become the world leaders in athletic performance monitoring that we are today. It’s a product and service that delivers what it promises and we couldn’t be more delighted with it.”

Sean O’Connor, Co-founder of STATSports with Ciaran McLaughlin from BT Business in Northern Ireland and Paul McKernan, CIO of STATSports.

The turning point for the company’s phenomenal growth came with the release of its ground-breaking Apex product with GPS technology. This game-changing small electronic device is inserted into the shirts or training vests worn by athletes. It measures every step, every movement – including heart rate, running speeds, distances covered and fatigue levels. Ciaran McLaughlin from BT Business Northern Ireland says: “Using the data, coaches are better able to plan strategy and tactics, as well as checking


whether players are fit for a game or showing signs of fatigue. As coaching staff work to secure a competitive advantage, getting this data in real time is vital and BT Business is delighted to play an integral role in successfully delivering that.”

PEN SION TRANS FERS A new identity for GWM Solutions Ltd Insight.Out is the new name and branding for what was formerly GWM Solutions and is headed by Jayne Gibson, one of the most highly qualified and experienced financial planning specialists throughout the UK. The company, established in 2015, provides specialist financial planning and investment advice to individuals seeking to maximise return on their assets and assure financial growth and stability for their futures. Insight.Out Financial is a trading style of GWM Solutions Ltd, which is an appointed representative of Network Direct Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

FINAN CIAL PLAN NING GWM Solutions Ltd is registered in England and Wales. Company Registration No. 07653162. Registered Office Address: 7 Ashfield Crescent, Chester, CH1 5AU, United Kingdom.


Les Matheson, centre, CEO, Personal Banking at RBS, launches Ulster Bank's newly designed bank notes at the bank's Andersonstown Road branch with Collete O'Hare, branch manager and Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland.

New Look for Notes

It’s not just the captivating designs on Ulster Bank’s new notes which set them apart but also their portrait shape. Adrienne McGill talks to Les Matheson, CEO, Personal and Business Banking at RBS, Ulster Bank’s parent company and hears about the eye-catching new cash.


he flora, fauna, heritage and agriculture of Northern Ireland will find their way into purses and wallets from next year when Ulster Bank’s new £5 and £10 polymer notes enter circulation. The new notes, which will replace designs that have been in circulation for 40 years, will be the UK and Ireland’s first main issue portrait banknotes rather than landscape. The new designs were revealed at an event in Ulster Bank’s recently opened Andersonstown branch in the Westwood Centre, Belfast and are based on the theme ‘Living in Nature’, developed by and for Northern Ireland and influenced by a panel of local botanists, historians, artists and architects. The £5 note focuses on Northern Ireland as a place that people pass through and visit, highlighting the importance of the sea and migration and features Strangford Lough and Brent Geese. The new £10 note highlights Northern Ireland as a place of growth, both in terms

of agriculture and heritage, with a display of Lough Erne, Irish hare and Guelder-rose shrubs. A king scallop from Strangford Lough also features on the notes, as does an Ulster Glade potato, developed in County Antrim. Les Matheson, CEO, Personal and Business Banking at RBS, Ulster Bank’s parent company, said the designs reflected the region’s natural beauty. “We have used different natural features on the notes such as loughs, animals, plants, and the landscape. They are very identifiable and it is a really nice reflection of the countryside rather than of an individual which we have used in the past on notes. “In addition, to have the notes in portrait style is very different to landscape which is an attractive feature.” The notes also contain advanced security features that will make them much harder to counterfeit. Using polymer for the note is itself a security feature. The substrate is a very thin plastic and getting ink to stay on it is extremely difficult. It


is very hard to replicate. The notes also have a range of other security features which can only be seen by advanced ultra violet light. Mr Matheson said the bank had made a substantial investment in the design and security features of the new notes and these had required thorough testing and development. The new notes are currently entering production and the bank is working with vendors and retailers to ensure that cash machines can accept and use the notes when they are released next year. Ulster Bank has a history of innovation in Northern Ireland. The bank introduced Northern Ireland’s first drive-through branch in Finaghy in 1961. Ulster Bank also installed the first cash dispensers in Ireland in 1968 at Donegall Place Belfast, O’Connell Street Dublin, Dun Laoghaire and Ballymena. The first banknotes produced by Ulster Bank over 180 years ago were securely transported by being cut and separated into two parts, before being pasted together again at bank premises.

Building the future together As a first choice supplier for leading architects, construction companies, builders and the self-build sector, RTU is helping shape the architectural landscape of Northern Ireland.

NI Chamber Networking Series in Mid Ulster


2. 1. Edel Creery (NIE Networks); Councillor Sean McPeake (Chair, Mid Ulster District Council); Shauna McCarney Blair (Heavenly Tasty Organics Ltd) and Andrew Smythe (NI Chamber). 2. Michelle Houston (Designco) and John Cranney (Big M otive).


3. Andrew Smythe, NI Chamber quizzes Shauna McCarney Blair, Managing Director of Heavenly Tasty Organics on growing a successful business. 4. Guests speed networking at the event. 5. Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake addresses guests. 6. Allison Shilliday (Danske Bank) networking with delegates.



6. 34


NI Chamber partnership sees launch of new services NI Chamber is delighted to announce that members now have unlimited access to a suite of essential business services that are designed to support and protect firms.

The professional services are provided by Qdos, a specialist provider of HR, legal, Health and Safety and tax services through a partnership with NI Chamber. That’s the good news – but even better – the employer-focused services are included in NI Chamber’s membership fees so members don’t have to pay any extra to access them! Whether you’re a sole trader, SME or large company each of the four services apply to you. They cover: • Human Resources (HR) • Legal • Health and Safety (H&S) • Tax There’s an advice line (01455 852039) available 24/7 which members can call for unlimited access to experienced advisors offering practical advice on each of the four services. There’s also a website ( which gives access to over 750 free template

documents covering HR, Employment law, H&S and Legal matters. The website, accessed by uploading your personal username and password, also includes a HR and H&S health check. One of the main features of the website is the comprehensive document library which has downloadable template documents and can guide you through the complete employee lifecycle – from recruitment to exit, health and safety and legal matters. It’s easy to navigate your way around the Document Library but there may be times when you may not be sure which document you really need. In this case just call the advice line and the advisors will be happy to help you. The services also include legal expenses insurance, with cover for up to £1m of legal expenses available. Whilst the threat of financially crippling employment tribunals has diminished, there are still many pitfalls facing employers and they can have serious financial consequences. Here’s the sort of costly situation you could face:

Contracts of employment

• If you fail to give employees a contract of employment, it will cost you 2-4 weeks’ pay

amounting to £950 for 2 weeks and £1,900 for 4 weeks.

Flexible working

• If you breach flexible working regulations, the compensation due to the employee is a maximum of 8 weeks’ pay or £3,800.

National Minimum Wage

• Failure to pay the National Minimum Wage will result in a fine of up to £20,000 per person and being publically identified on the Government’s naming and shaming list.

The Right to Work in the UK

• Failure to check that employees have the right to work in the UK will result in a financial penalty. For a first breach in a 3 year period, the penalty is £15,000 per illegal worker. For a second or subsequent breach, the starting point is £20,000.


• Failure to consult and inform employee representatives or employees on TUPE will attract fines of up to 13 weeks’ pay not capped at the statutory rate.

Unfair Dismissal

• The dismissal of an employee that is challenged and deemed to be unfair will result in a payout by the employer, based on a capped amount, of £475 per week. All employers should be aware of the risks and financial consequences they may face so if you need advice on how to avoid them or mitigate their impact, call the Advice Line and get practical advice from the professional advisers. NI Chamber Head of Business Development Valerie Gourley says the new services are invaluable. “All businesses have to deal with issues around Human Resources, Law, Health and Safety and Tax so access to professional advice vital. “NI Chamber’s link with Qdos is a huge benefit to members who can avail of these important services for free – what could be better? “We hope businesses will find the help available a useful resource as they continue to grow.” You don’t have to wait until you have an issue or serious problem before you call. The advice line will help answer any questions you may have across the four services and you can call about any related matter.


New names on NI Chamber Board and Council NI CHAMBER VICE-PRESIDENT John Healy, Vice-President & Managing Director, Allstate NI John Healy has 25 years’ experience in technology, predominantly in the financial services domain. He has extensive experience at leading global teams, developing strategy and delivering solutions to address business and technology issues. Prior to joining Allstate, John led Citi’s delivery centre in Belfast, providing IT, Operations, HR, Legal, Finance and Risk Services to the broader Citi group as one of 27 global delivery centres in its global network. Before serving in this position, John held senior management roles as head of technology and as a business unit manager for Citi, as well as senior roles at Grafton Recruitment, Liberty IT, J P Morgan Chase, St George Bank Treasury and Merrill Lynch. At Allstate, John is the Managing Director of Allstate NI, leading the team of 2,200.

Andrea McIlroy-Rose, John Healy, Ellvena Graham (President, NI Chamber), Orla Corr and Ian Henry.

NI CHAMBER BOARD MEMBER Andrea McIlroy-Rose, Pinsent Masons Andrea McIlroy-Rose is a Real Estate Partner and Head of the Belfast Office at international law firm, Pinsent Masons. Andrea leads the Belfast property team of 14 lawyers and in addition she is head of the firm’s UK retail property team. Andrea acts for clients in both Northern Ireland and England and has been named as a “Leader in the Field” for real estate for over 10 years in the Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession and Legal 500 directories. She specialises in development and investment work and has been involved in a large number of the major developments in NI including the new HQ buildings for Allstate Insurance and Concentrix, the recent acquisition of Belfast International Airport and shopping centres such as Victoria Square, Junction One and Bloomfield. A mother of two teenagers, Andrea has a special interest in diversity and inclusion and since 2013 has been the international chair of the firm’s female networking group, Female Futures whose membership spans all of the 24 Pinsent Masons offices. In recognition of her work in this field. Andrea was shortlisted in the Legal Adviser of the Year category of the inaugural Women in Finance Awards 2017. She also sits on the Board of Women in Business NI and is a regular speaker at corporate events on diversity issues and the promotion and empowerment of women. In the last year the Pinsent Masons Belfast office has won 3 Diversity and Inclusion Awards and the firm was recently named as Law Firm of the Year at the Lawyer Awards in London.



NI CHAMBER VICE-PRESIDENT Ian Henry, Director, Henry Group Ian Henry is Managing Director of Windell Limited and previously held the role of Contracts Director with Henry Brothers (Magherafelt) Limited. As a family Director, Ian is also a Director of Henry Group (NI) Limited. Ian has worked in the business since leaving school and has experienced supervisory and management positions. This has given him a depth of knowledge on how the business operates at all levels. As Managing Director of an innovative company, he must remain forward thinking and embraces new technologies to ensure Windell remains at the cutting edge of production. Sourcing new products and materials are critical to Ian and he encourages his team to investigate all new opportunities from across the globe. He is currently developing Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the business to allow Windell to compete across the UK and world market. Ian is a current Board and Council Member of NI Chamber and locally he is a member of the Magherafelt Chamber of Commerce. He brings his private business experience to help shape a better town centre through the encouragement of new business and the growth of existing businesses.

NI CHAMBER BOARD MEMBER Orla Corr, Executive Chairperson, The McAvoy Group Orla Corr OBE is Executive Chairperson of The McAvoy Group, one of the UK’s leading offsite construction specialists. Orla joined McAvoy as Financial Director and was appointed Managing Director five years later. She stepped down from this role in 2007, choosing to concentrate on her passions for marketing and business development. In 2011, Orla received an OBE for services to the construction industry. Her other achievements have included becoming the first woman to enter the Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame for her business achievements at McAvoy. She is a past winner of the Women in Business Northern Ireland Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the Outstanding Business Woman of the Year. She holds the distinction of being the first Entrepreneur in Residence in the Leadership Institute at Queen’s University Belfast’s Management School. Outside of McAvoy, Orla holds the position of Honorary Treasurer at Queen’s University Belfast and is on the Board of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. An independent, family-owned business, McAvoy has been providing bespoke offsite solutions and interim modular buildings for nearly 50 years. The Group delivers fast-track projects of the highest quality for the health, education, commercial and infrastructure sectors, with less impact on the environment and greater assurance of completion on time and on budget.


The following have joined the NI Chamber Council CLAIRE REID, Head of Delivery, 4c Executive Claire has 18 years’ experience within the Recruitment Industry, with experience spanning multiple sectors and industries in Northern Ireland and internationally. She has provided extensive guidance at the highest level to key stakeholders and clients, leading large scale outsourced recruitment solutions through to the provision of niche search projects for the most senior level roles. Claire is a strong leader and manager, with skills also spanning both HR and project management. She holds a Masters degree in HR, has a Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management, a Diploma in Management of Training and Development, and is a Chartered Member of CIPD.

Michael Woods, Allroute Shipping Michael is now in his 40th year within the Freight Forwarding & Logistics Sector having started his career in Belfast in 1978. Much has changed within this Industry since those early days of receiving telex messages and no mobile phones. When Michael started his career in Freight Forwarding he recalls being able to spend time loading cargo in the warehouse, driving forklifts and securing shipments for transit. Much of this couldn’t be done today without the proper registered training and associated Health & Safety requirements. From those early days Michael progressed to working for OCL, a Shipping Line who became P&O Containers and then P&O Nedlloyd who OCL worked with through an Agency (IWT/Campbell Freight). P&O Nedlloyd were subsequently purchased by Maersk Line in 2006 and Michael joined Maersk directly and became Regional Sales Manager initially for Scotland & NI and then eventually Northern Sales Manager looking after the North of England, Scotland & NI. In 2016 Michael decided to return full time to NI and took over as Director of All-Route Shipping which is owned by the Woodside Group based in Ballynure.

Mark Spence, Business Development Director, Flynn Mark is a keen supporter of local business and is active within the NI Chamber, IoD and CEF, representing the interests not only of his employer, construction firm FLYNN, but on behalf of the entire local construction sector. He actively engages government to break down the barriers to growth for SMEs, drawing on his background as a Chartered Accountant with long experience of procurement procedures within public sector bodies. In 2017 Mark led FLYNN to UK attention winning the NI and British Chambers’ award for Workplace Health & Wellbeing. Mark looks forward to contributing to the ongoing success of NI Chamber.


