Ambition Issue 51 (March/April 2022)

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ISSUE 51 £2.95



TICKET TO THRIVE Wrightbus Managing Director Neil Collins on the firm’s continued growth.

Action Cancer Saving Lives Supporting People

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40 Driving The Future Of Public Transport Priscilla Rooney, Translink.

Managing Editor: Christopher Morrow Interviews: Emma Deighan Publisher: Chris Sherry Advertising Managers: Lorraine Gill & Gerry Waddell Editorial Assistant: Joanne Harkness Email addresses: Christopher.Morrow@northernirelandchamber. com/ / Websites: / www. Publisher: Ulster Tatler Group, 39 Boucher Road, Belfast, BT12 6UT Tel: 028 9066 3311 Printed by: W&G Baird, Antrim. Front Cover by: David Cordner. NI CHAMBER PATRONS


At a Glance 56 NEWS: 06 LUMENSTREAM Seals Deal For £5M investment 08 Diageo Apprentice Receives Coveted Award 54 NI Football Stars Tackle Online Hate 64 Awards Events

COLUMNISTS: 10 Jonie Graham 14 Jane Shaw 16 Peter Russell 18 Richard Kirk 26 Kate Marshall 34 Patrick Anderson 50 John Campbell 60 Lavina Moore 65 Mark Crimmins 86 Aoife McDowell 88 Mark Owens

NI CHAMBER CHIEF: 29 Chamber Chief’s Update 30 In Conversation With: Jayne Brady MBE 33 Five Leaders, Five Days 32 NI Chamber Events

FEATURES: 12 My Ambition is to... 22 Ticket to Thrive 28 Supporting Belfast Business 36 Optimism and Growth 40 Driving the Future of Public Transport 44 Planning For A Sustainable Future 52 Meeting Net Zero Targets



66 70 73 74 77


The North West – A Region of Great Potential Making Your Sustainability Goals Their Business Driving Northern Ireland’s Economy Forward Primed to Support Return to Growth Stairway to Seven Putting the Client First Routes to Employment

APPOINTMENTS: 78 A&L Goodbody to be an Employer of Choice for Working Parents

LIFESTYLE: 82 Business Class Motoring James Stinson 92 Dine & Wine - Chris Rees 94 Fashion - Joanne Harkness


22 Cover Story 36

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President’s Perspective

Putting People and the Economy Before Politics


he need for political stability from our elected representatives cannot be overstated.

Businesses cannot trade with uncertainty. Unfortunately, the former First Minister’s decision to resign from his position at the beginning of February has had significant ramifications. It has left businesses in all sectors facing an unsustainable level of uncertainty at a time when they need support and stability. It also has the potential to seriously damage local and international business confidence. Many firms are still dealing with the compound impact of new trading arrangements, uncertainty around the Protocol, supply-chain difficulties, transport delays, increased costs and labour shortages, and all whilst our political institutions at Stormont hang in the balance. People are facing significant challenges, with societal issues like fuel poverty affecting individuals and families already. Another political crisis exacerbates these problems and stalls progress for everyone. The upcoming election should see a new Executive formed. Whatever its make-up, our recovery and future economic prosperity demand that the next set of Ministers take a dramatically different approach. The time is overdue for all our elected representatives to start consistently putting people and the economy before politics. Failure to do so will cause economic harm felt by everyone in society. A flourishing private sector contributes to new and better jobs, individual and societal self-worth, the ability to provide for families and to realise our collective potential. The decision to withdraw from the First Minister’s position directly compromises all of this. As a region, we have so much to offer. It’s time to put party politics aside so we can start realising the economic prosperity that dual-market access provides and get on with policymaking which tackles socio-economic issues and addresses longstanding barriers to business growth. With or without the Executive in place, one of the most immediate issues for business which needs to be urgently addressed is the current working from home guidance. With the worst of the health crisis now behind us, at the time of writing the guidance regarding working from home has not been changed in line with the easing of other restrictions. This must be updated immediately to bring Northern Ireland into line with other regions. This is not about forcing people back into the workplace. Rather, it’s about supporting those businesses in our towns and city centres, from coffee shops to independent retailers who rely on the custom of workers, much of which disappeared overnight. On this, and many other issues, NI Chamber will continue to make our members’ voices heard. The team, led by Chief Executive Ann McGregor will continue to work hard to support our members, so that collectively, we can all contribute to the level of economic growth which is within our grasp.

Paul Murnaghan President - Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Glens of Antrim Bags Crisp Deal With Tesco NI Glens of Antrim Crisps has secured a new contract to supply its full range of handcooked potato crisps to Tesco’s 35 stores across Northern Ireland. The deal is a major coup for the Cushendall-based food company, as it is the first time its top-quality branded range will be available on the shelves of a major local supermarket. Glens of Antrim already supplies its branded crisps to the independent retail and hospitality sectors in NI.

fonaCAB To Continue As Irish FA’s Official Taxi Partner fonaCAB has agreed a deal to continue to be the official taxi partner of Northern Ireland’s international football teams. In addition to supporting the Northern Ireland senior men’s team, fonaCAB also became the Irish FA’s official taxi partner and the main sponsor of the association’s Junior Cup, the biggest competition for junior clubs in Northern Ireland.

Danske Launches New Energy Saving Trust Tool Danske Bank and Energy Saving Trust have launched a new tool that tells people how energy-efficient their home is and provides advice on steps they can take to save money and help the environment. The free online home energy check asks people a series of questions about their home and then produces a personalised report and action plan to improve energy efficiency.

S&W Investing £15m In New Newry HQ S&W Wholesale has announced a £15m investment in a new HQ and distribution hub near Newry. It will house ambient, chilled, fresh and frozen products in one 180,000-square-foot facility alongside head office space, vehicle management and recycling areas. Work is commencing on the first phase of the upgrade, which will replace S&W’s current 100,000-square-foot facility in Carnbane.

LUMENSTREAM Seals Deal For £5m Investment Belfast technology company LUMENSTREAM has secured £5 million of funding from Aquila Capital, a sustainable investment management and asset development company based in Hamburg.

Alistair Brown, Chief Executive of LUMENSTREAM.

The company said the money will be used to build out a pipeline of commercial contracts which it has already secured and to expand its energy-saving lighting across the UK energy market. LUMENSTREAM specialises in helping companies upgrade their lighting to LEDs with sensor controls for no upfront cost. It said clients save up to 85% on lighting costs while reducing emissions and removing maintenance for the duration of the contract, during which time LUMENSTREAM is paid a monthly subscription for the initial five years.

Local Online Bakery Finds Recipe for Success

Ooh & Aah Cookies founders Barbara-Anne McMullan and Ruth Armstrong.

Local Ballyclare-based business Ooh & Aah Cookies, which offers personalised baked goods to customers across the UK and Ireland, has benefitted from Openreach Northern Ireland’s (NI) Full Fibre build across the region.

Established in 2015, Ooh & Aah Cookies founders Barbara-Anne McMullan and Ruth Armstrong have built their business using the power of digital technology. As an online-only retailer, the team of eight manages orders, coordinates delivery, communicates with customers and promotes their products online, making fast and reliable broadband essential to the business’ success. Having previously relied on a Wi-Fi dongle to run their business, Ooh & Aah Cookies moved its premises to Ballyclare, Co. Antrim in October 2021 and was upgraded to Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband across the Openreach network.

Lidl Clears The Way For Two New Stores In Belfast And Omagh Construction work on two Lidl Northern Ireland stores is underway in Belfast and Omagh. Representing an investment of £8 million, the retailer’s existing store at the junction of Castlereagh and Montgomery Road in Belfast will move to a new adjacent site on Castlereagh Road. Construction work is expected to last up to six months and will come with new and improved access created as part of the entire site’s ambitious transformation plans.

Pictured at the Castlereagh Road site are (L-R): Chris Speers, Property Executive, Lidl Northern Ireland and Gerard McCleland, CEO of Ganson UK.

Lidl is also preparing to build a new £4 million concept store after clearing its existing site on James Street, Omagh, which will see the store more than double in size. Occupying a site of 4,046 square metres, the expanded store will create an additional 15 new retail jobs when it opens in autumn 2022 and support a further 200 jobs during construction and development.



Henry Brothers Sets the Bar for Sustainability in Construction Sector Henry Brothers, one of the UK’s leading construction companies and Northern Ireland’s Responsible Business of the Year, has announced its strategy to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The organisation, which is already building a new net carbon zero Nursery and Forest School for Staffordshire University and a £9m sustainable development at Loughborough University, aims to reduce total greenhouse gasses emissions by 2% each year for the next nine years and to halve CO2e emissions by 2030. The Journey to Net Zero strategy will be achieved through a number of initiatives such as implementing 100% hybrid/electric cars by 2025, utilising 100% eco cabins on sites by 2025, and enhancing its biodiversity by 2% a year. Ian Henry, CSR Director at Henry Brothers, said: “Sustainability has been at the heart of our operations for over two decades with eco-friendly practices adopted since the 1990s and progress recorded since 2014.

Pictured at the Henry Brothers nature reserve are the firm’s CSR director Ian Henry and acting group environmental and quality manager Deborah Madden.

“The outcomes of our sustainability initiatives to date – which include developing the Henry Brothers Nature Reserve, creating the Sustainability Professionals Forum, and involvement with tree planting schemes – have been excellent, but the launch of our Net Zero Strategy is certainly our most significant commitment to date. “It comes at a time where businesses and individuals have more of a responsibility than ever before to change our behaviour and protect our environment. “Our Journey to Net Zero outlines exactly how we will achieve this ambitious goal by working with our employees, clients and partners to achieve a sustainable future that builds upon the extensive foundations already in place.”

Diageo Apprentice Receives Coveted Award

A trainee engineer based at Diageo’s Belfast Packaging facility, has won the Apprentice of the Year Award. Lauren Johnston was recognised at the Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards 2022 which shine a light on the significant contribution that Northern Ireland’s 10,000 apprentices make to their workplace environments. The engineering apprentice has been working for 18 months at Diageo’s east Belfast plant, which is responsible for packaging beers like Guinness, Harp and Smithwick’s with the facility producing a record volume of 18.3 million cases of beer in the year up to June 2021. Lauren, who has been developing her skillset as a mechatronic engineer, has completed her first year in Engineering Maintenance L3 apprenticeship studies with the South Eastern Regional College. Diageo has a significant economic footprint in Northern Ireland with three sites including Baileys Global Supply at Mallusk, corporate head offices in Belfast city centre and the beer packaging facility in east Belfast. The company has been a consistent provider of apprenticeships for young people with a particular focus on promoting STEM and inclusivity, with Belfast Packaging committed to further Engineering and Operator apprentice recruitment in 2022.


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Columnist Jonie Graham Senior Consultant, BRC Partnership

Leading When You’re Not In Charge L

eadership responsibility does not always come with authority. In the modern workplace many tasks and projects are the effort of cross-functional teams. Project managers, team leads and product owners can find themselves in situations where they are accountable for the delivery of a key task but do not have the authority of a manager. They may even have the responsibility to lead a working group or project through to completion but not have a position of authority within the organisation. Some may even find themselves leading a team with some members in a more senior position than them and in some instances the members may even be the person to whom the leader reports. In other instances, team members may find themselves reporting into or being managed by a boss who is not well positioned to understand the complexities of a particular area or who may simply need to be influenced, guided or directed by the team member themselves. It is not uncommon for team members to find that they are in a position where they need to ‘lead up’. That is to say that the team member needs to influence the official manager or leader in the direction that the task requires. There are many instances when the manager is not a skilled or gifted leader or may be devoid of any leadership traits entirely. In these instances, team members with leadership skills step up as the unofficial leader, facing the demands of the task alongside the extra challenge of having to lead when they are not in charge. The reason we haven’t heard much about nudge theory in a while is that its insights guided a light touch approach to

the pandemic which was widely criticised and quickly jettisoned in favour of more draconian government interventions and the apparently inevitable lockdown that followed.

right way at the right time. It is passion that delights customers, motivates team members and produces quality products or service. You don’t need to be in charge to be passionate.

The reality is that leaders lead regardless of the position they hold. Those who wait for official recognition – the badge on the big seat behind the fancy desk in the corner office – have misunderstood what true leadership is really all about. Leadership is not about position or power, and waiting for either to come along is actually a failure of leadership. The true leader does not wait but gets on with the task at hand and sets about motivating, inspiring and influencing all of the key stakeholders.

Leaders are persistent. Persistent in the face of opposition, persistent in the face of adversity and persistent in the face of failure. In fact, for leaders, failure is part of the process. Failing forward is the hallmark of a persistent leader. Failing forward is the ability to use failure to help inform oneself of how to mitigate risk, minimise loss or find newer and better ways to succeed. Persistence is not just about trying again; it’s about trying again better. Persistence is about innovation and invention. It is about thinking creatively to find another, better way. Persistence is about realising that when plan A does not work, how to maximise plan B. You don’t need to be in charge to be persistent.

Leaders are people with a clear sense of purpose. Purpose brings an understanding of the significance of timeliness. Timeliness in decision-making, knowing the difference between the necessity to act now because hesitation will be too costly and the right time to delay in order to act at the moment of maximum opportunity. Purpose informs the leader of what to communicate, when to communicate and to whom they should communicate. It is purpose that shapes vision and it is vision that guides strategy. It is purpose that engenders the imperative of clear direction and clear direction that drives a determination to make things happen. You don’t need to be in charge to have purpose. Leaders are passionate. Passionate about their people, their product or their project. Passion for people means looking out for their wellbeing; it means understanding their skills and gifting and how they fit into and complement the team as a whole. Passion for a product or project is about excellence. It’s about doing the right thing in the


Learning to lead when you do not have the authority can be challenging but it is rewarding. Learning the skills and insights required of a leader at a time when you do not have the ability to ‘pull rank’ and insist that ‘it’s just done’ will mean that your basis of authority does not come from enforced compliance or by virtue of your position. But rather from respect that your coworkers have for you. From how you have appropriately influenced them through your example and expertise. How you have demonstrated purpose, passion and persistence which in turn has effectively persuaded them to follow your lead. Leaders who have learnt the necessary skills this way will undoubtedly make the most effective leaders in the moments where leadership matters. You don’t need to be in charge to lead when it matters.

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MY AMBITION IS TO... Stephanie McEvoy, Farming Carbon


egin with the end in mind.’ That is how this journey started. At a turning point in my career, all I knew was that I wanted to make a difference in the world, that the rising global temperature was changing the world around us and that in a battle ‘ between changing weather and human life, I knew that we would lose. The imperative to drive meaningful change was beginning to feel overwhelming. The end I had envisaged sounded like something dreamt up by an ambitious group of seven-year-olds before the world taught them to give up and ‘do something more sensible.’ To save the insects, as here in the UK and Ireland we have some of the highest rates of biodiversity loss internationally. To create a safe habitat for birds and small mammals. To support an ecosystem of life. Growing trees seemed like a good place to start, as it is common knowledge that plant growth (through photosynthesis) is the most available, easy-to-implement and immediate way of locking atmospheric carbon into the plants themselves and the soil. It was this carbon overload in our atmosphere that was causing increasingly erratic weather, alongside other greenhouse gases. However, trees do not offer as much opportunity as our farming community does. I collaborated with a family farm who have been investing time, energy and resources into sustainable farming for the past five years. Not only could farming attain many of the same benefits as forestry and rewilding, but it can do so while supporting healthy soil in a functional food system. This will help us to maintain food security while we face continued disruption to weather patterns. My ambition is to make a social and environmental impact. This is what Farming Carbon does through sustainable farming. Farming Carbon is a framework, a work in progress and a collection of lessons learnt on the journey towards

regenerative agriculture. It is a functional food system that supports and celebrates biodiversity – not to separate the wild from the farmed, but to see them as interconnected. We can help to equip the soil to become more adept at coping with the changes to our climate. Healthy soil with a solid structure is less susceptible to erosion. It is more porous, which means during periods of flooding it can soak up and retain the moisture that will see it through the droughts. These are both meteorological experiences that we will have to better manage, presently and in the near future (IPCC). We can support the rural community by communicating examples from this farm; it can support their changing experience of our land patterns. The people who own the land have the best tool in the toolbox to help us collectively deal with our continually changing weather patterns, but they also have the additional pressure of producing the food that sustains us. It is not reasonable to


assume they have the resources, financial or otherwise, to be the people who drive innovation in this space. Businesses and individuals need to empower them; which is what we facilitate at Farming Carbon. Sharing knowledge and experience and listening to people who have invested time and energy into more sustainable practices. We developed our podcast, ‘This is Climate Action’, to facilitate conversations to demonstrate how our society is innovating across generations and geographies to make the world a better place for us to live in. While I was working in construction as a bid writer, I could see how businesses not only had a budget for sustainability and social responsibility, they also had a business case for it. A business with a long-term outlook is better placed to weather any storms that occur in the macro economy (KPMG). It makes business and financial sense to invest in the space around us. The benefit is felt by our communities, our families, our farms and our planet.










Columnist Jane Shaw The Elmfield Institute

And Breathe! The Power of the Breath H

ave you ever sat in a meeting with your heart racing, sweat starting to gather on your brow, wondering how on earth you are going to get through this challenge in front of you? You take a few deep breaths and find a way through. Many different traditions use breathing as a practice to regulate the mind and body, to lower stress, to become more present in any given moment. There are ancient traditional breathing techniques such as yogic pranayama, Taoist breathing or Shaolin Qi Qong breathing. And there are newer techniques which borrow from the older traditions such as Coherent breathing, Soma breath, Transformational breathing, Wim Hof breathing and many more. In fact you just need to search your app store to find literally hundreds of apps that support better breathing, probably because a regular breathing practice can help you to make better decisions in difficult situations. How can bringing awareness to breathing, which we each do automatically 22,000 times every day, help our health and wellbeing as well as our overall performance? In simple terms, the physiology shows us that when we need to run away from a tiger (fight or flight mode), we breathe more quickly to get more oxygen to our muscles, and when we are safely away from danger then our body can breathe more deeply and less frequently to aid repair, digestion and rest (rest and digest mode). We can change our neurophysiology by changing our breathing. Studies have shown that breathing practices improve Heart Rate

Variability (HRV), a measure which demonstrates your heart’s ability to change appropriately and quickly in different situations (De Couck et al, 2019). Elite athletes tend to have very good HRV rates, indicating they can go from high-performance action to rest and recovery quickly and effectively. Furthermore, heart research organisation The HeartMath Institute contends that regulating breathing “facilitates a body-wide shift to a specific, scientifically measurable state called psychophysiological coherence.” This coherent state allows for optimal functioning of body and brain. We can perform better by working with our breath. Additionally, research suggests that the detrimental effects of stress and negative emotions can be counteracted by different forms of meditation and breathing techniques by changing the dominance of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system, the fight or flight state (Jerath, Crawford, Barnes, 2015). In other words, particular types of breathing exercises can help us to shift into a rest, repair, relax state. Breathing practices are simple tools that we can carry with us wherever we go. They can be used quickly, effectively and quietly when needed. No one needs to know you are counting your breath during a challenging meeting! And as with anything, the more practice you do the easier it becomes.

FOUR BREATHING PRACTICE TIPS FOR BETTER HEALTH 1. An easy starting place. In order to develop a regular breathing meditation practice it is important to choose a time when you won’t be


disturbed. Often the start or end of the day is best. If this is a new practice for you, I suggest sitting for just 5 minutes at the start and end of the day. Try to increase this to 10 or 15 minutes as you get used to it. 2. Shamatha breathing for inner peace. We all breathe at different rates and rhythms, so it is helpful to become familiar with your own natural breathing rhythm as a starting point. Find a comfortable seated position, noticing the support of the chair under your thighs and buttocks and against your back. Notice the support of the floor under your feet. Start to follow your breath. In and out. Without changing anything, without judgement, just follow your natural breath rhythm for at least 5 minutes. Grow this to 10 or 20 minutes. Sometimes known as Shamatha breathing, this practice can give you a feeling of inner peace. 3. Square breathing for relaxation. Breathe in through the nose to the count of 4. Hold your breath for 4. Breathe out through the mouth to the count of 4. Hold to the count of 4. Repeat eight times. This is a good calming breathing technique that can be used at any time of the day when you are feeling under stress. 4. Mindful breathing while walking. This can be done walking between meetings, when doing your weekly shop, or taking the dog for a walk. It is a simple practice of noticing your in-breath and out-breath as you take each step. You might try to synchronise your breathing with your steps but this is not necessary. Be mindful of how each step meets the ground.