Jonny O’Brien, Director, Capita Jonny is a senior director with over 25 years’ experience across a range of industries including telecoms, media, software, high tech, and investment banking. He has worked with the likes of Accenture, Vodafone, O2 and Capita in strategic roles, attracting investment, business growth, and turnarounds. Having moved back to Northern Ireland to live by the north coast after many years living and working in England and travelling overseas, Jonny is committed to creating a growth economy across Northern Ireland and sees a great opportunity to make it a world-class place to do business both for indigenous companies as well as for overseas investors. He also works with the Causeway Chamber and will also bring a welcome regional perspective to the NI Chamber council.

Donal Durkan, Executive Director of Strategy, Invest NI Donal is Executive Director of Strategy at Invest NI. He has over 30 years’ experience working in the area of Economic Development, having supported businesses across a range of industrial sectors. During this time he also spent 3 years on secondment at Belfast City Council in the role of Director of Development. He has a Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance (ACCA) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Planning with the Irish Management Institute. He represents Invest NI on the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre Advisory Board and sits on the Catalyst Inc CONNECT Steering Group on developing the Knowledge Economy.

Eddie McGoldrick, Director, MCG Services Eddie has been a director of MCG Services Limited for over 11 years. He has worked in electricity and utilities for over 30 years, including serving as NIE’s Director of Customer Service. With MCG Services he played a major role in the establishment of Irish Water and welfare reform in Northern Ireland. His utility and customer service experience led him in 2016 to set up PowerOn, a highly-innovative start up in the emerging energy services market. Eddie is a graduate of Harvard Business School, Ulster University and Napier University.

Roger Henderson - Network Connections Director, NIE Networks Roger has responsibility for providing new connections to the network. He also leads the change within the business to facilitate competition to the connections market in Northern Ireland. He previously held the position of Operations and Safety Director within NIE Networks. He joined NIE in 1991 as a graduate engineer and has developed extensive management experience in power networks and major project delivery. He is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

David Watson, Managing Director, Ryobi Aluminium Casting UK Ltd David joined Ryobi in 2006, with prior senior Operational and Executive experience from positions held in General Motors, Takata European Components Corporation, Magna-Donnelly and Wrightbus. Ryobi employ 500 people in Carrickfergus and manufacture precision high pressure die cast components for the European automotive industry. Their customer base includes Jaguar Landrover, VW Audi, Peugeot Citroen, Ford &Magna. He is a Chartered Engineer with a Master of Science degree from the University of Ulster and is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering & Technology and the Institute of Cast Metal Engineers. He is married with 4 children and lives in Bangor Co Down.

Natasha Sayee, Senior Lead Public Affairs Specialist, SONI Natasha has been leading Public Affairs and Communications Strategy at SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) since 2015. Natasha’s primary responsibilities include delivery of SONI’s public engagement strategy to grow awareness and support for grid development infrastructure projects, implementing stakeholder and media strategies for the North South Interconnector and other schemes in Northern Ireland. Natasha has more than 2 decades of media experience, as well as extensive political relations and corporate affairs. She previously led the external communications team at an international diagnostics brand. Prior to this, Natasha was a Senior Broadcast Journalist at the BBC in Belfast, also serving as acting Ireland Correspondent.


Patrick Anderson, Chief Financial Officer, Translink An executive member of the Group Board, Patrick is responsible for Finance, Ticketing, Procurement and Commercial Property. He has an extensive range of experience at Board level in both the private and public sectors. A Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland, Patrick previously worked in Viridian Group PLC, where he held a number of senior Finance positions, and spent his early career with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Belfast. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Professor Gillian Armstrong, Head of the Department of Accounting, Finance And Economics, Ulster University Business School Deeply committed to supporting the growth and development of the regional economy, Gillian has sought to ensure that the Department works closely with the professional and financial services sectors to actively support the supply of skills and the attractiveness of Northern Ireland as a location to do business. She has been actively involved in the development of innovative educational models and is currently leading a Business School initiative to expand Higher Level Apprenticeships within NI and GB in priority sectors.

Vicky Davies, Managing Director of Strategy & Corporate Development, Danske Bank A Cambridge University graduate, Vicky started her career as a management consultant working with banks and private equity firms in London. After gaining her MBA at the renowned INSEAD business school in France, Vicky joined Ulster Bank in 2004, before moving to Danske Bank in 2011. In 2016 she became the first female executive board member in the Bank’s 200 year history.

BOARD & COUNCIL PRESIDENT Ellvena Graham, ESB Group VICE-PRESIDENTS John Healy, Allstate Northern Ireland Ian Henry, Henry Group Board John Healy, Allstate Northern Ireland Owen Brennan, Devenish Group Ellvena Graham, ESB Group Michael Kidd, EY Belfast Ian Henry, Henry Group Orla Corr, McAvoy Group Ann McGregor, NI Chamber Patrick Hurst, PHC Ltd. Andrea McIlroy-Rose, Pinsent Masons Richard Donnan, Ulster Bank Nick Coburn, Ulster Carpets Group Council Claire Reid, 4c Gareth Walls, A&L Goodbody Michael Woods, Allroute Shipping John Healy, Allstate NI

Shauna Burns, Beyond Business Travel Francis Martin, British Chambers of Commerce Mairead Meyer, BT Jonny O’Brien, Capita Brian Lavery, CBRE Hilary Griffith, Cleaver Fulton Rankin Victoria Anne Davies, Danske Bank Owen Brennan, Devenish Group Ellvena Graham, ESB Group Gerry Carlile, Evolve CPA Michael Kidd, EY Seamus McGuckin, First Trust Bank Mark Spence, Flynn Ian Henry, Henry Group Donal Durkan, Invest NI Jonathan Ireland, Lanyon Communications Alan Stewart, Marcon Fit Out Eddie McGoldrick, MCG Services Nuala Jackson, Mercer Ltd Gary Annett, MJM Group Peter Russell, Neueda Ann McGregor, NI Chamber Roger Henderson, NIE Networks Patrick Hurst, PHC Ltd Jonathan Martindale, Phoenix Natural Gas


Andrea McIlroy-Rose, Pinsent Masons Janette Jones, PwC David Watson, Ryobi Gerry Kindlon, Seagate Natasha Sayee, SONI Orla Corr, The McAvoy Group Eugene Lynch, The McAvoy Group Patrick Anderson, Translink John McGuckian, Tughans Richard Donnan, Ulster Bank Nick Coburn, Ulster Carpets Group Professor Gillian Armstrong, Ulster University Business School CHIEF EXECUTIVE Ann McGregor MBE HONORARY TREASURER Ian Henry, Henry Group COMPANY SECRETARY Ann McGregor MBE



he use of digital within my company is very basic, how do I start to make this a more effective tool to assist business growth?

The best way to approach anything new is to carry out appropriate research to inform a clear strategy. Research should consider: • Your Product – what do you offer customers? What are you known for? What do you want to be known for? • Your Digital Position – Is your website user friendly and mobile friendly? For any social media accounts that you currently use, measure and map your followers, engagement rates and trends over time and check whether you are posting / sharing as much content as you should be. • Your Competitors’ Online Presence – Do a thorough search of your competitors’ website and social channels, read their content and note how often they post on their website and social media accounts. Join competitors’ emailing lists to see how they are communicating with their customers. Note, this should be an ongoing exercise as opposed to a one-off. • Your Target Audience – Compare your target audience against engagement rates to see whether you still have engagement. You may discover that you have gained a new target audience due to new services and products that have been developed / evolved. How do I know which types of social media are right for my business? The best known social media platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Business to business companies should use these medium in different ways since they are accessed by very different user groups for very different purposes. Facebook is very much about building profile and creating brand awareness in a social capacity i.e. charity work, events, communicating company values and culture. It is about “Who we are” and “Our people”. It is also a very effective internal communication tool i.e. a private Facebook site will reach all levels of staff to share company news, events and achieve cohesion among employees who do not normally interact with each other on a daily basis. LinkedIn tends to be used as an effective sales tool – both through a company LinkedIn page and key sales people using their own personal LinkedIn pages. LinkedIn creates leads by allowing sales teams to interact with the right customers by sharing relevant product information. The ability to communicate key product news from the company’s LinkedIn page via “sharing” is a very effective way to reach target customers. Twitter is used in a “real time” capacity to share attendance at events and tweeting corporate news etc. A company twitter page provides an up to date snapshot of what the company are doing i.e. attending a trade show, or winning an award. It builds a picture of the company’s activities and the use of tweets and hashtags allows a company to garner a loyal following of people relevant to their industry.

Tanya talks... maximising your digital platform

I am too busy running my company, how important really is digital strategy? Digital strategy should be a core part of a company’s overall strategy given that it adds value to all areas of a business i.e. can improve customer experience via customer login areas to provide 24/7 support, build advocates internally and externally, increase brand presence, connect with target customers and also be used as a tool for recruitment. Smiley Monroe, an NI Chamber member company who successively use social media across their business, have sought to refine their digital platform in 2018 – they have shared with me that this journey has been very much aligned to the company’s overall strategy with digital platform being integral to the delivery of two of the company’s core values of “getting closer to their customers” and “becoming problem solvers for their customers”. The team at Smiley Monroe feel that success of their digital platform is fundamental to growth since digital, by its very nature, is global and scaleable!

How companies interact with their customers and other stakeholders is about employing digital and social media effectively with most marketing campaigns these days engaging digital platforms. Tanya Anderson, Head of SME Development at NI Chamber, answers a few key questions being posed by SMEs as they look to their digital platform as a cost effective marketing and communication tool.

The next Scaling for Growth workshop is being held on 6 September 2018 and will focus on how to maximise your digital platform to assist scaling up in a cost effective manner.



Andras Hotels open new Hampton by Hilton in Belfast Belfast’s largest hotel Group, Andras Hotels, has launched the first Hampton by Hilton Hotel in Ireland representing a £12m investment and creating 60 jobs.


he nine-story, 178-bedroom hotel is located on Hope Street, just off Great Victoria Street in Belfast city centre, close to main arterial routes, on a site adjacent to Translink’s Great Victoria Street rail and coach hub, serving the city’s burgeoning business and leisure markets. This is the seventh addition to Andras Hotels, bringing their offering to a total of 1,000 bedrooms in the City. Hampton by Hilton is Hilton’s ‘focused-service’ brand, with over 2,300 hotels across the world. Hampton prides itself on offering well-appointed modern bedrooms, a great breakfast experience and 24-hour dining. Most of all, it is the brand hospitality which is called ‘Hamptonality’ that makes it stand out from the crowd with an emphasis on friendly, authentic, caring and thoughtful levels of service coming to life every day. Hampton’s mission is to satisfy every guest, every time. The hotel will be owned and operated by Andras Hotels under the Hampton by Hilton brand, offering a high-end business and leisure service which includes complimentary cooked breakfast and free WIFI for all guests, secure discounted parking beside the hotel and features an open-plan lobby concept styled as the Welcome Zone, Work Zone, Gathering Zone and the Hub, each designed to offer spaces that guests can use to relax, work or socialise in. The well-appointed bedrooms also feature air-conditioning, stylish bathrooms, guest safe, black-out curtains and Smart TV. The hotel also boasts a dedicated gym with a range of cardiovascular and conditioning equipment. Supported by Danske Bank, the construction of the project commenced in September 2016 and was designed by Todd Architects and built by MSM Contracts.

Rajesh Rana, Director of Andras Hotels, said: “Today marks the start of the next chapter for Andras Hotels and reinforces our position as the largest hoteliers in Belfast. “The Hampton by Hilton brand will give us an exciting, brand new offering, which we feel will perfectly serve and meet the demand for high-end, prime position accommodation in the city. “The hotel will serve the very strong and growing mid-market range, for both the business and leisure traveller – and will complement our other brands, meaning we can now offer a range of hotel rooms to suit all needs and budgets. “The sheer scale of property along with its international brand recognition and fantastic


design will be a great advantage to visitors to Belfast and indeed Visit Belfast when selling the city as a conference venue. “Our location close in the heart of the local restaurant and bar scene, shopping hub and local theatres is also perfect for the leisure market. “We look forward to welcoming guests on a local, national and international scale to the hotel and to continuing to supply much-needed bedrooms for the local tourism market.”



- Free Breakfast - Modern Superior Bedrooms - Collect Hilton Honors Points For Free Stays

028 9031 3335

Sean Rooney, Eamonn O’Kane, Brian Lundy and Deaglan Lundy.

Asdon golf day at dunmurry golf course

Adam Spence, Colin Neill and William Brown.

The annual Asdon Group golf day was held this year at Dunmurry Golf Club in the glorious sunshine with refreshments served by Helen Brown and Brian McKee at the 10th hole, which were very welcomed. Over 40 competitors took part in the golf, which was of a very high standard, followed by dinner and the presentation of prizes in the evening. The men’s 1st prize was won by Declan Lundy 40pts, 2nd prize Jim Fleming 39pts and 3rd prize Adam Spence 37pts. The ladies prize was won by Julie Leonard, 36pts.

George Bowden, David Longridge, Julie Leonard and Chris Wallace.

Richard Palmer, Darwin Smith and Gary McKee.

Jim Fleming, James McKervill and Peter McCann.

Gary Gilpin, Gary Donaldson, Richard Keys and Niall O’Connor.

Brian McKee and Helen Brown.


William Brown at the tenth hole.

Deloitte Best Managed Companies 2019

“The mentoring and coaching we received has taken us to a new level, encouraging us to think more strategically as to how we operate and develop the business.� Trevor Annon, Chairman, The Mount Charles Group A Best Managed Company 2018


Keeping it in the family Brother:

Chris Martin Surfing is one of those things that brings people from all walks of life together. Age, job, personality, it really doesn’t matter. My brother Ricky and I were lucky enough to grow up as part of a small group of surfers in Portrush and it was our life. That being said, at no point in my adult life did I ever think I could make a business out of surfing or end up working in a surf company with my brother. SkunkWorks started almost by accident. All we were trying to do was solve current problems with learner surfboards. This began a journey from problem solving, learning about materials, pitching, social media campaigns and trying to bring back manufacturing to Northern Ireland. It has been a whirlwind since the beginning and things have grown really quickly. Going from an idea to having a couple of close friends join the team then working through all the ins and outs of having a full staff of 16 plus interns, setting up new departments, managing people, training people… it’s been a crash course in setting up an innovative manufacturing company and a hell of a lot of experience has been gained in a very short period of time. Our parents both worked for themselves and showed us what it takes to run your own business so we were never under any illusions. They never sat us down and explained it. Ricky and I both grew up knowing how much work and effort goes into sustaining a successful business and it came down to some simple things. Work incredibly hard, stick with it through the hard times, treat people well and respect your staff and the people you work with. These are the foundations we built the company on and the fact that we have such a loyal, hard working, respectful and happy staff is a testament to these simple, common sense ideals. Traditionally the term family business refers to a parent handing a business down to their children. Our family business is different in that we are two brothers who share a passion for surfing and manufacturing. We just happened to have a bit of a brainwave one day which has led to us starting a business which is creating employment, empowering new skills for a new workforce and we are now distributing our surfboards to surf schools globally. As far as working with family goes, it is exactly like you would imagine. There are ups and downs, sometimes disagreements happen and everything that comes with that. However, at the end of the day, Ricky and I – no matter what has gone on during the day at work – can sit in the ocean on our surfboards waiting for the next perfect wave, safe in the knowledge that we have done something that nobody else has done and we are very proud of that.


Business owners and brothers, Chris and Ricky Martin of innovative surfboard producers Skunkworks Surf Co. set up their company after being disappointed in the performance, lifespan and visual appeal of surfboards on the market. The brothers, who grew up on the North Coast and who have surfed at major international championships, were determined to make surfboards stand the test of time and of waves and to provide surfers with the most robust, high performing surfboards and paddleboards in the world. After working with some of the UK and Ireland’s best engineers and materials experts, Chris and Ricky secured an initial investment of £50,000 and in 2014 set up Skunkworks Surf Co. Then in 2016, they moved into their 16,000 sq. ft. factory in Coleraine and since then have been leading the engineering, shaping and sales and marketing teams who manufacture and distribute the boards across the globe. The company now employs 16 people. The first boards, which were exported to Europe in April 2017, are now being used by surfers in France, Spain, Norway, Portugal, and Holland as well as in surf schools in the UK and Ireland. Tourists also get the opportunity to test ride the boards through rentals and direct purchase from Alive Surf School, which is run by Ricky. But can catching a big wave be any more difficult than working with your brother? Chris and Ricky tell all…


Ricky Martin I began surfing when I was about 13. Santa brought me a bodyboard and wetsuit which still rank as the best presents I have ever had! Surfing became my obsession, to be fair I was obsessed long before I was allowed in the sea. Things were very different then, there were no lifeguards, no surf schools…parents had to let their kids go for it themselves which is why I was only allowed to start once I had proved to be a strong swimmer. As soon as Chris was old enough, he too donned a wetsuit and joined the Portrush surf crew. Those were the best days, we had such a great group of friends and would travel around Ireland each year surfing perfect waves, which Ireland has in abundance. Both Chris and I entered local and national competitions and have both represented Ireland at European level. We have been lucky enough to surf all over the world. SkunkWorks Surf Co started from frustration. I own Alive Surf School in Portrush and every year my boards would fall apart and after trying nearly every brand on the market we decided to make our own. Chris really took the bull by the horns. He realised that we needed to eliminate glue from the manufacturing process and introduce new, higher quality materials to the market. It was at this point I discovered just how stubborn….I mean tenacious… that Chris really is. He basically sat in a room for about 9 months with countless foams, plastics and a heat gun and one day came in with a block of four materials bonded together declaring “Here is our surfboard!” We have come a long way since that day, we now employ 16 people and have a 16,000 sq. ft. factory and are exporting boards globally. Not only that but we are working with sustainable products so our focus is about contributing to a sustainable environment, job creation, growth and profitability. I think we have both grown a lot as people since we started this and have got through some huge challenges together. There have been some really tough times – times when we have had some major rows and arguments but these have been far outweighed by the times we have stood side by side and worked together to bring the company forward. We have a really close family, Chris and his partner Liza, myself and my wife and kids, and our parents all live within a few minutes of each other. Our parents are entrepreneurs so I suppose it is no surprise we followed in their very hard working footsteps. I am very proud at what we have achieved, very proud to have done it with Chris and am really looking forward to the future and all the joy and challenges it will bring!


Get behind the campaign to #SaveChildcareVouchers Employers, parents, childcare providers, MPs, charities and civic society organisations are calling on the Government in Westminster to #SaveChildcareVouchers!


e know how vital quality, affordable childcare is, which is why we have launched the latest phase of the #SaveChildcareVouchers campaign. In March, the campaign successfully gained a six-month reprieve for the Childcare Voucher scheme to remain open to new entrants until October. But that doesn’t go far enough, many working parents – or parents to be – unable to join the scheme before then, will lose out. Make your voice heard and lobby MPs to halt the closure of Childcare Vouchers to new entrants – permanently! How can you support the campaign? You can join with us to #SaveChildcareVouchers by contacting your MP and sharing why you think Childcare Vouchers should be kept open. Details on how to do this can be found at Sharing your views is quick and easy. Several local MPs have endorsed the campaign already, and are working hard alongside us. We are asking employers, parents, and childcare providers to give them, and other MPs, the evidence they need to halt the closure of Childcare Vouchers. Why are Childcare Vouchers important? Childcare Vouchers help working parents pay for registered childcare. Two parents using the scheme can save up to £1,866 on childcare costs annually. If the scheme closes, employers will also lose out financially on savings on National Insurance Contributions. Each year, according to Government figures, the amount saved by employers through offering Childcare Vouchers is approximately £220 million. We are asking the Westminster Government to reverse its decision to close this popular form of financial support for working parents. Employers in Northern Ireland tell us they need an affordable childcare infrastructure so they can recruit and retain the skilled staff they need, and drive the development of the economy – Childcare Vouchers are a key pillar of this.

Think about the future!

Childcare Vouchers are due to close to new entrants on 4 October 2018. If your staff are already registered with the scheme they can continue to benefit, however, new entrants will not be able to join after October. Current users who change jobs after then will not be allowed to remain in the scheme as they will be considered a ‘new entrant’. We are reminding anyone who could benefit and is not yet registered with the scheme, to do so now. Even parents who aren’t paying for childcare now, may need to do so in the future. They can retain the option of using Childcare Vouchers by joining the scheme before it closes to new entrants in October. If you would like to set up a Childcare


Voucher scheme, or would like help in communicating information about the scheme to staff, contact us for support. For further information contact: Employers For Childcare T: 028 9267 8200 E:

the suit people



Bedford House, Bedford Street, Belfast | | 028 9031 2657 Enniskillen . Lisnaskea . Irvinestown . Omagh . Lurgan . Banbridge . Portadown . Larne . Newtownards


Powering world leading customers Caterpillar in Northern Ireland is generating power solutions for major projects from data centres to hospitals as Adrienne McGill hears from its Operations Director Mark McClure.


aterpillar may be best known for its mammoth yellow earth moving machines, but it is the world’s largest manufacturer of generator sets with Northern Ireland serving as one of the key global locations for manufacturing. The corporation employs approximately 1,800 people across 3 facilities, one based in Larne and two located in Springvale in West Belfast. The US giant acquired Larne-headquartered FG Wilson (Engineering) Ltd (rebranded as Caterpillar) in 1999. The Larne plant is a major producer of diesel and gas powered electrical generators ranging in size from less than 10kW up to levels of over 3MW. Thousands are produced annually at the factory. The facility produces generating sets for prime and standby power as well as rental applications. Typical customers are those who rely on power to keep their systems running – basically all businesses but they are especially important for the likes of hospitals and data centres. Smaller units are also manufactured for small business and domestic use. The generators range in size from that of a modular home to a small lawn mower and come in a range of options to suit customers’ power needs. Meanwhile the Springvale operation is a key producer of axles for articulated trucks which are used for earth moving, mining and quarrying throughout the world. The majority of products produced at both plants are exported to countries in Europe as well as Africa and Middle East, CIS, Southern Asia and parts of the Americas. Mark McClure is Operations Director for Caterpillar in Northern Ireland, a position he has held for the last 11 months. A native of Carrickfergus, he has been immersed in engineering throughout his 25-year-long career which started after he graduated in 1993 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Ulster and joined FG Wilson where he initially worked on new product design and engineering support. His leadership skills were noticed at an early stage and his next role was in production where he headed up the fabrication, assembly

and testing of the custom power solutions products. “It was quite a transition moving from a small engineering team based in an office to leading a sizable production team on the shop floor,” says Mark. “This brought new challenges and a development opportunity to extend my leadership skills and build capability in decision making, managing diversity and supporting a safety focused culture.” The global reach of Caterpillar, which is headquartered in Illinois, is unmatched in the engineering industry. The company serves customers in more than 190 countries with several hundred different products. It is a manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, diesel-electric locomotives and diesel, gas and dual fuel electric power generators. More than half of Caterpillar sales are outside the United States. Its manufacturing, marketing, logistics, service, R&D and related facilities along with its dealer locations total more than 500 locations worldwide, which means the company remains geographically close to its global customer base. As a manufacturer, Caterpillar works closely with its dealer network with a common goal to provide solutions that will help its customers build a better world. “It is important we have a global footprint close to our customers and have capability to produce products across our facilities giving us the flexibility to respond to changing global and economic conditions,” says Mark. Prior to taking up his current role, Mark spent four years in Brazil with the company as Facility Manager in the Piracicaba area and in Tianjin City, China for two years. He says he learnt much from the experience. “I was delighted when the opportunity arose to work in Brazil, where I relocated with my wife and 2 children. “Caterpillar allowed me and my family to have a tremendous and very rewarding experience. The children were able to broaden their minds, learn a new language and mix with pupils in a school which had 30 different


nationalities. It was also great for me to work in a different business environment, culture and language. “After Brazil, we went to China where I ran one of Caterpillar’s largest facilities for genset production – the Asia Power Systems plant. “We have a long history of genset manufacturing within Northern Ireland and we know we need to serve the global market and be best positioned to compete internationally. Caterpillar’s operations are spread across the world but we strive to work to common principles and standards, and share learning across our various facilities world-wide. “So, when I went to Brazil and China it was a great opportunity to understand business and operations from a more global perspective and to share knowledge between our facilities for the overall benefit of our business unit/ division. “For everyone, spending time abroad is a fantastic benchmarking and learning opportunity. Within the wider Caterpillar group, we have opportunities to share best practice, understand each other’s initiatives and ideas, and apply them within our facilities and operations. “We want every Caterpillar factory in the world to apply common standards and principles to ensure we are ultimately delivering what our customers need, on time, with efficiency and to the highest quality. Alongside this, we want to ensure that our processes in our factories support our employees from a safety and rewarding experience perspective. “Caterpillar Northern Ireland has a capability built over many years of design, development, fabrication, assembly and testing of products – we have a lot of experience, a highly skilled team and we need to use that for the benefit of our customers, company and in turn our employees.” In 2016 Caterpillar announced the restructuring of its operations in Northern Ireland, including the closure of its Monkstown facility in Newtownabbey and “consolidation of logistics” at its sites in Larne and Springvale. Investment has been made to achieve this with the production of electric power generator sets, which previously took place

Picture by David Cordner. www.david

in Monkstown, now moving to Larne and the production of truck axles moving into Springvale. Mark says the reinvestment is positioning the company to be more competitive for the future. “Our team in NI have demonstrated our ability for change and to work through the challenges and opportunities that come our way.” Sustainability has become a core tenet of Caterpillar’s corporate strategy. As the world becomes increasingly concerned about the environment, the company has begun releasing more environmentally-friendly products with more planned for the future. With around 15% of the world still without electricity, power products will have to be produced to address this involving a combination of fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. The company has already introduced Dynamic Gas Blending dual-fuel technology as a factory-installed option for diesel generator sets. This system allows Caterpillar’s diesel engines to burn a mixture of diesel and natural

“After Brazil, we went to China where I ran one of Caterpillar’s largest facilities for genset production – the Asia Power Systems plant.” gas, in many cases cutting fuel costs while maintaining diesel engine performance. “We are continuing to focus on reducing emissions and improving efficiency with our gensets while also integrating renewable sources. This is in line with our commitment to support the environment while meeting the energy needs of our customers,” says Mark. Caterpillar is very much to the fore in being involved in community and educational initiatives in Northern Ireland. Corporate Social Responsibility is also very important to the company and its employees are encouraged to participate in activities that strengthen the communities in which they operate.

51 71

As well as paid short-term and long-term placements for university students, the company provides scholarships to engineering students at Queen’s University Belfast and two students are sponsored annually from Northern Regional College to undertake placements. “I feel a deep responsibility to continue to support the excellent work of the team and those leaders before me and I am privileged to have the opportunity to have this role with Caterpillar in Northern Ireland,” says Mark. “I am also delighted to have returned home from working with the company overseas and to be able to share and put into action much of what I learnt.”


TECHNOLOGY KNOWLEDGE Technology has revolutionised every sector of the economy resulting in important effects on business operations. No matter the size of enterprise, IT is central to driving revenues and producing the results customers want. Technological infrastructure affects the culture, efficiency and relationships of a business and also the security of confidential information and trade advantages.

A company with an edge

It’s one of the fastest growing technology companies in Northern Ireland and Neueda has no thoughts of slowing down, its Sales and Marketing Director Peter Russell tells Adrienne McGill.

Given the fast-paced emergence of products and business models, as well as the transformative power of digital technologies on business and society, companies now rely more than ever on technology both for supplying customers and for running their own businesses. In this Special Section, we look at a number of companies across IT, manufacturing, biometrics and travel who have proven to be masters in developing and adopting fast technological changes in order to reach the top of their respective sectors. Their speed and foresight has seen them capitalise on new opportunities which has

Neueda Sales and Marketing Director Peter Russell.

resulted in exceptional growth.