Creating & maintaining landscapes


Landscape Landscape Landscape Landscape Landscape Landscape Creation Landscape Creation Creation Creation Creation Landscape Creation Creation

Grounds Grounds Grounds Grounds Grounds Grounds Maintenance Maintenance Grounds Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Grounds Maintenance Maintenance

Arboricultural Arboricultural Arboricultural Arboricultural Arboricultural Services Arboricultural Services Services Services Services Arboricultural Services Services

Sports Turf Sports Turf Sports Turf Sports TurfTurf Sports Sports Turf Services Services Services Services Services Sports Turf Services Sports Turf Services Services

Play Creation & Play Creation & Play Creation & Play Creation && Play Creation Play Creation & Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Play Creation & Maintenance Play Creation & Maintenance Maintenance

Window & Communal Window Communal Window & Communal Window && Communal Window & Communal Window & Communal Cleaning Cleaning Cleaning Cleaning Cleaning Window & Communal Cleaning Window & Communal Cleaning Cleaning

Parks Parks Parks Parks Parks Management Management Management Management Parks Parks Management Management

Greenspace Greenspace Greenspace Greenspace Greenspace Development Development Development Development Greenspace Greenspace Development Development

Landscape Landscape & Landscape & Landscape && Landscape & Play Design Play Design Play Design Play Design Play Design Landscape & Landscape Play Design& Play Design

Winter Winter Winter Winter Winter Winter Maintenance Maintenance Winter Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Winter Maintenance Maintenance

Highways and Traffic Highways and Traffic Highways Highways and Traffic Highwaysand andTraffic Traffic Highways and Traffic Management Management Management Management Management Highways and Traffic Management Highways and Traffic Management Management

Ecology Ecology & Ecology& & Ecology Ecology && Biodiversity Biodiversity Biodiversity Biodiversity Biodiversity Ecology & Ecology & Biodiversity Biodiversity

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Street Street Street Street Street Cleansing Cleansing Street Cleansing Cleansing Cleansing Street Cleansing Cleansing

Civil Engineering & Civil Civil Civil Engineering & CivilEngineering Engineering& Civil Engineering & Surfacing Surfacing Surfacing Surfacing & CivilSurfacing Engineering Surfacing Civil Engineering Surfacing & Surfacing

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Columnist Peter Russell Managing Director of Telefónica Tech Ireland

IT Trends To Look Out For This Year I

f the past two years have proved anything, it is the importance of flexibility and adaptability. To prepare for the challenges that the rest of 2022 will bring, including supply chain issues, the pandemic, cybercrime, and of course, Brexit, Telefónica Tech’s Peter Russell identifies some key trends likely to shape digital transformation initiatives in 2022. Cybersecurity is a priority: To prevent system outages and costly losses, and to maximise the economic benefits from transforming their technology, reducing cybercrime needs to be a major priority this year. Side by side with the focus on cybersecurity, we will see a rise in spend on AI and automation technologies. Furthermore, to ensure the applications and data held within cloud and data centre solutions are better protected, implementing a zero-trust approach will be high on all business agendas for the next 12 months. That said, with the greater adoption of cloud technologies, continued remote working, and the increasing cost of preventing cyber threats, only organisations who can access external expertise and advanced cybersecurity solutions will be able to meet these challenges. Increased cloud spend: Gartner predicts that global end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to exceed $480 billion globally next year. 2022 in particular is expected to see an increase in public sector spending on cloud, especially for the health sector. A move to public cloud will improve operational efficiency and agility; especially if you consider the supply chain issues causing long wait times for hardware from global vendors. These delays are untenable for organisations

with rapidly growing storage needs. The immediacy of cloud as an alternative solution is one reason why we are likely to see even more rapid adoption in 2022. The greater focus on providing shared care and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) is set to unlock data from proprietary formats across different areas of healthcare. The digitalisation process is going to be long and slow but there is an urgency – the pandemic has caused a significant backlog in elective care. Platforms in the future will be designed around individual patients; this means referrals, results and diagnostic data will all feed into a personalised data stream in a patient’s own cloud. Cloud infrastructure will also be used for data storage for community diagnostic hubs to overcome the problem of siloed patient data. The way the health sector uses cloud in 2022 and beyond will be an interesting case study, with learnings for the wider public sector looking for effective cloud models. Growing focus on meeting sustainability goals: For businesses to meet sustainability goals, eg the COP26 target for Net Zero by 2050, organisations ultimately need to move away from private data centres. McKinsey research shows that data centres have been known to emit a massive 80 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year. With high carbon emissions, companies will need to reassess their energy consumption to avoid large fines in the future. Hyperscalers such as Amazon and Microsoft can increase their investment in data centres and implement environmentally sustainable strategies due to their scale, and ongoing investment in research and development. For example, Microsoft


has been researching a large data centre in the sea in Scotland that runs well on what most land-based data centres consider an unreliable grid. Underwater data centres have proven that fewer parts need changing, and the cool water stops the machinery from overheating. In addition, their grid is supplied by 100% wind and solar energies. Many smaller organisations will need to take the same sustainable steps next year, which is why a move to public cloud and third-party hosted data centres can immediately boost sustainability goals. Some reports suggest migrations to the cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tonnes per year which equates to taking 22 million cars off the road. That said, some organisations will never be able to move everything to public cloud, either because it is simply not economically viable, or because certain types of data are too sensitive. For this reason, a hybrid approach will still be key to any cloud strategy for 2022 and beyond. Overall: The pandemic has brought a tremendous technological shift and transformation across every industry globally. We have seen increased spending on cloud in just about every sector but especially in the public sector, as well as further investment in digital innovation and sustainability. Tech has been harnessed to tackle the response to and recovery from the pandemic, as well as helping us to become more sustainable. In 2022 we will see periods of uncertainty as businesses enter into the recovery phase and how they are forced to adapt. It is certainly an exciting time to be in the technology sector and we should all look forward to the development and opportunities that this year will bring.

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Columnist Richard Kirk, CEO, Workplus

Good Systems Need Less Funding A

s the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything. I had a ‘first’ not too long ago – and one that was not without some fear and trepidation… the Nolan Show. I had been invited on the show in light of the headlines around potential funding cuts to the Department for the Economy budget which, if implemented, would likely impact apprenticeships. Politicians and politics dominated the discussion and I listened with interest – as well as some frustration and sadness! What was prevalent in their debate was not the impact any funding cuts to the DfE would have on apprenticeships or indeed some of the fantastic programmes made possible by funding, it was on who was to blame for the potential funding hit.

Currently there are government strategic reviews underway in Northern Ireland: education (led by the Department of Education) and careers advice and skills (led by the Department for the Economy). Whilst government and wider society will not make progress in these areas through a streaming service, there is a lot that we can learn from the Disney+ approach: usercentred, systematic and value rich.

Impressive figures! What makes it so popular and why on earth is it relevant to the discussion around education and skills in Northern Ireland?

“Well thought-out systems that solve societal problems don’t require as much funding as you might think. I can’t help but think how transformational it would be for everyone if we better combined skills and education.”

Streaming services, like any other scalable technology service, eg Amazon, eBay, Airbnb etc, are able to create and share value because of the systems on which they are built. In short, they are designed with users in mind and infinitely more affordable than each of us trying to create that value ourselves.

Well thought-out systems that solve societal problems don’t require as much funding as you might think. I can’t help but think how transformational it would be for everyone if we better combined skills and education.

Blaming leads nowhere and funding is only part of the story. What we really need to do is think about better systems. You may have read recently about Disney+ adding 11.8 million subscribers in the last three months of 2021, taking the total to almost 130 million worldwide. The firm also forecast further subscriber growth for this year.


World-renowned leadership speaker Simon Sinek’s Start with the Why book and Ted Talk has really resonated with people. It is powerful in its simplicity and also incredibly helpful as we think about education, skills and good systems. Why education? Why skills? The ‘why’ is the same for both – for the betterment of the individual and society. I had a lovely recent reminder of the why behind apprenticeships. We had a Workplus apprentice party as part of NI Apprenticeship Week. Nothing complicated – just pizza, drinks and a chance to get together in person. Speaking with the apprentices reminded me of the why – their lives are being enriched through blending work and education. I got a sense of contentment from them. They’re on good salaries, buying cars, booking holidays, enjoying work, being mentored and getting qualifications. We owe it to young people (and wider society) to implement good systems which will be enablers – which will better combine skills and education and better equip young people. Education, skills, work, career, money… none of these are an end in themselves. The end is each of us working out our gifts and talents, using them to the best of our ability and playing our part in society – that should be the focus of government. Workplus makes it easier for both employers and applicants by providing a single place for applicants to apply, as well as offering a simple, thorough selection process for employers.

MAKE US YOUR FIRST CHOICE FOR RECRUITMENT With 8 branches province wide, we provide a full range of recruitment solutions for both permanent, temporary and contract staff across the Professional, Commercial, Industrial and Healthcare sectors.


MAYBE THE OFFICE ISN’T DEAD AFTER ALL! Market Insights – The Future Workplace By Aaron Patton

With restrictions easing further, confidence within companies seems to be at its highest now in executing their plans to return to the office on a wider scale.

wellbeing at work. As your company plans to return to office-based working, now is a perfect opportunity to consider how those benefits can reshape your workplace.

With reports stating that office leasing has hit a pandemic high in Q4 2021 in Dublin, and with deals completing in Belfast, such as Tilney Smith & Williamson becoming the latest tenant to sign up for offices at The Ewart – reports that the office is dead appear to be nothing more than a myth!

The majority of people do not want to return to life exactly as it was prior to the pandemic, they do not want to spend time sitting in traffic or travelling by public transport to come back to an uninspiring work environment. The onus is now on the employers to provide a work environment that attracts, rather than forces their teams back to the office.

Whilst temporary fixtures such as Perspex screens and signage are still in demand, much of this is already in place throughout the majority of companies and we are now seeing many more companies starting to consider more permanent changes and analysing how they can better utilise their space. From building more collaboration points and installing phone booths for virtual meetings, creating collaborative and social office hubs has become a key part of the design process for many companies in recent months. As disruptive as Covid-19 has been to businesses, it has also highlighted the benefits of a more flexible working environment and

The importance of this has been even further enhanced with the current war for talent. A recent study by Microsoft showed that 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer this year, with 46% saying they’re likely to leave because they can now work remotely. What would this mean for your business? Giving staff flexibility in where and how they work is key to ensure you keep hold of the talent that is vital to ensuring your business remains relevant. Knowing where to start may seem rather daunting, and we get that! That’s why here at


Calibro, we’re trying to bring you the latest office insights and resources to make your job that little bit easier. Feel free to head over to our website to have a browse through some of our Insights and Fitout Resources for further information. If you have any questions regarding your return to the workplace, we would be delighted to hear from you.

“Giving staff flexibility in where and how they work is key to ensure you keep hold of the talent that is vital to ensuring your business remains relevant.”


Ticket To Thrive Ballymena firm Wrightbus is not only revolutionising bus fleets around the UK and globally with its electric and hydrogen vehicles, it’s positioned itself as a service provider, a fundamental player in our transition to zero emissions, Managing Director Neil Collins tells Emma Deighan.






ntrepreneur Jo Bamford’s buyout of Wrightbus in 2019 not only saved hundreds of jobs, but it has repositioned the business’ standing in the world of zero-emission transport solutions. Add to that new owner Mr Bamford’s role as founder in Ryze Hydrogen – a firm that offers cost-effective hydrogen supply to transport networks, as well as Wrightbus’ intensive R&D processes with Queen’s University – and it’s clear the company’s evolution to become much more than a bus producer is well underway. “Our ambition continues to grow,” Neil begins. “When Jo Bamford took over the business there were 58 people working here. Today there are 770 and we will probably end the year shy of 1,000.” Neil says the 90-acre Ballymena site is capable of producing 3,500 buses annually. And while it might not be running at full capacity just yet, the company’s aim is to reach capacity in the coming years. Wrightbus launched the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus in 2020 and deals have been “very strong”. “So far we’ve sold 85 of those buses and they’ve covered just under one million miles,” Neil reveals. The StreetDeck Hydroliner was showcased at the Green Zone at COP26 in November, drawing the attention of influential delegates from around the world. It creates no exhaust fumes and emits only water vapour. The StreetDeck Hydroliner is equipped with a Hydrogen Fuel Cell power train and its battery pack can store up to 48kWh, allowing the bus to travel up to 280 miles. It was designed to meet the demands of both bus drivers and passengers and has been developed as part of the JIVE project funded by the European Union (Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe). Already some of these buses are traversing networks in locations including Aberdeen, Birmingham, London, Dublin and Belfast and collectively have already saved 9,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Meanwhile the firm’s Streetdeck Electroliner BEV has been produced to meet the demands of most urban routes, and is similar to Wrightbus’ diesel model. Translink will overhaul its Foyle network using the firm’s Electroliner after it placed a £30m order with Wrightbus to make Foyle Metro completely zero carbon. “The interesting thing is, in 2021 70% of products we made were diesel. This year 70% will be zero emissions and that just

shows you where the industry is going. It also shows that the government is very keen to get mass transport systems using greener vehicles,” adds Neil. “Our electric model is also very popular for urban routes and orders are very strong there too. “We believe over the next 10 years we will see many changes in affordability. Right now hydrogen is a challenge in terms of availability and price but there is a lot of ongoing work in the green hydrogen space to put extra capacity in to produce more. Jo Bamford also owns Ryze and collectively that will mean the cost of green hydrogen will come down. “We also believe the cost of technology will reduce too, supporting the growth of electric vehicles. We work on electrical diagnostics too which will support that.”

“The interesting thing is, in 2021 70% of products we made were diesel. This year 70% will be zero emissions and that just shows you where the industry is going. It also shows that the government is very keen to get mass transport systems using greener vehicles.”

being a service provider. We have the ability to offer help with infrastructure for bus operators. We can offer the modelling and design services, we can offer fuel through Ryze, the vehicle itself, aftercare and we have a very sophisticated telematic system that can provide real-time feedback on performance, maintenance and CO2 savings.” The WB UPTIME 365 “will enable all Wrightbus models to stay at peak performance for longer, communicating with control rooms at the touch of a button via 5,000 thresholds and sensors,” reads its brief. “It can integrate those 5,000 signals into the client’s system,” Neil continues. “It can integrate into Smart City systems and inform passengers if vehicles are full or not.” Another string to the Wrightbus bow is its work at Queen’s University, performed through the engineering research hub W-Tech, named so after William Wright, the founder of Wrightbus. Here the business employs 35 people to carry out research. Neil says: “We’ve developed a sophisticated modelling system there where we can put bus routes into the model and that will tell us and the customer which bus they need to service that route; whether it’s a vehicle with three or four sets of batteries or a hydrogen vehicle. “One of our other projects through W-Tech is with the sociology department. It tells us that bus patronage is falling and it looks at the drivers that have pushed people to cars outside the big cities. “With that project we can see how we can help bus operators to get people back onto buses.” Neil believes a social shift will take place imminently, supporting the growth of bus usage.

He adds that hydrogen buses will be the most attractive offering for the more rural routes, while electrical will appeal to urban cycles. He concludes: “There is demand for both and certain export markets where there are temperature extremes, hydrogen works well in that case.”

He says: “People are thinking more and more about their own carbon emission impact. There has been legislation introduced too, with taxes on various things including passenger taxes on flights. In France they have extra taxes on internal flights and governments are also acting but there is definitely a move within the public. A lot of people will look at their own behaviour and choose the better option.”

Neil says while Wrightbus has now become synonymous with greening up transport networks, the company is also establishing itself as something of a service provider.

Opportunity for the firm that was once in the grips of collapsing just three years ago is huge, Neil says. He credits a “structured product roadmap” as securing a hugely promising future for Wrightbus.

“As a company we are moving away from being just a bus manufacturer to

“We will continue to develop new zero-emission buses for various markets



across the world and we will focus on other markets worldwide too. “We have developed sophisticated powertrains and chassis for buses which will allow us to partner with other businesses around Europe.” He says the German market is particularly rich in opportunity thanks to a new government cash injection of £9bn there for hydrogen projects. He adds: “Our capacity will double this year and what will come with that is a challenge to find new skill sets. There is a lot more skill needed to make buses today.

We need software skills, gas handling talent and we’ve 27 apprentices working towards those roles. “We are also looking to recruit another 20 apprentices, while the council in Antrim is looking to make the area a clean tech hub. “We will continue working with Queen’s and local schools to ensure there are clear pathways into the business and show that coming through the apprenticeship route can lead to senior roles. We have a history of doing that.” And while competition is growing in the


sector, particularly in the Chinese market, Wrightbus will “continue to spend in research and development to differentiate ourselves”. “We will offer what we believe is the best in class and we will make sure we are closely aligned with what bus operators and governments are doing in terms of their route to zero emissions. We are aligning ourselves right and moving away from just being a bus manufacturer,” Neil says.

Columnist Kate Marshall, Coach, Speaker, Author, Facilitator

The Talent War “It’s a talent war.” This is one of the most pressing problems my clients have been voicing more frequently and it is beginning to really hurt. This challenge is mostly caused by four factors. 1. The changes in working practices due to Covid and the added challenge of losing many EU workers due to Brexit changes are really biting. 2. Companies trying to navigate the hybrid or flexi work-from-home policies to find the right way forward that works for both the business and the employee and it is challenging. 3. Rapidly rising salary costs. We are hearing stories of 20% plus pay increases just to remain competitive. 4. Post-pandemic life choices. There is no doubt people have reassessed the lifestyle they now want and some have decided that their former ways of working are not something they want to go back to. So, we have very challenging issues, lack of availability of people, creating flexible working that works for employer and employees and retaining staff while keeping some perspective on the salary expectations. In today’s world, how do you create an organisation that not only attracts talent but retains it. Creating a culture that they don’t want to leave and providing them with the opportunity to grow and be well rewarded is still the number one solution. However, I have come to the conclusion, sadly, that there is no foolproof system or strategy to retain 100% of your talent. If you invest in developing them and they deliver great results for you, you can be sure they will be approached by other employers who want what you have – talent!

There is just no way to plan or protect against the ridiculous offers some employers are willing to pay to get your best people. For the first time in my memory, many employers are asking more often “what would it take to keep you here?” As always, I advise focusing on “controlling the controllables”. 1. It starts with having a people and talent strategy in your organisation that is fully supported and resourced. This means a dedicated person whose job it is to ensure you are proactive and ahead of the game in respect of bringing people into the business to allow you to achieve your strategic plan. It is a fact today that you will lose people, so are you proactively recruiting? Looking beyond the immediate need to planning and resourcing for where the business is going – not where it is currently at. 2. Create a high-performance culture – from onboarding new recruits with a fully inclusive induction programme, ensuring clarity of role and the expectations of the person in the role, through to creating a growth plan for each person. Offering a clear road map for how they will develop in the role and possible opportunities within the organisation. Regular feedback is essential with an appropriate mix of coaching and training to help build skill, capability and confidence. 3. Create a flexible and creative working environment that allows for the opportunity to work from home when appropriate, and enables the positives of belonging and collaboration and teamwork. Working from home either part week or full week is not practical for many organisations and this option can have positive and negative consequences


for staff too. While employees may save time and money on travel costs, the cost of heating the home with rising gas and electricity prices will be greater. Many don’t have a purpose-built office at home. Your spare bedroom, hall or kitchen has become your new office and can this be impractical as a workspace. And remember, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment whether at the office or at home. So when they are in the office make it worth it. Make the workspace feel and look more appealing, a place to collaborate rather than a desk to sit at. Ensure inperson meetings are different to online – more creativity, challenge or fun! (Don’t have them thinking we could do this on Zoom!) 4. We also need to look at how to create a sense of belonging and remove the level of disconnect or “professional loneliness”. We are created for community and relationship. Working 100% at home is a lonely place and we know the statistics regarding the impact of isolation on mental health. An office environment offers the opportunity for deep connection, fun and an exchange of energy as teams bond and share knowledge. Capitalise on the synergies that enable greater productivity and work to build healthy working relationships and friendships to develop high engagement. In controlling the controllables to attract and retain talent, call on the wisdom of Dan Pink. Create a level of Autonomy, develop your people to create Mastery and help them discover their Purpose. There is no guarantee you will retain your staff or win the war for talent, but with the above strategies at least you have a greater chance.