Inside this Issue: 52

A Company with an edge - Neueda


Lava Group is fired up - Lava Group


Travel firm flies ahead with technology Barrhead Travel


Driving change - Wrightbus

Neueda has been a hidden gem in Northern Ireland’s IT industry for some time – but now its expertise in digital transformation is sparkling like never before with a new iridescence as result of an increasing demand for its services. The Belfast based company provides digital technology solutions as part of large scale software projects to clients in the public and private sector and financial markets. With headquarters in Weaver’s Court in Belfast, the company helps clients increase operational efficiency , improve customer experience and deliver commercial objectives, by moving to digital and transforming how they do business. The company has experienced phenomenal growth of 35% in the last 4 years and reinvests over 10% of its annual profits to develop its people through leadership, technical and personal skills improvement, graduate and apprenticeship programmes. Recording a turnover of £15.4m in the year to March 2017, the firm anticipates this growing to £26m this year – and looking ahead to 2022 anticipates total


percentage revenue growth to continue, creating several hundred new jobs locally, and in its recently opened near shore offices in Malaga, Spain. The firm was founded in 2006 by Brendan Monaghan and David Bole, who have over the years held senior roles spearheading successful business units in market leading companies like BIC Systems. However, Brendan (now CEO) had always set his sights on setting up his own company which he did with Neueda, a future focused business with a commitment to people, expertise and innovation and delivering business results through partnership. The company’s core strength is in digital transformation solutions with consultancy, training and software development capabilities. Peter Russell is a member of Neueda’s senior management team. As Director of Sales and Marketing he is responsible for the growth of Neueda’s business on a local and international scale. Peter was previously Regional Director of BT Business NI and held management positions with Microsoft and Steria. He explains: “We have built core capabilities around data solutions and legacy system modernisation. “This has involved providing digital solutions for our customers to help them accelerate their respective digital transformation journeys. “There is a lot of new focus now on data and organisations need to know how to embrace, handle, process and store the data they hold. “Many don’t know the type of data they hold, or the quality or the sources. We want them to be able to use data in a more flexible model in terms of cost efficiencies, GDPR compliance and improved customer satisfaction. Most senior execs want to move towards becoming ‘Modern Data Driven Organisations’, but don’t know where or how to start this strategic journey. “To help simplify the challenge we look at all of the data sources – the excel spreadsheets, the CRM system and

engagements which allow us to prove ourselves to any potential new customers,” says Peter. “Digital transformation has to be one of the most crucial ways of transforming Public Sector services in Northern Ireland, and our job is to demonstrate clearly through proven case studies, how improved outcomes – aligned to the Programme for Government – can be delivered through cost effective digital solutions.” One of Neueda’s largest clients is the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). DAERA has developed a Northern Ireland Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payment system for farmers which is an online system where farmers are now paid based on the area of their farms. This used to be a manual system, which was fraught with risk, delays, inconsistencies and open to regulatory penalties and fines. “This is now one of the leading CAP solutions in Europe,” says Peter. “This year almost 100% of farmers had their payments made early and online – which proves it can be done.” One of Neueda’s founding principles has been financial stability. From day one, the company has grown organically by reinvesting company profits and keeping company borrowings low. For instance, over the past 4 years, the company has grown over 30 per cent each

year through careful cashflow management and without the need for external investment. Last June Neueda unveiled plans to invest £12m to create 165 new jobs and further develop the talent of its employees in Belfast. The new jobs include 130 technical roles, ranging from entry level and graduate positions, through to experienced software engineers, and solution architect roles. The remaining 35 jobs are in areas of consulting, project delivery, sales and business operations. Meanwhile, the company lifted the Overall Company of the Year title at the Digital DNA Awards in April at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. The company also took the Best Large Tech Company Award in recognition of its impressive growth trajectory over the last few years, with many “blue chip names” among its clients. “What we have achieved so far has been very impressive, but it’s really important for us that we remain true to our core values as we continue to grow. This means we continue to significantly invest in our people and deliver outstanding service to our customers,” says Peter. “We also want to remain different – we have a freshness that makes us a little bit different – and that will remain our approach as we look towards 2022 and beyond.”

Lava Group is fired up Biometric technology is changing the face of the criminal justice and connected health sectors as Adrienne McGill hears from Lava Group CEO Gareth Morrison. Lava Group has been developing unique software and innovative biometric technologies for the criminal justice market, in particular playing a vital role in maintaining control within prisons, for over 20 years. In this time, the Belfast based company, which was formed in 2014 following a management buy-out from Core (NI), has gained valuable experience of integrating biometric technologies into access control and other security applications. This specialist knowledge, coupled with its continual investment in R&D, has positioned the firm – with its catchy strapline Fluid thinking rock solid results – at the forefront of the industry. Lava Group, which employs 15 people, currently concentrates on the market in Ireland with the new £28m prison in Cork in which the company installed hi-tech lock

controllers, its most high profile deal to date. The company recently won contracts with a number of secure training units for prisoners for its new ‘smart hatch’ system which monitors inmates within their cells through the viewing hatch via a hand held device. This delivers accountability for both staff and inmates as it records the time, date, name of prison personnel using the device and length of time it was used. Gareth Morrison, CEO of Lava Group, says: “We have been involved in biometrics for some time. The technology has become more known and acceptable to people especially since its inclusion in the iPhone as a means of identification of the user. “Biometrics have moved to vein analysis and also iris-retina scanning and facial recognition to make identification even more accurate.


“Our software does a comparison of whatever is read against an encrypted template. For data and security reasons we can’t store a picture of a fingerprint or face that we can compare against. Our software can deliver an analysis against the encrypted template and come back with a result – match or no match. “There is nothing more personal than your biometric. Biometrics are more acceptable within mainstream technology and applications and more people are now using it. “For the security industry, we are looking at the use of other biometrics. Traditionally all our biometric systems were for use in access control within high security establishments. We are now starting to explore different avenues around behaviour. “Behavioural analysis has become very important – for instance in a prison if there


examine how they can all be integrated and simplified. “Clients want to have a better view of their data in an agile and cost-effective way that allows them to use predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to help transform the way they do business. This relates to all industries, Public Sector, Private Sector and also to those operating in Capital markets.” A total of 50% of Neueda’s business is with clients in financial markets, public sector accounts for 35% and the private sector takes up 15%. The company has been working with the Public Sector for over 15 years, helping customers improve operations, drive efficiencies, innovate and transform. Solutions delivered range from agile discovery projects, right through to complex transformational projects. Central government customers include the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs, and the Department of Finance and Central Procurement Directorate. The company also works closely with Belfast City Council, Land and Property Services, Translink, several Health & Social Care Trusts, Belfast Met and CCEA. “We are trying to replicate some of the “leading edge” work that we do in financial markets and the private sector and introduce, where relevant, into the public sector. We specialise in agile and impactful


Lava Group CEO Gareth Morrison.

are 15 people standing in a group, our behavioural analysis system can detect any changes in behaviour and predict the likelihood of trouble arising. “The Internet of things – the monitoring of any device – and where technology is going to move has huge implications. These are very important for us. “For example, we have a system which monitors lifebuoys around waterways. The system makes sure that the lifebuoys are in situ so if someone does fall into the water, there is a lifebuoy there to save them. “We are getting 2-3 new opportunities to use our technology every week. It is a case of finding opportunities that no one else has thought of yet. We are focused on finding out what technology is coming down the line and seeing how we can make use of that to really get ahead.” Lava Group’s passion for providing innovative technology, combined with its substantial experience in security, has resulted in continued growth and delivery of solutions to other sectors including connected health. “The experience we have gained in the custodial sector, where inmate care and accountability are paramount, is helping us develop solutions in the increasingly important area of connected health,” says Gareth. “The ability to monitor vital signs, and provide this information to healthcare professionals remotely, is crucial to improved patient care. “Lava Group is committed to the development of products to help patients

and their families ensure they receive the quality of care they are entitled to. “Healthcare facilities, too, will benefit from the increase in information they have about their patients, provided in real-time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “This information, analysed by our systems based on criteria selected by the doctors, will ensure patients receive the best possible care. “A further benefit of the audit records produced by our systems is that our customers will have access to patient information if something goes wrong, providing vital evidence in support of the caregiver.” In 2016, Lava Group, was part of a consortium which secured £100,000 of funding from the Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) in Belfast to invest in R&D for its behavioural analysis technology which monitors agitation levels in dementia and autism patients within the home or residential care environment. The system provides long-term assessment of the environment and physiological metrics of the patient. Through repeated monitoring during periods of agitation the device forewarns carers that agitation is likely and identifies the root cause ahead of the behaviour change in order to reduce the influence of triggers. While it is still at the development stage, it is hoped that the product will improve the lives of both carers and patients. “Our partnership with CHIC on this project has provided us with a valuable opportunity


to develop a product that can make a real difference to the lives of many people in Northern Ireland,” says Gareth. “Our experience within the custodial sector has shown that our knowledge base is well placed to develop behavioural analysis technology for use with patients suffering from dementia and autism. “There is a growing emphasis on homebased monitoring of chronic illnesses. It isn’t a question of whether connected health will begin to impact on our medical treatment, it is a question of when. The benefits in terms of money saved, improved results and increased quality of life for patients and carers, are too good for the health sector to ignore.” Lava Group also hopes to extend the technology to cells in prisons and police stations through the use of a tiny thermal imaging sensor hidden in the ceiling which will detect whether a prisoner is attempting to self harm or take their own life. The sensor will capture certain patterns of behaviour as a heat image which are monitored by staff who will look for certain movements and gestures and take action before it’s too late. “There are algorithms in the background which are analysing the data and picking up signs and over time start to predict behaviour,” says Gareth. Within the criminal justice system and connected health, Lava Group’s technology is helping to save and improve people’s lives…and with the company fired up about developments in the future, it looks like more products will continue to flow.

Barrhead Travel, an innovative, award-winning travel business uses the latest technology tools to help customers jet off on dream holidays. Adrienne McGill talks to the company’s Chief Executive Sharon Munro. Barrhead Travel Chief Executive Sharon Munro.

Despite constant pressure from third parties and direct vendors having more access to the modern day traveller, the travel agency business is neither dead nor in the process of dying. In fact, travel agents are still responsible for almost 77% of total cruise bookings, 55% of air travel bookings and 73% of travel package bookings. With the advent of technology, there were fears that travel agencies would become defunct with customers acting as their own travel agents and booking holidays and flights on the internet and using booking engines to do pricing comparisons in a matter of seconds. However, the opposite has happened – travel agents say the growth and advancements in technology have helped to enhance communication,

convenience, productivity, the speed of business and marketing. Barrhead Travel Group, which opened a store in Belfast’s Victoria Square earlier this year, has fully embraced technology resulting in impressive growth. As one of the leading independent travel agents in the UK, currently employing more than 1,000 people in 70 retail outlets, the company is well-known for combining traditional stores with state-of-theart technology, including virtual reality headsets and artificial intelligence. “What sets us apart from other travel agents is the technology we use in store,” says Sharon Munro, Chief Executive of Barrhead Travel. “When booking a holiday, customers can use one of our virtual reality headsets


to experience their chosen holiday or view high-definition footage of the cruise, hotel or destination on our in-store video screens.” Since it was founded by Sharon’s father Bill in 1975, the fast-expanding holiday business, has grown from a traditional ‘bucket and spade’ travel agent to a multifaceted travel group using state of the art technology, chartering its own flights, offering bespoke holidays to all corners of the globe, running an in-house training facility, employing specialist consultants providing expert advice in areas such as long haul, cruise and ski holidays and promoting youth employment through its apprenticeship scheme. The company has won many awards over the years, including Top UK Travel Agency and Best Travel Agency in Scotland for 17 years running. Barrhead Travel has been recognised as one of the “Best Companies to Work For” for by The Sunday Times. The Glasgow based Group has been operating in Northern Ireland since 2012 through a number of franchises including Weir Travel and through its own Barrhead Travel store in Belfast which opened in January. Sharon, who in 2007 led a MBO of the business, says the advent of technology has been crucial to the success of the firm. “We have been hearing for years how the days of travel agencies are numbered. When low cost carriers came about and customers could book their own flights, people said it would be the death of travel agencies. “However, we were one of the very first travel companies to have our own website selling holidays so we knew at an early stage about the importance of having a web presence.


Travel firm flies ahead with technology


“We have followed digital trends to stay connected to customers. “People like to have the choice of where they want to book – they very often start their research online and then contact one of our call centres or come into one of our stores to make the booking. They very often want to get face-to-face advice about a destination and then can see it by using the technology in our stores. “A lot of online-only companies don’t have a telephone line and only communicate with customers via email and many of our customers don’t like that. Quite a number of our staff have been to the destinations we offer and can comfortably talk to customers about the best things to do, restaurants to eat in, hotels to stay in and excursions to go on”. Barrhead has been investing a lot on tech, with online chat bots that can answer customer queries 24/7 which can also be used by agents to help respond to a question they may not know the answer to. The company’s technology drive also includes software for its agents to use to leave video voicemails for busy customers stretched for time to make a return visit to a branch and to save staff from making multiple follow-up calls. Stores also have screens to show “impact imagery” of destinations and allow customers to view hotel rooms, balconies and verandas or see cruise ships’ cabins and public areas before they buy.

In addition to virtual reality headsets, stores have multimedia screens displaying live-stream footage of a destination. A multimedia desk is angled towards customers while the consultant works on their enquiry. “Video is the future of marketing. It helps to tell the story better, it is more personable and helps create brand and customer loyalty,” says Sharon. “We keep in touch with our clientele on a variety of mediums but especially via mobile phones. We realised the importance of using mobile devices and social media from early on. “Our new web-based customer portal is accessible on any device and offers customers direct access to their previous quotes and bookings as well as all documents for their current bookings. Using a login, itineraries and travel documents can be managed and printed, payments can be made and passport information can be added. “We have also launched holiday forums where customers are able to interact and share holiday experiences with each other. Our forums provide information, deliver news, promote events, run competitions and generally engage with holidaymakers at a much higher level. The opportunity to have live conversations with customers and have blogs that actively talk directly to customers has gone down extremely well.” Barrhead Travel employs a team of

technologists who are constantly looking at new technologies in the travel industry which can be used in store or online in order to enhance the experience of customers. Sharon says it has become imperative for traditional travel agencies to modify and alter their strategies in order to adapt and survive in the changing markets. “We are always adapting to change and embracing new technologies and considering what the customer wants, how they want to book and how they want to interact with us. “In many of our stores we also have Xboxes where children can play games while their Mum and Dad book a holiday”. Earlier this year, Barrhead Travel Group was acquired by US travel giant Travel Leaders Group for an undisclosed sum in a move that sees the familiar Scottish brand retained. There are plans for the Barrhead Group to open more stores in Northern Ireland and in other areas of the UK. “Joining with Travel Leaders Group will give us the resources to expand into additional markets, access to new technology and the ability to innovate. This agreement creates exciting new prospects for both our enterprises,” says Sharon. “We aim to expand the business quite considerably over the next couple of years. So far our store in Belfast has been a great success and we want to continue to build on that.”

Driving change Developing new zero-emission bus technology which offers the chance to help address the world’s environmental challenges is a game-changer Wrightbus Business Development Director David Barnett tells Adrienne McGill. In many cities air quality concerns mean that there is strong pressure on public transport to move to zero emissions. Single deck fuel cell and hydrogen buses are already operating successfully in many cities including London, and more are arriving across Europe, the US, China and Japan. As the fuel cell and hydrogen combination deliver greater range by weight than batteries, operators can have a zero emission solution that does the full operational day without loss of passenger carrying capacity. Bus manufacturer Wrightbus is leading the industry in the development of these revolutionary and environmentally friendly vehicles. The Ballymena firm is a pioneer in its field and has at its core innovation and technology. It has led the way in the practical development of clean vehicle



technology in buses over many years. Wrightbus was the first to produce a genuine zero emission battery-electric bus. Its StreetAir, debuted in 2017, uses electric heating, rather than the diesel-fired systems of some of its competitors. Now Wrightbus has gone a step further with the StreetDeck hydrogen bus. The new technology provides a zeroemission drive system which encompasses a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery pack to power the vehicle. The combination of these two technologies makes the continuous daily operation of the public transport vehicle feasible. Offering a reliable system with no emissions, all Wrightbus hydrogen fuel cell vehicles feature an electric drive axle packaged to allow a full flat floor throughout the bus, a zero-emission heating/cooling system, the ability for overnight charging if the operator desires, and remote diagnostics. Key to the success of this concept are the lightweight hydrogen storage tanks, and the automatic battery management system which continuously monitors and balances the stored power while the vehicle is in service. “The fuel cell electric vehicle is another type of zero emission vehicle – we have battery electric vehicles which everyone is familiar with – you charge up a battery overnight and use the vehicle during the day,” says David Barnett, Business Development Director at Wrightbus. “The challenge with those battery electric vehicles is that the range is limited by the size of the battery pack – the bigger the battery pack the more weight you have to carry on the vehicle. “Obviously if you are carrying that weight you don’t have that weight available for carrying passengers. “On the other hand a fuel cell electric vehicle is zero emission which is an electric vehicle just like a battery type but the energy is stored in compressed hydrogen which runs through the fuel cell and is converted into electrical energy. “That electrical energy is then used to power the vehicle. “A big advantage is that for the same amount of energy, the hydrogen takes up considerably less weight than the battery the electricity is stored in. It therefore gives us more chance to package the hydrogen tanks that the fuel is stored in and to lay those out so that it can suit a single deck and a double deck vehicle. “A battery electric vehicle needs time to recharge – that could be 4 or 5 hours during which time you can’t use the vehicle and that can be difficult for operators to schedule in. It can reduce the flexibility of where and when the vehicle is used. “But a fuel cell electric vehicle can be refuelled in 5-10 minutes and sent back out on the road again.

Wrightbus Business Development Director, David Barnett with Wrightbus founder and owner, Sir William Wright, and Head of Product Development for low emission buses, Jim Morrison alongside the new StreetDeck bus.

“Typically some of our customers would use the vehicle during the day and night – on our fuel cell electric vehicle we can mimic the operation of a diesel vehicle and can do that using zero emissions.” Another benefit is that a fuel cell is compact, contains no moving parts, does not involve combustion and produces electricity for as long as fuel and air are supplied. Fuel cell life has been in excess of that predicted – as London’s in service trials prove – with the expectation that at least 25,000 hours (roughly eight years) life is easily achievable. The StreetDeck fuel cell electric bus was launched in 2016 after 6 years of development by Wrightbus and the company has further tested and refined it. The firm hopes to have two demonstrators going into service in the UK by the end of this summer with production starting next year. Part funding has come from the EU’s Project JIVE – Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe – which aims to make the capital cost commercially acceptable. But is hydrogen the fuel of the future in transport?


David Barnett says it certainly will feature in some form. “Hydrogen has an important role to play. I don’t think there is going to be a one size fits all fuel for the future. I think we will see operators and transit authorities looking at different fuels and different sources of energy they can obtain and picking the right one for particular routes. “At the end of the day it comes down to cost. Wrightbus manufactures diesel micro-hybrid, diesel-hybrid, the hybrid system as fitted to the new Routemaster, battery-electric vehicles and we now have our hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle. When we have a range of technology options in our drive line, we have a range of body sizes and body styles – our core skills are in being able to work with the operator and giving them a product that meets their need. “I think there will be a balance in some cases between diesel. For instance Euro 6 diesel on a commercial vehicle is a remarkably clean fuel but it has a medium term future. I think electricity and hydrogen both have a role to play in addressing our future transport needs.”

CLEAVER FULTON RANKIN CELEBRATE WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP To acknowledge women in leadership, particularly the formidable leaders that Cleaver Fulton Rankin represents, the firm recently hosted an evening at Rademon Estate, the distillery of craft gin, Shortcross. Women holding positions of influence in the fields of business, finance, agri, pharmaceuticals, engineering, science, and law to name a few, spent the evening exploring the growing passion for gin, sampling some unique styles and hearing an address from well-known business figure and inspirational woman in business, Ellvena Graham, President, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. Commenting at the event, Cleaver Fulton Rankin Chairman and Director, Karen Blair said. “As a firm, we are passionate about helping our people to develop and succeed, regardless of gender, ethnicity and background. At present 40% of our firm’s Directors are females, with 70% of the firm’s lawyers and para-legal positions also occupied by females. This split in representation or diversity in our leaders and wider teams, not only promotes fairness but means working closely together with our male counterparts we are continuously coming up with strong ideas, more creative approaches, flexible thinking and responses to challenges that we and our clients face”. Cleaver Fulton Rankin has come a long way in its 125 years in business and this year they are proud to hold the prestigious title of Legal 500, Northern Ireland Law Firm of the Year. For more information visit

NI Chamber members support President’s charities


I Chamber members have raised more than £16,000 for the President’s chosen charities, The MS Society (NI) and most recently The Samaritans, over the last year. NI Chamber President Ellvena Graham presented a cheque for £11, 755 to Tom Mallon of the MS Society (NI) following a series of fundraising events and collections at NI Chamber events. Ms Graham said: “NI Chamber is delighted to have raised such a significant amount which will go to support the tremendous work the MS Society Northern Ireland does. “Investing in research areas such as MRI scanning has helped an increasing number of people to understand more about MS than ever before. “Every big breakthrough is the result of years of dedicated research which is why people’s support is so important.” Funds raised help the MS Society (NI) to award grants, give support, fight for better care and find better treatments for everyone with MS. Ms Graham has chosen Samaritans as the organisation’s new charity for the next twelve months. A grand total of £4,255.64 was raised for the charity at the NI Chamber President’s Annual Lunch which took place at Belfast City Hall in June. Ms Graham said: “NI Chamber is delighted with the significant sum raised at the President’s Annual Lunch which will go towards supporting Samaritans in the tremendous work they do helping people in difficult circumstances.” Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, through their free telephone helpline – 116 123.


Ellvena Graham, President of NI Chamber of Commerce presents the cheque to Tom Mallon of the MS Society (Northern Ireland).




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Keeping an eye on surveillance

The video surveillance industry has continued to change over the years with improvements in quality and accessibility adding to its attraction among businesses and consumers. Adrienne McGill talks to John Coyle, Managing Director of Metro Surveillance whose systems are in high demand.


hen John Coyle was at school he dreamt of becoming a commercial pilot – he certainly held the criteria. He had an ability to understand technical information, possessed excellent technical skills, was a good communicator, an excellent team player, remained calm under pressure, and able to think quickly. He never realised

his dream fully but the success of the video surveillance company he founded in 2012 has at least allowed him to buy a glider which he flies regularly at the flying club in Carrickmore. John’s company, Metro Surveillance, is a specialist in Video Surveillance Systems (VSS) – the next generation of CCTV technology. These are designed, installed and monitored


in-house and are specifically designed to a commercial/industrial grade. The company supplies systems to a wide range of clients across the UK and Ireland including supermarket chains, book-making operators, recycling plants, meat processing factories, oil terminals, banks, livestock marts, bars/night clubs/restaurants, sports stadia, business and domestic residences and in city centres. The company’s largest market is in Northern Ireland where it controls 1,200 cameras at various locations. Metro Surveillance has international aspirations as its control room already protects and interacts with clients’ locations in live time

in South Carolina in the US and in northern Spain. John, a native of Pomeroy in Co. Tyrone, initially established the company in 2007 and focused on providing security camera systems for the construction and retail sectors. However, with the collapse of the construction sector and the consequent economic downturn in 2008-2011, John decided to explore prospects in Algeria and the Middle East where he won contracts to design and install security systems for major facilities including an airport close to Cap d’Acra, Ghana, mobile surveillance in Algeria and work at one of the palaces in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. His company also supplied Vehicle Rapid Deployment Systems (CCTV Vehicles) to the Algerian government. “It was very good work,” says John. “I always had an interest in CCTV so after college I went into that field. It was either that or become a pilot. “I enjoyed working in Algeria and the Middle East but I also missed home so after the worst of the financial crash ended I decided to come back to Northern Ireland after the market turned around and reinvent the company.

“In 2011, Metro Surveillance opened its new purpose-built offices in Cookstown complete with a state of the art CCTV control room with dozens of monitors displaying activity outside a range of commercial premises across Northern Ireland. “We began with a staff of 2 and have now grown to 25. “Some of the guys here are writing code and doing integration as well. The security systems are created and developed here at our base in Cookstown – from the cabling to the installation to the maintenance to the monitoring – it is all done in house. “We have helped CCTV into the ‘Smart’ age by developing our own video analytical platform which makes cameras and systems intelligent. This software has been tried and tested and we have received great results from our wide ranging clientele who have also reaped the financial benefits of this system. These systems can be integrated with access control gates as well as using number plate and facial recognition. The systems have been so successful that they have replaced manned guarding in most cases. “We have changed the contemporary understanding of CCTV by enlightening companies and government departments about how these systems can achieve the maximum value for money while at the same time providing the optimum level of security to both them and their assets. “Metro Surveillance is an integrated security provider. Whereas most security providers rely on a range of services provided by third parties including design, software, hardware or contracts, we offer all these services in-house to achieve and maintain the highest level of quality while providing the most reasonable price for this type of technology to our clients. All our systems are monitored from our purpose built control room. “Since we opened the control room we have doubled our business every year with turnover now reaching £1.5 million across the control room operations and the installation of CCTV cameras at clients’ premises. “Compared to manned security, we can save a client up to £60,000 a year by using our technology.” John, who holds a BTEC qualification in Electronic Engineering, says business has grown substantially because of the technology used by Metro Surveillance which he believes is “the best in the world”. In addition to employing 2 software developers, the company has partnered up with a video analytics development house based in Minsk in Belarus which John visits frequently. Minsk may seem like an unusual place for a Cookstown company to have a business partner located but during the last 10 years, Belarus’s substantial IT industry has distinguished itself from other sectors of the economy by steadily growing revenues, exports and workforce. Foreign demand for the products and services of companies in Belarus’s IT industry has seen strong growth in recent years.


“We teamed up with the company in Belarus because they are specialists in video analytics – in Northern Ireland we have particular demands and expectations which third party providers couldn’t satisfy. Our design team worked closely with the team in Minsk to develop a solution which would be particularly useful in both Britain and Ireland given our weather and climate conditions. We also developed a CCTV alarm generating software that is head and shoulders above the competition. This has been applied already in a variety of commercial properties including building sites, forecourts, office buildings, commercial premises and yards. “Replacing physical sensors with analytics, alarms are sent to our operators instantaneously by a breach of the virtual lines we draw on the camera’s view. This is verified within seconds and relevant action can be taken including an audio challenge of the intruder. The control room is a 24/7 operation so security is provided around the clock. “Video analytics also allows us to analyse the content with facial recognition and number plate recognition being highly sought by customers. “Most CCTV control rooms in the UK and Ireland are multiplatform which can create confusion among operators, but as we have a single platform our operators are highly skilled in the use of the system. We install our hardware boxes at the client’s premises which integrates our technology and links into our control room. Our engineers have been trained directly by the camera manufacturers so the quality of the system is outstanding.” Metro Surveillance is responsible for the security of 90% of the fuel stock coming into Northern Ireland and its technology is used by a number of leading names including Nicholl Fuels, Go, LCC, Flogas and EMO. Detecting fraud is one of the major benefits of video surveillance technology, says John. “There was a recent example of credit card fraud at a number of fuel stations by the same individual who was filling his car up. Our operators put the registration of his vehicle into all our sites so when the guy appeared on the system again, the operators in the control room were drawn to his activities before he even lifted the nozzle at a pump. This allowed the operators to contact staff on site and alert them to the threat. The key is to always be one step ahead.” In one of its largest deals to date in the last 2 years, Metro Surveillance was awarded the contract to provide the surveillance system at Cloghan Point Oil Terminal on Belfast Lough which is now owned by the LCC Group who also own the Go chain of petrol stations. “We plan to grow the business in the next couple of years and increase the workforce to 35 people. We anticipate that our CCTV control room will be one of the largest in Europe in the next 3-5 years. Presently we process about 10 terabyte of CCTV images and data every day – that is massive…but is going to get bigger,” says John.

Store Challenge for a Good Cause Business volunteers recently came together for the launch of Action Cancer’s Retail Stores Challenge 2018. Staff from Air-Gen, South East Regional College, Holley Optometrists, Coleraine, DWF Law, Bank of Ireland, Andersonstown Branch, Department for the Economy, Marks and Spencer, Her Majesty’s Passport Office, Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Worthington Solicitor’s, and Andersonstown News met at Action Cancer’s new headquarters in Belfast in June. Companies will be tasked with increasing donations and sales on the day while raising awareness of the charities lifesaving screening services delivered across Northern Ireland. The charity are still interested in companies coming on board to take over their Cookstown, Enniskillen and L/Derry stores, so if you have an interest in helping a local charity and getting your teams involved in a challenging but motivating activity then get in touch by emailing Katherine Young, or call on 02890803344. Paula McAuley, General Manager from sponsors All-Tex Recyclers said: “We have been proud to sponsor this event in the past we are delighted to be involved again in 2018. Over the past five years companies from all over Northern Ireland have taken part in the challenge helping to raise over £370,000 for children and family counselling sessions, breast screenings and health promotion services delivered at schools and workplaces and on board Action Cancer’s mobile unit the Big Bus.”

“We are delighted to be working with a leading charity like Action Cancer, helping to raise vital funds for their cancer services through recycling and sponsorship initiatives. At All-Tex Recyclers we have a commitment to invest time, energy and resources into all of our charitable partners,“ added Paula. For more information on signing up or sponsorship opportunities please email or or call 02890803344.