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Supporting Belfast Businesses Meet the Head of Belfast Business Banking at Bank of Ireland UK.


aul McClurg heads up the Belfast Business Banking teams for Bank of Ireland UK, having held a number of senior management positions with the bank across a 22year career. Joining as a graduate after completing a degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast, Paul has led various business teams, including Belfast and North Down Business Units, Public Sector Banking and Professional & Property teams. Outside banking, Paul is a director of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce and a finance committee member. As a chartered banker, he is also a member of the Institute of Banking’s Belfast committee, and had the privilege of being its chair last year. Paul lives in North Down with his wife Ruth and four children. In his free time Paul enjoys most sports, but particularly walking, cycling and golf, and is a member of Clandeboye Golf Club. The golf is a particularly useful distraction, as it can sometimes take his mind off his beloved Blackpool Football Club and the “roller-coaster” ride they can deliver each season! Now, with nearly two years of banking experience during a pandemic, Paul shares some reflections, insights and thoughts on things to come. “Throughout the pandemic our focus was on supporting businesses through the challenges they faced. Initially our attention and energy were very much on delivering the coronavirus governmentbacked lending schemes for businesses as well as offering new facilities or payment breaks.” “More recently, we’ve seen a marked increase in business activity and a desire

to get on with the ‘business of doing business’ again. Many of our customers have taken the opportunity to accelerate innovation, adopt new technology and develop new ways of working to succeed in a post-pandemic world, and we are proud to be able to support them with their plans for the future.” PARTNERSHIPS Reflecting on how Bank of Ireland UK can support the re-invigoration and renewed vibrancy of Belfast, Paul says, ”We’re delighted to be the principal sponsor of the Belfast Chamber Business Awards. The culmination of last year’s programme was a fabulous gala night at the Ramada Hotel, when over 430 people from the Belfast business community attended. It was great to recognise their achievements and the resilience of this community, especially given the challenges of the past 18 months.” “Our continued partnership with Northern Ireland Chamber is also hugely important and has seen us support the Business Breakfast Series, which focuses on professionals working within Marketing, HR and Finance. We have a great lineup of topics alongside highprofile and experienced speakers for 2022 to build on the very positive feedback from last year.” “And we’re also very proud of our ongoing partnership with Catalyst and the sponsorship of the annual INVENT Awards. It’s clear the Belfast business community is in safe hands, and the future is bright, when you see first-hand the entrepreneurship and new ideas being fostered.” SECTOR SUCCESS “We have a wealth of experience in


Paul McClurg, Head of Belfast Business Banking

supporting all of the many crucial sectors, including hospitality, healthcare, pharmacy and professional services” explains Paul, “and our property expertise covers both commercial and residential property investment and development.” “In the past 12 months, the team has financed a number of significant office and retail investment opportunities, demonstrating continued demand and confidence within the local sector for suitable investment opportunities. And in residential development, we are currently supporting a number of developers with medium to large-scale residential schemes across Greater Belfast and beyond. The market for new build products also remains strong as a result of pent-up demand and changing requirements of consumers who are now working from home more and seeking that additional space.” “While more and more businesses like the convenience of our online technology for their day-to-day transactions, we’re proud of our ability to combine technology with a local team, who work in partnership with businesses and stay central to their continued success. It’s a privilege for us to help support and develop the financial wellbeing of businesses across Belfast and beyond.” For further information or to engage directly with one of our business team, please feel free to contact Paul at or visit www. to meet the team.

NI Chamber Chief’s

UPDATE A new year brings with it new opportunities, fresh ideas, perspectives and in the current trading environment, unfortunately, continued challenges. At NI Chamber, we’re choosing to focus on the opportunities which 2022 presents, without taking our eye off the very real issues which many members continue to face.


ur reach across Northern Ireland continues to grow and recently, we’ve been delighted to welcome new members from across the province in Tyrone, Down, Antrim and DerryLondonderry – you are all very welcome to our growing network. Whether you are a new or established member, it is almost impossible to escape the multitude of local and global issues right now. NI Chamber’s position on the current state of affairs at Stormont is well documented – the recent lack of Executive has the potential to seriously damage local and international business confidence and creates an unsustainable degree of uncertainty at a time when businesses urgently need clarity and stability. Our members are correctly concerned about the implications of jeopardising the draft threeyear budget and about the risk of stalling economic recovery from the pandemic. Globally, spiralling energy prices are impacting production costs, supply and logistics, with significant concern about what the future world energy market looks like. At the same time, the UK and EU’s negotiations around the NI Protocol are increasingly drawn-out. In these circumstances, our engagement with Ministers and policymakers continues in earnest. For example, we recently hosted an In Camera with Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon. At that event, members had the opportunity to engage directly with the Minister on issues like planning, roads, rail and progress on capital projects. This was closely followed by a second members meeting with Health

Minister, Robin Swann. During that event, the Minister addressed businesses’ concerns about budget uncertainty, tackling health inequality, mental health strategy and the role of technology and industry in delivering efficiencies across the healthcare system. With the May election approaching, we are committed to providing members with further opportunities to influence the policy agenda and have their voices heard on issues related to business and the economy. In partnership with SSE, we are bringing back our popular 5 Leaders; 5 Days series. In advance of the election, this is a chance for businesspeople to hear directly from Jeffrey Donaldson, Colum Eastwood, Doug Beattie, Naomi Long and Michelle O’Neill. The party leaders will outline their respective policy positions, before taking questions directly from the audience. The series is a timely opportunity for businesspeople in all sectors to engage with them and I invite all members to come along. Likewise, I encourage you to take a fresh look at all of the upcoming events on our website and register for as many as you wish. We are delighted to be in a position to return to many face-to-face events and it has been wonderful to see so many members in person again. I know this is a very welcome development, particularly for those businesses who really value the networking aspect of our offering. If you’ve joined us recently and haven’t had the opportunity to attend an in-person event yet, please come along and discover for yourself how NI Chamber can help grow your professional network and make new connections. Make yourself known to our team when you’re there too – we’ll be really happy to help you work the room.


New Members • Allganize • Gradeall International • Imex Systems • Impact Ireland • Kestrel Plastics • Nihon Cyber Defence • Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke • Quadra • RPM Program • Walker Communications

* To become a member of NI Chamber join online at or phone the membership team on 028 9024 4113



Jayne Brady


Head of The Northern Ireland Civil Service Jayne Brady is head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service. In episode seven of the ‘In Conversation’ podcast, delivered in association with Narratology, Jayne speaks to Mark Devenport about Northern Ireland’s strong investment proposition, embracing innovation to deliver transformation, the opportunities technology presents and developing a framework for new ways of working.


eflecting on her early career path, Jayne tells listeners, “I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to go to university and that was fortuitous for me. I saw the variety of opportunities technology and innovation could offer and how they could deliver better business outcomes and address different pathways for people who haven’t had those pathways before, in a societal aspect.” During the episode, Jayne discusses her career progression and experience in the private sector. “My background has been predominantly in the private sector. Out of the last 27 years, I have spent 26 years in technology and innovation businesses. One third of that time was spent in large multinationals which have invested in Northern Ireland. Then a third within start-up ecosystems, growing teams and delivering new, innovative products and solutions. I spent seven years in a venture capital fund, developing investment strategy for Northern Ireland and

investing in technology-based companies across the island of Ireland. I was a partner in the fund, sourcing those deals, securing investment and supporting companies as they grew.

Jayne shares how the pandemic has been a period of adversity but also opportunity, as well as the changes it has brought to how the Civil Service does its job.

“The last 18 months were with Belfast City Council. My role was as Belfast digital innovation commissioner. I was chair of the Digital Pillar of the City Deal and led the investment strategy for the digital pillar as well.

“There are a number of different areas where the Civil Service has adapted. One of the key aspects is how we embrace innovation and technology, as well as data and digital. Technology and data sectors have flourished and shown us there is a strong opportunity to double down on those areas.

“I think all those areas in my background, from business, innovation and delivery are really valuable skillsets for me to bring into Northern Ireland Civil Service.” Jayne explains the strong investment proposition Northern Ireland has and how her role fits into an ambitious strategy. “Northern Ireland has a very strong investment proposition to make in terms of skills, the resilience of our people, core technologies and areas of further development. But that requires a joint approach and those big issues that we have to address in terms of economic inactivity, green growth and tackling health inequalities, requires a wholegovernment approach. “That’s what I saw in my role, not just to come with an administrative focus, but how can we build an ambitious strategy for Northern Ireland for the next 10 years. What I am here to do is deliver on the ambitious programme for what we can be in the next 10 years.”

“An area within that is how we find a measured way to embrace risk. With some of the issues that the Civil Service has been through, we could adopt a riskadverse culture. But that would stifle the opportunity to deliver better outcomes. We want the service to have the ability to innovate while ensuring that the structures and governance frameworks that we have in place allow and celebrate a risk-based culture.” Jayne addresses the targets set in terms of the regional economy, including moving almost 20,000 people away from economic inactivity and into jobs. “Over the last number of years we had a level of 27.2% economic inactivity, the highest of all the regions, but also significantly high globally. “If we look at it in a totality, for us to get to a position of a balanced economy we need to deliver about a £12billion GVA over the next 10 years. That can’t be solely done by investing in high-

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productivity sectors. It needs to also look at the 27.2% which is economically inactive and ensure we are providing pathways to fulfilling career paths. “We cannot solve the issues of our economy and productivity just by looking within the Department for the Economy. Those things need to be addressed in a whole-systems view and looked at in the education setting and also in communities which are dealing with people who are receiving benefits or are economically inactive. “They are very difficult problems to solve but I think that is our obligation to double down and focus on the areas where we can make that sustainable change and transformative impact because the prize, both for the people of Northern Ireland and also for our economy, is significant.”

her involvement in the transformation agenda. “I am very much involved in the transformation agenda. A key part of that is looking towards going forward and also understanding our place internationally. “I am mindful that if I do a strategy that talks about a 10-year vision, but we don’t build momentum into that and make some short-term deliverables, we will never get to the 10-year strategy. A crucial part is making sure as we go through the pandemic that we are managing that in terms of responding to evolving situations but also building a recovery framework as we go forward.” Episode seven of the ‘In Conversation’ podcast is available to listen to now on the NI Chamber website, as well as on Spotify, iTunes and Google Podcasts.

Jayne concludes the episode by sharing


Hosted by Mark Devenport


Learn About Manufacturing Growth from Wrightbus NI Chamber is inviting those working in the manufacturing sector to learn how Wrightbus has successfully grown in new markets. This Sector Club event, delivered in partnership with Barclays, will take place on Tuesday 26 April from 8.30-10.30am in the Rabbit Hotel, Templepatrick. It is open to companies from the manufacturing sector, as well as firms operating in the manufacturing supply chain. Neil Collins, managing director at Wrightbus, will share the company’s impressive growth story and discuss some of the key learnings and challenges associated with growing a manufacturing firm in Northern Ireland. Lee Collinson, managing director and head of Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics at Barclays, will also share his expertise, including an insight into opportunities for manufacturing companies to grow through exports. In addition, there will be an opportunity for delegates to interact, ask questions and network with others working in the sector. This event is exclusively for NI Chamber members and is free for them to attend.

Catriona Henry (NI Chamber), Neil Collins (Wrightbus) and Graeme MacLaughlin (Barclays).

NI Chamber Hosts Breakfast for HR Professionals Businesses working in HR roles are invited to start their day with a Business Breakfast hosted by NI Chamber on Friday 25 March. This event will discuss employee engagement, the future of work in a hybrid world and creating an attractive employee experience. ‘Being Prepared to Pivot’ is an in-person event, delivered in partnership with Bank of Ireland, which will take place at 8.15am in Culloden Estate and Spa. It is open to those working in HR, people management and engagement roles across any sector. Sarah Milliken, leader of Talent and Culture at Aflac Northern Ireland, will share how the company has approached its return to the office and discuss the importance of engaging with employees to create a model that works. Kathy Simpson, head of HR at Musgrave, will discuss organisational culture and employee experience, while Sive Molloy, HR business partner at Bank of Ireland, will give an insight into attracting the right employees and skills in a competitive market. In addition, there will be an opportunity for delegates to interact, ask questions and network with others working in HR. The Business Breakfast with Bank of Ireland series is part of NI Chamber’s Learn Grow Excel business support programme, which is also supported by SME Partner, Power NI. It is exclusively for NI Chamber members and is free to attend.

Catriona Henry (NI Chamber), Mark Cunningham (Bank of Ireland), Kathy Simpson (Musgrave) and Sarah Milliken (Aflac Northern Ireland).

To register for any of these events please visit the NI Chamber website at 32


NI Chamber Launches Pre-Election Series

Ann McGregor, Paul Murnaghan and Klair Neenan.

Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) is providing businesspeople with the opportunity to engage directly with party leaders ahead of the Assembly election. The popular 5 Leaders; 5 Days series will be delivered in partnership with SSE. Ahead of polling day on 5 May 2022, party leaders from the DUP, SDLP, UUP, Alliance and Sinn Fein will outline their manifesto plans for jobs and the economy. Business leaders in the audience will also have the opportunity to ask questions on the issues impacting them. Encouraging firms in all sectors to get involved, NI Chamber President Paul Murnaghan said: “5 Leaders; 5 Days provides party leaders and businesspeople with a forum to discuss a huge range of

issues which are critically important in the current trading environment. Our political leaders will have a platform to share their vision for the economy during the next Assembly mandate and beyond, while the audience will have the chance to ask direct questions on issues like COVID-19 recovery, energy, infrastructure, skills and trade. “This is an important election for business and rarely has there been so much to cover. We encourage firms large and small from across Northern Ireland to come along and help shape the debate.” Klair Neenan, Managing Director of SSE Airtricity, added: “SSE Airtricity is delighted to partner with Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the forthcoming 5 Leaders; 5 Days event series.

• Monday 28 March, 9.30am, Europa Hotel, Belfast – Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP • Thursday 31 March, 9.30am, Europa Hotel, Belfast – Colum Eastwood, SDLP • Friday 1 April 9.30am, Europa Hotel, Belfast – Doug Beattie, UUP • Monday 4 April, 9.30am, Europa Hotel Belfast – Naomi Long, Alliance • Tuesday 5 April, 9.30am, Europa Hotel Belfast – Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein


“These events provide a unique opportunity to bring together members of the business community with political leaders ahead of the Assembly elections in May. I’d really encourage the Northern Ireland business community to take advantage of the opportunity to engage with these events. We can all benefit from being informed on the future direction of policies and contributing to the debate on the issues that will ultimately impact upon our businesses and the economy as a whole.” The events are free for NI Chamber members to attend. To register, please visit the NI Chamber website.

Columnist Patrick Anderson, Chair of NI Chamber Infrastructure sub-committee

Cautiously Optimistic About Energy Reform


t may seem unorthodox to be discussing long-term policy development at a time when the very political structures which will ultimately deliver any such policy are once again unstable. It may be even more perverse to be optimistic about the potential positive impact of new policy but that is where Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry finds itself in regard to the NI Energy Strategy. The NI Chamber Infrastructure Committee is cautiously optimistic, and Chair Patrick Anderson explains why. In Northern Ireland we waited a long time for the emergence of a new Energy Strategy and we welcomed its publication late last year. We strongly endorse the overall direction of the policy and in particular the emphasis on energy reform as a means of achieving net zero targets. We are also pleased to note the emphasis on sustainability and the cost of energy to the end user, commercial and domestic. The argument that Northern Ireland as a region is too small to make a difference to the global drive towards decarbonisation has been rightly set aside and the goal of sourcing 70% of local electricity supplies from renewable sources by 2030 is ambitious, and we believe, achievable. Industry here has led the way in developing onshore wind projects, indeed targets for renewable energy have consistently been exceeded in the past decade. If we are to keep up that record – and we must if we are to meet the targets in this Energy Strategy – then we need clear objectives and routes to market, not only for onshore wind but ultimately for offshore as well. The ability to move through key strategic planning decisions at speed, for all aspects of the Energy Strategy,

including projects and grid infrastructure, is extremely important. The Department for Infrastructure has begun a review of energy-related planning policy, which is to be welcomed, and that process must be taken forward urgently. The targets within the Energy Strategy are welcome, they are necessary, but we need to map out how decarbonisation can be advanced. The further publication last month of The Path To Net Zero Energy Action Plan 2022 is a welcome step, as it begins to set the policy direction that can deliver on the targets.

“The argument that Northern Ireland as a region is too small to make a difference to the global drive towards decarbonisation has been rightly set aside.” Across the energy sector, academics and representative groups are already looking at innovative ways to decarbonise energy sources and move towards a net zero carbon emissions future. When politics partners industry we can achieve the targets within the strategy. The success we have had to date in exceeding previous targets, in developing hydrogen-fuelled buses, in delivering a viable onshore renewable energy sector,


has been built on having the right skills in place. This will become more apparent and more important as we transform our energy sector. It is another area where collegiate working across departments and between Ministers needs to happen. This will require careful planning in ensuring that the education and training channels available mean that not only can the supply of skills meet emerging demand but also that the skills piece actually drives demand through the generation of ideas and innovation. The role of all aspects of the educational spectrum will be critical, particularly the vocational education route, because flexibility will be a key element of the skills response process. The Energy Strategy has been driven to date by the Department for the Economy, understandably so. But what has been clear is that it is an Executive strategy, with clear roles and responsibilities being allocated in the action plan. The issue of energy cuts across so many of our central government departments as well as local authorities that we believe that serious consideration should be given to the creation of an oversight body. It is deeply unfortunate that once again political uncertainty has shaken the political system. However, the damage does not need to be fatal and we believe that given the widespread welcome for the Energy Strategy, the plan is strong enough to emerge intact from the coming election and any associated short-term political hiatus. The early stages, as set out in the action plan, are vital, as they will need to begin legislative and cultural changes that will be fundamental to the strategy’s success.

Doyle Shipping Group (Belfast) Ltd 101 Airport Road West Belfast BT3 9ED Phone +44 (0) 28 90 755881 Email


Pictured with John Wood is Arun Raman, Group Chief Finance Officer at Harland & Wolff.



Optimism and Growth Harland & Wolff has been on a journey over the past two years. Its Group CEO, John Wood, talks to Emma Deighan about the business’ Northern Ireland activity, including plans to safeguard UK gas supplies and being an instrumental vessel for our transition from natural gas to hydrogen.


n 2021, Harland & Wolff, which formerly traded under the name InfraStrata, strengthened its acquisition prowess by adding another shipyard and two fabrication sites to its existing portfolio. It’s a move that sees it become an even bigger player in five key markets in the UK: defence, cruise and ferry, commercial, renewables, and energy, holding 52% of the total UK marine fabrication footprint.

shipbuilding under the Harland & Wolff banner. Reflecting on the past three years, John begins: “I think it’s been a unique time. Back when we last spoke in 2020, there was a calm before the storm across a number of different markets but now they’re starting to bounce back from Covid.”

The company’s role here has been prominent since it acquired the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast back in 2019 and in recent months, its proposed underground gas storage project, located in Islandmagee, was awarded a Marine Construction Licence, giving it the green light to proceed towards construction.

He describes the business’ activity over the past few years as an “upgrade and reactivation stage” and he’s in high spirits as he anticipates a buoyancy around the shipyard business when the government unveils its highly anticipated National Shipbuilding Strategy refresh. The strategy is being released in a bid to “galvanise and promote the UK’s shipbuilding enterprise”.