Two OF THE TRENDIEST PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK IN BELFAST The Radisson Hotel Group offers two outstanding food and drink concepts in Belfast – RBG Bar & Grill at the Park Inn by Radisson and The Gasworks Bar & Restaurant at the Radisson Blu Hotel. See below a selection of what awaits you at each location.

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Maureen O’Reilly, NI Chamber Economist

Boosting prospects for the ‘Stagnation Generation’!


Can the social contract between generations be repaired?

id you know that you were in an intergenerational contract? In simple terms this is a contract based on the principle that different generations support each other across the different stages of their lives. Everyone puts something in and everyone takes something back with fairness at the core. Simple examples include caring for our children now on the basis that they look after us as we age or paying our taxes when we work to pay for social care and support when we retire. The idea that we are in some form of contract is a different way of thinking about it, however the issue is becoming much more compelling as a new generation of young adults enter the world of work facing a very different set of challenges in how they contribute to a future society than generations before them. Typically the next generation tends to


do better than the last. For the most part, standards of living are higher with each successive generation. Generation X (1965-80) has done better than the Baby Boomers (194665) who in turn have had a better standard of living to the Silent Generation (1926-45). This is not the expectation for young adults today or the Millennials (1981-2000) as they are often referred to. There has been growing concern that they will be worse off than their parents and this view is shared among many advanced economies, although the UK is one of the most pessimistic. The financial crisis is believed to have been the trigger but the fall out is still making an impact, particularly on core economic issues such as living standards, jobs, housing and retirement. A poll of adults in Great Britain1 suggests that people are becoming more and more concerned about whether young people will have secure

jobs going forward, be able to buy their own home and live comfortably when they retire from work. The Resolution Foundation has recognised this as a real concern, going as far as to set up an Intergenerational Commission made up of leaders from business, academia and policy-making to come up with a way of ‘repairing the social contract’ between generations. It recently published a report on ‘A New Generational Contract’2 setting out the Commission’s findings on the challenges facing society in maintaining a fair deal between the generations. The report points to the fact that: • Millennials are at risk of becoming the first ever generation to record lower lifetime earnings than their predecessors. • Even though post-crisis employment has been strong, young adults have experienced extremely poor pay outcomes – Millennials are earning the same now as those born 15 years before them. • Home ownership rates are lower and housing costs higher for millennials than their predecessors - Millennial families are only half as likely to own their home by age 30 as baby boomers were by the same age, and are four times more likely to rent privately. They are paying more on housing costs for less. • Young adults are making no income progress and accumulating much less wealth

compared to older generations – disposable income is no higher for millennials who have reached the age of 30 than it was for Generation X at that age. The Resolution Foundation report makes a number of further important points which includes the fact that parents are increasingly supporting young adults to have a decent standard of living, helping them with house purchases or increasingly allowing them to live at home. The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ has become something of a catch phrase. One piece of research3 suggests that it is now the 9th biggest mortgage lender in the UK. This raises its own questions around fairness in society. So how can the social contract between generations be repaired? The Intergenerational Commission makes a strong point of the fact that the State has a key role to play in driving change. It has come up with a 10-point plan with some very strong policy recommendations largely focused around fairness in jobs and adequate planning for retirement. They include the right to a regular contract for those doing regular hours on a zero-hours contract, extended statutory rights for the self-employed, more support for young people to train and move jobs along with a £1.5bn boost to what the Commission calls the ‘persistent under-funding of technical education routes’ (funded by cancelling 1p of the forthcoming corporation tax cut). They also

propose a requirement on firms contracting for self-employed labour to make pension contributions, lowering the earnings threshold above which employees get auto-enrolled and providing greater incentives to save among low and middle earners by flattening the rate
of pensions tax relief and exempting employee pension contributions from National Insurance. These are heavy interventions that will come at a cost to both the State and taxpayers. I do think there is a further aspect to the discussion, which centres on the expectations of the younger generations. There has been a lot of research/discussion around the work ethic of millennials (and increasingly the next Generation Y) which suggests that their priorities are different e.g. they work to live rather than live to work, have a sense of entitlement, high expectations and a tendency towards job hopping. Others say that younger adults get unfair bad press and their situation does simply reflect the fall out from a recession that has taken us on a very different recovery path than before. A debate perhaps for another day! Whatever the case, I do hope that my children can overcome the stagnation generation. I would really like to see some pay back some day on my intergenerational contract! 1. IPSOS MORI 2017 2. Final Report, Intergenerational Commission and Resolution Foundation, 2018 3. Legal & General and Cebr, 2018

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A hub of legal activity Herbert Smith Freehills’ Belfast office has taken Alternative Legal Services mainstream as Adrienne McGill hears from its Director Lisa McLaughlin.


hen Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) launched in Belfast back in 2011 it was a quiet affair. This traditional firm, known then for its conservative reputation, was daring to try something new to meet demands for better value from clients.

The new office was to be the firm’s first dedicated Alternative Legal Services (ALT) hub, set up with the aim of being a near-shore centre that would support the firm’s disputes practice. Breaking the London mould with a launch in Belfast piqued the curiosity of the legal profession. Back in 2011, Belfast was unfamiliar territory for City lawyers – how would this tentative venture turn out? What the firm uncovered was a city buzzing with legal talent, capable of supporting unprecedented global growth. Fast forward seven years and any fears about breaking new ground have long been forgotten. The ALT team in Belfast has grown exponentially since 2011. As HSF celebrates its seventh anniversary in Belfast, what began as an office of 19 has turned into a mature team of approximately 200 lawyers, legal graduates and legal technologists. For HSF’s clients, the Belfast office is a pivotal and integrated part of the firm’s global legal offering. As well as supporting dispute resolution lawyers across HSF’s network of 26 offices around the world, the Belfast team works across a wide spectrum of HSF’s other practice groups, with growing expertise in corporate/funds, commercial, finance and real estate work. The Belfast office has also become a blueprint model for HSF’s growing ALT network, which currently comprises eight other hubs in cities around the world: London, Johannesburg,

Shanghai, Beijing Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Together, the global ALT team numbers more than 350 lawyers, graduates and technologists, with team members often working together on global projects. Where HSF broke new ground in Belfast, others have followed. Some opted for domestic low-cost centres,

“Watching my team develop commercial and client skills and really stretch themselves is definitely the best part of the job.” such as global law firm Hogan Lovells, which opened in Birmingham in 2014, but several followed HSF to Belfast – global firms Allen & Overy, and Baker & McKenzie among those choosing Northern Ireland. According to UK, US and EMEA Alternative Legal Services Director, Lisa McLaughlin, what


initially attracted HSF to Belfast was the wealth of legal talent emerging from Queen’s University and Ulster University. “We were the first international firm with a near-shore base in Belfast, and it was the talent that really swung the decision for us,” she says. Lisa graduated from Queen’s University in 2001 with a first-class Law & Accounting degree. She moved to London after winning a training contract with what was then Herbert Smith. She reflects now on how the opportunities for legal talent in Northern Ireland have changed unrecognisably since she left Queen’s and clearly takes pride in playing a key role in Belfast’s now booming legal sector. At Herbert Smith, Lisa joined the international arbitration group and was a senior associate progressing towards partnership. It was after returning from maternity leave in 2010 that then Global Litigation Head, Sonya Leydecker approached her about the opportunity to set up the firm’s new office in Belfast with Libby Jackson, now Global Head of ALT. “Libby and I had a vision,” she says. “We wanted to be disruptive and to be bold and innovative. This was a new approach for Herbert Smith, which at that time had a more conservative profile. We also wanted to create an entrepreneurial team and to create a supportive working culture.” The firm, she says, was responding to the legal services disruption trends emanating from America and was proactively considering how to deliver more value to its clients. This remains a key driver today, as in-house legal teams within global clients are being asked to achieve even more with even less. Lisa knew from personal experience that Belfast was punching above its weight in terms of legal talent. She initially accepted a threeyear secondment back home to Belfast and hasn’t looked back since.

As a standalone operation servicing the rest of the firm, Lisa initially had to sell ALT’s services to internal partners and associates. Partners looking for ways to deliver greater value to their clients jumped at the opportunity of working closely with a technologically savvy, project-management focused team in Belfast. Very quickly, the Belfast team forged close relationships with internal colleagues and the firm’s key clients. By attracting buy-in, fuelled by proven track record of excellent delivery, Lisa and Libby have been able to continue investing in Belfast. “I was very ambitious for our new team right from the outset,” says Lisa. “I knew that they had enormous potential and I sensed that Belfast would have a major part to play in our firm’s future. But what we have achieved together has exceeded all my expectations. Not only are we working on fantastic, high quality work for global clients – we are increasingly developing innovative legal service offerings

working directly with those clients. Watching my team develop commercial and client skills and really stretch themselves is definitely the best part of the job.” New recruits to HSF Belfast are offered career progression opportunities at all levels across varied practice areas. Each year, legal graduates have the opportunity to win a sought-after Training Contract. Successful candidates are sponsored to complete the Legal Practice Course and spend a period working in two department’s at the firm’s London office, with the remainder in Belfast. Belfast team members also have the opportunity to work across the wider HSF network and spend time as part of clients’ in-house legal teams, with 78 lawyers and graduates completing internal and client secondments in London, the Middle East and Australia over the last 6 years. Lisa is clearly proud of the community roots the HSF team has spent time putting down. It


has forged several key partnerships with local organisations in recent years, such as Young Leaders NI, Arts & Business NI, the National Trust and the Princes Trust, and in 2016 agreed a five-year sponsorship deal with Queen’s University, sponsoring the Student Hub at the University’s School of Law. What began as a tentative step toward market disruption has now become mainstream for the legal profession. Major corporates and their legal service buyers no longer see teams such as ALT as “alternative”, but as a necessary and essential part of legal service delivery. “GCs (General Counsels) are very open minded and are really accelerating an already fast moving evolution in legal services,” Lisa says. “They are embracing what we can do for them. Increasingly, they are visiting us in Belfast to engage with how ALT can really work for them alongside their core HSF relationships. It is an extremely exciting time for us to be at the forefront of these developments.”

Celebrating Ten Years of Connect Ten years ago, a small number of people who believed in the potential, talent and ambition of Northern Ireland came together and, given a home by Catalyst Inc (at that time NI Science Park) launched Connect, which was based on the proven Connect model developed by University of California. Everyone accepted that no one individual or organisation could help Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurs or transform our economy, but together with a little contribution from many people, it could be done. Today Connect, underwritten by Catalyst Inc, is the driving force for a growing and powerful entrepreneurial ecosystem bringing together the intellectual capital in the region, industry, investors, as well as government, to support and nurture the ambitions of our entrepreneurs. Connect runs intensive development programmes, tracks the progress of Northern Ireland’s knowledge economy and nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit of our young people. All of their activities are developed and delivered through collaboration with the community and is only possible through the support of their corporate partners who provide time and resources to make sure the model is evolving rapidly to effectively support and encourage our entrepreneurs. Connect now engages with around 820 entrepreneurs a year and over the last 10 years, graduates from their Springboard programme have raised over £45m in investment, the annual Invent competition has grown to be one of the most anticipated annual celebrations and recognition of innovation and entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland and introduced new programmes tailored to the specific requirements of entrepreneurs. Thanking all the people who have contributed in many ways during Connect’s 10-year journey so far, Steve Orr co-founder and director of Connect said: “Over the past 10 years we have seen incredible local innovators and entrepreneurs create products and companies that are now becoming scale-ups and scalers, lots of them. This is all due to the culture of collaboration and contribution from so many incredible people who are providing support for entrepreneurs pro-bono. Because of this great community, Northern Ireland is becoming a land of opportunity.” Find out more at and see how you can join Connect in achieving their vision to see Northern Ireland as one of the most entrepreneurial knowledge economies by 2030!

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THE VALUE OF NON EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS IN BUSINESS 4c Boardroom Search Consultant Gareth Hanna discusses the value of Non Executive Directors (NEDs) and the important role they play in driving the growth and success of businesses. What should companies consider when appointing a NED? Before investing in a NED or NEDs, it is important for a company to understand their purpose. Only then can they assess whether or not they have the right skillsets required to appoint them. Without that clarity, the structure of a board becomes about putting people in seats, which is entirely the wrong reason to appoint a NED. How does the appointment of a NED drive growth in an organisation? At 4c, we encounter companies in Northern Ireland that have hit a ‘brick wall’ in terms of growth and need help to take their business to the next stage in their growth journey. A good NED will always identify new opportunities for a business that will lead to future growth. They will help a company to understand their USPs, and will then create discussions and opportunities around these.

The ‘generalist’ NED will be an experienced individual who possesses a broad range of skills and expertise, bringing an element of credibility to a board. The ‘specialist’ NED, meanwhile, will be appointed to fill a particular skills gap on the board, usually with a strategic business objective in mind. Both styles can be equally effective, depending on the individual requirements of an organisation.

What makes an effective NED? NEDs can only be effective if they are matched well against a company’s vision, mission and values. An effective NED will help Directors/CEOs to make better decisions, forcing them to be more strategic, rather than operational.

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ALWOOD BY ALFRED BRIGGS CELEBRATES 85 YEARS OF BUSINESS AS IRELAND’S ORIGINAL KITCHEN COMPANY A company since 1933 Alfred Briggs and later his son Wilson built a business with a passion for innovation, excellence in bespoke design and most importantly understanding of their customers. With numerous design awards, a reputation for quality and superior customer service, their team continually produce outstanding kitchens and bedrooms. Due to their bespoke nature, Alwood by Alfred Briggs caters to all sectors of the market. From being the exclusive kitchen manufacture of the prestigious Harberton BT9 development in Belfast, to creating breath-taking one-off designs for their retail clients. To celebrate their 85th birthday Alwood have created a new impressive ‘1933’ design in their Lurgan showroom. This design showcases the business’ rich history using time-served techniques on traditional materials and pantries, mixed with the latest innovations through smart home integration. Wilson Briggs believes that the best is yet to come from Alwood by Alfred Briggs – “I am proud of what my father and I have achieved with the business, however what excites me most is what lies ahead for the business. There is no better feeling seeing the youthful team create stunning designs, then hearing the fantastic feedback from our customers”. For more information visit or call 028 3832 3296



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Top Young Talent

Liam Ferris, Mary-Jane McBride and Adam Grimley help to launch Kainos A.I.Camp.

Kainos searches for undergrads to lead new era in A.I. development


ainos, a leading provider of digital services and platforms, will be holding it’s A.I.Camp, a prestigious training programme at Queen’s University, Belfast between 20 August and 1 September 2018. A total of 20 places are being offered to undergraduates who are keen to develop their own machine learning models, create chatbots, hear about the latest industry developments from local leaders in A.I. and develop their business skills. CTO Tom Gray said: “After a successful first year, we are delighted to bring A.I.Camp back and to accommodate more students on the course. Machine learning is a broad topic that embraces different skill sets and backgrounds, so we would encourage undergrads from disciplines such as mathematics and statistics to get a head-start in the IT industry. “The emergence of A.I. as a maturing technology is creating opportunities to reshape our daily lives and the world as we know it.

“While there are much debated moral and ethical questions to answer, there are also vast numbers of ways in which it will change lives for the better, from helping blind people to ‘see’, to identifying anomalies on production lines, to understanding how to better recognise and treat disease.” Gemma Crothers, who heads up the Tech Outreach programme at Kainos said: “Young people are faced with increasing education costs, which is why A.I.Camp is free to attend. We have also scheduled it for the last two weeks of the summer so that it does not impact summer jobs, travelling or family commitments. “With the guidance of Kainos mentors and local A.I. leaders, students will learn how to write their own machine learning models, create chatbots, work in project teams, hear inspirational talks, take part in our hackathon to win prizes and of course, experience the award-winning Kainos culture.”


A.I.Camp is part of Kainos’ wider Tech Outreach programme, which aims to inspire, educate and train the next generation of IT talent. In the past three years, over 4,000 young people have benefitted from the programme, which also includes the company’s CodeCamp, CodeShow and work experience initiatives, and partnerships with The Prince’s Trust and Code Club. Many who are selected for A.I.Camp go on to be offered a graduate or placement role with Kainos after graduation. Building on the success of A.I.Camp in Belfast, Kainos is taking the initiative further afield to Birmingham, where ten people will experience all the course has to offer from 3-15 September. For more information about Kainos A.I.Camp go to Applications have now closed.

SERC and local primary school team up to prepare pupils for the future


illennium Integrated Primary School in Saintfield and South Eastern Regional College (SERC) joined forces recently for a unique opportunity for pupils and their families to get an insight to what career path they might wish to follow. The event was designed to help boost the children’s understanding of the range of learning opportunities and pathways available to them at their local Further Education College, helping them to make better, informed choices. Millennium Integrated Primary School has been running a series of talks for children from Primary 5 to Primary 7 on Friday afternoons using parents who were willing to come in to present and discuss their careers. The talks have been very successful, and this has been seen in the response from the children and their teachers. To take it a step further, Barry Corrigan, principal of Millennium Integrated PS approached SERC to see if they would be interested in running a careers’ day for the Key Stage 2 children to complement the series of talks that had been running in the school. Commenting on the project, Mr Corrigan said: “It’s about planting seeds and ideas in the children’s minds. I want the children to always feel that their education is relevant

and that there are opportunities available when they get older. When children become disengaged with education they are probably thinking that there isn’t anything worth working for. This event is designed to make children aware that there are always opportunities available and that they have a responsibility to take them when they present themselves. “I was very conscious of our past pupils who might now be in the process of sitting their examinations and who might be looking for other options after them. So they were invited to attend the day to avail of the advice on offer. We are very proud at Millennium of the relationship we have with our parents and the regular visits we receive from past pupils. Hopefully, this adds something to that relationship.” SERC Principal and Chief Executive Ken Webb said the college is committed to working with the local community to ensure they have the high-quality skills and qualifications employers demand, both now and for the future. “SERC has built up a strong reputation in providing high quality education and training programmes to help meet the requirements of a wide range of sectors. “This particular event has been designed to open children’s minds to the huge variety of exciting career options available to them at

SERC Head of Careers Claire Henderson with Principal of Millennium Integrated Primary School Barry Corrigan and P5 pupils enjoying the day Poppy Jeffers, Hannah Hall and Eoin McCamphill.



SERC. It is to get them to start thinking about their school options and future careers, so learning what skills and qualifications they will need is a good start. It is a real opportunity for children and their parents and siblings to try something completely new while, at the same time, enabling them to experience college life. Amidst the fun of the hands-on approach to learning, participants will get the unique opportunity to experience a range of career options. “Young people don’t always know what courses or learning opportunities are available at SERC, so these sessions will give young people the opportunity to experience college life within a casual setting.” Parents interested in a change of career or a pathway back into education availed of information as SERC expert careers’ advisors were available on the day offering 1 to 1 interview opportunities for parents and older siblings of current pupils at the school. The children got to visit stands showcasing careers in robotics, catering and hospitality, programming, sport, languages and more. Applications for courses starting in September are now open visit appy.serc. For more information call 0345 600 7555, visit or on Facebook, search: SERC.

Ambitious companies investing for the future By Gavin kennedy, head of business banking northern ireland at bank of ireland uk

The recent gleaming sunshine sees the summer period begin in earnest and with it a close to the first half of 2018. It has been a busy one for Northern Ireland SMEs where at Bank of Ireland UK our business banking team continues to see a steady stream of healthy business activity and requests for funding support as local businesses show no let up in their determined focus on growth. We’ve been delighted to provide funding solutions and other supports across a range of needs and sectors to enable businesses to expand into new markets, launch new products, invest in new facilities and technology to transform and enable their business to take advantage of current and future market opportunities. We are excited to be funding the plans, as recently announced by James Street South owner and award-winning chef Niall McKenna, for opening a new cookery school in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter later this year. The new cookery school, which will accommodate groups of up to 18 at any one time, forms part of a new and extensive regeneration development within the area.

The investment means the business is wellpositioned to further contribute to the city’s status as an award-winning destination for local, national and international visitors. Macklin Care Homes’ significant investment in the development of a brand new concept cutting edge Lifestyle Care Home, Milesian Manor in Magherafelt, created 15 new jobs with support from Bank of Ireland UK. The 25,000 square foot new development offers residential, nursing, dementia and respite care in the high spec contemporary property that was designed by Gareth McFarland Interiors, the Irish-based interior designer who works on projects throughout Ireland and the UK. The brand new build offers each resident an en-suite bedroom along with a café, spa, cinema, the Greyhound Bar and wellness garden to ensure residents enjoy an excellent quality of life for themselves and their wider family. Another great business growth example are recent investments through the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital growth fund including the recent investment in Datactics, a

RegTech solutions company for the financial services sector. They are an ambitious local company with a highly innovative product. The access to this finance will help them to scale more quickly and another great step forward in enabling them to achieve their growth potential in the global financial services sector. These investments are just a few examples demonstrating the appetite local businesses have to grow and our commitment to play our part in enabling businesses, our customers and communities to thrive.

Dublin Airport Trials HonestyBased take-away Dublin Airport has teamed up with their award-winning food and beverage partners Marqette to trial a new honesty-based food and beverage take-away offer in Terminal 1. A trial Honest Eats Co. fridge is now installed at the Marqette outlet stocked with a selection of sandwiches, wraps, salads, pastries, snacks and drinks. Passengers can pick the items they want, scan them and pay for them via a cashless self-service checkout that accepts cards and mobile payment applications. The trial is running for the month of June and initial data – showing that 95% of all passengers were honest (and more likely to be honest on a Monday than a Sunday!) – was shared with some 3,000 leaders, entrepreneurs, technology professionals, researchers and academics at the Inspirefest conference held recently in Dublin. The Future Factory at Dublin Airport called on Inspirefest attendees to participate in an exciting mini-hack where entrants had the opportunity to make an impact in food tech and have their ideas be part of this real-life project, Honest Eats. Over two days, eight finalists battled it out for the overall prize of two return tickets from Cathay Pacific, now flying direct from Dublin Airport to Hong Kong four times weekly. Visit for more information.


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Staying connected – easier than you think!

Your local O2 business centre can help you to stay connected to your customers, so you’ll never miss an important call or drop out of a conference meeting just when you are about to say your piece. They share a few top tips of staying connected. An Award-Winning Network O2 continually upgrades their 2G and 3G networks. They’re also extending their 4G network to cover 98% of the population – indoor and out – and investing in the future with 5G so you know you’ll always be connected. Wifi and 4G Calling No signal? No problem, with Wifi Calling. Whether you are at home, in a coffee shop or at the office, if you’re having signal problems you can use wifi to call as normal. 4G Calling lets you make calls over 4G, meaning clearer calls. With Wifi and 4G Calling you’ll move seamlessly and uninterrupted between wifi and 4G network coverage to continue your call, while being able to check your mail or browse the internet at the same time. O2 Wifi Available in over 15,000 different places in the UK, you’re never too far from one of our free Wifi hotspots. And what’s even better, if you have a compatible device, you’ll be automatically connected if O2 Wifi is faster than your mobile connection. No need to eat into your data allowance! For more fantastic business tech help and advice on your mobile needs, call the dedicated O2 business team on 028 9590 6501.

Showcasing the best of the best By Richard Donnan, Head of Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank. It’s difficult to explain how it feels to be proud of a sector, it’s much easier to show it. As I welcomed customers, colleagues, visitors and friends to this year’s Balmoral Show, I was struck by how rewarding it felt to be showing such a hive of activity as the largest agricultural show in these parts got underway. In my view, the Show is unmatched as a fantastic example of the passion and commitment that local people give to the agri-food sector, from farmers and entrepreneurs to our largest exporters and major manufacturing businesses. This year, it was especially important to take stock of the valuable roles farming and food play in our economy as the Show celebrated its 150th year. Trade and livestock exhibitors alike took time to reflect on the many achievements and triumphs of the industry and how it has grown and developed over the years. But it is also an important time to look ahead. The nature of this industry means that change is always around the corner, necessitating innovation and invention for those involved with agri-food. We have seen countless examples of ingenuity over the years and I know from Ulster Bank customers that improvement continues to happen day-anddaily, right across the entire industry. Looking back over the four days at Balmoral Show, one of the things I took great pride in was the

number of Ulster Bank customers represented – be they large food manufacturers, SMEs, startup businesses or farmers – who were there to showcase their products, produce, equipment and animals. Balmoral Show clearly matters to them and is a perfect opportunity to meet with existing and potential customers, engage with stakeholders and stay up to date with trends sweeping across the wider industry. We recognise the Show’s importance and value to our customers and, while marking our 10th year as principal sponsor, worked hard to ensure it remains a profitable experience for them. This is why we provided free stalls in our marquee to a selection of micro businesses who were either business customers or based in Ulster Bank’s Entrepreneur Accelerator. Two such companies were A Blissful Blend and Bronze Leaf, both self-innovated from a desire to create products bespoke to individual circumstances and both a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit we foster in our accelerator. Indeed, there are many shared values between our entrepreneurs and the farmers and industry leaders I had the pleasure of meeting at the Show. The two groups are at the heart of local communities, both value history, heritage and fair dealing but are constantly horizon-


scanning for the next big opportunity and laying the foundations for a strong and vibrant economy in the future. We’re now in the summer months and the tents have all come down, rosettes hang proudly in barns above champion livestock and for now, normality has been restored to Balmoral Park but the successes and fond memories of the 150th Balmoral Show will live on for many years to come.












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New Appointments

PR, content and events agency JComms has made key appointments as it continues to expand its business in the UK and Ireland markets. Chris Harrison (centre) becomes Managing Director of the Belfast-headquartered company, Joris Minne (left) has been appointed Chairman, Jane Wells becomes Events & PR Director as part of the changes having been MD for 19 years and Jane Williams has been appointed Brand Communications Director.

LesleyAnn Diffin has been appointed Business Communications Manager at Mirror Media, publisher of Daily Mirror Northern Ireland and Belfast Live.

Mark Whyte has been appointed Brand Partnerships Director at Mirror Media, publisher of Daily Mirror Northern Ireland and Belfast Live.

Paul McCarthy has been appointed Brand Partnerships Manager at Mirror Media, publisher of Daily Mirror Northern Ireland and Belfast Live.

Temporary | Permanent | HR Consulting 82

David Taylor has been appointed Head of Manufacturing Operations by the Almac Group.

Chefs in hot demand By Ali Rankin Hospitality and Catering Consultant, Grafton Recruitment

It’s a fact that mainly through travel and tourism, Northern Ireland’s hospitality and catering business is booming. A huge increase in demand for good chefs has led to a big drive to find the best of the best. Head chefs are now in hot demand allowing them to search for a more flexible role with better working hours and conditions. From my experience of the industry, (having worked 13 years as a manager of bars and restaurants in Edinburgh) employers need to be wary that offering the lowest possible package for skills such as chefs will only appeal to candidates just starting their careers in the industry, with more seasoned chefs and kitchen managers looking for a more competitive offer. With a huge amount of event space in Belfast, there is a need for large

Grainne Hughes has been appointed Vice President of Business Support Operations by the Almac Group.

Mark English has been appointed Vice President of Packaging and Logistics Operations by the Almac Group.

catering and event companies to have flexible staff ready for events and functions. From bar staff, waiting and banqueting porters to kitchen porters, cooks and head chefs - having a great pool of staff at your disposal allows for an immediate response. Large pub chains and hotels have opened their doors to recruiting on a permanent basis with pressure on their HR teams being lessened slightly and allowing them to focus on immediate cover. Restaurant chains are using agencies to find more senior roles for new ventures in Northern Ireland. This industry can only continue to develop and I look forward to watching this grow and grow. To discuss opportunities or your hiring needs, please get in contact with one of the team on 028 9024 2824

Simon Huntley has been appointed Corporate Business Manager with the Momentum Group.

Temporary | Permanent | HR Consulting 83

Grant Edwards has been appointed associate in the corporate law team of TLT.

nEW ‘AGNEW FLEET MANAGER’ COMING SOON Launching in the coming weeks, Agnew Corporate have announced an exciting reskin for their in-house fleet software, Agnew Fleet Manager. Redesigned with an easy-to-use interface and advanced functionality, the new developments will simplify fleet management, making it easier than ever for customers to control their fleet and source key fleet data. The innovative software is designed around a ‘Dashboard’, alerting customers to activities which require action, instantly and easily, streamlining fleet administration. With a dedicated Fleet Software Specialist on hand to provide users with expert advice and assistance every step of the way, customers are supported from initial setup, right through to aftercare and maintaining their account. Tailored to each customer’s requirements, Agnew Fleet Manager offers a central location to store vehicle details, displaying Co2, P11d values, and rental information. Fleet managers can import fuel costs, record driving license numbers and driver details, and send free SMS messages to drivers including mileage updates, service reminders, and announcements. A dynamic service scheduler will even alert customers of lapsed services, maintaining service histories, and offering a direct link to book vehicle services online. The latest update introduces a fresh new look and enhanced layout, simplifying the sites navigation and assisting customers in sourcing important information related to their fleet. A new ‘Fleet Summary’ page will offer customers a full overview of their fleet, with data and visuals outlining the fleet breakdown by supplier, vehicle type, and brand.