That means the company is now poised to bring even more jobs to NI and put the province in focus for more than just

“We have confidence that the shipbuilding and fabrication business will deliver substantial value to all our



stakeholders as we enter this exciting new stage of building our multiyear backlog of projects,” John continues. He says the firm’s takeover of Harland & Wolff has breathed new life into NI’s reputation for shipbuilding, “putting Belfast back on the map again”. Its Belfast yard is one of two shipbuilding yards in the company’s foursite portfolio. As one of Europe’s largest heavy engineering facilities, Harland & Wolff (Belfast) boasts deep-water access, two of Europe’s largest drydocks, ample quayside and vast fabrication halls. Whilst, as a result of the acquisition of Harland & Wolff (Appledore) in August 2020, the company has been able to capitalise on opportunities at both ends of the ship-repair and shipbuilding markets. In February 2021, the company acquired the assets of two Scottish-based yards along the east and west coasts. Now known as Harland & Wolff (Methil) and Harland & Wolff (Arnish), these facilities focus on fabrication work within the renewable, energy and defence sectors. Harland & Wolff has the brawn to offer ferry and shipping firms everything from fabrication and construction, repair and maintenance, and technical services to conversion and decommissioning. “All the yards are fairly busy and in Belfast, we welcomed one of the largest vessels yet – the Dorset Spirit – last year,” says John. That ship arrived from Canada measuring over 279 metres in length, making it the first time since the acquisition of the assets that a vessel of this size entered the building dock. “That was the first LNG tanker to dock in a UK shipyard. Recently we had three cruise ships sat alongside each other in the shipyard. It’s a really busy season with the ferry work too and it’s also the first time the cruise line Carnival has been in the UK.

“We have confidence that the shipbuilding and fabrication business will deliver substantial value to all our stakeholders as we enter this exciting new stage of building our multiyear backlog of projects.” “You have to take every challenge and work through it,” John asserts. “You have to keep your business model flexible, and the quotation must reflect those costs.” Flexibility is the backbone of Harland & Wolff’s business model and with five markets covered, including the fastevolving renewable and energy divisions, plenty of opportunities lie ahead. One of its most exciting projects is the Islandmagee Energy gas storage project, which will initially unlock seven muchneeded gas storage caverns, John says. Islandmagee Energy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Harland & Wolff Group Holdings plc. Once constructed and fully operational, these gas caverns will hold around 500 million cubic metres of natural gas and provide security of supply during peak demand for up to 60 days for Northern Ireland.

“The drydock in Belfast is now full for the first half of the year and we’re looking at a strong second half. There’s real momentum,” he continues.

The UK has one of Europe’s lowest gas storage capacities at just 1% of its annual demand in storage, leaving it much less resilient to supply issues than other European countries which hold as much as 20-30% of annual demand in storage. When fully developed, the Islandmagee gas storage project will hold over 25% of the UK’s storage capacity.

Despite an uplift in shipbuilding and revamps, the industry is still burdened by material cost rises, with steel in particular jumping from £800 per ton to almost £1400 per ton, John reveals.

“When you look at the extraordinary increased volatility in the cost of gas, this facility will give the country the ability to flex. It will mean not having to buy on the spot market.


“Instead, we can use the storage and help prevent things like the risk of power outages. There are no other facilities like this in the UK,” John says. At present, the scheme is facing challenges from opposing groups including No Gas Caverns and Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland which have jointly launched legal proceedings against Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) over plans. “This project went through planning many years ago and I believe that was the stage to protest, to object to the planning. This is a project needed by Northern Ireland. It is needed for the economy, it is needed to create jobs, it is needed for the transition to net zero and it will add value every day to residents,” John says. He adds the gas storage facility has the capacity to create 400 direct jobs and 1,600 indirect jobs during the construction phase with 60 direct and 180 roles during its proposed 40 years of operation and it has the potential to play a role in our conversion to greener energy. “The project is a real transition project, and we see it transitioning to hydrogen over the next decade.” Add the latter employment potential to Harland & Wolff shipyard’s existing 200 staff and an influx of apprentices, the business has scope to be a growing employer here. “We’re continuing to ramp up our apprenticeship intake. We now have 31 on the course, with an age range from 17 to 38. It’s been a great success and offers on-the-job training, one-to-one mentoring and really allows them to get stuck in,” John explains. “We are hoping to get up to 100 new apprentices next year.” It’s not bad going given the business’ NI arm has only really experienced four months of clear trading since John’s firm took hold of the reins. “On 5 December 2019, we got the keys. We’re now a couple of years on from that and we’ve really only had four months of Covid-free trading. The pandemic has certainly been a struggle, but we’re now beginning to deliver economic value back into the communities we work in. We’re very optimistic.”

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Driving the Future of Public Transport Priscilla Rooney, group general counsel and company secretary at Translink, talks to Emma Deighan about the business’ role in Northern Ireland’s drive to Net Zero emissions and its economic recovery post-pandemic.


ranslink sustained its operations, albeit reduced, throughout the pandemic but now the organisation has already started to return to more normal timetables as Northern Ireland emerges from the pandemic. “We’re seeing an increase in passenger demand and our operations teams are working to facilitate this across all routes. With more people returning to the workplace, shopping, hospitality venues and leisure destinations we expect to see passenger journeys grow as the year progresses,” says Priscilla Rooney. Translink has been extremely active in recent months despite its operational challenges during the lockdowns. This includes investment in electric and hydrogen vehicles for Belfast and Derry-


Londonderry, to trialling a new contactless fare-paying option ahead of a rollout this month on Metro. Translink is ambitious; public transport will be hugely important in NI’s green economic recovery and these schemes are just part of a number of developments to enhance the overall customer experience and help build back stronger and better connected for everyone. One of its biggest infrastructure projects yet is the NI Executive flagship Belfast Transport Hub. The impressive new multi-modal Transport Hub will replace the existing Europa and Great Victoria Street bus and rail stations. It will provide greater capacity with an increase to 26 bus stands, eight railway platforms, enhanced walking and cycling connectivity, greater comfort and


accessibility, encouraging greener, active travel for a healthier, smarter city. The Weavers Cross development, delivered as part of the project, will regenerate the lands around the Transport Hub and facilitate economic growth and urban regeneration too. Priscilla adds: “It’s really positive for Belfast City and Northern Ireland as a whole to see this project go Iive, and indeed the main construction works are now underway with completion due 2025. “The Hub is the catalyst for the wider project at Weavers Cross, and we want to work with a private sector partner to develop that into a vibrant mix of office, residential, hospitality and retail space. We see it as regenerating a part of Belfast, bringing an influx of pedestrians, and realising opportunities for our host communities.” A new terminus and revived metropolis is just one part of Translink’s plans to boost public transport usage here. Translink is accelerating its actions on the climate crisis and air quality. It will use its Climate Positive Strategy to encourage the public to reduce their own carbon emissions by leaving the car behind while delivering its own plans on decarbonisation. That is a drive that may be advanced as a result of the recent energy price hikes, and a refreshed public consciousness and obligation to create a greener environment, Priscilla believes. “Part of our strategy is to be fully Net Zero by 2040 and Climate Positive by 2050 by having more battery and hydrogen vehicles in service, and we are looking towards similar progress on the rail network,” she continues. “When we couple this offering with the ease of use of our new contactless payment system, there is an obvious opportunity for Translink to encourage more people to use public transport. “I think new hybrid working models and the change in how our customers live and work will also help that shift. The typical Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-five commuter market may become very different in the coming months and years, and this provides us with many opportunities to improve our capacity levels at traditional peak times, as journeys become more evenly spread throughout the day. “The net result of a move towards increased use of Translink’s services hits right to the heart of the green recovery – and the Covid pandemic highlighted the

importance of bus and rail travel in keeping our communities connected and the role we all play on the journey to Net Zero.

This will be the start of a step change in delivering innovative, smarter and cleaner transport solutions for a modern city.

“If everyone across the UK switched only one car journey per month to sustainable transport, there would be more than one billion fewer cars on the road and two million tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere annually. So, when you hear those statistics, it’s pretty remarkable how a small change in behaviour can make such a huge difference.”

Also announced last year was the introduction of electric zero-emission buses in Derry-Londonderry, making it one of the first cities in the UK and Ireland to have a fully zero-emission bus fleet when all the vehicles go into passenger service in 2023. These multi-million-pound deals form part of Northern Ireland’s sustainable future, helping support the wider Northern Ireland economy.

“If everyone across the UK switched only one car journey per month to sustainable transport, there would be more than one billion fewer cars on the road and two million tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere annually.”

“If you think about the local economy and the supply chain, that investment goes back into Northern Ireland again,” Priscilla adds, referencing its recent contracts with Ballymena bus maker, Wrightbus.

Priscilla says those ambitions are dependent on government funding. “There is a significant challenge around this because government spend per head on public transport in Northern Ireland is only 27% of the UK average spend per head, but it is our public sector networks that are key to reaching that Net Zero target.” Translink has continued its drive to Net Zero by introducing the first hydrogen buses on the island of Ireland to its fleet at the end of 2020. These buses emit only water vapour, with no harmful pollutants. Now in a further landmark moment the company is taking delivery of an additional 100 zero-emission buses from Wrightbus for Metro in Belfast. Made up of 80 battery-electric and 20 hydrogen buses, they will be gradually introduced over the coming months and will mean around 33% of all Metro services will be Net Zero carbon.


Today there are some 4,000 people working for Translink and that figure has remained stable throughout the pandemic. Priscilla has been with the Group for four years, providing strategic advice on legal and governance matters, ethics and information governance to the Translink Board and Executive Team. It’s a role she relishes: “Supporting and enhancing decisions that reflect our objectives and values, while being commercially focused”. “Translink is a great place to work. We have so many exciting projects going on here and that was one of the key drivers for me moving into an in-house role,” she adds. “We have a team that prides itself on its values. We are committed to the development of female leadership within the organisation and a new Women in Transport Employee Network and mentoring scheme has been established to inspire females and to support their growth throughout their careers with Translink. I’m also pleased to lend my support in this area to encourage more females to join the sector. “Events like our Have a Go Day – which opens externally – is about that, but like many industries we have more work to do and have recently launched a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to provide support to growing a more diverse workforce.” Reflecting on the past two years and the opportunities that lie ahead for the Group, Priscilla concludes: “We’re moving into more positive and exciting times, and Translink will be leading the transformation of public transport in Northern Ireland.”


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Planning For A Sustainable Future RPS was founded in 1970, but its Belfast story long outdates that. Mike Shaw, managing director of the company’s NI base, discusses Belfast’s innovative role in the professional services firm’s global operations and why sustainability is at the heart of its present and future.


he planning, design and management of infrastructural, natural resource and sustainability projects are at the core of RPS’ operations. Its purpose, it says, is to “solve problems that matter to a complex, urbanising and resourcescarce world”. The company, which is present in 125 countries and employs 5,000 people – of which 250 are based at its Boucher Road, Belfast branch – works across six sectors (Property, Energy, Transport, Water, Resources, Defence and Government). Its promise is to make complex easy for its clients through an extensive range of multi-disciplinary services. Locally it’s been instrumental in the development of iconic and essential infrastructure such as Titanic Belfast, the Waterfront Hall, the SSE Arena, the planned safety enhancements to the A1 dual carriageway, the South West Acute Hospital and a wide range of Belfast Harbour Developments, including the BHC Film Studios. “We were originally Kirk McClure Morton, which was a partnership before

RPS acquired the business in 2004. “In its entirety we have over 75 years’ experience in Northern Ireland,” Mike begins. Mike says the Belfast base offers one of the group’s broadest selections of services including ports and maritime, water infrastructure, water environment, transport, planning, structures, waste, renewable energy and flood risk. Operating across the public and private sectors, it has continued to diversify its services and expanded its geographical reach since the acquisition. At the forefront of its work now is pioneering technical solutions and leaving a sustainable legacy. “We’ve always been a very innovative company since our inception in 1947,” says Mike. The employment of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) has been one of the Belfast office’s more recent innovations. He says during the pandemic, in-person public consultations – part of the planning approvals process – became a challenge, prompting the firm to innovate and create an AR


consultation room. This innovative solution has enabled over £40 billion of projects globally since its launch. The VR public consultations have helped RPS’ clients to remove barriers, progress approvals and connect with stakeholders virtually. “The response to this has been so overwhelmingly positive – creating value and ease for our clients and their audience.” “It’s been developed locally in Northern Ireland and is now enabling £40 billion of projects globally,” he says. “Artificial intelligence is another gamechanger for our business,” Mike tells Ambition. “We’ve been carrying out a number of pilot projects using specialist analytical techniques, including in North America, to detect marine mammals. “We’re also carrying out a pilot study to assist in the detection of unexploded mines.” The protection of our environment is high up on RPS’ agenda, “underpinning everything we do”. “We have the expertise to drive change through the sustainable solutions we




provide to our clients. And we take our responsibility to protect the planet for future generations very seriously.” “This includes improving the sustainability of the built environment, through reducing operational and embodied carbon emissions, and diversifying to renewable energy sources,” adds Mike. “By gathering site-specific information, we identify any environmental and socioeconomic impacts that might arise from development. To reduce risk, cost and impact, we follow a staged approach that identifies potentially significant adverse effects at an early stage so that they can be designed out, managed, mitigated or offset. Our aim is to make potentially complex projects easy, using creative, sustainable solutions for the future,” says the company.

of the future, which allows schoolchildren to explore how our built environment will need to adapt and respond to climate change. “The mini city explains everything from green roofs to the transition to electric vehicles and it’s very interactive. The career zone explores the different professions within our sector from architects to ecologists and what it means to be in that role. The purpose is to inspire these children and young adults,” adds Mike. As well as being a freely available virtual platform, RPS has also been taking its Climate Careers Zone out into schools. Since its launch in October last year, STEM ambassadors from RPS have delivered more than 60 sessions which

have reached almost 2,000 young people across the UK and Ireland. Such moves help with the challenge of safeguarding future STEM roles within the industries in which RPS works. He continues: “These professions will play a critical role in defining, designing and managing our sustainable future. And for young people motivated to shape that change, we hope our Climate Careers Zone can inspire them on a career path that can make a difference.” “It’s important that our industries work together to support that because what we do is not just about the present, here and now; it’s about looking at what we’re going to be doing and what we need in two, three and 45 years.”

RPS’ Climate Careers Zone Mini City.

The company is so focused on its drive to shape a better environment, it has extended its knowledge to schoolchildren through numerous projects. “We like to give back to the community and we want to share our knowledge and our experience with the younger generation – a generation highly motivated about climate change.” RPS launched its Climate Change Careers Zone during the pandemic especially for that audience. It is a virtual experience designed to support 12 to 16-year-olds with knowledge and insight on how they can be part of the climate solution. Within that zone is a mini city

“We’ve always been a very innovative company since our inception in 1947” The Titanic Quarter’s Arc Buildings.



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New Format As Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards Return After Two-Year Hiatus


fter a two-year hiatus, the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards, which has grown into one of the most important business awards initiatives in the North, will return this June.

presentation in Titanic Belfast on 30 June, hosted by comic Neil Delamere, who is best known for his hilariously quick-witted appearances on myriad panel shows, including his long-running tenure on the Blame Game, and his live tours.

And the initiative – which rewards exceptional people-focused companies and organisations by recognising excellence in the workplace – will have a complete new look and format.“I’m delighted to be able to say that the WEA show is back on the road,” Irish News editor Noel Doran told a launch dinner in James Street South restaurant.

This year the format makes it easier to enter, with each category including a twopart entry form, requesting background information and a 1,000-word submission standardised across all categories. 2022 sees the launch of three new award categories – Diversity, Equality and Inclusion; Best Company Connection; and Corporate Social Responsibility.

“In many ways our return represents a major vote of confidence for all our economic and employment prospects after such a difficult period, so it’s great that we have managed to reach this stage.”

Irish News group marketing and communications manager Annette Small said: “We’re thrilled to relaunch our WEA awards, which since their inception in 2006 have recognised the importance of focusing organisational strategy on businesses’ key asset, their people.

The launch reception was attended by a number of business organisations as well as representatives of the initiative’s key business partners: Options Technology, Carson McDowell, Queen’s University, Ulster University Business School, First Derivative and Titanic Belfast. The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards have evolved into one of the region’s most prestigious business initiatives, regularly attracting hundreds of entries and culminating in a glittering

“It’s people who drive and add value to any organisation, and our 2022 awards will be another celebration of the exceptional standards they demonstrate in different aspects of economy.” She added: “Everyone who enters our awards is recognising the importance of working closely with their staff at all levels, regardless of the size of the organisation, and how vital it is to have proper

strategies in place for developing the huge talents which are out there in the field of employment.” Entries for the 2022 Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards are now open and will be accepted up until Friday 22 April, with a judging panel then due to convene on Wednesday 27 April to pore over the submissions. Mr Doran added: “We could never consider an initiative of this magnitude without the support of our business partners, and their endorsement remains a crucial factor. “It’s been an incredibly tough period for everyone involved in civic life here, but thanks to a massive effort across the board, a cautious and measured sense of reality is returning to our society. “We will now be extending the hand of friendship to a wide range of groups and individuals from all sections of our community at the Workplace & Employment Awards on 30 June; the buildup begins from here. “It is going to be a wonderful evening, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all again at Titanic Belfast.” For more information and details on entering the awards, go to

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John Campbell Economics & Business Editor, BBC Northern Ireland

Roaring Inflation BBC NI’s Economic & Business Editor, John Campbell, on the rising inflation that we are facing in 2022.


nflation has roared to the top of the economic agenda in a way that’s probably outside the experience of anybody younger than about 50. Much of the public debate has focused on how central bankers and other policymakers should react. There are basically two schools of thought: those who think it is largely transitory, a predictable result of postpandemic supply chain snarl-ups along with some statistical base effects. They argue that raising interest rates too far and too fast will do nothing to resolve the supply chain problems and needlessly hold back economic growth once the extraordinary levels of government support roll off. The other school of thought sees structural changes to the economy such as a smaller workforce and ‘deglobalistion’, which are inherently inflationary. They argue that central banks need to act aggressively to counteract this and stop expectations of higher inflation becoming ingrained.

But there is another discussion happening about whether current measures of inflation are of much use to ordinary people trying to understand the economy and their place in it. This has been led by the food poverty campaigner and chef Jack Monroe. She had carefully noted how some supermarket budget products had increased by much more than the average rate of inflation while others had been withdrawn from sale altogether. The upshot of this, she contended, was that people on low or modest incomes were facing a higher rate of inflation than the headline figure would suggest. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) met Ms Monroe and issued a slightly defensive statement explaining that it is already working on ways to produce a more granular analysis. It is worth understanding how the ONS constructs its most widely used inflation measure, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). It measures the changing price of around 700 specific items


that are representative of the average household’s spending habits. This ‘basket’ is regularly updated and reweighted to reflect changing consumer tastes. The 700 items are monitored by sending people to shops around the UK to check prices, which produces 180,000 individual price points. The first innovation being worked on by the ONS is to instead analyse hundreds of millions of price points by using data sent directly from retailer checkouts and other data suppliers. By using this data that records every purchase, the ONS hopes to reflect price rises more accurately. Other upcoming work from the ONS includes analysis which will attempt to explain the drivers of inflation in selected sectors such as food and transport. In part this will try to track how changes in producer prices are passed through, or not, to consumers. There will also be a piece of work looking at the public sector and how public services are likely to be affected by inflationary pressures. But it is work that’s in line with

Ms Monroe’s concerns which is probably of greatest interest. The ONS had previously reflected how lower, mid and higher-income groups were affected differently by rising prices in its statistics. But during the pandemic, supply chain problems and shortages meant there wasn’t enough reliable data to publish those breakdowns. That work is restarting but the plan is for an even more granular approach. The ONS says that ‘to assist individuals in understanding how the rise in inflation affects their expenditure, we are developing a personal inflation calculator’. The plan is that users will be able to enter their expenditure across a number of categories, and the calculator will deliver customised information about the rise in costs they are set to experience.

“They argue that raising interest rates too far and too fast will do nothing to resolve the supply chain problems and needlessly hold back economic growth once the extraordinary levels of government support roll off.” 51

By necessity this will be a fairly rough estimate and will also depend on people having a good grasp of their household expenditure. Then there’s the question of what people will want to use this for, beyond curiosity. It may be useful for policymakers to get a better grasp on how to target support for groups particularly impacted by inflation. And it could also find a role in pay bargaining. If someone has a good grasp of how their inescapable costs are rising, they may feel more confident in asking for a pay rise which at least matches that. PS: The Bank of England already has an inflation calculator which allows you to assess inflation all the way back to the year 1209.


Meeting Net Zero Targets By Andrew Norton, Project Manager | Net Zero Skills Academy, Queen’s University Belfast.


orthern Ireland has a heritage of innovation. From linen making to the fintech and cybersecurity revolution, this country has been at the forefront of new and emerging advances. We stand now on the cusp of the Net Zero revolution where we will continue to innovate whilst better understanding how the world and its resources can be preserved. A key question in this journey is, what would happen if we could turn waste into precious commodities? Or more specifically, make heat and power, essential to our modern way of life, more sustainable and independent of swings in the global energy market? We now are facing a climate emergency and without urgent action, we face an

uncertain future. It is not a question of waiting but of acting now to try and transition our economy towards a Net Zero future. We need to drastically reduce emissions whilst also investing in technologies that will help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. So, how can we transition business practice through the use of new green technology in a just and economically sustainable way, as we look towards implementing a Net Zero carbon emission target by 2050? Queen’s University Belfast has been funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities through a Community Renewal Fund grant to research these issues. Headed by the


School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, a team of academics is working towards bringing communities together towards this goal. We believe the solution lies in the strength of businesses and communities working together. The university is looking at how to harness the power of cooperatives, where stakeholders come together to innovate, share and grow. Like all simple slogans, Net Zero is easy to say and more complicated to achieve. The reality of meeting Net Zero targets relies on convincing the world, and especially businesses, to adopt new practices and ways of thinking. This is where cooperatives can provide strategic value. Cooperatives have been successful in bringing together businesses and


adding value through the supply chain and this project provides the opportunity to explore innovative ways to leverage human and natural capital to decrease carbon emissions while building economic opportunities. New energy and green growth strategies and a climate bill are laying out an ambitious pathway for our future. Major challenges lie ahead for agriculture, industry and society. These can be overcome using science and innovation to support opportunity within the economy by adapting emerging and existing green technologies. By committing to early adoption of new technologies and innovation, Northern Ireland’s economy will evolve into one that builds its success on net zero principles, ensuring that the future of this country is both a more thriving and sustainable place to live and work in. The transition towards a ‘green economy’ as the CBI reminds us in ‘Skills and training for the green economy’, is going to require a range of different skills and technologies as well as a commitment to change. Northern Ireland’s 10X Economy Strategy also focuses on core skills necessary for the growth of the economy. Not only technical skills are required but also those of innovation and collaboration. The opportunities created by green technologies as well as new innovations will only succeed with a high-skilled

“The university is looking at how to harness the power of cooperatives, where stakeholders come together to innovate, share and grow. Like all simple slogans, Net Zero is easy to say and more complicated to achieve. The reality of meeting Net Zero targets relies on convincing the world, and especially businesses, to adopt new practices and ways of thinking.”


workforce. Skills and innovation training are therefore essential to support businesses and communities through the net zero transition. These challenges were the topic for a recent breakfast discussion in Fermanagh, where the university, in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, brought together a mixture of educators, government and local business to open up the conversation on cooperatives and what can be done through harnessing a new collaborative way of working. Undoubtedly, there will be challenges, not least in the commercial sensitivities, however, the university wants to be there to support through skills provision and access to research. This hugely positive event is a first step in shaping the future landscape in the district area, meeting industrial needs and council objectives. This becomes possible by working together and innovating the way we do it. The challenges may be new, but the approach of working together is something we have excelled at in the past. So, what next? The university is seeking to understand more about the impact on business and council areas right across Northern Ireland and should you wish to be involved or even to find out more about the project, please email Andrew Norton (


NI Football Stars Kick Off Roadshows To Tackle Online Hate BT has joined forces with the Irish FA and non-profit organisation Cybersmile to kick off football roadshows in Armagh and Greenisland to educate young people about how to tackle the devastating impact of online hate and discrimination in sport. Working with Cybersmile, BT has created an online education platform for young people designed to help tackle online hate, bullying and abuse. The modules are currently available to anyone, for free, at: Launching the new platform in Northern Ireland, two former international footballing legends Keith Gillespie and Aaron Hughes visited Armagh FC and Greenisland FC to deliver the Hope United Roadshow, which provided youngsters with content from the new educational platform as well as offering them an exciting football masterclass from the footballing stars. The platform comprises three modules focusing on upskilling users and educating them on how to be good digital citizens. The modules include content specific from each FA team including Northern Ireland’s Jamal Lewis, England’s Harry Kane, Wales’ Helen Ward and Scotland’s Lana Cleland, as they discuss their personal experience of online hate and abuse: • Why hope beats hate: how hope can heal, empower, unite, inspire and save people. • The impact of online abuse: the implications of online abuse and how everyone can be a better digital citizen. • Digital self-care: discover how to look after mental and physical wellbeing by keeping a healthy balance between online and offline lives. The roadshows build on BT’s Hope United initiative which launched last year, bringing together a diverse team of football players to tackle online hate and understand the impact online hate can have, and what can be done to combat it. The Hope United Roadshow is the latest phase of BT’s ‘4-3-3’ partnerships with the four Home Nations FAs to use its technology and innovation in footballing communities across the UK to help change the lives of millions of players, coaches and fans.

Footballing legend Keith Gillespie at Armagh City Football Club with young players Pauric McShane, Enda Smyth, Shae McManus and Aodhn Carson.

Commenting on the Hope United Roadshows, Jamal Lewis said: “some people think that, as footballers, we should be able to deal with social media abuse, that it’s a ‘part of the job’. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why it’s so important we show young people that a post or comment doesn’t just live online but can have a long-lasting impact. The Hope United Roadshow allows us to start that conversation with the next generation of players in Northern Ireland and across the UK.” Keith Gillespie added: “It is long overdue that as a society more is done to tackle abuse on social media and I’m so proud to be involved in the BT and Cybersmile launch. The new platform from BT will help kids know how to deal with online abuse.” Aaron Hughes said: “Initiatives like the Hope United Roadshow will play a big role in ensuring kids grow up with positive online behaviours and know how to deal with online abuse.” Pete Jeavons, marketing communications director, BT, said: “Working alongside Cybersmile has allowed us to continue the vital work that Hope United kick-started last year: to tackle the online hatred and cyberbullying that is sadly part of everyday life. We’re


also incredibly excited to further support grassroots football communities across the UK as part of our long-term partnerships with the four UK Home Nations football associations to upskill millions of players, coaches and fans.” Scott Freeman, CEO of The Cybersmile Foundation, concluded: “Everybody at Cybersmile is proud and excited to be working with BT to educate and positively impact young people across the UK on a range of key issues. Cybersmile believes that education and awareness are key to changing behaviours and potentially saving lives, which this initiative has been designed to do.” The Hope United Roadshows continue over the coming weeks across the rest of the UK, with two events (six in total) in Scotland, Wales and England. The Hope United Roadshow will also contribute towards BT’s Skills for Tomorrow target to provide 25 million people with the skills they need to make the most of life in the digital world. In line with BT’s purpose to Connect for Good, the new ambition aims to help more people across the UK have the skills they need to stay connected, tackle the digital divide and support the UK’s economic recovery.

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The North West – A Region of Great Potential The North West has long been delivering a hefty percentage of economic impact to the overall Northern Ireland economy. Emma Deighan talks to three entrepreneurial players that make the region competitive.



Chris Gray, Director of Gray’s Communications.

branch into different sectors, including healthcare.” The firm has also launched a new spinout company, Bloc Labs, to design, test and develop the next generation of consumer technology products and experiences for global markets. Discussing the vibrancy of industry in the North West, he continues: “The region has matured dramatically over recent years, boosted substantially by both foreign and direct investment. It has a world-class talent pool and thriving industry clusters including digital and technology, health and life sciences. Major infrastructure initiatives such as the £226million A6 Dualling Project, will only further enhance connectivity and offer even more scope to the North West.


rom Magee University to the North West Regional College and a host of businesses with lengthy heritages, the North West has been a significant contributor to many industries here and globally. In recent years its reputation for fast-evolving tech has contributed to its strength as a destination of business strength. Invest NI says in the last five years alone, over 620 businesses there sought its help to support exporting plans, helping, it said, generate nearly £380m of investment. And launched in February 2021, the City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund, the largest ever single investment package by government into the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, will further strengthen the offering in the region. It has been described as an historic and exciting intervention that will contribute to building a stronger, more competitive, resilient and inclusive economy, delivering higher paid jobs and contributing to creating a more regionally-balanced economy over the coming years. Cormac Diamond, managing director at Bloc Group, which includes Bloc Blinds and more recently the FAST Technologies – which develops bespoke technical solutions for a global client base including DuPont, Unilever, Caterpillar and Seagate – has been providing window covering

solutions to a host of clients globally since 2006. He says the group’s new relationship with FAST “typifies the entrepreneurial spirit which is commonplace in Northern Ireland”, particularly in the North West. Cormac’s firm’s focus on R&D and leading-edge manufacturing processes has helped it create new concepts in window blinds and skylight solutions and allowed it to be a major exporter in window covering solutions. “To some extent we’ve revolutionised the market – taking blinds from being standard window coverings to stylish home accessories which improve sleep quality and enhance energy efficiency and are safe by design, offering peace of mind for parents of young children and carers of the vulnerable,” he says. The Bloc Group employs a workforce of approximately 350 at its headquarters in Magherafelt and across its divisions in Belfast, Derry, the Netherlands and the USA. Its first major retailer was John Lewis and since then it has supplied blinds commercially to large organisations such as Emirates, Google and Barkley’s. Its e-commerce site is also thriving. Cormac adds: “The innovation journey continues. We’ve scaled the business significantly and collaborated with like-minded companies, enabling us to


“We are proud to be part of its great business community, and we want to help support it and grow with it.”

“I believe businesses in the North West are much more resilient than most, purely out of necessity. It can be argued that infrastructure and general employment opportunities are below par this side of the Bann but that’s starting to be addressed which is a huge positive and as a region I wholeheartedly believe that we on the precipice of a new dawn.”


“The region has matured dramatically over recent years, boosted substantially by both foreign and direct investment. It has a world-class talent pool and thriving industry clusters including digital and technology, health and life sciences.”

Cormac Diamond, Managing Director at Bloc Group.

Meanwhile Hunter Apparel, the corporate workwear product provider, which also flaunts two proprietary software solutions that have “transformed how our clients manage their uniform and PPE assets”, is keeping the textile heritage synonymous with the North West alive. Over its almost nine decades, it has evolved from being a men’s tailor to the industry leader in technology-driven professional clothing and PPE managed services. It has a team of 55 staff across the UK and Ireland and has also diversified to offer two proprietary software solutions that “have transformed how our clients manage their uniform and PPE assets”. Talking about the business and its base in the North West, Simon Hunter, chief executive officer, says: “This region has a long heritage in the textile sector and as such there are indigenous skills here for us to utilise. Our clients love to visit this wonderful, vibrant city space with fabulous restaurants, music and pubs. Most of those people make the North West a holiday destination for their families once they get a taste of it. “Northern Ireland has a significant reputation in the professional clothing industry and, in UK terms, a substantial percentage of the sector is based here.

Some of the industry’s most successful companies are based in Northern Ireland.” He reflects on the distance the region has made over the years and how that will serve its future, adding: “I was born here in 1970, and things weren’t great in many respects. It seems that the city has developed so much since City of Culture. There is definitely a tech thing happening here and some great indigenous entrepreneurs have driven that. There is also a creative, cultural aspect to this city which I love. Great people living in a beautiful creative space is bound to generate more entrepreneurial spirit as time moves on.” Thriving outside of the fashion sphere is Gray’s Communications in Derry’s Science Park. It is a six-year-old marketing company that is working with clients as far afield as Australia. Director Chris Gray describes the firm’s niche as “a wrap-around support service including marketing strategy, campaign work, branding, event management, media buying and planning, communications support and digital development”. He says: “I believe businesses in the North West are much more resilient than most, purely out of necessity. It can be argued that infrastructure and general


employment opportunities are below par this side of the Bann, but that’s starting to be addressed which is a huge positive, and as a region I wholeheartedly believe that we are on the precipice of a new dawn. “The return of large-scale festivals and events is important as they put our city in the spotlight globally and celebrate everything that’s great about the North West region. This, coupled with the recent good news stories of growth in key emerging sectors and the now approved City Deal, will see this region finally lift itself to the level it needs to be operating at and it’s long overdue. We are hopeful we will get an opportunity to reap the rewards of what’s to come and it is important our local businesses who have helped stimulate that growth benefit directly.” Chris’ enthusiasm for the North West’s future echoes in the recent success of his own firm. Despite the pandemic, it has beckoned new clients from far and wide. “In the last 12 months the company has serviced clients as far as Australia and we work with public, private and thirdsector organisations. With only 15% of the company’s existing client base from the North West, Gray’s has travelled far and wide to generate the business which has sustained its rapid growth,” he says.

Columnist Lavina Moore, Senior Investment Director, Investec

Making Sustainability A Priority A

s investors place increasing importance on economic, social and governance issues, businesses that fail to respond may struggle to see out the next decade. Here, Investec’s Senior Investment Director Lavina Moore shares some learnings from working with entrepreneurs and business leaders. Over the past few years corporate sustainability has attracted much attention and research. However, the concept is not new. While much attention has recently been placed on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, sustainable investment has been around for decades. Investec has been on this journey since the company’s inception, and we published our first sustainability report – Our journey to sustainability – in 2002. The publication incorporated the group’s environmental efforts in addition to details of educational and entrepreneurial philanthropy undertaken by the group. At the core of sustainability is an understanding that people cannot exist without a healthy and thriving natural environment. The elements of profit, people and planet are the key building blocks of existence. After the 2008 financial crisis, when attention was given to how to encourage more long-term investment thinking, the concept of sustainability was highlighted on policymakers’ agendas. The Paris Climate Agreement and consumer demand also saw an increased drive to incorporate climate change considerations in business processes. As we enter an era of stakeholder capitalism, CEOs want their companies to be recognised as a force for good.

This means we need to focus on delivering social and environmental value in addition to financial returns for individuals and corporates. Aligning activities with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as clean energy, quality education and gender equality could open up an estimated US$12 trillion in market opportunities, according to the Better Business Better World report by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. How to finance change Business leaders and entrepreneurs tell us they are concerned about who will finance the changes that are needed to help transition to a sustainable economy. According to the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, they cannot rely on governments alone: “We have to mobilise the private sector, it is 75% of the global GDP,” he said. “Moving forward, collaboration with business is crucial when it comes to fighting climate change; we’re not on track on this.” In particular, the climate finance gap is estimated at between US$2.5 trillion and US$4.8 trillion. The financial sector therefore has a significant contribution to make in accelerating the shift to a low-carbon economy and banks are expected to increase their financing in renewables and clean energy, in particular. The Investec Fund Finance team recently offered the first European mid-market ESG-linked loan to InvestIndustrial, a leading European investment group. The €600 million facility offered reduced interest payments when specific goals – in areas such as environment, gender diversity and governance – were met.


Any cost savings were then earmarked by InvestIndustrial for investments in carbon reduction projects. How to invest your money responsibly At Investec, we also assess ESG risks in relation to personal investments. These are fundamental risks that we monitor to understand potential shocks and opportunities. In fact, we recently became a signatory of the UK Stewardship Code to help guide industry best practice in this area. Our team in Belfast continue to increase their understanding of this space. I have recently achieved the Certificate in ESG Investing from the CFA Institute, which is recognised by the UN Principles of Responsible Investing. I strongly feel that continued learning, with increased skills and knowledge in ESG, will be essential when analysing potential investments as sustainable investing continues to rapidly evolve. The inclusion of ESG factors, along with traditional financial factors, is crucial for our investment analysis and decision-making processes. Whilst we utilise bottom-up screening and scoring for quantitative ESG data, we also place significant importance on qualitative data, with the opportunity to be more active and to interact with company management teams to engage on ESG matters. As well as soliciting more information about the significance of and priorities for ESG within a business, we can also communicate our own agenda. Clients want to know the ‘impact’ that their investments are making – both positive and negative. If you’d like to discuss your options, please get in touch. belfast

Routes to Employment


It is that time of year when many students are looking towards where their next steps will take them.

Chris McDowell.


Robbie Grant.

taff recruitment and development is a crucial part of any successful business and Ulster Carpets continues to open the door to new talent by offering different pathways to employment.

That has continued with a Level 3 Engineering Maintenance course with SERC, in conjunction with Ulster, with Chris hoping to move onto a Level 5 qualification once that has been completed.

up a permanent position in January. “The Graduate Programme has worked perfectly for me. The placement gave me the opportunity to develop my skills while also having the opportunity to earn a permanent position.

As illustrated by Chris McDowell and Robbie Grant, the opportunities provided by the innovative carpet manufacturer offer the best of both worlds for career development.

“The apprenticeship route offers the best of both worlds,” said Chris. “I attend SERC one day a week and then get to put what I learn there into practice at Ulster Carpets. When I started, I wasn’t sure what to expect but there is a lot of variety here and I really enjoy it.”

“I enjoy anything connected to the environment and sustainability and there is a real focus on both these areas at Ulster Carpets. It is exciting being able to help find new ways to shape the future of the company’s sustainable journey.”

Chris joined Ulster Carpets four years ago on placement as part of his Apprentice Maintenance Engineering course at Southern Regional College. After impressing the maintenance team, he was offered a paid apprenticeship the following year. Chris then continued to combine his job at Ulster Carpets with his studies, and successfully completed his Level 2 Apprenticeship in Performing Engineering Operations at SRC last May.

For Robbie, Ulster’s successful Graduate Programme offered him the opportunity to help shape the company’s environmental agenda. With a degree in Environmental Management from Queen’s University, Robbie joined Ulster Carpets in May 2021, initially on a 12-month placement. However, he demonstrated a real passion for environmental sustainability and took


Since then, Ulster has grown to be the premier supplier of Axminster and Wilton carpets to the world market, offering diverse career opportunities in an exciting global industry. If you are interested in learning more about working for Ulster Carpets, email or visit


Making Your Sustainability Goals Their Business 62


Corporate travel firm Beyond Business Travel was launched with sustainability in mind back in 2010 and today it’s at the forefront of saving carbon emissions at some of the largest firms in NI through smart technology and data. Here, Managing Director, Shauna Burns, explains how it is minimising corporate carbon footprints when travel is key to operations.


t is something of an oxymoron to couple business travel, especially air travel, with sustainability and a green agenda, but it’s being made possible at Belfast-based Beyond Business Travel.

“Our intelligent travel technology will tell clients CO2 emissions on any particular flight, car journey and even the hotel that they’re staying in before they even set off, and they can look at different suppliers to alter those emissions further,” says Shauna.

Shauna Burns, managing director at the business, says now travel has opened again and many firms are taking new, “more impactful” business trips, there has been a shifting demand for CO2 data and an inclination to offset with a greener environment in mind.

Monitoring CO2 levels during travel to track and measure results is another way to ensure a firm remains environmentally conscious. This can be beneficial for those businesses who have to present such data when tendering.

“Travel has definitely opened up again and we are busy with transaction volumes back to over 50% of pre-Covid levels. Travel is still a core part of businesses who value face-to-face meetings,” she says. “In terms of trends, the level of business travel is correlated to a business’ approach to three areas: the culture in the organisation and the importance of site visits and meeting colleagues, the competitor’s approach to face-to-face meetings, and client expectations.” The return to business travel has also seen a renewed corporate conscience in carbon emissions, which is where Beyond Business Travel’s investment in technology to support this need has proven invaluable. “We understand that travel contributes to a company’s carbon footprint. Research shows that 8% of greenhouse gas emissions come from travel globally and we recognise that, but there are ways and means to counteract it and give businesses access to their activity and help them become more sustainable,” Shauna explains. There are three different strands to Beyond Business Travel’s sustainability package – elements that support a customer’s drive to travel but minimise its contribution to emissions. This includes helping clients make smarter travel choices before they travel. “We provide consultation services to our clients and help contribute to their sustainability goals by integrating and updating travel policies, implementing these changes and monitoring progress.

“Monitoring and budgeting your CO2 emissions is the right thing to do as a company but secondly it can be crucial for those businesses in the tendering process where part of that process is illustrating a good sustainability strategy. “We can provide data based on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ calculations for our clients by trip, by sector, by hotel. We make it easy for them. “When CO2 emissions are unavoidable, mitigation becomes the next step,” she adds. “We work with clients with the goal to minimise their environmental impact where they can, and counteract it where they can’t. We have developed automated travel data hand-offs to our offsetting partners for offsetting solutions for our carbon-conscious clients. “An example of that is, say, for a trip to Paris, you could plant one tree via one of our credible certified offsetting partners. In many cases it’s only pounds that you need to add to the cost of one trip to offset it but there are numerous types of offsetting solutions to choose from.” The company’s unique approach to environmentally conscious is not a new thing. Even at its inception, sustainability was its focus. Shauna says: “Beyond Business Travel has always been about sustainability. When I joined the business, Edel Doherty (founder) said she wanted to be a paperless office. She had that vision, that cultural ambition in terms of sustainable


technology, and we have developed a proposition that will get businesses where they want to be and more sustainably.” As well as offering sustainability solutions, the firm is also at the forefront of the corporate travel industry when it comes to technology. With travel tech part of the firm’s biggest USP and with many of Ireland’s top 100 clients in their books, it proves it’s a reliable provider. Shauna says the firm is rebuilding business travel through technology and its investment in this area over the last seven years has resulted in the business winning over 20 new corporate clients in 2021, “when most companies were not travelling”. “When we showcase our technology to prospective clients, they immediately see the value of what we provide to their business. “We have also invested in a new head of technology to ensure our IT solutions remain innovative and advance at pace.” Eamonn Murray has taken on that post bringing with him more than 25 years’ experience in the travel industry. He will be based at Beyond Business Travel’s Dublin office and support the company’s strategy of growing its customer base in Ireland and across the EMEA region. Shauna adds: “Eamonn brings a wealth of knowledge in travel and technology, with an excellent track record of growing businesses and delivering strategic and digital transformation.” Looking ahead, she’s confident the business has all the tools and intelligence in place to thrive in our new corporate travel world. She adds: “Covid-19 has been challenging for the travel industry over the last 24 months. But we are determined to show resilience by continuing to invest in our people and technology to provide excellent customer propositions across all our services.”


From left: Chairperson of the judging panel, Professor Mark Durkin, Belfast Telegraph business editor Margaret Canning and Ulster Bank head in Northern Ireland, Mark Crimmins.

CATEGORIES & SPONSORS Outstanding Commitment to Climate Action, Ulster Bank Excellence in the Development of Management & Leadership, Ulster University Business School Best Use of Digital and/or Social Media, Sparq Food & Drink Company of the Year, Asda

Launch of the 2022 Belfast Telegraph Business Awards with Ulster Bank

The Belfast Telegraph has launched its 2022 Business Awards in partnership with Ulster Bank.


ompanies are invited to enter Northern Ireland’s most prestigious business awards before the deadline of 11 April. There are 15 categories including a new category of Climate Recognition, and a Food and Drink category. Mark Crimmins, head of Ulster Bank, NI said: “The Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in partnership with Ulster Bank will recognise companies that have demonstrated a remarkable ability to overcome challenges, a flair for innovation and above all, an unwavering commitment to succeed. “Regardless of size or sector, the awards are an opportunity for you to showcase your achievements and resilience,

something which is of great importance after the difficulties businesses have experienced in recent times. “I would encourage all businesses to enter the awards this year and am especially pleased we have introduced a special Climate Recognition category which will highlight those companies implementing sustainable business practices. “Also new for 2022 is a Food and Drink category which will allow the many great growers and producers from these parts to come forward and share their story.” Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life Editor in Chief Eoin Brannigan said: “We’re delighted to launch the 2022 Belfast Telegraph Business Awards and


would like to thank Ulster Bank for its continued support as our headline sponsor. “This year we are hopeful that we’ll be able to hold a full gala awards ceremony to announce our winners. “It would be a pleasure to welcome winners and guests in person and a signal that things are returning to normal after a difficult time.” To enter, go to www. businessawards/enter. Winners will be announced at a prestigious ceremony in Belfast’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on 26 May 2022.

Retailer of the Year, Retail NI Excellence in Innovation, OSG Cloud Best Large Company, Wilson Nesbitt Young Business Person of the Year, Queen’s University Best Start-up or Emerging Business, VenYou Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility, Almac Best Medium Company, Down Royal Best Small Company, Eir evo Excellence in Marketing, NI Chamber Excellence in Exporting, Belfast Harbour Excellence in Workplace Health & Wellbeing, Kingsbridge Diamond Club

Columnist Mark Crimmins, Regional Managing Director, Ulster Bank

Getting Recognition A

t the beginning of February, we launched the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards 2022 in partnership with Ulster Bank, and with the April 11 closing date fast approaching, businesses have just a few weeks to showcase their brilliance and submit their entries. This year marks the 21st anniversary of the awards which have celebrated the highest achievers in the world of business for over two decades, and 2022, which follows a period of extreme challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, is no different. This also marks the sixth year of a partnership with Ulster Bank as the title sponsor of the awards which have a range of categories for small, medium and large companies. We are especially pleased to support the return of the Special Recognition Award for Climate Action, recognising a local company which has made an outstanding commitment to implementing a sustainable business practice.

those companies that have overcome challenges, demonstrated resilience and have been innovating to succeed – regardless of size or sector. They provide a platform for local firms to tell their story and to have their achievements showcased. After two difficult years where many businesses have found

“What makes these awards so special in my view is that they recognise those companies that have overcome challenges, demonstrated resilience and have been innovating to succeed – regardless of size or sector.”

That is just one of 14 categories honoured at these awards. Others include innovation, management and leadership, marketing, and corporate social responsibility – all important areas in which we have become accustomed to seeing our local businesses flourish. Also new for this year will be an award for the Food or Drink Company of the Year which is open to all primary producers and processors throughout the supply chain.

little time for celebration, it is more important than ever to pause, take stock and reflect on how much has been accomplished.

What makes these awards so special in my view is that they recognise

As businesses and the economy seek to recover, these success stories can


have a positive impact on those around them and we need business leaders to encourage others to thrive in the future. I would therefore encourage all businesses to enter the awards and allow us the opportunity to commend and celebrate your success. Thanks must be paid to the team at the Belfast Telegraph for their efforts in hosting the awards and for going above and beyond to ensure guests can have a safe and enjoyable evening and to all of the category sponsors for coming on board. We are grateful to have Professor Mark Durkin of Ulster University Business School chair the judging panel once again and are pleased to report that he will be joined by a host of Northern Ireland’s most recognisable and accomplished business leaders, including a familiar face to readers of these pages, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber, Ann McGregor MBE. If your business has excelled this year or if you know someone whose hard work deserves to be recognised then visit businessawards where you will find a full list of all the categories and information on how to submit your application along with the closing date. Lastly, I want to wish all of the entrants good luck and look forward to celebrating with you later in the year.




Driving Northern Ireland’s Economy Forward Ulster University’s contribution to Northern Ireland’s education sector, its growing economy and its diverse society is unquestionable. Its influence is evident amongst the leadership in many of Northern Ireland’s most respected and influential organisations, with its alumni shaping a positive future for us all across both the public and private sectors.



Darina Armstrong

Kevin Kingston

Patrick Gallen

s they’ve progressed in their own careers or with their own businesses, many former students have kept close to the university, offering guidance and support, and helping ensure it continues to provide an excellent resource for talent and business development for a modern, progressive economy.


Progressive Building Society and UUBS alumna (MSc in Executive Leadership and BA in Accounting), believes is vital to driving its students’ success.

be able to build on from its new city centre location, in close proximity to some of the biggest businesses on these shores.”

Patrick Gallen, the partner leading Grant Thornton’s People and Change Consulting Practice and previous chair of the Ulster Society of Chartered Accountants, is an accounting alumnus of Ulster University Business School (UUBS). Patrick is keen to articulate the importance of the university’s move to the new enhanced campus in Belfast city centre.

She said the encouragement and support from staff is second to none, encouraging the development of essential skills and attitudes which make for a “lifelong learning” mindset amongst students during and after their time at university.

“The future of Northern Ireland and its growth ambitions are very much enabled through people, so it’s important that Ulster University continues to provide that flow of talented, quality students,” Patrick said. “This is something that the enhanced campus will help with, ensuring our young people not only enjoy and appreciate the development but also want to be there.” He also praised the close ties the university has with all stages of business talent through the supply of highly skilled graduates, the investment in higher level apprenticeships, and the life-long learning opportunities it offers, making it a key cog in the economic engine. “Ulster University graduates are rounded and have a sense of what’s new in business. I believe that the university is very agile. There’s a flexibility there to offer new programmes and qualifications and that’s something that is extremely important to Grant Thornton as an organisation when it comes to looking at our growth plans. People are key to that.” It’s that proactive approach which Darina Armstrong, chief executive of

“Ulster University takes pride in innovation and agility, and is not afraid to move along with the pace of the outside world. The university encourages its students to challenge today’s world and make powerful, lasting change.”

“Ulster University has always embraced the diverse talent within its student population and its expansion will aid Northern Ireland’s business leaders in gaining direct access to tomorrow’s leaders. The university has worked hard to expand its partnerships within the business community, placing collaboration at the heart of the student experience, providing the opportunity to tap into global networks and gain skills which will stick with them throughout their entire career.”

And he agrees that its unique ability to work hand-in-hand with business is imperative for future economic success. “The university also works closely with business to develop industry-relevant courses, flexing to meet its ever-changing needs and collaborating closely to ensure a strong pipeline of skilled workers. Ulster University also provides on-the-job training to upskill employees and help keep the Northern Ireland economy at the cutting edge of global commerce. “It is truly committed to partnership with industry, providing value to the economy through research, innovation and business development and, as such, has and will create a host of leaders across all sectors and in all parts of the world.”

Kevin Kingston, the former chief executive of Danske Bank and now a non-executive director at Belfast Harbour, Invest NI and Maritime Belfast, agrees that the university’s move, combined with its ability to produce the right type of talent, promises a bright future for Northern Ireland.

While recognising the valuable contribution Ulster University has made to their own careers, these leading alumni, who continue to work closely with academic teams in UUBS, are also looking ahead to champion the next generation. The first cohort of students attending the enhanced Ulster University Belfast campus today will undoubtedly contain some of tomorrow’s leaders. Leaders who may well be writing in these very pages in 20 years’ time about the next exciting stage of the university’s development and how it continues to channel a steady stream of leadership to steer the province to success.

“As an MBA alumnus of UUBS and someone who has been part of the local business community for many years, I know how important a role the university plays in underpinning the growth of the economy here,” he said.

Ulster University connects students, academics, businesses and local communities both to each other and to an ever-increasing range of future opportunities. Ulster University invites you to be part of it; visit

“Most obviously, it does that by providing a steady stream of talent equipped with the type of skills which employers need, something which it will



Dale Farm And Cancer Focus NI Raise A Glass To Celebrate Fundraising Milestone Dairy cooperative Dale Farm has raised £10,000 in support of its corporate charity partner, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland. Since the partnership launched in 2019, Dale Farm team members from across the business have been working hard to raise both funds and awareness for the charity – with activities including Christmas Jumper Day, raffles and lunchtime webinars. Cancer Focus NI has been supporting local cancer patients and their families for over 50 years and all money raised will be used to help people affected by cancer in Northern Ireland. Caroline Martin, Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager at Dale Farm said: “We are proud to work with Cancer Focus NI as part of our community partnership programme. Cancer affects so many across Northern Ireland and Cancer Focus NI does vital work to support patients and their families, as well as raising awareness within our communities to help people lower their risk of cancer.

L-R Anna Busby, Dale Farm; Ross Lorimer; Judith Irwin, Dale Farm; Rosie Forsythe, Corporate Fundraiser at Cancer Focus NI; Caroline Martin, Corporate Marketing Manager, Dale Farm.

“To have reached the £10,000 mark is a testament to the enthusiasm and generosity of our colleagues from our sites across the UK as well as the support of our suppliers. With lots more fundraising activity planned this year, I am sure it won’t be long until our teams reach another major milestone.” Rosie Forsythe, Corporate Fundraiser at Cancer Focus NI said: “Thank you so much to the employees who worked together on a variety of events over the last year to make the Dale Farm partnership with Cancer Focus NI truly ‘Legendairy!’ We’re really looking forward to meeting more of the team in person when we visit Dale Farm’s sites to deliver our cancer awareness health checks in June.”

Guinness Announces Plans to Introduce Zero Emission Transport

Guinness has announced plans to introduce the first zero emission vehicles into its iconic Quality fleet from this summer. The ambition is for 70% of the Quality fleet to be zero emission by the end of 2025, and 100% by the end of the decade. Speaking about the announcement, Barry O’ Sullivan, Managing Director, Diageo Ireland said: “We’re really pleased to announce that we will be introducing the first zero emission vehicles into our Quality fleet from this summer. We are committed to reducing our indirect emissions through this initiative and want to play a key role for sustainable transport in the commercial sector across the island of Ireland. We are only 263 years into our 9,000-year lease on the St. James’s Gate Brewery, Dublin and we are in it for the long haul – for our people, our products and our planet, and we will never settle in pursuit of a better, more sustainable future for everyone.”

Hilary Quinn, Marketing Director of Diageo Ireland with the Guinness zero emission vehicles.


The announcement forms part of Diageo’s wider 10-year sustainability action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, which outlines the company’s commitment to delivering net zero carbon emissions across its direct operations and a reduction in indirect emissions by 50%.


Primed to Support Return to Growth There is increasing hope that 2022 will be a year of recovery and progress for Northern Ireland’s business community. Ambition asked Shaun McAnee, Danske Bank’s managing director for corporate and business banking, for his outlook.






haun McAnee is firmly of the view that 2022 is not going to be a year for hunkering down or battening down any hatches. The man who heads up corporate and business banking at Danske Bank is instead confident it will be a year of growth.

who can help them move quickly on opportunities. For example, our Northern Ireland-based trade finance team, which has unrivalled expertise, has supported exporters to enter new geographies, and our Belfast-based markets team has helped manage their currency risks.”

While he acknowledges there is still some nervousness throughout the business world after the disruption many firms have faced as a result of COVID-19, Brexit and other challenges, he says the bank is also seeing businesses looking again at opportunities.

Danske has long been the leading bank for business in terms of market share which Shaun puts down to its focus on maintaining high customer satisfaction. It achieves this through a combination of strong relationships, sound advice and market-leading systems – something they strive to keep improving.

“Danske Bank is forecasting growth in the Northern Ireland economy this year and we want to grow with it by providing support for ambitious businesses who have new ideas and who want to make new investments,” says Shaun. “We are already starting to see businesses of all sizes decide that things are as ‘back to normal’ as they are ever going to be and getting on with making decisions that will drive profitability, increase employment and help them move forward.” Danske Bank’s full year results for 2021 provided several indicators that businesses are ready to grow again. Profit before tax was up year on year at £61.3m and the bank cited the improving economic environment as a big factor in the reduction of provisions it makes for bad loans. Customer deposits also rose to record levels during the year, to over £10.5bn – a £3bn increase from levels seen at the start of 2020. RECOVERY “Support provided by the bank and various government Covid support schemes has limited the amount of distressed debt in the market, so many businesses have entered 2022 with cash on their balance sheets and more confidence about making big investments they have been holding off from making for the past two years,” says Shaun. “As might be expected, we’ve seen areas like asset finance come back quicker – it’s an easier decision if you need a new truck or piece of machinery than it is to build a whole new factory,” he says, noting there has been strong interest from customers also keen to take advantage of the “super deduction” tax incentive. “But larger investments are in the pipeline. As businesses become more confident, we’re seeing the benefit of having expert teams based in Belfast

“We’ve really invested in the capabilities of our relationship managers so customers – large and small – have access to named advisors with a real depth of knowledge. We’re also continuing to work hard to simplify our pricing and our products, so our offering is really clear to customers,” he says. The bank has also invested significantly in its systems and digital functionality, deepening the integration capability of District, its core platform for business customers to increase self-service functionality so customers have more choice and flexibility to do their banking whenever suits them. SUSTAINABILITY Danske Bank has long championed sustainability and Shaun McAnee says his interactions with customers show it is now a priority across our economy. “Despite all the challenges for business there is an ever-growing appetite to tackle and improve sustainability. For every plc the penny has dropped, and SMEs are following suit,” he says. “We have injected sustainability into our culture and our DNA. We wanted to be sure we are leading the way in this area, which is why we appointed a head of sustainability. Although we have more to do, we’re really energised about taking our customers on the journey with us and helping them as they transition to becoming more sustainable.” A recent BDO survey showed that 60% of local businesses felt they were not adapting quickly enough to the challenges presented by climate change. The bank is in the process of putting all of its relationship managers through independently accredited carbon literacy training to give them the knowledge to pass advice onto customers. Having piloted a Climate Action Programme with


Business in the Community last year, Danske will take 10 times more customers through the training in 2022. “We see it as our role to demystify sustainability and help businesses understand their climate impacts and what they can do about them,” says Shaun. “We’re educating our own people first but then it is about driving the conversation with customers. From a lending perspective, we want to increase the level of finance we provide to companies with good ESG credentials and have introduced green loans. Customers will be actively asked in our satisfaction surveys if we have helped them with their sustainability efforts.” Danske also believes this year will bring new opportunities in fast-growing sectors such as renewable energy and that sustainability as a wider issue will further grow in importance in global and local supply chains across multiple industries. CHALLENGES Danske Bank’s business banking boss doesn’t take the challenges that remain for his customers lightly, but believes Northern Ireland’s businesses will continue to approach them with both resilience and innovation. “The trading arrangements under the NI Protocol have provided some supply chain headaches for companies that need to be resolved in the long term, but while I don’t know many companies who like significant changes in regulations, they are making it work,” says Shaun. Conversely, we have also seen customers take advantage of the new arrangements as they benefit from Northern Ireland’s unique position post-Brexit. “The jobs market shows no signs of cooling down, but it has been positive to see employers being creative with recruitment and adapting their offer to attract, keep and motivate staff,” he adds. “I think all of us would like to see industries like hospitality and tourism that have suffered through the pandemic bounce back in 2022; thankfully our economic forecasts suggest there is still pent-up demand for goods and services in the economy.” When Northern Ireland’s businesses do decide that the time is right to invest, Shaun’s message is clear. Danske Bank is very much open for business and will be there to support them.

Stairway to Seven My seven steps for business success

Orlagh Kelly is a barrister, tech visionary and disruptor. In the past 20 years she has established two successful businesses. Her company Briefed uses cutting-edge technology and the expertise of its specialist barrister team to offer innovative self-led digital training to the legal, medical, business, education, charity and tech sectors. Briefed’s suite of compliance products removes stress, providing solutions which empower its clients to be confident they are legally compliant in an ever-risky and rapidly changing world where one mistake could cost an organisation its reputation and see it shackled with heavy fines for non-compliance. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion; Data & Cyber Security, Anti-Money Laundering, and Third-Party Risk are just some of the self-led digital training Briefed offers. Briefed’s barristers work with their clients to provide bespoke solutions genuinely solving client problems.

1. HAVE CONFIDENCE Have confidence – In my early days as a barrister I was told ‘you won’t make it at

the bar unless you’re related to the right people,’ and later, when I was launching my tech business Briefed, I was constantly met with ‘that won’t work’ or ‘that’s not how it’s done’. I no longer allow naysayers to drain my energy. Both my businesses have been very successful and when I reflect on my 20-year entrepreneurial journey I can clearly see that having the confidence to ignore some ‘advice’ was key. 2. DEVELOP YOUR RESILIENCE Running a business is not easy in a fastpaced world. There are many day-to-day challenges, let alone a global pandemic where all the rules change in an instant. You need to be able to ride out the storms and enjoy the wins as they come. 3. YOUR TEAM IS EVERYTHING The people you surround yourself with determine whether you and your business will sink or swim. To succeed, it’s crucial you foster a creative and entrepreneurial organisational culture where your team’s ideas are heard, they feel trusted (not micromanaged) and there is plenty of room for challenging conversation, collaboration and creativity. I believe in the positive stance when it comes to my team – they want to do a good job, therefore it’s my priority to support them to excel. 4. FIND A MENTOR Being an entrepreneur often means loving bright shiny new ideas – you need a wise pair of eyes and ears that will challenge


you, offer insight and ask you the hard questions. I’ve been privileged to have great mentors throughout my career, and this has been critical to my success. 5. BE A DISRUPTOR Don’t be afraid to challenge the norm, be scared of disagreement. Be the dissenting voice in the room. See if you can break things, ask ‘why’ and find a better way to create a solution for your clients. Great ideas are generated by teams who are willing to disrupt the status quo, try things never done before and merge seemingly unconnected things – this is where innovation happens. 6. BE AGILE Embrace change and always have the ability to pivot quickly. Adapting quickly, failing fast, and being willing to change direction at the drop of a hat if necessary to find a better way to move forward. 7. DIVERSITY AND DEEP THINKING Actively seek out diversity of thought and encourage deep thinking within your business. A book well worth reading is Rebel Ideas by Matthew Sayed which tells the story of how ‘great minds think unalike’. I firmly believe organisations thrive when they have a diverse-thinking team. This creates opportunities to see client problems and therefore the solutions through a broader lens.


Putting The Client First Wilson Nesbitt has successfully established itself as one of the top law firms in Northern Ireland, boasting a large portfolio of clients across the Real Estate & Construction, Banking & Financial Services and Individual and Family Life sectors. 74



aving started in 1948, the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners ranked firm is a trusted advisor, and is well respected for both its corporate expertise and personal client service. Partners Lenore Rice and Natasha Adamson outline how the firm has developed and discuss their team culture and the responsibility of their leadership roles. During the pandemic, the company reinforced its worth as a Northern Irish law firm at a time when both its commercial and private clients needed it most. Private Client Partner Lenore: “Our Business Continuity Plan was ready to implement before the pandemic struck. This plan outlines instructions on how to respond to unplanned incidents such as natural disasters, power outages, cyberattacks etc. This made the working from home transition a relatively seamless one. We were able to dial up our systems very quickly to facilitate homeworkers.” ADAPTABILITY There were unavoidable circumstances where documents needed to be signed in person. Lenore describes how a surge in will writing inspired adaptability: “We had a wills pandemic. Many clients either wanted to make their first will or review and update an existing will. We used Zoom, met clients in our car park, attended clients in gardens, hospitals, residential and nursing homes. We held consultations through windows and even accommodated signing documents by appending wills to cars with windscreen wipers, stepping away so the client could sign, then coming back and lifting the document. We just got creative.” Lenore’s anecdotes demonstrate the value the firm places on its high level of client care and service, a priority which the firm has become synonymous with: “We put the client first, we enjoy what we do and it shows. We’re easy to deal with and we’re open to new ideas. To us, that is doing things differently and making sure our clients achieve a better result. The values we rely on to guide our work ethic and team culture are respect, collaboration, excellence and innovation.” NI PROPERTY BOOM Wilson Nesbitt advises the real estate sector including housing associations, property developers and individual private clients in both complex development and regeneration schemes and the acquisition of high-value residential properties. The combined knowledge makes the team one of the largest real estate-focused clusters in Northern Ireland. The property market boom kept the firm at its busiest with an increase in residential prices of 10% during the pandemic, driven by people wanting better surroundings in which to accommodate their new hybrid working model. That activity has also been spurred on by those wanting to upgrade to more outdoor space, which became a commodity during lockdowns. Finance Partner Natasha: “The residential property market really picked up in the summer of the first year, due in part to the stamp duty tax holiday, and has been quite strong since. The NI



property boom can be aligned with the stamp duty holiday – but equally it can be aligned with the need to expand. Families needed more space at home and chose to either extend or upgrade. Both buying and lending has remained buoyant with a surge in residential-led development and regeneration schemes being brought forward to increase supply.” “It’s been such a strange time. No-one could’ve anticipated how well the NI property market would’ve done out of the pandemic!” FINANCE Wilson Nesbitt’s banking and finance work embraces both high-value corporate lending and high-volume residential lending. Both sides of the business work for the largest and highest profile lenders in Northern Ireland. Natasha: “Finance kept going throughout the pandemic. We were asked to advise one of the major local high street banks together with UK Finance, acting for all the residential lenders, following the closure of the Land Registry during the pandemic. We advised a number of lenders on the setting up and the implementation of their CBILS loan scheme as to how they could continue lending. Our work with banks has continued to grow, with the increasing borrower referrals being the biggest growth area for new work over the last 24 months.” CBILS The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme was designed to provide financial support to smaller businesses across the UK that were losing revenue and seeing their cash flow disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Natasha: “Lending to the hospitality industry would not have been possible but for the CBILS loans. The hospitality industry saw revenues dry up. The bank’s ability to grant a CBILS loan to the borrower was a real success story.” An example of how this scheme showed its effectiveness was when granting a £2million CBILS facility to the owners of the Lough Erne Resort in County Fermanagh. They also act for a number of other short-term bridging finance lenders. The most prolific has completed 50 transactions over the last three years since they commenced operating in Northern Ireland. Instructions have included short-term bridging finance secured against a range of commercial, residential and development properties. TEAM GROWTH Lenore describes how the team has expanded to meet the needs of clients,

Business NI, and they seek to encourage this mindset.

“We have helped train some of the best minds practising in Northern Ireland to take their first steps in their legal career. We offer responsibility, high-quality work and top clients to help shape trainees’ expertise.” while simultaneously offering training schemes to newcomers: “We are continually growing and getting busier. At the moment we have a 75+ strong team across two offices. We are lucky that as a business we are big enough to be able to offer team training. It’s something we are very proud of; we welcome new candidates with no previous experience. As partners, we consciously take the time to invest in and progress our teams.” Every February, Wilson Nesbitt recruits at least five new trainees to its in-house trainee solicitors scheme: “We have helped train some of the best minds practising in Northern Ireland to take their first steps in their legal career. We offer responsibility, high-quality work and top clients to help shape trainees’ expertise. Trainees work with top lawyers and they follow a programme that is designed to give them the best start in their career.” Lenore: “Our door is always open and we’re certainly very busy, but we are also very aware of our competition and we are always aiming to enhance our offering accordingly – to both our teams and clients alike.” INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2022 Partners Lenore and Natasha are acutely aware of their important leadership roles. They continually provide valuable input into the firm as business leaders and offer their teams support and guidance, and hope that by doing so, they inspire the next generation of female team members, demonstrating that they can succeed and progress to the highest level. Both partners and nine other female figures at the firm are members of Women in


Natasha: “I believe we all have a responsibility to the next generation of solicitors, to show them you can succeed without having to sacrifice. My advice to my team is – always strive to do your best, never give up and accept no limitations on your own potential.” On International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March, they will be celebrating their female teams’ achievements through events and talks. The firm’s 71% female workforce demonstrates an incredible example of how the progressive legal firm is continually evolving. Lenore: “Natasha and I, and indeed all the partners, are family-focused and we as people understand the importance of getting that balance right.” “We’d like to move towards a more equal balance but in the meantime, we’re very proud to have reversed the roles a little in an industry that was, up until recently, so heavily male-dominated.” WORLD CLASS BELFAST In 2021 the firm began hosting a new series of business-based webinars branded World Class Belfast. The series will continue to grow and evolve in a hybrid format throughout 2022. Natasha, who hosted two of the webinars, explains the concept behind the series: “World Class Belfast looks at how the city, its businesses, its organisations and locale frame it as the best place to work, invest and grow. We have been talking to some of Belfast’s most successful business pioneers to find out their insights. The majority of the interviewees have either worked abroad or travelled extensively, so this helps bring a wealth of experience to the table.” LOOKING AHEAD The firm says service consistency is the focus, while dealing with challenges including tax hikes, minimum wage increases and tightening purse strings as a backdrop: Lenore: “Yes, there are financial challenges on the horizon, but we always develop, strategise and manage to overcome, like we had to with many of the pandemic challenges. We are a business as well as a legal firm. We are aware of the opportunities in front of us and the objectives of our clients. The next steps in our development are key. However, framing that, it’s important we meet the needs of our private clients – we want them to know, in their time of need, we’re there. We will support them through every stage of life.”

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A&L Goodbody To Be An Employer Of Choice For Working Parents Corporate law firm A&L Goodbody (ALG) has become the first business in Northern Ireland to announce a partnership with Platform55 – the organisation focused on creating more inclusive workplaces for parents. Through the partnership, Platform55 will offer a programme of live workshops, group coaching and expert sessions to

ALG’s Belfast office – including bespoke management training sessions for the firm’s leadership team and tailored sessions for working parents, delivered by experienced facilitators both on site and virtually. ALG will also benefit from a wealth of resources, how-to guides and checklists for managers and employees through Platform55’s online membership platform.

Leigh Meyer, site head of Citi in Belfast.

Pictured (L-R) are ALG Talent Manager Jill Michael, Partner Gregory Martin, Associate Sarah Dugdale and Associate John Tougher with their children.

Accountancy And Advisory Firm Baker Tilly Mooney Moore Announces Series Of Senior Appointments

From left to right: Simona Paldaviciute, Orla Quigg, Glenn Murray, Joanne Small, Karen Kirk, Michael Boylan, Victoria Bates and Jamie Treacy.

Belfast accountancy and advisory firm Baker Tilly Mooney Moore has announced a series of senior appointments amid a period of significant growth and expansion across its Audit and Business Services departments. The firm has appointed two senior managers together with a manager in Audit, a manager in Business Services and three assistant managers in Audit. It comes after the company, which delivers a range of advisory services across the public, private and voluntary sectors, announced the appointment of Michael Branniff as business services partner in January and Eimear Brown as head of Audit in August.


Citi Announces Plans For Growth With The Creation Of 300 New Jobs Northern Ireland’s largest financial services employer, Citi, has announced plans for expansion with the creation of over 300 new jobs. The bank, which is the only global investment bank operating in Northern Ireland, employs over 3,200 people and supports 21 different capabilities including Legal, HR, Compliance, Audit, Markets and Tech across its four Belfast locations. All roles deliver critical services to the bank and its global customers supporting daily transactions in trillion-dollar businesses. Committed to continued development within Northern Ireland, Citi has employed over 1,000 new people within the last 12 months through organic growth and internal transfers. The new positions available in 2022 cover all levels from apprentices and graduates to experienced roles, each providing the opportunity for career development. With a firm focus on building careers, the team at Citi benefits from support, mentoring and excellent training, with opportunities to connect with global teams to develop expertise.

Business Class Motoring

By James Stinson

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James Stinson

Qashqai Evolution Some cars define a make, a time and even an entire genre. The Nissan Qashqai is one of them, writes James Stinson.

higher-powered engine but the standard six-speed manual is nice and, if anything, more fun to use. On the road it’s quick and planted with little or no body roll. On the outside the look is meaner and more purposeful than before. The bodywork is sharper and more angular while the front is set off by a radical-looking nose and very striking V-shaped LED lights.


Inside, the usual Qashqai boxes are ticked. The seating position is excellent, high up and with good all-round visibility. The cabin is roomy, with plenty of head and legroom front and back, even when fitted with the full-length panoramic sunroof. At around 500 litres, the boot is some 70 litres bigger than the old car, though this can be bettered by some rivals like the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Buyers flocked to the Qashqai, so much so that it got nicknamed the “cash cow”. Other carmakers followed suit and nearly everyone now has a similarly sized SUV in their model lineup. Despite the increased competition, the Qashqai has remained Nissan’s biggestselling car by far and has been consistently among the top 10 bestsellers in the UK over the last 15 years.

The interior finish is also a step-up with quality materials and a nice solid, almost premium feel throughout. There are six trim levels. The cheapest of those, Visia, is available on the lower-powered engine only and includes a 7-inch infotainment system, front and rear LED lights, adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors as standard.

hen it launched in 2006 the Qashqai pretty much redefined what people wanted from a family car. No longer was it saloons like Mondeos or Vectras, but high-riding, rugged 4x4 lookalikes that car-types now call SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles).

The step-up Acenta Premium gains 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-inch infotainment with built-in satnav and wired smartphone mirroring, rear-view camera and dual-zone air conditioning.

Still, laurels aren’t to be rested on and Nissan has upped the ante again with this new, third-generation Qashqai. It’s better looking, lighter, roomier and more refined and is, like its predecessors, proving a whopping sales success.

Next up is N-Connecta, which is likely to be the most popular. It gets 18-inch alloys and includes privacy glass and front parking sensors as standard. The infotainment system also grows to 9 inches and gains wireless Apple CarPlay.

Power comes from a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine with either 138bhp or 156bhp. This is augmented by some mild hybrid technology that provides a small boost to power while also lowering emissions. A full-on petrol/electric hybrid is in the pipeline while diesel has been dropped altogether.

Teka and Tekna+ models add things like a larger infotainment screen, a better sound system, bigger wheels and quilted leather front seats with massage function, but the prices start to drift into premium BMW and Volvo territory. A new e-Power version, which will have a pioneering electric powertrain charged by an onboard petrol engine, is due out soon. That promises the fun and zest of electric power but without the hassle of charging.

The higher-powered version also comes with the option of four-wheel drive, though this is likely to be a niche buy. The 138bhppowered version should have enough for most buyers, delivering the Qashqai to 62mph from a standing start in a little over 10 seconds. Fuel consumption is around the low to mid-forties, which is adequate for a car of this size. The automatic gearbox is only available with the

Prices start from £24,550 for the entry-level Visia with the preferred N-Connecta trimmed version costing from £29,190.

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James Stinson

All That Jazz


hen it comes to cutting emissions, not everyone is following the same path, writes James Stinson. At some point in the future we might all be driving fully electric cars, but hybrids – part-petrol, part-electric – are going to play a big part in getting us there.

and surprisingly spacious interior. Tall drivers are well catered for while the rear seats also boast plenty of legroom. At around 300 litres, the boot is decent but the real fun comes when you start to play around with the rear seats. These can be collapsed completely flat – right down to the floor – to open up a mammoth 1,205 litres of space. The boot opening is also wide and tall, which makes getting things in and out a doddle. You can also flip up the seat bases like those in a cinema, which creates a huge amount of vertical space for tall items like plants or that tricky Ikea flatpack. It is genuinely class-leading.

They help lower emissions and improve fuel economy and are, pound for pound, cheaper than similarly sized fully electric vehicles. They’re also really flexible. You don’t have to worry about range or charging. Hybrid makes a lot of sense and especially in small cars like the latest Honda Jazz. The Jazz is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine working alongside two small electric motors and a battery pack.

Elsewhere, the cabin is neat and uncluttered with plenty of storage. There are a lot of comforting soft-touch materials to the fore while the seats are supportive and provide a nice, slightly elevated driving position.

As it’s a hybrid, you don’t have to plug it in. Instead, the battery takes its charge by harvesting energy while decelerating and utilising excess engine power. The result is that at low speeds, while decelerating and for short distances, the Jazz will travel on battery power alone.

There are five model/trim levels to choose from: SE, SR, EX, Crosstar EX and EX Style, with the Crosstar version boasting a higher ride height and some crossover-type styling. SR trim, from £21,360, is where you should start looking as it gets a 9-inch touchscreen that comes equipped with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, allowing you to run selected apps from your phone through the screen.

Thankfully, the driver doesn’t have to worry about any of this as the interface of all these different parts is quite seamless. All you do is drive and the car takes care of the rest.

SR trim also boasts front and rear parking sensors as well as LED head and taillights. It’s undoubtedly pricey for this size of car but not insurmountable when you factor in fuel economy, Honda’s impeccable reliability record and the Jazz’s lower depreciation costs.

The electric motors also boost power output under fast acceleration, helping the Jazz post a highly respectable 0-62mph time of just 8.6 seconds. But best of all is the fuel economy. Where rival superminis might struggle to hit 50mpg, the Jazz will comfortably deliver 60mpg with a sensible driver behind the wheel.

While the overall look isn’t as racy as some of its rivals, there is an understated brilliance about the Jazz. It manages to be reliable and innovative, sensible and high-tech, which is just how Honda drivers like things.

The task is helped by Honda’s fun little dashboard aid, which marks you on how economical your driving has been. The boxy shape mightn’t be the most eye-catching but it makes for a very practical

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HELPING YOU TO PROTECT AND GROW YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH STANDARDS AND COMPLIANCE Quadra was established in 1991 and has grown to become a market leader in consultancy, advice, and training in the areas of International Standards (ISO) and compliance. With over three decades of experience the breadth and depth of their expertise is unrivalled. International Standards Their core service offering involves assisting clients to implement and achieve certification to a wide range of ISO standards including but not restricted to: ISO9001 Quality Management ISO14001 Environmental Management ISO45001 Health and Safety Management ISO27001 Information Security Management

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Columnist Aoife McDowell, Sync NI

Let’s Talk Tech Innovation and opportunities: The spotlight continues to shine brightly on Northern Ireland’s technology sector. As restrictions ease and life begins to adjust to the new normal, Northern Ireland is ahead of the curve, leading the way in both business and technological innovation.

NI firm to deliver government’s Help To Grow Digital programme Northern Ireland company Zymplify has been appointed as a preferred supplier to deliver Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s digital growth plan for small and medium-sized businesses, helping them to learn new skills, reach new customers and boost profits. The Portstewart-based company has been approved to provide three innovative digital solutions to empower users to enhance their marketing and sales performance. After a rigorous application process, Zymplify was one of a small number of UK vendors to be awarded the contract to

deliver the scheme through which eligible businesses will be able to get a discount of up to 50% on the costs of approved digital software including Zymplify Starter Package, Zym Lite and Zym Pro. Michael Carlin, chief executive of the Zymplify Group, said the team was delighted to be chosen to support SMEs on the scheme. He commented: “From day one, our goal at Zymplify has been to help real business owners use digital technology to grow their business – a vision that is mirrored by Help to Grow Digital. Like the Chancellor, we believe that small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy. We are a small business ourselves and created Zym and Zymplify for people like us – real business owners who want to save time, save money and grow.”


Artemis Technologies opens new manufacturing facility in Belfast Artemis Technologies has opened a new facility on Belfast Lough as it prepares to commence testing of its transformative new Artemis eFoiler(R) electric propulsion system. The 42,200 sq ft facility in Titanic Quarter’s Channel Commercial Park will house the company’s manufacturing and engineering teams as it brings to market a range of green technologies and vessels including workboats, passenger ferries and leisure craft, as well as Crew Transfer Vessels for the offshore wind sector. The first test vessel to be powered by Artemis Technologies’ revolutionary Artemis eFoiler(R) electric propulsion system, an 11m workboat, is expected to take to the water in a matter of weeks. Speaking on the news, Artemis Technologies Commercial Director, David Tyler, said: “It is an important step forward in our mission to help deliver a sustainable maritime future and brings us closer to returning commercial shipbuilding to Belfast – one of the key drivers behind our decision to locate in Northern Ireland. What we will create here in Northern Ireland we hope will create an impact on a global scale, providing commercially viable solutions that will help not just the UK, but countries across the world to realise their netzero targets.”

Local HBAN business angel network hits milestone of £10m invested into NI companies Business angel network HBAN Ulster has announced its members have reached the significant landmark of investing over £10m into early-stage companies in Northern Ireland since the network was established in late-2018. HBAN’s Ulster network, which is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers in NI, has more than 120 members who have done deals with an average investment value of £150,000, representing an overall investment of £10m from business angels within investment rounds totalling £50m. Eighty companies have pitched at 18 events

Signifyd adopts four-day workweek to avoid burnout, promote employee wellness and foster creativity Commerce protection provider Signifyd has announced that it will permanently shift its operation to a four-day workweek after months of trials that proved beneficial to productivity and employee satisfaction. The company has said pandemic pressures inspired company leaders to design a workweek that provides the flexibility to balance work, family

over the last three years with nearly 20% of pitches being from entrepreneurial female founders. Speaking about the investments, Jim Curran, HBAN Ulster Regional Manager and Director of Clarendon, said: “We have been delighted to see the HBAN Ulster network grow, even during the pandemic, and continue to see a really high percentage of active members doing deals together and investing in some of NI’s fastest-growing companies and brightest prospects.” Co-Fund NI is part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance portfolio and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 20142020.

and community responsibilities while accommodating aspirations beyond work. While company leaders had long discussed the move, the unique pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic played a key role in focusing attention on the change. Speaking about the decision, Senior Vice President of People Operations, Emily Mikailli, said: “When employees are literally working in the same place where they’re supposed to play and relax, burnout just becomes a very real possibility. The data demonstrates that four-day workweeks have proven to help with that. Our business


is based on the power of data. It wouldn’t make much sense to ignore the data in this case, especially when it concerns an issue that is vital to our employees’ wellbeing.” The company believes the keys to a successful four-day workweek programme are communication and flexibility. Productivity did not wane during the company’s months-long trial of shorter workweeks and employees expressed broad support for the innovative initiative, both of which were key in adopting the arrangement permanently.

Columnist Mark Owens Managing Director (NI), Civica

Levelling Up W

ith the worst of the pandemic hopefully now behind us, the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda could not be timelier. Two years of Covid turmoil have taken their toll on our economy, with a sharp decline in output and substantial job losses.1 As we rebuild our economy, it makes sense for the government to help each region play to its strengths and in Northern Ireland, our tech sector is top among these.

A SMARTER ECONOMY NEEDS SKILLED PEOPLE Despite its relatively small size and population, Northern Ireland is a tech trailblazer. We’re Europe’s number one destination for FDI in new software development and around one in four jobs advertised in NI last year were digital tech roles, a higher number than anywhere else in the UK. The software sector alone employs over 30,000 people, earning more than the national average. But despite these advantages, we run the very real risk of losing our edge. While our region offers fantastic opportunities to those seeking a career in the technology and software industries, the supply of skilled experts simply isn’t keeping pace. For this reason, I’m particularly encouraged to see such a strong focus on skills in the Levelling Up White Paper. The Government’s target to increase the number of people successfully completing high-quality skills training across the UK by 2030 will be pivotal to ensuring that Northern Ireland remains attractive for tech investors and graduates alike. Industry must, of course, play its part also. At Civica, we work with schools across Northern Ireland, promoting software as an exciting career choice and our NorthStar innovation lab offers opportunities for apprentices, sponsored students, and graduates

to work on ideas using data and automation that can create the future of public services. Data: the foundation for success While skills will be critical to fuelling the Levelling Up agenda, data is key to ensuring that it is built on the right foundations. Making sure that all the UK’s nations and regions get to share in the spoils of economic growth is no easy task, as the Levelling Up White Paper acknowledges. But one thing we can be certain of is that success will hinge on the quality of the decisions that are made, whether these be on large scale investments or smaller, more targeted measures. And good decision-making depends, above all, on data.

“Given the complexity of the UK’s governance arrangements, its perhaps no surprise that harnessing data to drive better, smarter decisionmaking has long been a challenge. But the good news is that the solution is relatively straightforward.” 88

Given the complexity of the UK’s governance arrangements, its perhaps no surprise that harnessing data to drive better, smarter decision-making has long been a challenge. But the good news is that the solution is relatively straightforward. In Civica, we call this the 3Ss – Standards Skills and Sharing. Standards: Robust, consistent rules for the collection and management of data will ensure that public bodies from Whitehall to Belfast City Hall are better able to understand and interpret crucial information without having to constantly check what it means or where it came from. Skills: People with the skills and confidence to be able to interpret and use that data effectively, can make smarter, more informed decisions. Sharing: Data will never deliver to its true potential unless it is easily accessible, when and where it is needed most. Data, no matter how high quality, is of no use to those making crucial decisions in support of the regions if it is sitting idle on a sever in London or elsewhere. With offices from Belfast to Bristol, Civica knows first-hand what the regions have to offer. Here in Northern Ireland, homegrown innovative software like the CovidCertNI app have ensured we can live better, safer lives despite the global pandemic. With the right focus and investment, from government and industry alike, we can secure Northern Ireland’s future as a powerhouse of innovation.




Join InterTradeIreland for VCC 2022 as they showcase world-class companies, which have started and are scaling from the island of Ireland. The event will be conducted remotely over two days: Monday 14th March, 2.45pm-5.00pm Tuesday 15th March, 9.15am-2.30pm Register now at:

Solutions in the sky, on the ground and by sea. TR Logistics are your independent Northern Ireland based air freight solution, covering local and global exports and imports. Their service offerings are reinforced by their highly qualified in-house customs clearance team, HMRC CDS compliant which aligns with over 500,000 sq ft. of bonded warehousing throughout Northern Ireland. Providing a seamless service from collection to delivery. So how can they help? Whether your need is airfreight, ocean, road, customs warehousing solutions or customs clearance – just ask.

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF FUNDING IN 2022 What are your business goals in 2022? If gaining investment is high on your agenda, there are a couple of things you can do to increase your chances. Early stage companies have broadly speaking, two options to fund growth. The first is growing organically, via founder/family funding and early revenues, or secondly by raising external equity funding from Angels or Venture Capital investors (VCs). If you choose the latter here’s what you need to consider:

Always have a ‘Plan B’ This is not material prepared for the investor – but for the survival and health of the enterprise. Unfortunately, you will have to think about what happens if your fundraising is unsuccessful, takes longer than planned, or if you raise a lower amount than needed.

How much are you raising and why? Start-ups should be aiming to raise enough to achieve value enhancing milestones as this is crucial to attract your next round of investment. Who are you going to pitch to? Founders should first tap into their own personal/professional networks before pitching to Angels and VCs. When it comes to external investors, do your research. Most will indicate how much they’re likely to invest on their website, saving you precious time.

Securing investment If you need help raising funds, InterTradeIreland can offer assistance. Our Venture Capital Conference showcases world-class companies who have started and are scaling from the island of Ireland. Taking place on the 14th & 15th March 14th 2020– it provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to get insight into the Venture Capital industry and hear from speakers and panels about the entrepreneurial journey – sourcing teams, growing sales and raising capital.

What materials should you have ready? Always have quality materials ready in advance of pitching. Use a slide desk to present the business opportunity or a demo video to show what customers will experience.

For more information, visit:




At AbbeyAutoline, they have a team of commercial experts who are dedicated to helping you put in place the types of cover most suited to your needs. In turbulent times insurance requirements can change quite often so having a broker who knows you and your business can be a real lifeline. Business insurance protects your business from an array of risks such as: loss, theft and damage to equipment, property damage, business interruption, employee sickness or injury in the workplace, public injury or property damage caused by your business, third party business or financial loss caused by your work. Your broker will help you assess any additional elements of cover you may need, so you have a tailored package that safeguards you against a wide range of risks to your business.

Northern Irelands leading cancer charity, Action Cancer has opened a new Pre-Loved furniture outlet at 30/32 Peter’s Hill, Belfast. The store offers quality Pre/Loved living room, bedroom and dining room furniture at value prices, along with electrical goods. The store is the charities largest retail offering at over 2,000 sq ft and will offer a free collection service for customers and donors. A door to door chargeable delivery service is also available for customers who wish to have their purchases home delivered. Action Cancer stores rely on donations from the general public and you can help by donating to your local store directly or by visiting the shops page at or by emailing:

At AbbeyAutoline their team of dedicated experts are ready to help. To find out how they can assist your business visit

LASER HAIR REMOVAL AT BELFAST SKIN CLINIC Belfast Skin Clinic are delighted to announce the arrival of the most advanced laser for hair removal; The ‘Splendor X’. This incredible piece of equipment, operated by experienced dermatology nurses, is a step change in hair removal treatment. SPLENDOR X is unlike any other hair removal system in the world. It is the first Nd:YAG and Alexandrite laser system to be powered by BLEND X™ technology for unprecedented power, speed, versatility and coverage rate. Hair removal can be painful, messy, and ineffective. But SPLENDOR X laser hair reduction with BLEND X technology is different. It combines Alexandrite and Nd:YAG wavelengths for a perfectly tailored treatment that is fast, effective, and comfortable. It also features a unique squareshaped laser spot that safely covers every single inch of skin being treated. • • • •

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Agnew Leasing’s Affinity Car Scheme Scheme is going from strength to strength! Attract the best talent and make sure your employees feel valued with exceptional employee benefits. At no cost to the business, Agnew Leasing’s Affinity Car Scheme offers companies a great way to reward employees/members, without any risk to the company. Agnew Leasing’s Affinity Car Scheme has been designed to enable companies and organisations across the UK to offer their employees/members a secure, online quotation system to help them find their perfect car. Created as an added benefit for employees, the quotation system will enable users to select their make and model of vehicle and establish monthly costs that suit their budget by adjusting deposit, term, and mileage per annum on the selected vehicle. Users benefit from additional manufacturer support, over and above normal levels, making rentals extremely competitive in the marketplace. At the end of the contract, customers hand their vehicle back, without any hassle or concerns over depreciation. Reward. Retain. Recruit. The Affinity Car Scheme gives you the opportunity to give your staff or members access to exclusive offers from premium car brands. If you are interested in integrating the Affinity Car Scheme into your company’s benefits package, please contact the team on 028 9038 6600 or email

DUBLIN AIRPORT CELEBRATES THE ADDITION OF FIVE NEW AIRLINES Dublin Airport will welcome five new airlines with a total of 16 new routes and services over the coming weeks. EGYPTAIR, Emerald Airlines, Aurigny, Blue Islands and PLAY are joining Dublin Airport’s growing list of airline customers. One long-haul and 15 short-haul destinations are being added to Dublin Airport’s flight network. EGYPTAIR will start a new year-round direct DublinCairo June, operating four times per week. This will be Ireland’s first scheduled air service to and from Egypt. Dublin Airport Managing Director, Vincent Harrison said; “We’re very pleased to welcome EGYPTAIR to Ireland and to add Cairo to Dublin Airport’s extensive route network. Cairo is one of the world’s great cities and we will be working closely with EGYPTAIR to promote this new route, which will be welcomed by both business and leisure travellers.” Dublin Airport has 15 extra short-haul services to choose from over coming weeks. Emerald Airlines will operate services to Glasgow, Isle of Man, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Donegal, Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Newquay, Jersey and Newcastle. Aurigny will launch a new service to Guernsey, Play will commence a service to Reykjavik and Blue Islands will fly to Jersey. “Additional capacity and frequency have also been added on many existing routes giving our customers much greater choice, flexibility and more options, whether they are travelling for business or leisure purposes” added Mr Harrison. Over 2.3m passengers have travelled through Dublin Airport in the first two months of the year. Dublin Airport has direct flights to over 130 destinations in more than 40 countries.



Chris Rees, Head Chef at the River Room Restaurant at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort

Dine & Wine

Salted Irish Sea Halibut, Oyster Emulsion, Lovage, Crispy Potato

Curing fish offers an alternative to cooking using heat. Originally used as a way to preserve before the days of refrigeration, the flavour and texture of the finished product are so good that the practice widely continues. This dish is currently on the menu as the first course at the River Room. It’s a cold dish on the tasting menu beginning with a delicate taste of the sea from the halibut and oyster and a slight earthiness from a lovage oil. Crispy potato slices and some slices of lightly pickled cucumber and radish are added for balance, along with a few herbs and salad leaves. This dish can easily be increased in size and extra salad added to make a light, reasonably healthy lunch dish. Ingredients – (serves 6): • 400-500g halibut fillet (ideally one thick piece) • 2 oysters • 120g fine salt • 80g sugar • 2 lemons • 30g egg yolk • 140g vegetable oil • 50g lovage • 1 cucumber • 6 radishes • 1 large potato (Maris Piper) • salad and cress for garnish Method: To cure the halibut Firstly, take the fish and ensure there is no skin or any of the grey-coloured bloodline on the fillet. Once clean, place the fillet of halibut on a tray and cover with a mixture of the salt, sugar and juice and zest from the lemon. Allow the fish to cure for around 8-10 hours in the salt mix. By the end it should be slightly firm and feel a little drier than the fresh fish at the beginning. Once cured, gently rinse the fish under cold

running water for around 15-20 minutes, wrap it in a clean cloth and once dry, begin to slice the cured fillet into thin pieces. For the lovage oil Heat 60g of the vegetable oil up to around 90°C. Pour this over the lovage in a blender and blend for around 4-5 minutes until a green oil is achieved. Allow this to cool by pouring through a sieve into a bowl which is resting in ice water. For the oyster emulsion Open the oysters and add the contents and all the juice into a blender, add the juice of the remaining lemon and the egg yolk, blend this for a minute or two until smooth, then slowly drizzle the remainder of the oil into the machine while it is blending. A thick mayonnaise-style dressing should be achieved. A little more oil can be added in the same way if it needs to be thicker.

Pass this through a fine sieve, check seasoning and set aside. For the potatoes and garnish Thinly slice the potatoes, about 2mm thick, and cut into the desired shape. I cut mine into circles, then place on a piece of greaseproof paper, dress with a little oil and season. Cook the potatoes at around 140°C until they are golden and crisp. Cut the radish and cucumber into similar shapes as the potato then lightly dress with sugar, salt and a little squeeze of lemon. To assemble the dish Firstly lay a few slices of the cured fish onto a small plate or shallow bowl, dress with the oyster emulsion then carefully layer on the slices of potato, radish and cucumber. Add the leaves and cress and then a generous spoonful of the lovage oil to the side.

Wine Recommendation:

Weinrieder Grüner Veltliner Klassik, Austria This is the most typical grape variety from Austria. The south-west facing position and the proximity of the forest gives the grapes cool ripeness with fine fruit and beautiful acidity. In Austria, ‘Klassik’ designates a wine made with stainless steel and no oak to preserve the freshness of the fruit, and this

is a benchmark Weinrieder wine. The wine is bright yellow with a youthful green glow. Aromas have a distinctive core of ripe apple, quince and hints of peach. The rich texture is well balanced by the juicy yet lively acidity. This wine is very elegant with a long and round finish and a hint of white pepper; a delicious and classic


example of a Grüner Veltliner from the Weinviertel. Perfect wine for this halibut dish as the light acidity will cut through the curing of the fish and the fresh, crisp citrus flavour will enhance the sea flavour from the oyster emulsion.


THE CRAIC iS BACK! 22-30 Jul 2022

Ireland’s largest whiskey festival is back for another week in 2022.

Save the date, and join us as we explore 100s of Whiskies; from all styles & variations, from production to perception. Launching 22nd July with the Irish Whiskey Industry Awards Dinner and featuring Whiskey Walking Tours, Distillery Tours, Live Music & Comedy throughout the week. Keep an eye on social media for early bird tickets, travel & hotel deals or check out Can’t make it to Belfast? Don’t fret; after the online sucess of BWW2020 & 2021, much of 2022’s Festival will be broadcast online with tasting packs being made available to Festival goers from around the Globe. T AL
















Joanne Harkness

All White Now

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Ulster Tatler Woman Editor, Joanne Harkness, looks at the simple, yet classic white, which will be on trend for Spring/Summer 2022.

Dellila handbag, £85, Dune London.

Sian Platform Mule, £30, Schuh @ Very. Peter Cohen Pre Fall Collection.

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Raina & Julieta blouse and skirt by Rowley Hesselballe.


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Columnist Jim Fitzpatrick, Journalist and Broadcaster

Focusing On The Positives I

was chairing a public sector conference recently and a theme that emerged from several sessions was a desire to keep the improvements in working that the pandemic has produced.

easy and convenient – if a little impersonal. So now the hybrid model for some could be restoring the ordering with a waiter or waitress but offering the app for adding extras or paying the bill.

in many ways. The knock at the door and quick wave or the parcel left on the step. The tracking technology and apps allowing you to approve contactless delivery and have the parcel left even when away. Again, improvements which shouldn’t be lost.

There is lots we want to avoid again in the future. Procurement of PPE, for example, is not an area where best practice can be demonstrated or best value can be seen.

“Of course hybrid working is bringing a whole new dynamic to many workplaces. And it can work for employees and employers too. It’s about finding the balance and it’s also a learning curve for everyone. “

But many businesses will have discovered their own little hacks that have made service or process that bit more efficient. Things that could never be done before suddenly became doable because they had to do them. These are wins that have to be banked.

But there are areas where we can see real improvements that wouldn’t have happened if there hadn’t been what the tech people call the “burning platform” of the pandemic. For instance, there has been a lot of focus on the lack of face-to-face GP appointments. But for many the ability to have Zoom meetings with their doctor was actually more convenient and it did allow the doctors to see more patients. So rather than going back to the old system of long waits in GP surgeries, some are moving to a hybrid model which will combine online with face-toface. It’s just one small example and there are many more in the public sector. The private sector too has discovered many surprising new ways of doing things. The pandemic forced customers to adopt technology more quickly than they might have been comfortable with. This was particularly evident in the hospitality sector.

It’s a personal gripe of mine that you can often spend ages trying to pay a bill after a meal. Staff often forget about you once they know you’ve been served. Paying automatically when ready was great and I hope more places keep this option.

Restaurants adopted ordering and paying by app. And it was remarkably

Parcel deliveries was another area where the customer experience improved


Of course hybrid working is bringing a whole new dynamic to many workplaces. And it can work for employees and employers too. It’s about finding the balance and it’s also a learning curve for everyone. So, after two years of pandemic hell, which we can’t say is completely over, it’s maybe ok to focus a little on the positives. They seemed few and far between. But they exist and we shouldn’t forget them.

Ready. We have over 3,000 quality business support candidates available for temporary work within 24 hours’ notice.

Willing. You won’t find a keener bunch. If they could start for you yesterday, they would.

Able. Trained, qualified and experienced, they’ve got what it takes. High quality business support staff for high growth businesses.


With the world re-opening, we know Ireland is getting ready to fly again. To protect and reassure our passengers, we’ve put in place the health and safety measures that matter. Dublin Airport is open for travel and ready to re-connect you with the world.


Ireland. Open for Business.

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Dine & Wine - Chris Rees

pages 94-95

Mark Owens

pages 90-93

Aoife McDowell

pages 88-89

Putting the Client First

pages 76-78

Fashion - Joanne

pages 96-100

A&L Goodbody to be an Employer of Choice for Working Parents

pages 80-83

Stairway to Seven

page 75

Primed to Support Return to Growth

pages 72-74

Making Your Sustainability Goals Their Business

pages 64-65

Mark Crimmins

page 67

Lavina Moore

pages 62-63

Driving Northern Ireland’s Economy Forward

pages 68-71

The North West – A

pages 58-61

NI Football Stars Tackle

pages 56-57

Meeting Net Zero Targets

pages 54-55

John Campbell

pages 52-53

Planning For A Sustainable Future

pages 46-51

In Conversation With

pages 32-33

Optimism and Growth

pages 38-41

Driving the Future of Public Transport

pages 42-45

Five Leaders, Five Days

page 35

NI Chamber Events

page 34

Patrick Anderson

pages 36-37

Supporting Belfast Business

page 30

Kate Marshall

pages 28-29

Jonie Graham

pages 12-13

Richard Kirk

pages 20-23

Ticket to Thrive

pages 24-27

Jane Shaw

pages 16-17

My Ambition is to

pages 14-15

Peter Russell

pages 18-19


pages 8-9

Diageo Apprentice Receives Coveted Award

pages 10-11
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