To find out more about Agnew Fleet Manager and how it could help your business, contact Agnew Corporate Fleet Software Specialist, Paige Reilly, on 028 9038 6600.

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James Stinson

This new 5008 gives buyers what they want.


ulti-purpose vehicles or MPVs were all the rage back in the 90s and noughties. They weren’t much to look at, but they were spacious and practical in a way that cars hadn’t been up until then. In Europe, it started with the Renault Espace, which was mimicked by countless others. Then came a slew of mini-MPVs, like the VW Touran, which were almost as good but cheaper and hence more popular still. People are still buying MPVs just not in the numbers they were. Now they want the same sort of space and practicality but married to the high-riding, more aggressive styling of what most people might call a “jeep” but which the motor industry and their friends in the media call SUVs (Sport-utility vehicles).

Peugeot Power

In their various forms, they now account for more than a third or all new car sales globally and the new Peugeot 5008 embodies this shift wonderfully. It bears the same name, is built on the same base and uses the same engines as the previous model but the styling, feel and the overall image it portrays couldn’t be more different. While the old car was frumpy and functional, the new car is pert, angular and eye catching. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise because the French manufacturer had already something similar with the smaller 3008. What is surprising is the proper upmarket feel that Peugeot has built into this new car. French car makers got by for years building cars that were quirky, practical, often stylish and sometimes ingenious. But they never had the quality that German or Japanese cars had. On this front, recent Peugeots are a revelation. The interior is sleek, cossetting and solid. That’s a big departure from the old car, as are those looks with the new car boasting a meatier, high riding presence. Thankfully, the 5008 retains much of the practicality of the old car. There’s a third row of seats, which means it’s a proper seven-seater. The rear most seats fold flat into the floor of a big boot and can even be removed altogether to create even more space. The middle row is pretty neat too. They split, fold and recline and move back and forwards, giving you plenty of options for moving adults, kids or flat pack furniture and the like. And, rather usefully and unusually, the middle row also has three isofix


points. Families with three children or more will love it. There’s a good range of petrol and diesel engines. The 1.6-litre diesel with 118bhp is likely be the top-seller. It will cope fine with everyday family use, while offering the highest economy figures.

The mid-spec Allure trim has most of what you’ll need. This includes power-folding door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, automatic lights and wipers, 18in alloy wheels and rear privacy glass, as well as niceties such as all-round interior ambient lighting, picnic tables and retractable window blinds for middle-row passengers. It comes with two-wheel drive only so if you want the extra reassurance of four-wheel drive, check out the Skoda Kodiaq or Nissan X-Trail. If not, 5008 prices start from £23,320, with the highlighted 1.6 litre diesel Allure trimmed version costing from £26,190.

Agnew Fleet Manager Introducing the NEW, Agnew Fleet Manager. Redesigned with a fresh new look and an easy-to-use interface, Agnew Fleet Manager takes the hassle out of managing your fleet. Call 028 9038 6600 to find out more

Contract Hire & Leasing Specialists


Citroen C3 gets funkified We’ve already charted the rise of the SUV elsewhere on these pages and here’s Citroen’s take on the baby end of the market – the new C3 Aircross. It’s a direct replacement for the C3 Picasso, which though not terribly exciting was still one of the best mini MPVs around. The Aircross has a more upright, aggressive stance with acres of plastic and colour detailing to the fore. It’s buff and a little brash. It’s a compact car but has plenty of space inside – remember, it’s based on the C3 supermini. Yet, there’s good headroom front and rear and a big boot which gets even bigger when you tinker with the seats and remove the false floor. The Aircross gets the same 1.2 petrol and 1.6 diesel engines as the C3. The petrols make most sense for a car of this size with the mid-spec 109bhp version offering the strongest mix of performance, economy and price. But Citroen’s big boast for the new Aircross is the unprecedented number of personalisation options with up to 90 exterior colour combinations, including four roof colours for two-tone models and four ‘Colour Packs’, plus five interior design schemes. Consequently, it will appeal more to younger buyers for whom orange piping on the upholstery is the height of good taste. The mid-range Feel version offers the best range of kit and comfort, including striking alloys, a touchscreen infotainment system, powerfolding door mirrors and electric rear windows, a leather steering wheel, LED daytime running lights and a bit of aluminium-effect trim on the front and rear bumpers, which is more effective than it sounds. Prices start from £14,350 with the highlighted engine / trim version above priced from £16,550.

Plug and play Jaguar Electric cars are in danger of becoming mainstream! They must be if car makers are now daring to make all-electric SUVs. This is Jaguar’s striking looking I-Pace which is the first of many all-electric premium brand SUVs we’ll see launched over the coming months. Jaguar is predicting a fully charged range of nearly 300 miles, which is about 15 per cent less than a Tesla Model 3 achieves but better than we were used to a few years ago. As ever, the harder you drive, the smaller the range. But with more and more charging points popping up, normal driving and longer trips are becoming more of an option. The more powerful chargers can charge to 80% capacity in as little as 90 mins or less. Still, the majority of electric cars are likely being bought as second cars. And, for this they make perfect sense. Range is improving, there’s no vehicle excise duty and they are cheap to fuel (charge), especially if you do so overnight at home. One of the things we like best about this I-Pace, apart from those striking looks, is its computing power. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate remaining range based

on climate, weather, topography, driving style and traffic conditions. The AI can sense the number of occupants and adjust the climate control accordingly to make it as efficient as possible. All this gadgetry comes at a price with the I-Pace costing from £58,995, including the government’s £4,500 EV subsidy. It’s already on sale with deliveries starting in July.


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On Holiday with... John D’Arcy, Director of the Open University, Ireland.

John and Jackie D’Acy at the Louvre, Paris


here is a great Snow Patrol track called ‘Take Back The City’ and, although it’s about my home town of Belfast, it pretty much sums up my idea of a great holiday away from the day job. The buzz and the bite of an exciting city is the perfect way to recharge the mind and spirit – although to be totally honest, my wife Jackie and I also try to cram in a lazy week in a nice sunny place. Our most recent city break was close to home – London, January 2018. The highlight of that visit was the NBA basketball game between Boston Celtics (our favourite team following many earlier visits to Boston) and Philadelphia Sixers. Aside of a great sporting event at The O2, it was exciting to be part of a massive contingent of basketball ball fans from across the globe. The usual tourist hotspots were full of fans in team colours, kits and hats. We were lucky that John, our son and basketball fan, was with us to give his expert

insights into the game, the history the culture and, of course, the all-important statistics! Boston is a great city with lots of Irish links too. On one visit there, I managed to get a structured visit to the MIT Media Lab with some excellent meetings in the innovation hubs with sneak previews of some of the technology that today we all take for granted. Staying stateside, our last visit was to New York which provided a lot of walking as we tried to track down a number of obscure fashion stores, recommended by some magazines and books. Well, at least the steps expended were more beneficial than locating some of the stores! The range of music clubs there is great – when we went to the BB King Blues Club we found UK ska band ‘The Beat’ playing there – as we arrived they were just striking up ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’. Another metric of a good city for me is its guitar and record stores – some of my favourite guitars were bought on visits to


interesting cities. In Minneapolis, when the rest of the party visited Mall of America, I took a taxi to a small guitar store on the outskirts of the city to buy a black and white Rickenbacker guitar. While that in itself was a highlight, the journey was almost as memorable. While I was asking the taxi driver about Paisley Park – the home and recording base for the late, great Prince – the taxi driver was more interested in asking me about the late Dr Ian Paisley. A week in Bath got me a limited Fender Telecaster from ‘Vintage and Rare’ as well as some fascinating walks around that fine, ancient city and some well-earned dinners in its wonderful restaurants. Perhaps our favourite city trip of late was a week-long stay starting in Brussels and ending in Paris. Brussels highlights included the Tintin Gallery, chocolate and the variety of the beers. Paris, as expected, was wonderful and the big highlight for me was The Louvre. It’s definitely on the list for a repeat visit.

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Magic sparkles again as Chris Rees, Head Chef at the River Room Restaurant at Galgorm Resort and Spa, devises a divine lamb and wild garlic dish.

Dine & Wine Rack of lamb with jersey royal potatoes, white asparagus, cauliflower and wild garlic - SERVES 2

For the cauliflower puree:

• Trim the florettes off the cauliflower and discard the stalks and leaves. • Cover with a little milk and a small knob of butter and simmer in a saucepan until the cauliflower is soft, add around 50g of parmesan and blend until smooth, set aside.

For the jersey royal potatoes:

• Wash the potatoes until very clean then trim off a little lengthways on each side to form a flat surface. • Take a wide saucepan and coat the bottom with a little butter (around 75g). • Season the butter well, then push the potatoes into it, cook on a stove on a low/ medium heat until they are golden on one side, being careful not to burn the butter. They can go into a low oven at this point if they are still not cooked.

For the white asparagus:

• Carefully peel a couple of spears of white asparagus (English is best this time of year, green asparagus will do too), rinse well with cold water then gently poach in salted boiling water. Checking with a small pointed knife, ensure they are just soft. These can be gently rolled through the pan with the lamb racks until slightly golden, just prior to serving.

For the wild garlic:

• Gather a few leaves and a few flowers of wild garlic from any known spots, or alternatively buy from a good vegetable shop. Spring cabbage will work as well. Brush the leaves of garlic with a little oil and season then set aside. Add the flowers and stems to the water with the white

asparagus for around 30 seconds until slightly wilted. Set aside.

For the lamb:

• Obtain a large 7-8 bone French trimmed lamb rack from a butcher. Season well and place in a hot pan with oil, colour until dark brown but not burnt. The best way to cook this is to place in a low oven wrapped in foil at around 120˚C. Using a temperature probe remove the lamb from the oven when the core temperature is at 52˚C (this should take around 40-50mins) and allow to rest.

To assemble the dish:

• First cook the lamb, then the potatoes - they can go in the oven together. • Next make the cauliflower puree and keep warm.

• While the lamb and potatoes are in the oven, cook the asparagus in the water along with the garlic stems and flowers, add these to the pan the lamb was cooked in for a minute or so and gently colour in the lamb fat. • Remove the vegetables and add a little lamb stock to the pan to collect the juices then reduce to create a light sauce. • Finish with a splash of madeira or red wine. Add the garlic leaves to the oven on a tray for a few minutes and allow them to crisp up. Once the lamb has rested, carve off a few cutlets and place on a plate. • Add the vegetables and jersey royals and finish with a spoonful of the cauliflower puree, a couple of crispy garlic leaves and the sauce.

Need the perfect pairing?

Drinking good wine with good food is one of life’s great pleasures. The River Room Restaurant’s resident wine expert, Andrea Mola, recommends the perfect wine to accompany Head Chef Chris Rees’ delicious main course.

Primitivo di Manduria Doc 2016 “Zolla” [75cl] Italy The vineyards are mostly situated in the communes of Manduria and Sava in the province of Taranto in South East Italy. Production is lower than its potential, which ensures the best quality grapes are selected. The red soils are calcerous clay and rich in iron, minerals and nutrients. A total 80% of the grapes come from old bush vines and the rest from trained vines that are at least 20 years old. The wine is intense with complex perfumes of red cherries and blackberries and some spice and leather which follow on to the palate. It has a rich and velvety texture, generous tannins and great length and a beautiful ruby red colour with violet tones.


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Jim Fitzpatrick, Journalist and Broadcaster

Zuckerberg’s crash diet The importance of trust in the customer relationship.


have a sneaky TV favourite that I sometimes dip into late at night when I just need to switch off. It’s called The Biggest Loser and involves very overweight people doing heroic things to shed pounds. Their progress is often remarkable to the extent that they are often hard to recognise at the end of their “journey”. Impressive as their results often are, I feel there’s someone else who really deserves the title even though I suspect he’d rather not take the glory on this one. It’s Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. But Mr Zuckerberg is a svelte and somewhat diminutive figure and always has been, so how can he deserve this prestigious title? Because in the space of a few days earlier this year the Facebook founder managed to lose an incredible $50 billion in stock market value. The particular crash diet he was on involved a data scandal and a crisis in trust. It required public apologies, appearances before Senate and European Parliament Committees. It mandated new privacy policies. The banning of certain companies from the Facebook platform. And, just like the individuals on the television show, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook were in many ways unrecognisable compared to their earlier selves. They had been changed for good. Facebook and Zuckerberg’s “journey” isn’t yet over. The scandal was prompted by revelations that personal data harvested by companies using the Facebook platform had been gathered in a way that users didn’t knowingly consent

to and used for purposes they didn’t consciously agree to. Fighting that fire is just the beginning of the challenge now facing the internet behemoth. The bigger conflagration is the much greater focus on personal data privacy the scandal has prompted and the wider crisis in trust in the platform that had become so seamlessly intertwined in the lives of its users. The European Union has been ahead of the game, to a certain extent, with its new data regulations. But numerous other jurisdictions are now considering their own new forms of legislation. All of these legislative moves present a potential threat to Facebook’s business model. The lesson here for wider business is the


importance of trust in the customer relationship. In many ways Facebook’s customers aren’t its users, it’s the paying advertisers. The users are the product, sliced and diced and sold to the advertisers. But the problem for Facebook is that the users consider themselves as customers and expect a relationship based on trust. If that’s lost then it reflects very badly on Facebook’s paying customers as users will feel exploited and advertising on the platform will be less successful. So Facebook is working to fix things and it probably will. But this crisis in trust remains an existential threat. Losing $50 billion is just a financial crash diet. Losing trust is fatal.

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THE HANDIEST WAY TO TRAVEL JULY/AUGUST 2018 Magazine of northern ireland chamber of commerce and industry

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Powering world leading customers

Caterpillar’s Mark McClure

Ambition Issue 29 (July/August 2018)  

Magazine of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Ambition Issue 29 (July/August 2018)  

Magazine of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry