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FEBRUARY 2017 Price £2.30 (¤3.75)

Firmly anchored back home in Belfast

How recruitment specialist Anson McCade has grown since setting up shop in Northern Ireland two years ago and its ambitious plans for the future Executive search How to hire your top team

Mergers and acquisitions The top deals of the year

Contents 6 News

34 Business Breakfast

All the latest news from the Northern Ireland business world

It’s up to Belfast Waterfront to feast with Catherine Toolan

14 Cover Story

37 Executive Search

Hear how Peter Gamble has firmly established Anson McCade in Belfast

How to make sure you hire the right senior executive team

20 Viscount Awards

44 Brexit

Find out how to get your entry into the business awards of the year

That EU speech from Prime Minister Theresa May, analysed

23 63 Energy, Waste & Environment Mergers & Acquisitions After RHI: John Simpson looks at our renewable energy usage

How the world of M&A has been performing over the last year

75 Motoring Pat “Pit Stop” Burns takes the latest wheels for a spin, just for you

82 Appointments Try and resist looking in here to see if there’s anyone you know. Go on

90 Events Some stragglers from the Christmas party season and the best events of last month

92 Gadgets Adrian Weckler on the tech you need to know


61 18






A perfect storm, but we can ride the wave


elcome to the February edition of Ulster Business, one that’s packed full of news, opinion and analysis on topics from far and wide.

This month was relatively easy to fill, because there’s certainly been plenty to comment on.

We need to make sure our concerns around Brexit are addressed, particularly those around the free movement of goods, services and people across the border. Were it not for the events at Stormont in January, we should have been able to rely on our politicians to help us fight that corner but, ironically, we’ve been let down when we need them most.

Had we predicted this time last year that we would be penning the introduction to the February magazine without a functioning government, with Donald Trump as US President and with the UK on a fast-track course to leave the European Union, you would have been forgiven for thinking we’d been for another long lunch.

At the moment, few in the business community can affect what goes on in Stormont, apart from making sure we vote for the leaders we hope have the wherewithal to put the good of society and the economy above petty political argument.

Add in a prediction about the loss of Prince, George Michael and Carrie Fisher, and you would have been forgiven for thinking that lunch had stretched into dinner.

But for now we need to focus on what we can really influence and seek out the opportunities which the events of the last few months have thrown up.

Those factors – the politics, not the celebrities - promises to make 2017 a year of significant change on a number of fronts, be it on a domestic front or more international basis.

It’s not easy focusing while the hubris continues, but if we keep our eye on our own businesses then we’ll be ready to soar once Brexit, Trump and Stormont have settled down. ■

As businesses in Northern Ireland, we need to shout as loud as we can to make sure our voice is heard during this transitory period, one which has the potential to shape our prosperity for many years to come.

David Elliott

Publisher Ulster Business c/o Independent News & Media Ltd Belfast Telegraph House 33 Clarendon Road, Clarendon Dock Belfast BT1 3BG Printer W&G Baird Greystone Press, Caulside Drive, Antrim BT41 2RS www.wgbaird.com

Independent News & Media Ltd © 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of Independent News & Media Ltd.


Editor David Elliott Manager Sonia Armstrong Deputy Manager Sylvie Brando Sales Executive Sarah-Ann Gamble

Free to download. Free to read. ulsterbusiness/app 5


A month in numbers 1.6% The UK inflation rate in December, one which was pushed higher on the back of increases to prices for food and for airfares. Further hikes in inflation are expected in the coming months as the fall in the value of sterling and higher oil prices begin to bite

Bumper year for tourist sector as visitors flock

1.6% The rate at which activity in the Northern Ireland economy was estimated to have grown over the last year, according the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICE). The services and construction sectors grew the most but that was offset by a fall in the public and production sectors

7% The Northern Ireland economy’s percentage below the peak reached by the NICE in October 2007. The UK economy as a whole is estimated to be 8.1% above its pre-economic downturn peak


orthern Ireland’s tourist industry has enjoyed another bumper year with tourist numbers and expenditure heading higher. Latest government statistics show visitors – both domestic and external - spent £821m in 2016, a jump of 10% on the previous year and a sign the region is gaining a global reputation as a destination of choice. The latter fact is backed up by the fact nearly three quarters of that spend – around £606m comes from external visitors who have travelled from outside Northern Ireland, again a 10% increase on 2015. The total number of trips made reached 4.6m in the year to the end of September, up around 50,000 on the previous year with tourists appearing to spend more and stay longer.

5.8% The unemployment rate in Northern Ireland, up 0.1% on the quarter but a figure which has fallen steadily from 7.6% in 2013.

The data has emboldened the tourist sector, particularly as only part of the increase can be attributed to the fall in the value of the sterling in the wake of the Brexit vote. For tourists coming from euro or other denominated regions, the weaker pound makes goods and services in Northern Ireland, such as meals and hotel rooms, cheaper.

1,000 The number of new hotel bedrooms being built in Belfast in 2017.


In addition, the extension to the Belfast Waterfront in April has brought more business tourists to Northern Ireland by holding a

number of conferences, but again that only accounts for a small part of the uplift. And the news will give confidence to a number of hotel operators who are in the process of adding rooms to Northern Ireland’s hotel stock, such as Marriott in Belfast Harbour, Hastings at Grand Central on Bedford Street in Belfast and Tullymore House, the company behind The Bedford Hotel on Donegal Square South in the city. Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the trend should continue in the coming year. “We have much to look forward to in 2017 and beyond,” he said. “The Irish Open will return to Northern Ireland later this year at Portstewart and in 2019 we will host The Open. “Our tourism offering goes from strength-tostrength with many new hotels, attractions and experiences in the pipeline and of course we now have the 'World’s Leading Tourist Attraction' in Titanic Belfast.” Meanwhile, the latest occupancy statistics up to November 2016 show that the record room occupancy levels experienced over the summer period have continued through the autumn. There was a 10% increase in bed spaces sold in hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs for the first 11 months of the year, which equates to almost 360,000 additional bed spaces sold compared to the same period in 2015.


Lowden hits the high notes


owden Guitars has handcrafted its 20,000th guitar, a milestone for the Downpatrick business. In three years since receiving a loan from the Growth Loan Fund, the company has created 13 jobs and expanded its workshop from two to nine units. Founded by George Lowden in 1974, the firm now employs 29 highlyskilled workers to produce handcrafted instruments that are in demand throughout Europe, North America, Canada, Australia and the Far East. Finance for the £50m Growth Loan Fund – which provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – has been provided by Invest Northern Ireland and private investor, Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC). Pictured are Rhona Barbour, Senior Portfolio Manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners and George Lowden, Owner of Lowden Guitars.

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Quotes of the month “Given that turning on the devolved power is dependent on two conditions - demonstration that the Executive has set its fiscal affairs on a sustainable footing, and having an Executive in place - it is unfortunately looking as though next year’s target date will be missed.” Dr Esmond Birnie of the Northern Ireland Economic Policy Centre believes next year’s date for introducing a cut in Northern Ireland’s corporation tax rate is likely to be missed.

“RICS has forecast that house prices in the UK will rise by around 3 percent this year, and we anticipate a not dissimilar growth trajectory in Northern Ireland. 2017 will be a year of economic challenges, linked to political events, but the fact that supply isn’t currently meeting demand should lead to prices edging upwards.” Samuel Dickey, RICS Residential Property Spokesman, says a lack of supply will underpin the housing market.

New car sales still in fast lane last year


orthern Ireland’s motor retailers rang in the New Year with a cheer after seeing new car sales climb for the fifth consecutive year.

“With rising fuel costs coupled with wider inflationary pressures, the consumer environment is set to get more challenging. A third year of stagnant car sales beckons.”

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed a total of 57,097 new cars were registered in 2016, a 0.4% jump on 2015 and the second highest increase of all UK regions.

When it comes to models, the Ford Fiesta remained the most popular for the year as a whole with the Volkswagen Golf in second place and the Hyundai Tucson in third.

The increase will have encouraged motor retailers who had been worried that Brexit and other political instability would dent consumer confidence but it appears Northern Ireland’s drivers are still keen to invest in a new car. However, the relatively small increase reveals a muted market, according to Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey. “The Northern Ireland new car sales market is stuck in the crawler lane,” he said, adding that the future looks difficult for consumers.

Meanwhile, there has also been a change beyond the top 10 with Mr nothing that more expensive brands are becoming more popular. “The headline figures conceal contrasting fortunes between premium and non-premium brands,” he said “While sales of non-premium cars have fallen by 2%, the premium end of the market – which includes the likes of Audi, BMW, Volvo and Porsche – posted a healthy rise of almost 13%. Sales of premium brand cars in Northern Ireland are now 12% above 2007 levels.”

Top 10 New Car Registrations in Northern Ireland Rank “Given the importance of the EU to NI exports, the significance of leaving the Single Market is an important issue for the local economy. While local businesses want to make a success of Brexit, there are undoubtedly concerns about falling back on damaging WTO rules.” CBI NI Regional Director Angela McGowan says the single market will be a loss.




Year To Date









































Total Top 10


Northern Ireland Grand Total



Investors to Hurree waste no time


Belfast technology company has created 10 new jobs after raising more than £320,000 through crowdfunding.

“The crowdfunding campaign has reaffirmed to us that there is a definite need for our platform and strong support for our business model. Hurree is now focusing on growth in existing and new markets and aims to create up to 10 high skilled jobs in the next 12 months to facilitate this."

Huree, a marketing automation platform which uses mobile device push notifications to help companies promote their brands, said it will use the cash injection to grow its business into new markets.

Investor Charlie Barlow from Rockfirst Capital said he was impressed by Hurree’s relationship capabilities.

A total of 181 investors backed the company through Crowdcube, including institutions such as Rockfirst Capital, Foresight Group and TechStartNI. Hurree chief executive Aaron Gibson, who was featured in the list of Ones to Watch in last month’s edition of Ulster Business, said he was grateful for the support.

“Hurree has already begun to develop relationships with market leaders such as Salesforce and Oracle. Indeed, Oracle's last two acquisitions of Netsuite for $9.3billion and Opower for $532million suggests there is considerable appetite in the market for mobile marketing products such as that offered by Hurree.

Hurree chief executive Aaron Gibson

And he said this would be the last chance for investors to back the company. “We’re now gearing the company up for its Series A funding round in the very future.” The crowdfunding campaign was launched on November 7 on the Crowdcube platform at and concluded on Friday December 16.

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Shirtmaker pockets funding and creates four jobs


north west shirt maker is creating four new jobs after bagging half a million pounds worth of funding.

Smyth & Gibson Shirtmakers secured the funding from the Growth Loan Fund - backed by Invest NI and a private investor – and will use it to expand its sales overseas. Richard Gibson, Managing Director of Smyth & Gibson Shirtmakers, said it will look both east and west. “This investment, combined with the continuing support from Invest NI and our equity partners, will allow us to implement our future growth strategy,” he said. “This strategy will be concentrated on further developing our existing export markets of Canada and Germany, as well as supporting growth in our direct retail channels.” Smyth & Gibson Shirtmakers is one of the last remaining traditional handmade shirtmakers across the UK and Ireland, employing 54 people at its Londonderry factory. It supplies high street brands such as Selfridges and House of Fraser and has so far exported to Canada, Germany, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands. Mr Gibson said partnership with some of its retail customers is helping secure future growth.

Pictured are Jenna Mairs, Investment Manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners and Richard Gibson, Managing Director of Smyth & Gibson Shirtmakers

“The recent development of a web concession with House of Fraser, is an example of the growth plan that will help deliver improved margins and more direct contact with the end consumer.” Whiterock Capital Partners are managing the £50m Growth Loan Fund and Investment Manager Jenna Mairs said the company has thrived in recent years. “Export sales are a major contributor to the Northern Ireland Economy and Smyth & Gibson Shirtmakers has demonstrated potential for

further growth. We have made an investment that will help support the future growth of the business worldwide and create jobs in the local area.” Smyth & Gibson were advised on the deal by Deloitte’s Corporate Finance department. Companies seeking funding from the Growth Loan Fund must be based in Northern Ireland, demonstrating growth and generally be in the manufacturing, engineering or tradable services sectors. Loans will be typically unsecured and personal guarantees will not be sought.

North west company creates 95 jobs


US company is creating 95 IT and finance jobs in Londonderry at a new service centre base.

Marty Scaminaci, Bemis Company’s Vice President of Global Business Services said: “Establishing our European Business Services Centre in Londonderry is a strategic investment. We have successfully operated a manufacturing facility in Northern Ireland since 1996, and know it to be a great location to do business.”

Bemis Company Inc is establishing its European Business Services Centre in Campsie and said it will create the jobs by 2021. Headquartered in Wisconsin, the global polymer-based packaging company is setting up this new Business Services Centre in Northern Ireland to support its European operations. It already has an established healthcare packaging manufacturing facility


Invest NI CEO Alastair Hamilton (right) is pictured with Marty Scaminaci, Bemis Company

in Campsie and the company said recruitment could extend to other functions in the future.

Welcoming the investment, Invest NI CEO Alastair Hamilton said: “We believe that this investment to establish its European Business Services Centre here is a significant coup for Londonderry.”


Winter refurbishment on the menu for The Parson’s Nose


alloo Inns’ Director Jennie Sweeney, Chef Danny Millar, Balloo Inns’ Director Ronan Sweeney and interior architect Paul Haffey are pictured at The Parson’s Nose in Hillsborough. The gastro-pub, which is part of the Balloo Inns Group, is set to unveil a new chapter in early 2017 with a new refurbishment and extended menu. The company said refurbishment remains faithful to Parson’s original Georgian and classic country dining style while incorporating a new interior and exterior courtyard redevelopment.

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06/01/2017 13:33:34


Sheep farmers are among those who could feel the bite of Brexit the most

The stark reality of Brexit begins to come into focus


hile headlines and articles have played up uncertainty over Brexit in recent months, it has been clear for some time that the direction of travel was for the UK to leave the single market - the ability to control immigration has been a key requirement for the UK Government and there is no way to reconcile access to the single market with immigration controls. Confirmation that the UK will leave the single market, and in all likelihood the customs union, came in Prime Minister May's speech. I suppose it now becomes a case of how to make the best of this. I can see how a dynamic salesperson could try and make the scenario attractive - let's unleash Britain's genius and strike out into a world full of opportunity. Let's 'Make Britain Great Again' even. Not only is that vacuous nonsense, it ignores the reality of gravity and geography. Trade gravitates to those geographies that are closest, and the share of trade we do with our nearest neighbours will take decades to replace from other sources. Over 70% of imports into Northern Ireland come from the EU and 60% of Northern Ireland export sales go to the EU.


Andrew Webb, economist and managing director of Webb Advisory, warns of challenging times ahead I'm sure the farmer who currently sells sheep freely to Ireland but who will soon face tariffs will not find immediate recompense through a free trade agreement with - say - Brazil or Canada.

Common Travel Area, it is difficult to see how that will work in practice.

I'm sure that Invest NI will continue to point to our impressive skills and competitive costs when it comes to attracting investment. Both remain true, but access to the EU single market was always a strong selling point.

It is often cited that the Common Travel Area pre-dates UK and Irish membership of the EU. This is true, but it is now the case that Ireland will be part of the EU and the UK will not. That changes the dynamic and means agreeing a Common Travel Area will require agreement between the UK and all the other EU member states.

With that off the table, the target market for inward investment changes and the sales pitch becomes harder.

I detected a subtle and yet very telling line in the Prime Minister's speech where she stated: "This government has a plan for Britain."

Across the various negotiating points laid out by the Prime Minister, specific reference was made to the UK's relationship with Ireland, something which has massive significant for Northern Ireland.

Britain, as pedantic types have been only too glad to tell me previously, does not include Northern Ireland. That is the sense I got from the Prime Minister's speech - there might be a plan for Britain, but there sure isn't one for Northern Ireland. There are seriously challenging times ahead. â–

While the intention is to maintain the




Recruiting with passion Recruitment firm Anson McCade’s Regional Director Peter Gamble on two years in Belfast and plans for an exciting future


s the man responsible for one of the fastest-growing recruitment companies in Northern Ireland, Peter Gamble looks like a man in control. For someone who has grown Anson McCade’s first regional office to a headcount of 17 inside two years and who has plans in place to grow much, much more, it’s little surprise that a photoshoot and interview on the dockside is a walk in the park. Throw into that mix the fact he’s getting married in just a few days’ time and it’s clear he’s a man who can’t be phased. That’s partly a result of the fact he’s looking forward to the big day and also because he is in his element on the Anson McCade journey, one which is only beginning. The firm is one of the most well-known recruitment agencies in the Digital/Cyber Security/IT/Operational and Business Change & Transformation/Quantitative Analytics sectors and has been in operation since 2000 when it was founded in the City of London. Today Anson McCade primarily works with many of the major global management and technology consultancies across Europe, although they are also proud of their portfolio of start-ups, small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) and other large organisations across a number of industry sectors. It has built its success through the resourcing of elite personnel with expertise in the core sectors outlined above. Peter initially earned his stripes with the firm in London, but the Northern Ireland native saw a big gap in his home market. “Being from Northern Ireland I knew there would be a lot of talented individuals in


“The importance we place on a relationship orientated approach is something we instil in our consultants from their first day, that each client is different with different needs, processes and culture.” Belfast that we could benefit from,” he said. “I grew up here and, knowing there was huge potential, proposed opening up an office in Belfast” “While initially the majority of the workload would be focused on our client base in the UK, it also made sense from a local knowledge viewpoint because a number of our existing clients were asking us to support their recruitment needs across Ireland as well. “The last two years have borne this strategy out and, as a result, we are now working with many of Ireland’s leading technology companies and management consultancies and our client base here is growing all of the time.” The proposal was an easy sell and in December 2014 Peter opened the Belfast office of Anson McCade with backing from Invest NI. The original pledge to hire seven staff in 12-18 months has been blown out of the water with the office now totalling 17 in less than two years with the team successfully supporting the markets both here in Northern Ireland and across the UK.

Despite stiff competition from much larger multinational recruitment firms, Anson McCade’s clients include some of the biggest names in banking, consulting and IT as well as some of the most progressive, cutting-edge firms within the SME and venture capitalised start-up community. So what sets Anson McCade apart from the competition, what gives it the edge? For Peter, it’s one word: expertise. “In my experience, genuine in-depth knowledge is rare in the recruitment Industry. It’s this specialist knowledge that doesn’t just enable us to find the right people for our clients, it also allows us to save our clients an awful lot of time through not interviewing the wrong people.” That even means turning down business if he knows it isn’t a discipline comprehensively covered by the firm. “We won’t accept mandates when we feel that we can’t deliver within the required time frame, or if it’s an area outside of our expertise.” That’s quite a brave position to take for a recruitment firm, but one which customers clearly appreciate. “We pride ourselves on having extremely long-standing relationships with many of our clients, many of which we have worked with for more than 10 years - this is exceptionally rare in our industry. “The importance that we also place on a relationship orientated approach is something we instil in our consultants from their first day; that each client is different with different needs, processes and culture.” >



A fundamental aspect which clearly helps those relationships prosper - which will be music to the ears of those fed up with being passed from pillar-to-post - is continuity. “Where possible we offer a single point of contact for each client, ensuring that lines of communication are simple and straightforward. “This results in a stakeholder mentality being built internally which is incredibly important and effective. As a result, most of our new business comes through both internal and external referrals from our current clients.” And while Anson McCade is now very much locally based, clients also get the benefit of working with a recruitment firm with global reach and therefore consultants equipped with detailed business and cultural knowledge of many different regions around the world. “Many of our clients are large multi-national organisations with whom we partner across multiple locations, from the US and Northern Europe to the Far East, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Our international presence very much helped when we set up in Northern Ireland in 2014.” While Anson McCade’s recipe for success has proven incredibly successful so far, the


firm isn’t entertaining the idea of resting on its laurels and instead realises it needs to continue to evolve.

“Only this way will we be positioned to help support the businesses of the future in their pursuit of new, often disruptive, sometimes world-changing ideas.”

“We are very aware of the fact we have entered a decade of disruptive innovation for both technology and corporate business models, this driven by a step change in the power of technology and the fleet-footedness of start-ups.

It’s clear the Belfast office plays a big part in that future. Such is the success generated at their Belfast office that Peter expects headcount to overtake that of London within the next couple of years.

“Therefore, we believe that in order to be fit for the future we need to have an aggressively forward-thinking approach to our work and the services offered.

With such a determined, focused and customer-driven approach, that goal looks well within reach and will doubtless be good news for Northern Ireland. ■

Anson McCade’s work in progress y Anson McCade is working with leading cyber security consultancies to help them keep a competitive edge by recruiting high calibre technical and non-technical systems security professionals. The firm is ranked as the number one supplier in this space for two of Europe’s biggest cyber firms. y Anson McCade is currently working with global organisations across financial services, retail and public sectors that are developing and implementing large scale digital transformation programmes, enabling them to deliver essential, evolutionary scale advances. y The firm is working with a number of top 100 digital agencies to help them build industry leading design teams. y It is recognised as a leading hub for talent with specialist consultants using Anson McCade as a first point of call for new opportunities.

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The new ABC of sales David Meade is back, and this time he’s wants you to sell…


hat if everything you thought you knew about sales was wrong? What would you say? How would you react? Would you believe that although one in ten of us today are employed directly in sales jobs, in truth; we are all in sales? Research has uncovered that ‘people spend about 40% of their time at work engaged in non-sales selling – persuading, influencing and convincing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase.’ This translates to about ‘roughly 24 minutes [of] every hour moving others’.

Sales isn’t what it used to be. The old days were all about information asymmetry, the seller always had more information than the buyer. Today information is everywhere, and the world had moved from caveat emptor (buyer beware) to caveat venditor (seller beware). It’s cutting edge social science, and some of the world’s most innovative organisations that have provided the road map for everone to be better at moving others.

SALES DEBUNKED Have you ever heard it said, that ‘some people don’t have sales skills whilst others do? Or that extraverts are natural salespeople? Recent

research knocks these commonly held myths out of the water by claiming that no one is a ‘natural’ sales person, and that in fact, wait for it, we are all ‘salespeople’. That is possible because, according to the research, the best people at moving others are ambiverts, the people who lie in between extraversion and introversion. Let’s look at the research. The misconception that extroverts are the best sales people has very little if any evidence to substantiate the claim. The evidence is clear: the supposed correlation between extraversion and sales success is essentially non-existent. Social psychologists Adam Grant’s research further proves the meta-study’s validity. His research focusses on why extraversion ‘as a trait, so widely associated with sales, [doesn’t in fact] have much connection to success’. He discovered that those who did best in sales are people who are ‘neither extroverted nor wildly introverted’ ambiverts, a group of people somewhere in the middle. Grant describes these people as having a ‘Goldilocks personality – not too hot and not too cold’ and his findings exemplify that sales performance is often in fact impaired by extroversion. Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review further back up his claims. The good news that comes out of this is research is that most people are ambiverts, which in turn means, that most of us are naturally geared to be good at sales.

THE NEW ABC OF SALES The old ABC of sales, ‘Always Be Closing’, that has been according to researcher Daniel Pink, ‘the cornerstone of the sales cathedral’ is no longer effective. The goal posts have shifted. Sales today has changed. If we still lived in a world of information asymmetry, ‘Always Be Closing’ would be sensible advice; the problem is that it’s not. Sales today is about mastering three essential qualities, attunement, buoyancy and clarity, and getting better at three key abilities; pitching, improvising, and serving.





Attunement is the ability to step into the shoes of others and see their perspective. Being able to attune yourself to how the another person is thinking, helps you move them in the direction of ‘yes’.

The ability to stay afloat amid rejection is the second key skill. One way is to practice interrogative self-talk. Research into the power of interrogative self-talk shows that this technique can be a way of helping people deal with rejection. Academics from the University of Illionos and the University of Mississipi confirm that this approach elicits answers to the questions a person is asking themselves, and that the answers that they provide produce new and often more effective strategies for actually carrying out the task.

Adam Galinsky’s research on the relationship between perspective-taking and power is one example of how individuals can attune themselves with others. The results of his experiments demonstrate that ‘those who receive even a small injection of power become less likely to attune themselves to someone else’s point of view’. How can you apply this everyday? One way of attuning yourself to someone else is to increase your power by reducing it. Research by Dacher Keltner at University of California Berkley, shows that those with lower status are keener perspective-takers. He sights jujitsus as an example of this. In jujitsu an apparent weakness is actually a strength, because being able to see the perspective of others, will help you move them, quite literally in this case.


sales people are not those who have the ability to close, but who offer an immediate solution to a customer or retailers problems. The ability to brainstorm and create new opportunities and experiences for them is more valuable than just being able to move their product out the door. Identifying problems as a way to move others means that instead of accessing information, you must be skilled at curating it, and instead of answering questions you need to be good at asking them.

BACK IN THE OFFICE The ‘capacity to help others see their situation in fresh and more revealing ways, and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had’ is what clarity is all about. If exceptional sales people are problem solvers, the ability to find the right problem to solve, is a sure fire way to move people.

What does this all mean for you? It means that everyone in your organisation - whether they like it or not - is a key part of your sales effort, and therefore should start looking at sales with fresh eyes. The ability to move people is something that we all can do, and understanding the best way to do it, will make our every day interactions more rewarding.

Ralph Chauvin, vice president of sales at Perfetti Van Melle, believes that ‘his best sales people think of their jobs not so much as selling candy but selling insights about the confectionary business.’ That means the best

Practice attunement, buoyancy, and clarity with your entire team – not just customer facing – and wait for the impact on the bottom line. Results this good are surprisingly; easy as ABC, in fact. ■



In association with

Shining a Viscount light Countdown to Aer Lingus Viscount Awards entry deadline calls for the best in business to step up


he countdown is on for Northern Ireland’s most innovative companies and individuals to enter the Aer Lingus Viscount Awards, in association with Ulster Business.

Ulster Business editor David Elliott and Business Development Manager for Aer Lingus Andrea Hunter launch the 2017 Aer Lingus Viscount Awards in association with Ulster Business

It is the ninth year of the awards, which opened for entry across nine diverse categories last month, and once again promises to draw interest from the most exciting businesses on these shores. While political stability might be hard to find around the globe at present, Northern Ireland companies continue to show that we have an excess of entrepreneurial talent, both at company and at individual level. Former award winners include Gilbert Ash, Hunter Apparel, Firstsource Solutions and Kestrel Foods, all companies which continue to forge a prosperous path in their respective fields. The Viscounts were established to recognise and reward those companies and individuals which are generating lucrative economic ties between Northern Ireland and the rest of the world. The judges are looking for the generators of economic wealth, the innovators and the business people with the drive and ambition which allows them to seek out new ways of doing business across the globe. This year the awards will concentrate on finding the very best of our indigenous businesses. Our 10 strong judging panel is now on the hunt once again for the most exciting, dynamic and fast growing companies from a range of sectors. Viscount Awards judge Tracy Meharg from Invest NI, explained what she is looking for in an award entry.

“I am very pleased to be part of the judging panel of the Aer Lingus Viscount Awards which recognise and highlight the great businesses which we have in Northern Ireland,” she said. “There are many businesses here at the forefront of innovation, competing successfully on the global stage, and investing in the skills of their people. Colin Walsh, CEO of Crescent Capital, the Belfast-based venture capital fund manager, is a long-standing judge of the Viscount Awards and knows a good award entry when he sees one. “These companies are great role models for others and I would encourage them to enter these awards to highlight their success and achievements.” Brexit and the latest shenanigans at Stormont have definitely created significant uncertainty for many of Northern Ireland’s business leaders, however real entrepreneurs thrive in

disruptive environments. He was confident of another round of outstanding entries. “I fully expect to see this year’s applicants in the Viscount Awards bringing us interesting propositions that look beyond these shores to succeed in the new economic conditions we find ourselves in.” ■ Entries to the Aer Lingus Viscount Awards are invited in nine categories: • Best Business Start Up • Best SME • Business Person of the Year • Employee Champion • Exporter of the Year • Fast Growth Business • Innovation of the Year • Lifetime Achievement • Overall Excellence The deadline for submissions is Friday 24th March at 5pm and the awards luncheon will take place on Wednesday 24th May at the loD, Pall Mall, London. For entry forms and further information visit the website www. viscountawards.ulsterbusiness.com

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Future liquidity, not just RHI Scheme, needs political focus Kieran McGarrigle, Partner at leading law firm Arthur Cox, argues that continued economic liquidity poses the greatest challenge to the Northern Ireland Executive.


ur politicians have navigated through some complex and sensitive issues since the Executive was formed in 1998 – and it appears there are further testing times ahead.

very recently we have seen HSBC and UBS announce they could each move 1,000 staff from London to continental Europe because of Brexit. Passporting for lenders is widely recognised as a huge challenge for the financial services sector in London. This is true. But it is also a huge challenge for Northern Ireland. Many of the property and debt transactions in Northern Ireland since 2013 have been financed by lenders with a base in London. If those lenders re-locate post-Brexit, what appetite will they have for lending in Northern Ireland?

But while the RHI Scheme is dominating the current political discourse, there are significant economic challenges which will also need to be addressed at Stormont. Any economy needs positive liquidity to achieve its full potential, and Northern Ireland is no exception. That liquidity generally comes from banks, financial institutions and other lenders. Northern Ireland holds a unique position in these markets in that, from a legal and regulatory perspective, it forms part of the UK, but some of the key providers of the much-needed liquidity are based in Ireland and other jurisdictions. Businesses and professionals in Northern Ireland saw at first hand the effect that a lack of liquidity can have following the so-called ‘banking crisis’ in the UK and Ireland. The demise of Northern Rock, Lehman Brothers and Anglo-Irish Bank (to name but a few) created a liquidity crisis in Northern Ireland that stymied growth and deterred investors and purchasers; all of which are fundamental to a successful economy. We exited this crisis period with a significant number of debt portfolio transfers. The debt, which had in part contributed to the liquidity crisis, had a new owner and the economics of those transactions allowed assets to be moved in a way that created a more positive market in Northern Ireland. Much has been written about these debt transfers, but there can be no doubt about the positive impact that they have had. They have broken a logjam and created a market which, but for those debt transfers, would not exist.


Kieran McGarrigle

But just as one economic threat has been remedied, Brexit poses another. The challenge for our politicians over the coming months, both in Westminster and in Stormont, is ensuring that the decision to leave the EU does not cause a return to the lack of liquidity experienced in Northern Ireland (as in the rest of the UK) from 2008 to 2013. The financial services sector is, quite rightly, a heavily regulated sector in the UK. However, much of the regulation originates from the EU, which we are about to leave, and regulation of our financial sector going forward therefore needs to be foremost in the minds of our politicians over the coming months. One of the key benefits which the financial services sector in London gains from the EU is the principle of ‘passporting’ to other EU countries; if a lender is regulated in the UK, they can operate across Europe. Will these businesses really stay in the UK after we leave the EU? This is unlikely unless the current passporting can continue post-Brexit. Indeed,

The economy in Northern Ireland has been helped in recent years, in part at least, by the significant increase in activity in the commercial and residential property markets which was triggered by numerous debt portfolio transfers. Such activity created a market, which did not exist prior to this, and that market has contributed to an improving economy in Northern Ireland. Undoubtedly, Brexit will have a significant impact on this market, but it is currently unclear precisely what that impact will be. This presents a significant challenge to the economy in Northern Ireland. Our politicians undoubtedly have the skills and capabilities to meet this challenge, but it will require their focus if the market is to be successfully navigated towards a strong economic future. ■

Kieran McGarrigle heads up Arthur Cox’s Finance Team in Northern Ireland. He is an experienced finance lawyer who wrote the governmentbacked Scheme of Arrangement for the Presbyterian Mutual Society Limited following its administration, and advised on the set-up of Northern Ireland’s only debt crowdfunding platform. To speak to Kieran, or your usual Arthur Cox contact, please call +44 28 9023 0007.

Energy, Waste & Environment




Getting the balance right: renewable targets in the post-RHI environment The now-infamous RHI scheme may have been poorly implemented but its underlying aim to lower Northern Ireland’s reliance on fossil fuels was sound. John Simpson finds out how future renewable energy schemes should be modelled once the wood pellet dust has settled


orthern Ireland has made large investments in generating energy from renewable sources. Across the countryside on-shore wind generators, many of very modest capacity are conspicuous on local hill tops. As yet there are no off-shore generators or undersea turbines, although the potential economics of these options has already been explored. There is an emerging serious problem. How should renewable energy be incentivised and up to what capacity? The ambition to reduce the demand for fossil fuels by seeking alternative energy supplies is easily stated. However, there are a number of influences which constrain the way in which these markets can develop. Northern Ireland is close to the point where installing more renewable capacity may be non-sustainable in managing the total energy market. The viability of securing energy from renewable sources has improved sharply in the last decade. However, in terms of the costs of alternative supplies, the market is functioning with the incentive of payments in Northern Ireland through Renewable Obligation Certificates [ROCs] which are then traded at a market value to meet renewable quotas.


The viability of securing energy from renewable sources has improved sharply in the last decade Getting the balance right of energy supplies from renewable sources and from fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and even natural gas) is not easy. How much should the Government pay to subsidise energy from on-shore wind, or possible off-shore sources? The question is not only about the arithmetic of the price subsidy but must also take account of the technical and engineering questions in balancing the sources of supply from smaller units. An electricity grid supplied by a large number of on-shore generators, varying from as small as a capacity of less than 1mw to larger installations, calls for careful control on possible supply variations (as wind sources go up and down) where the grid is expected to maintain stability as generating capacity varies. The renewable suppliers are asked (or told) when they can be constrained-off or curtailed, depending on their contract with their supplier or the grid operator.

Because of the variability of supplies from on-shore generators, the grid operator will normally put in place limits to the variable renewable capacity that the grid can be expected to manage. This is a strong reason why the grid operators, whether north or south in Ireland, or linking with Scotland or Wales, regard the availability of alternative supplies through inter-connection as a critical factor underpinning the secure use of alternative sources. Since the electricity supply networks, as a grid and transmission network, across the UK and Ireland have developed to allow the electricity market to function and trade flexibly, there is now an emerging question in terms of how this larger market place relates to renewable supplies. Does it make for good decision making if, for example, Northern Ireland is expected to plan to reach a stated higher fraction of energy to be sourced from renewable sources. There is a choice to be made. Official policy in Northern Ireland might set a stated goal for energy from renewable sources, either relating to consumption or generation, and the Regulator might then monitor the trends and, by influencing grid developments or the official subsidy mechanisms, try to reach the target. >



Alternatively, Northern Ireland might be treated as part of the larger market of UK and agree to share the additional support costs for this combined market to reach an agreed renewable target. For example, if the scale of a renewable target is set and delivered by an auction of 'cost for difference’ payments, then the sources of supplies of renewables would be market determined. This would allocate the sourcing of renewables on the basis of comparative advantage and might well bring even more of this supply challenge to local renewable sources. The setting of any renewables target for Northern Ireland must be the outcome, first, of a government decision that the Northern Ireland energy market place should be seen (for this purpose) as a single unit, administratively separate from GB or the allisland market. Then second an assessment would be needed


of the technical and economic merits of setting a renewables target. Conceptually, an all-island renewables target might make better technical and economic sense, provided the Brexit negotiations do not introduce local market distortions. The important change in the energy market equations in the last 20 years is the dramatic increase in the technical capacity to increase supplies from renewable sources. What was originally seen as a capacity limitation in terms of sources of supply (wind, solar, willow, and biomass) is now a more complex problem of commercially integrating the various sources into a viable sustainable grid. In turn, that multi-dimensional framework will be more sustainable at higher renewable targets if there is a larger integrated interconnected market place. The case for an integrated European supply network is stronger than ever, just at a time

when other EU-UK decisions are under review. An important feature of the dynamics of the energy market in Northern Ireland has been the arrival and investment by larger generators using renewable sources, whether from waste or renewable combustible material. The import of wood products for a new plant near to Lisahally and the conversion of waste products to energy to supply major manufacturing plants in Belfast have helped to give a more diverse energy mix in sectors where the regulatory process had left some local businesses paying rather more for electricity than comparable businesses either in GB or in the Republic of Ireland. The need for a competitive supply of energy has motivated a welcome diversification of renewable sources across Northern Ireland. The tension now is that Northern Ireland may not sensibly need all the potential renewable capacity. â–

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Environmental taskforce to tackle sustainability challenges


USINESS in the Community has established a new Environment Leadership Team to help improve environmental sustainability in Northern Ireland by engaging business with a focus on the circular economy. The new team, which is chaired by Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway, is made up of a group of senior representatives from a cross-section of Northern Ireland’s leading businesses and other organisations committed to environmental sustainability. Ian Nuttall, Head of Environment at Business in the Community Northern Ireland, said the environmental sustainability is key. “We are excited to announce that we have set up a new Environment Leadership Team to help us tackle issues around environmental sustainability here in Northern Ireland. “The business landscape has changed considerably in recent years and with an increasing focus on the circular economy, we have redeveloped our environmental sustainability programme, previously known as ARENA Network, to help ensure that environmental sustainability is at the core of every organisation.” He said the taskforce has a wide range of skills.

Pictured at the first team meeting are Ian Nuttall and Gillian McKee from Business in the Community with Chris Conway, CEO Translink & Chair of Business in the Community’s Environment Leadership Team (centre).

“Made up of senior representatives from a wide cross-section of business, this new team will play an extremely important part in shaping and delivering our new Environmental Sustainability Programme and championing participation in environmental initiatives throughout Northern Ireland.” Chair Chris Conway said he was looking forward to the challenge. “I’m delighted to be appointed as Chairperson

of the new Environment Leadership Team for Business in the Community. Improving environmental sustainability represents a huge opportunity for Northern Ireland firms and is something that I’m very passionate about. “This new group will provide a valuable platform to bring together the resources and expertise of participating organisations and enable us all to play an important part in championing environmental issues within our own companies and wider industries.” ■

Solar and wind power cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time


outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

The influential foundaton has described the change as a "tipping point" that could make fighting climate change into a profitable form of business for energy companies.

Development at the World Economic Forum.

Just 10 years ago, generating electricity through solar cost about $600 per mega watt hour, and it cost only $100 to generate the same amount of power through coal and natural gas. But the price of renewable sources of power plunged quickly – today it only costs around $100 the generate the same amount of electricity through solar and $50 through wind.

“Solar and wind have just become very competitive, and costs continue to fall. It is not only a commercially viable option, but an

The cheap price of solar and wind energy is already encouraging companies to build more plants to harvest it. ■

olar and wind is now either the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum.

But investors and energy firms are still failing to put money into such green solutions despite the fact that they are cheaper than more traditional forms of electricity generation, according to the same report.


“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point – it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming,” said Michael Drexler, Head of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and


Waste not, want not David Wilson from Worthingtons Solicitors takes a look at the world of food waste regulation


orthingtons Solicitors recently acted in the takeover of a wellknown restaurant chain.

The regulations amend the Pollution, Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 (S.R.2013 No.160) and the Waste Management Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (S.R.2003 No.493) to ensure that separately collected food waste is not mixed with other waste to the extent that would hamper future recycling. No doubt businesses will be faced with extra costs in arranging for the separate transportation of food waste and indeed from 1st April 2015 those who collect and dispose of food waste need to ensure food waste is transported separately from other waste material.

As part of the due diligence process we discovered all there is to know about food waste and the FOOD WASTE REGULATIONS (Northern Ireland) 2015 which came into operation on 14th February 2015. These regulations provide for the collection, transport and treatment of food waste, and for related matters and the different obligations under the Regulations which came into force on different dates between 2015 and 2017. The effect of the regulations is to amend the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (S.I. 1997/2778 (N.I. 19)) to provide for the separate collection of food waste. From 1st April 2016, the regulations placed a duty on food businesses producing in excess of 50kg of food waste per week to present food waste for separate collection and from 1st April 2017 place a duty on businesses to ensure food waste is not deposited in a lateral drain or sewer. It should be noted that from 1st April 2017, food businesses that produce between 5kg and 50kg of food waste per week to present that food waste for separate collection. Is your business affected and what is a “food business”? A business by definition in the regulations includes “a canteen, club, school, hospital or


David Wilson

institution, whether carried on for profit or not, and any undertaking or activity carried on by a district council”. A “food business” means “an undertaking, whether for profit or not, and whether public or private, carrying out any activity related to the processing, distribution, preparation or sale of food.” Therefore, the regulations extend to restaurants, foodcourts, cafés, canteens, supermarkets, schools and colleges that provide meals and even prisons, nursing homes, and hospitals. Essentially all undertakings that provide a “food business” need to pay attention to the regulations. The fact that not for profit privately organisations are affected by the legislation may come as a surprise to some.

When one considers that a number of Sainsbury's supermarkets across the United Kingdom are now powered by green gas produced entirely from food waste, one wonders whether the government is trying to adopt a joined-up approach to waste and whether our food waste will ever generate green gas in significant volumes locally to generate renewable heat and power, while minimising greenhouse gas emissions. The introduction of the FOOD WASTE REGULATIONS (Northern Ireland) 2015 may be a step in the right direction despite the additional legal obligations for local businesses. ■

David Wilson is a commercial partner at Worthingtons Solicitors and frequently advises companies in the hospitality and food service sector in Northern Ireland.

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Consumer sweet spot to turn sour? Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey says a focus on business, rather than consumer, spending is key


o say that 2016 was an eventful year would be an understatement. Political surprises have become the order of the day with the vote for Brexit & Trump (“BRUMP”) the highlights. The political landscape at the end of 2016 looks vastly different to what we had at the start of the year. The same holds true for the local economy. Some sectors of the economy ended 2016 on a much stronger footing than they started the year. Our manufacturing, retail and agriculture sectors fall into this camp. Conversely, local construction firms started the year on a more positive note, with buoyant GB demand. However, as noted in the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI, this soon petered out, with the sector posting contraction in three of the last four quarters. Sterling weakness was a key theme in 2016, particularly following June’s referendum result. This has been largely responsible for the three key developments during 2016 – relating to exports, retail, and inflation. The record rates of growth in export orders in H2 2016 has been accompanied by the strongest set of retail sales figures in Q4 in the PMI survey’s 14-year history. Demand from the Republic of Ireland is boosting exports and retail sales considerably. As a result, Northern Ireland’s retail sector continues to post the fastest rates of job creation of all the sectors. The retail expansion has been evident across our towns and cities with a notable increase in the number of cafes and restaurants. Several UK multiples expanded in 2016 (e.g. Pizza Express). Meanwhile there were also some newcomers (e.g. Patisserie Valerie). This has been a lagged response to strong demand as consumers found themselves in a sweet spot. As a result, 2015 and 2016 have been dubbed the year of the consumer. Falling petrol, energy and food prices coincided with a return of wage growth. Disposable incomes received a significant boost, and retailers moved in to capitalise on this. But don’t expect 2017 to fall under this


Richard Ramsey

moniker. Northern Ireland’s consumer sweet spot is approaching its ‘use by’ date. This is because the downside of having a competitive exchange rate is import price inflation. At the start of last year a pound was worth €1.36 and $1.47 against the euro and the US dollar respectively. This compares with €1.145 and $1.22 today and represents a depreciation of around 16/17%. Sterling weakness is exacerbating rising inflationary pressures at a global level. Global input price inflation in December climbed at its fastest rate in almost 5½ years. For example, oil and food prices are on the rise. Back in January last year, a barrel of oil dipped below £20 per barrel. Today that same barrel has increased by 130% to £46pb. Motor fuel is also on the rise. At the start of last year the price of petrol and diesel was around £1 per litre. Today it is averaging £1.18 (Petrol) - £1.21 (diesel) per litre. Retailers and manufacturers have borne the brunt of input cost inflation. This is being passed onto consumers with retailers and manufacturers increasing prices in Q4 2016 at their fastest rate on record. UK consumer price inflation was marginal at the start of 2016 but accelerated to 1.2% by November. The annual rate is expected to more than double by the end of 2017.

In this rapidly changing cost environment, ‘shrinkflation’ has been deployed to keep price rises to a minimum. This is whereby the size of products (e.g. Toblerone) is reduced in size to keep prices unchanged. Birds Eye responded to a 12% increase in costs by reducing the number of fish fingers in a box from 12 to ten. So, whilst the Northern Ireland economy begins 2017 with significant momentum, there are real challenges ahead. This is primarily because the retail sector is largely driving the growth we have been experiencing, and inflationary pressures and benefit freezes will act as speed bumps for consumer spending and economic growth this year. Therefore the next 12 months are likely to see the consumer sweet spot turn sour, impacting on the fortunes of the retail sector and the economy as a whole. Though, consumers from the Republic of Ireland and beyond these shores, in the shape of tourists and cross-border shoppers, will provide some offset for the malaise in the domestic market. In this context, it highlights the need for Northern Ireland to redouble its efforts to make businesses, rather than consumer spending, a more significant driver of the economy. That means an even greater focus on entrepreneurship, developing our indigenous businesses, and attracting foreign direct investment. ■

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By David Elliott



ow we’re getting into our groove. The term “breakfast” in this column’s title has never been more to the fore than in this month’s trip to Belfast Waterfront. In a boardroom deep in the bowels of the behemouth conference and entertainment centre, Catherine Toolan and your scribe were presented with a feast from the venue’s in-house caterers. From bacon, sausage and egg on ciabatta to scrambled eggs on wheaten bread; from freshly baked pastries to a selection to vegetable and fruit juices; it was a veritable feast and enough to feed an army. Following some of the food deficient meets which we’ve been through on occasion, this was a triumph, but then again it was nothing more than expected when meeting Catherine Toolan. The relatively new boss of the relatively newlydeveloped Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall has done this kind of thing before, although on a scale which would take your breath away and at the kind of events which become a part of history. In the last few years she has been in charge of feeding Olympians, not just at one of the games but at both the Beijing and London Olympics,


while also acting in a consultancy capacity for the Rio games in her previous role with global food service provider Aramark. That’s quite a responsibility, but one Catherine took in her stride, given a deep background in the industry and understanding of the Chinese culture and language. It stems from what she describes as a “fascination with service and events”, an interest which saw her complete a degree in Hotel Business Management at the University of Galway before winning a place on the graduate programme at global hotel brand Forte. A masters in Organisational Psychology and Strategy followed at University College Dublin before she took her first step into China with a scholarship to study in Tsinghua University in Beijing in 1999, the year the region was joining the World Trade Organisation. After returning to Dublin for a few years, Catherine soon found herself back in Beijing in 2004 on behalf of her employers Aramark, transferring as the first expat the company ever had as the Vice President of its Food Services China division. “I went for two years and ended up staying until 2011,” she said of her time in China, explaining how she went on to be Executive Director of the 2008 Beijing Catering Services Project. “It was probably the most amazing project I’ve ever worked on and also the most challenging,” she said. “It was a big learning curve for us as an organisation and for me as an individual.”


Catherine Toolan

Those challenges included working closely with the Chinese government, procuring large volumes of top quality food (enough for 3m meals over just 60 days) and managing a huge number of workers (7,500 in total or which 300 were drafted in from Aramark’s global network). From there it was on to the 2011 Asian Games in Guangzhou, a major city in the south of China where, although standing out slightly with Beijing accented Mandarin, Catherine was able to re-enact the mammoth task she had completed a few year previously. Naturally, a move to London to work her magic in the same role for Aramark at the London Olympics was to follow. “The London games were amazing and definitely one of the best. The UK really embraced the games and it was an amazing feeling to be working there,” she said. Dublin was next on the cards as Managing Director of Special Projects at Aramark, a remit which included looking after food services at Croke Park and also providing consultation services to the Rio Olympics. But when the role to become Managing Director of Belfast Waterfront and the Ulster


Hall emerged in August of this year, Catherine jumped at the chance. “When the opportunity came up I felt I could use my experience of major events to add to the Waterfront. It’s such a great product and an exciting place to work. “Over the last eight or nine months alone we’ve had around 300 events including a number of international conferences and the feedback has been fantastic.” She said this type of business tourism holds huge potential for the city. “There is a massive opportunity for Belfast to develop the business tourism side and, from a strategic perspective, we at the Waterfront can help that. “Having the facility means we can compete with the likes of Liverpool, Edinburgh and Birmingham when before we couldn’t.” Catherine said Belfast ticks the conference organisers’ checklist of accessibility, safety and ability to travel within the city, but organisers are also enjoying another benefit. “The one standout factor is the friendliness of

the people in the city, not just in the Waterfront but right from the taxi drivers to the restaurants. That’s one of the great benefits of a small city, you really make that client feel like they’re holding a special event.” As well as filling the conference venue, Catherine is also focused on filling seats at events both at the Waterfront and at the Ulster Hall. “Many of our competitors in the conference world would not have the established entertainment centre we have so that’s another feather in our cap. The events side on its own is very successful and we’ve just hired a new programme manager to take that to the next level after a very busy Christmas.” “Live music is coming back and we’ll be at the heart of it.” Catherine is kept busy, but does she enjoy the role? “I love it,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked to work in a better place at a better time.” “We have challenges - we’ve got to build on the reputation and compete on an international market - but I love the role, I love the venue and I love the city.” ■



How Brexit will affect your recruitment in 2017 Justin Rush, Director at Abacus Recruitment, offers an insight into the local recruitment market in a post-EU environment workers to be based due to the planned introduction of an Australian style, pointsbased immigration system. Working in the Republic of Ireland, our European land border neighbour, where free transfer of labour still exists will be much, much easier and simpler.

Justin Rush


heresa May’s January 17th speech outlining the UK’s position on Brexit has negatively affected markets and business confidence in much the same way as the result of the EU referendum. Everyone in Northern Ireland has a prediction on the outcome of the UK government’s impending negotiations with Europe, this is my view. Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, will become a less attractive location for foreign


The outcomes will include: Less applications to jobs advertised in Northern Ireland. I am stating the obvious here I know. However, this is particularly bad news for niche industry sectors like high-tech engineering, software development, specialist finance, life sciences, and research and development. Here the attraction of talented professionals from outside of Northern Ireland has been key to ongoing business success in recent years. The prediction here is simple, salaries for these staff will be bid up by the market. Attitudes to employee applications for visa sponsorship will change. As employers seek to improve the supply of candidates to outstanding vacancies we will see businesses review their position on visa sponsorship. Offering employment sponsorship to indemand candidates will be necessary and time consuming, but ultimately can result in the appointment of very loyal staff. Indeed, we may well see a number businesses transfer temporary workers onto permanent contracts in the coming months to aid employees

with their visa status and improve employee retention. ‘Gigging’ will continue to increase during this period of uncertainty. Gigging is the term given to the engagement of professional staff, often in finance, IT, business services on fixed-term contracts to deliver projects, assist with change, deputise in vacant roles, etc. As the demand for experienced professionals from business increases, the attractiveness of high levels of remuneration and flexible working arrangements will prove to be enticing for many. The knock-on effect for employers is an upward pressure on salaries and longer times to appoint permanent jobs. Northern Ireland has overcome many challenges in recent years, the obstacles presented to local businesses by the decision to leave Europe in all forms, is certainly the greatest challenge so far. The entrepreneurship, resilience and commercial savvy of our business leaders and employees is our main asset, it is time to ensure you are doing everything you can to retain the people you have worked hard to accrue in recent years. ■

Justin Rush is a career recruiter and Director at Abacus Professional Recruitment. He can be contacted on justin@abacus.jobs

Executive Search & Recruitment


Don’t call us... Hiring top executives needs to be taken seriously. Hiring the right person can transform can be costly and hugely damaging to the company, the workforce and your future plans. 38



iring senior executives is never an easy task.

Because they are going to be the key people in your company, driving your business, helping it to grow and steering it into the future, getting the right person is key. Filling such positions can be an onerous job, but one in which great care needs be taken. In some cases, there may be people in the business who can step up and take on the responsibility, saving time and resources searching for the right candidate. But what if your situation is different? Where does the process begin? A good start is advice from some the people that have been there and done it. Cathal Geoghegan is the Managing Director of Mount Charles. The company was started in 1988 by Chairman Trevor Annon and is now one of Ireland’s largest locally owned companies. What began as a contract catering business has grown enormously, and the group now employs nearly 2,000 local people and delivers a full range of business support solutions. In the past year alone the company has appointed a number of new senior executives and Cathal has taken differing approaches each time. “For the senior level vacancies I’ve had to use two or three different processes. Of the senior team that I have at this moment in time, two have come through the ranks by means of promotion through the business, one through the national press and one through a recruiter.” He stresses that when it comes to selecting the correct person for the role, it is very often the attributes of the individual themselves that are the deciding factor.

your business for the good while getting it wrong Amy Leonard finds out how to hire properly. FEBRUARY 2017

“Personality and fit at a senior level is vitally important to me. I feel that getting the right fit in terms of individual is just as important as getting an individual that actually has the skill set and knowledge base to carry out the duties because effectively anybody that’s coming for a job at a senior level should have that knowledge base.” >


EXECUTIVE SEARCH & RECRUITMENT During his most recent recruitment processes, before the official interview processes, he went for coffee meetings with people. “I wanted to engage with them outside of a core interview process just to get under the bonnet of the individual. I weeded an awful lot of people out at that stage before going through to direct interview process. It saves time for both.” Cathal also said the days of one-way interrogations are gone and that interviews now have to be a two-way dialogue piece. “It’s vitally important to sell yourself to the candidates I believe, as well as the candidates selling themselves to the company. In my case, with my two recent additions to the senior executive staff, it was important that I was prepared.

Peter Morrow

“I put myself in their shoes, thought of questions I would pose if I was being interviewed, so I had those answers prepared in advance. I was fully versed in terms of what the candidates want to hear. It just helps make sure that when that candidate is selected that they are going to accept the role.” Gary O’Hagan, Chief Operating Officer at James Leckey Design, echoes the value Cathal places on individual fit. “At that level most of the people are going to have the technical competency, they’re going to be able to do the job, so it is about fit and impact and their ability to get on with the rest of the senior team.” Leckey, established in 1983, is an internationally-acclaimed force in the research, design and development of clinically focussed, postural support products for the disabled. Gary uses their set company values


as an essential guide when selecting new senior team members.

interview are not the best performers and vice versa.”

“Any employees we have are measured against their objectives, their technical ability to do the job and also their values and personality. It’s the fit, the cultural fit within the company. If they don’t share those values and can’t agree with them then it’s not going to work out.”

He reiterates the recurring theme of the individual themselves. “You need to be clear in your own mind what you’re looking for, what attributes are important to you, and be very probing when the time comes.”

The company’s human resources manager Beverley Copeland said that in order to make sure there is a good fit any candidate must be well informed about the company itself, hence why they provide a very detailed application pack that gives all the specifics and a much wider view on the company. “A job description and a personal specification is not enough when you’re hiring a senior executive. They need to know what the organisation is like culturally, they need to know the objectives of the organisation going ahead, they need to be attracted to the role, so just a brief spec doesn’t cut it for senior executives, they need more.” Both also agree that it’s important to learn as much about the candidate as possible, key to which is looking at them in multiple ways. “We look at them formally and informally” said Beverley. “For our interview process we try and involve as many people as we can. Our most recent experience we had six internal people at a range of different levels look at that person, right from an engineer to sales, all of whom give feedback into the recruitment process.” Potential candidates are taken on a factory tour as part of the process and Gary said even that helps. “It’s just a tour, but whoever takes the tour has an hour with the candidate, talking to them and we will sit down with them afterwards and ask their thoughts.” Peter Morrow, founder and Managing Director of Morrow Communications, agrees that the formal setting doesn’t always reveal enough. “Interviews are only partially effective. Sometimes the people who sell it best in the

“Integrity, leadership, professionalism; commercial awareness is extremely important. And a sense of humour, you definitely need one of those.” Linda Brown, the Director of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Northern Ireland, said: “Senior executives have a leadership role; they need to be able to drive change, think and plan ahead, developing a clear vision and enthuse others within the business to adapt to change.”

Linda Brown

“The IoD believes that senior executives, need to understand what good governance looks like and how the role and the responsibilities of a director differs from the role of management. A director must be willing to challenge any decisions being discussed by the Board if they think something isn’t in the best interests of the company. “Personal and communication skills are key for any director, allowing them to listen to and take on board the views of others, and vocalise their own views coherently. Understanding complex information, including financial information and situations, as well as being willing to modify their position when presented with new information, is crucial.” So whilst anyone applying for a senior executive will probably have the right skillset on paper, it seems the person themselves is the most important factor. ■


Recruitment trends for 2017


espite the continued uncertainty in press reports, online and seemingly everywhere we look, about the potential impact of Brexit, Trump and now the new elections for Stormont, the wheels of industry keep turning. New deals still happen and new talent is still required. Riada are certainly finding this is the case with more and more clients ready to recruit. According to research from UK job sites, which analysed the average number of jobs in the UK’s key sectors in 2016, applications in leisure/tourism saw a 31% rise, followed by an increase of 24% in design and 13% in catering last year. Sectors that also saw a substantial increase in

applications during 2016, included agriculture (up 41%), manufacturing (up 30%) and automotive (up 23%), with figures expected to maintain momentum in 2017. Frances Lundy, Founder & Director of Riada Resourcing comments: “Riada has always had a strong and growing temporary division however during 2015-16 we have seen a resurgence in the permanent sector. “I founded the business on finding the perfect person for my clients, as a recruitment professional it’s what I love to do. “The growth we are experiencing has enabled me to strengthen the team, bring in new talent and restructure the business so we now have specialist recruiters in specific business divisions listening, searching and delivering for our growing client base.

Frances Lundy, Founder & Director of Riada Resourcing

The Riada Resourcing HQ is on the Causeway Coast and delivers talent to businesses of all sizes across the UK. The Riada Professionals team are ready to take your call. ■


Critical for businesses to stay ahead of recruitment trends in 2017: Hays By John Moore, Regional Managing Director of Hays Northern Ireland


t’s a well-worn truth, but 2017 holds the promise of great uncertainty.

It’s impossible to tell how exactly the business world will respond to the Trump presidency, not to mention adding in the fluctuations sparked by Brexit and the nature of the politics locally.

For employers, it will be crucial to stay ahead of one’s competitors and forecast the trends that could affect your business over the coming months. Increasingly, this sought-after talent will be a balance between temporary and fixed-term contracts for specific projects, allowing companies to cope with economic uncertainty by choosing the flexibility of budgeting for shortterm freelancers, alongside committing to longer-term salaries. The challenge for employers will be to offer the most attractive deals to attract these highly skilled temporary staff. This is not just about remuneration, it is also organisations positioning themselves as early adopters of new technology and processes. We’re also going to be looking at a rise in multi-generational workforces where millennials work alongside baby boomers - and that could bring tangible benefits for the company as experienced workers pass on their skills to their younger colleagues. But larger employers must be prepared for the challenge of keeping all these groups of workers content, be it by delivering bespoke training for individuals, offering tailored benefits packages, re-examining the employer brand or revising rewards and recognition schemes. Furthermore seeking employee feedback and acting judiciously and promptly will be key to securing loyalty. One of the best ways to negotiate a path through the uncertainties of 2017 will be to understand the people who work for you and what motivates them - and primarily that means ensuring excellent people managers are in place. Many roles have already changed substantially because of the influence of new technology and completely new roles are appearing all the time, so the most desirable new candidates are those who can work with new technologies and processes to bring fresh perspectives into the business. ■ To find out more about Hays Northern Ireland log on to hays.co.uk/ni or follow us on Twitter @HaysN_Ireland


Áine Brolly

Recruiter on the hire: Cpl Solutions creates 15 jobs


Northern Ireland recruitment company is creating 15 jobs in both Belfast and Londonderry.

Cpl Solutions is taking on 10 new Associate Consultants on its graduate training programme and creating five senior roles across the two offices. The move follows a 25% ramp up in turnover last year and an ambitious plan to grow the business further in the future, according to Chief Executive Áine Brolly. “We’ve further developed our business in Northern Ireland over the last 12 months and have launched a targeted recruitment drive which reflects our ambition, growth and commitment to the local marketplace but is also an indication of the considerable opportunities that we believe exist within the local economy,” she said. “Our graduate training programme and the employment of five senior consultants is integral to our growth and vital to support the demand for local services across recruitment, talent and outsourcing.” The Cpl group employs 700 people in recruitment, 2,000 in managed services and 10,000 on client sites across its global business and has recently incorporated in the US with plans to open an office in Boston in the coming months. It is listed on both the London and Dublin stock markets and opened new offices in Belfast in 2016. “Our team has doubled in the past 12 months and as our client list continues to expand we have restructured and reshaped our Northern Ireland business to support our development blending local talent within our team with people who have expertise and deep insights into the local skills sectors,” Ms Brolly said. ■


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May sets out her EU stall U

K Prime Minister Theresa May made her most comprehensive statement to date last month on the relationship she thinks the UK should have with the rest of the EU after Brexit. Here are eight key points we've learned from her speech. 1. The UK will leave the European single market May insists that the Brexit agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU's member states. The deal should give UK companies the freedom to trade with and operate within European markets, and let European businesses do the same in Britain.

the Common Travel Area with the Republic is an important priority for the UK in the talks ahead. It’s important to the government in Dublin also, which means any threat to the Common Travel Area would have to come from elsewhere in Europe. May said the UK government will "make it a priority to deliver a practical solution” to the question of the shared land with the Irish State. “Nobody wants to return to the borders of the past,” she said. 3. Brexit means Brexit May is not seeking partial or associate membership - the UK is not looking to be half in and half out of the EU.

"But I want to be clear: What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market," she said.

Its plans to exit the European Single Market and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

2. Ireland is special Theresa May said specifically that maintaining

May seeks "a new and equal partnership between an independent, self-governing, global


Britain and our friends and allies in the EU". "We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave," she said. 3. May wants a 'truly global Britain' The UK wants to negotiate a free trade deal with the rest of the EU, but be free to do similar deals with others. Theresa May made a big point of saying Britain remains open to the world – “a global Britain”. She said she wants the UK to emerge from this period of change "a stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking country than ever before." "I want us to be a truly global Britain, the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too. A country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike," she said.

What they said Angela McGowan, CBI NI Regional Director “The business community in Northern Ireland welcomes the greater clarity and the ambition to create a more prosperous, open and global United Kingdom, with the freest possible trade between the UK and the EU. “However, ruling out membership of the Single Market has reduced options for maintaining barrier-free and tariff-free trading relationship between the UK and the EU. “Given the importance of the EU to NI exports, the significance of leaving the Single Market is an important issue for the local economy. While local businesses want to make a success of Brexit, there are undoubtedly concerns about falling back on damaging WTO rules.”

Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ann McGregor

4. There will be investment in economic infrastructure May said that the UK government has a plan for the UK; to pay the deficit down and to take a balanced approach by investing in the economic infrastructure. "It can transform the growth potential of our economy and improve the quality of people's lives across the whole country," she said. 5. EU nationals will still be welcome Brexit will mean control of immigration to the UK, so full free access to EU workers will end. But Theresa May says the UK will be open to the “best and brightest.” "You will still be welcome in this country as we hope our citizens will be in yours," she said. 6. Brexit does not mean the UK is 'turning inward' May said that the UK is European and proud that the decision to leave the European Union does not mean that they are turning inward.


"But we are always a country that has looked beyond Europe to the wider world. That is why we are one of the most racially diverse countries in Europe," she said. 7. UK does not want EU to unravel May acknowledged that many fear the beginning of a "great unravelling" of the EU. She has insisted that she does not want that to happen. "It would not be in the best interest of Britain, it remains overwhelmingly and compellingly in Britain's best national interest for the EU to succeed," she said. 8. Transitional phase after Brexit deal desired Theresa May said she wants a period after a Brexit deal has been negotiated when the new regime will be gradually phased in – rather than “a cliff edge”. When the deal is done in March 2019, May wants to allow time to disentangle UK from EU. ■

“We welcome her commitment to maintaining the common travel area with the Republic and making it a priority to deliver a practical solution as quickly as possible to the question of the land border with the Irish State. “The Prime Minister says she also wants a customs agreement with the EU which could mean partial membership of the customs union. However, NI Chamber believes that this must come without costly customs checks and administrative costs for businesses which would pose a threat to Irish cross-border trade. “A negotiated UK-EU Free Trade Agreement will not go far enough in meeting the concerns of our members, particularly around free movement of people.”



Hopes, fears and headlines for the year ahead Brendan Keenan says there is a sense of foreboding hanging over 2017 - but there are grounds for hope too


here is a strange feeling in the air. For this year, the dominant feeling is not hope, but foreboding - a good old Saxon word for fear of what the future may bring. The reasons it is in the air are all too obvious - President Trump, Brexit, stresses on Europe in general, and sterling in particular. Like tight shoes deflecting the pain of a headache, these mighty issues have pushed aside another cause for concern - the state of politics. The boding tremblers worry that any or all of these might turn out badly this year, which would indeed be cause for alarm. In the spirit of the month that’s in it though, it is worth looking at the ways in which things might turn out better than feared - and why some of them really do need to be dealt with, not just fretted over. There is no doubt the UK’s relationship with the EU must be dealt with once and for all. A referendum-driven exit might not be the best way but less radical efforts such as budget rebates and opt-outs failed. Successive Westminster governments became ever more detached from European institutions and the British public ever more hostile to the whole idea. Rewinding the clock and abandoning Brexit is not a solution. If European leaders can bring themselves to see that the UK (or the English bit of it) will always be a discontented member and a threat to European stability, this may yet turn out for the best. Admittedly, it will require a great leap of imagination on all sides. At present, the UK seems to have little idea what to do and, even


more alarmingly, the notion that, once they have decided what to go for, they will be able to achieve it in negotiations. Across the channel, many are determined that there will be no deal which makes exit look attractive for any other state, while simultaneously licking their chops in anticipation of the business which might come their way, especially in financial services. Across the Irish Sea, there is both licking of chops and licking of lips in nervousness as to the consequences if the UK leaves both the single market and the customs union. But making an example of the UK will not make the EU more secure: quite the reverse. The union needs clarity and purpose to survive. The idea that it could be held together by fear of the alternative is preposterous. An end to formal UK membership combined with maximum access to markets is the best option for the UK economy, but also, paradoxically, for the EU itself. The only Brexit method which will not do serious harm both to the UK and the EU never mind the Republic - is some amalgam of the Norwegian and Swiss models, with a few symbolic additions. A hard Brexit would be a threat to the global economy and an even greater one to the euro. The turbulence unleashed by such a dislocation of European trade, investment and currencies would awaken all sort of old ghosts - not least the credibility of the Republic’s euro membership. The single currency is in no fit state to cope with such a buffeting.

Brendan Keenan

If wise counsels prevail, the worst Brexit effects can be avoided, even though the logistics will still be terrible. One reason for optimism is that no-one knows to what extent wise counsels will prevail elsewhere - in the White House, for example - and Europe’s leaders may come to realise they will need all the solidarity they can muster. The timetable is not helpful. The Article 50 negotiations will be going on while everyone is still trying to work out what kind of president the USA has got itself. Mr Trump’s cabinet choices allayed some of the anxieties, but only some. They are not entirely absurd, but not completely rational either. The grounds for optimism are that Mr Trump is, in fact, onto something. He talked a lot of nonsense, when he wasn’t actually being offensive, but he won because he identified the discontents of the 2010s and revealed that established politicians do not talk about them because they do not know what to do; or do not care to do it. Take “draining the swamp”. It is hard to think of a bigger jump than that from Mr Trump to Angus Deaton, the Scottish-born Nobel laureate economist. Yet, in an intriguing interview in the ‘Financial Times’, Prof Deaton identified the worst kind of inequality as, not income, but wealthy people or corporations buying control of government.


“That surely is a catastrophe,” said Prof Deaton.

office, or saying what they do believe while having no intention of acting upon it.

emerging from those who pick up the Trump pieces.

“So I have come to think that it’s the inequality that comes through rent-seeking (as he described the use of wealth to influence politics for selfish gain) that is the crux of the matter.”

Like the executioner in Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Mikado’, I’ll leave the task of filling up the list to you. But they’d none of ‘em be missed and several can hear the swish of the blade. It will be a good day if things like globalisation, trade surpluses and deficits, labour mobility, job-destroying technology (a huge concern for Prof Deaton), and zero interest rates, are genuinely brought centre political stage.

This kind of limited optimism may be the best that is available in Ireland as well - where political destruction has already occurred. The broken pieces of the old party system will have to be put together into something that works better than it did for the past 30 years.

That is exactly the swamp against which Mr Trump railed. It is also an accurate description of the state of Irish politics; not improved by the ability of the unwealthy to influence politics if they have the required industrial muscle or media savvy. One of the attractions of Mr Trump is that he may actually believe what he says - even if it is wrong. This has come to matter less, with so many politicians saying things they do not believe, changing what they say they believe depending on whether they are in or out of


It is admittedly a curious kind of optimism, but it may be better Mr Trump gets some things wrong, and even does some harm, than he succumbs to the siren advice to leave the system alone and look after its beneficiaries. We might even regard it as “creative destruction”, with something better

For now, it seems to be more a case of clinging to the wreckage. Even the economic and political destruction of the past 10 years failed to produce the kind of thinking and political attitudes which might do something about Ireland’s endemic financial instability. Perhaps even more destruction is needed before there is real change. With Brexititis and Trumpism, one can be reasonably optimistic that we will get it. ■


# Imaginethat


How the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can cut costs and time in your organisation

Craig McKeown and Michael Willis from the Forensic Technology Group at PwC explain how it is helping organisations in all sectors take advantage of AI particular part of the document and stores it in a central repository. Through the process of machine learning, the software is able to build up expertise in its searches and becomes increasingly more accurate.


Craig McKeown and Michael Willis

magine you could search every one of your contracts and documents at the touch of a button.

Imagine being able to cut the cost of searching that bank of documents in half while at the same time increasing accuracy. Imagine the technology to do just that was already available and came with a wealth of industry expertise to make sure it was applied to your business as accurately and efficiently as possible. Luckily for you, you don’t need to exercise your imagination much further because we at PwC have a service which can meet all those not-so farfetched aims, and then some. It’s based, as you might expect, on artificial intelligence, a process which may seem too expensive and complicated to use in your business but one which can in actual fact be easily applied to answer a huge number of organisational needs in both the business and public sector world. In the right hands, it is a very simple process, one which is affordable and able to show cost savings almost immediately. The software - supplied by a technology partner but applied by PwC – firstly processes the documents - which can be in various formats through optical character recognition, a process which creates a text file in a searchable format. That in itself is a bonus for many firms, given that many of those formats can’t be easily searched at present. The technology is then able to search for specific terms, specific dates, or currencies, isolates that


And to ensure exceptionally clean data, a team of industry specialists at PwC then analyses the repository to identify any anomalies. The process is impressively quick, accurate and replaces hundreds of hours of work by your employees who are freed up to focus on more important, cash-generative tasks. As a result, the cost of carrying out such searches are easily cut by 50% right from the off, proof, if it were needed, that nearly any company, in any sector can take advantage of artificial intelligence right now without any major investment. Take Brexit, as an example. It doesn’t take an expert in European Union policy to know that the UK’s divorce from Brussels is going to have exporters and inward investors running to check their contracts to investigate how the move will impact their workers, their exports and their trade deals. Some of the biggest organisations in the world – investment banks, manufacturers, technology firms and many more – are bringing PwC on board to utilise our technology and expertise to drastically speed up the process of finding out how vulnerable they are to Brexit and help them protect against it, all at much lower cost than a manual search. The need for Brexit visibility is also to be found with many of the law firms which we work with, but that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how this type of artificial intelligence can help in a legal environment. For instance, a law firm working with a client purchasing a shopping centre will need contract documents analysed from perhaps 60 different tenants. We are able to automate a lot of the search and have our own paralegals here in Belfast check the results.

In the procurement world the advantages of this kind of technology are just as impressive, and in many cases can save companies a significant amount. We’ve been working with a number of procurement departments to review contracts to find previously agreed discount agreements with suppliers which have since been overlooked. Not only have savings been made by speeding up the process, the increased accuracy has meant clients have been able to claim substantial discounts. These are just some of the areas where this light touch AI can be applied, but just about every area of every organisation - both public and private - can benefit, and benefit quickly. By using these techniques to dip a toe into the world of AI, your organisation can understand how the technology works and will be well placed to take advantage of more advanced techniques in the future. Suddenly, the world of AI has become much more accessible for everyone. ■ For further information contact craig.l.mckeown@pwc.com or michael. willis@pwc.com

Risk Management & Security


Scotland offers a compromise One of the biggest risks for business in the current environment is the UK’s impending divorce from the European Union, a move which is proving more difficult than most to manage. John Simpson looks at a possible compromise being mooted for Scotland which could have big implications for Northern Ireland’s access to the EU in a post-Brexit world.


he Scottish Government, in a serious attempt to find answers on how Brexit may affect both the UK and, separately, Scotland, has published proposals that would combine the UK


leaving the European Union and also give differentiated scope for Scotland to retain (on a devolved basis) many continuing significant EU benefits for Scotland.


on Brexit The essence of the proposals is that, even if the UK does not remain within the Single Market and Customs Union, Scotland would (as part of the UK) leave the EU but would have UK agreement for Scotland to remain only in the Single Market and Customs Union. The institutional arrangements would be found in the existing rules for the (less publicised) European Economic Area which currently operate to allow Norway and Iceland to benefit from the Single Market. Ideally the Scots hope that the UK on leaving the EU would retain a Brexit negotiated agreement to continue to enjoy the benefits of full participation in the Single Market. The Scots


do not know whether the UK government will seek to negotiate that outcome but, if the UK fails to ask (or be allowed) to retain that status, then a differentiated structure for Scotland would be the request. Institutionally, these suggestions stem from two key starting points. First, if the UK leaves the EU that does not mean that other separate legal links are broken. Leaving the EU does not necessarily end the commitment to the wider European Economic Area (EEA) arrangements. Second, the EEA arrangements already allow three other states, of which Norway is the largest, to operate within the Single Market. The UK might negotiate to exercise the same

rights as part of Brexit. If the UK does not take that option, the scope for a defined and differentiated Scottish outcome should be added to the Brexit negotiations agenda. The detailed Scottish argument is skilfully presented in a 45-page document, ‘Scotland’s place in Europe’, published on the web. For readers in both parts of Ireland, even if the conclusions might not be readily acceptable, the ideas, structures and policy suggestions have immediate relevance to the local debate. The Scottish Government has outlined possible institutional arrangements that reconcile a Brexit decision for the UK with an outcome > acceptable to Scottish nationalists.



Just to take the Scottish dimension one step further, the wording of this Scottish paper is carefully designed to show goodwill and underline the degree of Scottish compromise. It is only a short step away from hinting that, if this compromise is rejected, the Scottish government may press again for another independence referendum.

goods and services, capital and labour. Within the UK, control of migration would need to be devolved to the Scottish and Northern Irish institutions. Also, retaining access to the Single Market would reasonably come at a cost: some method of financing a budget contribution would be expected. That would not be easily determined.

The Scottish plans, perhaps unintentionally, have a compelling read across for the island of Ireland. After a UK Brexit, there will be new political-economic borders in Ireland, and in GB, as well as affecting Gibraltar and with implications for the Channel Islands. Close to the UK, similar questions loom for Denmark and the Faroes as well as following the earlier decision by Greenland to exit the EU.

The Scottish compromise proposals also acknowledge that agriculture and fisheries policies would need to be reshaped within the devolved Governments. That also would be a very testing and complex problem, financially as well as organisationally.

If, or when, the UK finally decides the form of Brexit, the Scottish analysis points the way to a range of important policy questions on which the powers of devolved Governments need to be clarified and, in some respects, changed. The Stormont devolution model, as also the Scottish, will need competence, along with legislative repercussions, just to arrange sensible changes. Interestingly, some of the current legislative competencies of Stormont are already close to the changes now commended for Scotland. If Scotland and Northern Ireland - from within the UK - were allowed to remain within the Single Market, there would be an acknowledged need to accept the ‘fundamental freedoms’ of the movement of


If the UK Government was persuaded that Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, should be permitted to exit the full EU but could retain membership of the Single Market and Customs Union, the major possible tensions of the north-south border on this island would be minimised. However, as the Scottish Government acknowledge, there would be an economic border (but not a full political border) within the UK. The Scottish Government is at pains to minimise the impact of that question. The logic of the Scottish Government’s suggested compromise is based on a critical starting assumption that Scotland’s economy would be seriously damaged if Scottish business and investment had to be conducted outside the single market. In contrast to the ambitions of the Brexit campaign, there is no ready expectation that

there are accessible additional trading and investment links which would more than offset any damage to the existing market place arrangements in Europe. The Scottish government hope that prior to the UK decision to activate Article 50, to leave the EU, the UK Government will acknowledge and support the thrust of the Scottish suggestions in the high level statement of principle shaping the agenda for the withdrawal negotiations. This expectation of an early statement of intent, or support, has two immediate implications. First, the relationships between the UK and Scotland Governments are poised for an early tension on the UK negotiating stance with the EU. Second, whatever stance is taken in the negotiating agenda as it relates to Scotland will be critical for the environment of the relations between the Irish Government and the UK. In the few short weeks of early 2017, there will be a search for a negotiating strategy affecting N-S relations in Ireland. Different political parties will differ on the merits of the Scottish compromise for Scotland and its possible relevance to easing the tensions affecting Northern Ireland. Unhappily, within the Northern Ireland political debate there has been little careful preparation for methods of discussing acceptable solutions. Instead of a two-year period whilst negotiations emerge, serious questions are now on an urgent agenda. ■

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Morgan Document Security sends boxes to the cloud


organ Document Security has launched a new digital archiving facility which does away with the need for firms to hold boxes of paper records.

Morgan iView stores a client’s scanned documents in secure cloud storage so that can be drawn down at any time to a computer or mobile device. Director David Dunlop said the new product takes the company’s offering to the next level. “Our business is founded on providing a solution to the problem faced by so many businesses: the need to keep boxes of records and files in the long term and the ever-growing squeeze on space. Most businesses just don’t have the room to store records on site at the expense of other commercial activity. “We provide secure off-site storage and we have a very responsive and reliable document retrieval service which means that a client can recall any file at any time and have it safely tracked and delivered from our secure storage facility into their hands – and back again - any time they need it. We have lots of public and private sector clients using this, from legal and accounting firms to all types of retailers. “Alongside traditional hard copy storage, we have seen a growing demand for scanning of paperwork which is returned to clients on a variety of digital formats, with the originals either stored or shredded. “However, the launch of our new cloud-based document management

service, Morgan iView takes this one step further. We can scan all of the client’s frequently used documents and store them in secure cloud storage. Our recording and archiving system means they can draw these down from the cloud at any time, from any location, from their computer or mobile device. “One of the main barriers companies see when they consider going paperless is the time and effort to make the transition from paper to digital. Our service scans all the documents, logs and stores them, taking all of the hassle and headache out of it. “We’ve done a lot of work to put a secure cloud service in place and we’re now in a position to offer this to new and existing clients. We are confident iView will help our customers to improve business processes and gain efficiencies by streamlining workflow with instant on-line access to all of their important documents.” ■

Are you making intelligent, informed procurement decisions?


rocurement managers and business owners regularly face purchasing decisions, and no one wants to be the one to make the bad decision that ends up costing more in the long run. That’s why it is so important to make an informed purchasing decision, by taking account of the complete lifecycle of a product or system. A great example of this, which is relevant to virtually all businesses nowadays, is consideration with regards to the procurement of security systems, in particular video surveillance, or “CCTV” systems. With an influx of low cost brands from outside of the EU over the past few years, the temptation is there to purchase a system for what appears on the face of it to be a “good price”. But have you considered the total cost of ownership before you make that procurement decision? Diamond Systems are a leading provider of innovative and sustainable fire and security solutions. Managing Director Steve Snoddon

25% of the initial investment cost.” Lowering storage requirements means lower upfront costs, but it also delivers savings in respect of ongoing operating costs. Angela Bennett FCA, Financial Director of Diamond Systems, believes that ongoing costs should be a vital consideration when making a procurement decision. explains that making a more intelligent choice when it comes to surveillance systems makes financial sense. “Our partnership with the world’s leading innovator of video surveillance systems, Axis Communications, means we can now offer a unique technology, called Zipstream, which drastically reduces bandwidth, processing, and storage requirements by an average of 50%, without compromising on image quality,” he said. “With today’s surveillance systems capturing more and more images, in greater detail and better quality than ever before, storage is a major consideration and can contribute to up to

“It’s estimated that 49% of the life cycle cost of a surveillance system comprises maintenance and operation costs. “Our product range has been designed to minimise operating costs through performance and reliability, and has undergone rigorous testing in order to offer a solution which truly delivers a lower total cost of ownership, and is therefore a more intelligent procurement decision.” ■ You can find out more about Diamond Systems’ range of innovative and sustainable electronic fire and security products on their website www. diamondsystems.co.uk.

Helping Northern Ireland’s businesses lead the way We help our clients deliver their products and services effectively, minimise risk and grasp opportunities for growth. With 1,000 legal experts based in Belfast and across five other major UK cities, our goal is to help our clients lead in business.

TLT is an ambitious UK law firm working with some of Northern Ireland’s leading businesses across financial services, real estate, planning and energy & renewables.

Keep up to date with the latest legal developments at:


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Risking it all By Amanda McConkey, Chartered Insurance Broker, Corporate Business Development Manager, Caulfield Corporate


s we enter into the second month of 2017, many of our wellmeaning New year resolutions have since become a distance memory. Following the Christmas parties, the tins of Quality Street and the usual excesses of the holiday season, the realisation that we’ve put on a few pounds in the New Year drives many of us to spending the first few weeks of the new year enthusiastically attending the gym. After a few weeks, our enthusiasm starts to wane, however, for those that continue beyond the New Year, the benefits can be very rewarding and can improve their lifestyle and well-being. Risk Management for your business is a bit like joining the gym – with a bit of hard work at the beginning, the health and well-being of your business will improve; By implementing a good, well- structured Risk Management programme, your business is less likely to suffer avoidable accidents and subsequently expensive claims that may increase your insurance premiums. There are many benefits for a company adopting a good risk management strategy, not just its positive impact on their insurance programme: 1. Demonstrates the professionalism of your organisation within your industry sector to the wider insurance market to engage greater interest from Insurers. 2. Provides insurance company underwriters with increased confidence often reflected in lower rates. 3. Fewer and less severe claims. 4. Improved efficiency, compliance and greater profitability As an insurance advisor, Caulfield Corporate can help you to transfer and


Risk Management for your business is a bit like joining the gym – with a bit of hard work at the beginning, the health and well-being of your business will improve mitigate risks through the development of a risk management strategy both internally and via professional strategic partnerships including: 1. Loss prevention including employee safety advice and training. 2. Loss reduction including medical management services, crisis management,

driver profiling and licence checking services. 3. Risk avoidance. 4. Risk financing through non-conventional and self-insurance programmes. At Caulfield Corporate, we are continually committed to our clients. We are not solely interested in being your insurance broker but rather being part of your team as your risk advisor, protecting your business by offering vital and important risk management services. If you require assistance in developing a Risk Management Programme or would like advice on how to improve your current programme, talk to Caulfield Corporate, a local broker that is able to provide solutions. ■


Speeding the broadband journey

Decent broadband for all is the aim, but how is Northern Ireland performing against other regions? Ofcom’s Northern Ireland Director Jonathan Rose explains


he quality and reach of fixed broadband in Northern Ireland has improved considerably over the last few years. Superfast broadband, capable of delivering download speeds of 30 Mbit/s or more, is now available to more than 80% of homes and small businesses and continuing investment by industry and government will ensure further increases in coverage over the next few years. However, too many people and businesses are still struggling for a good service. Our latest Connected Nations report shows that 63,000 Northern Ireland homes and offices – or 8% of properties – remain unable to sign up for broadband speeds over 10 Mbit/s, the speed required to meet a typical household’s digital needs. In rural areas this rises to one in four premises, often because they are situated a long way from the telephone exchange or local street cabinet. We are providing technical advice to support the UK Government’s plans, announced in 2015, for universal, decent broadband. The universal service would ensure every home and small business in the country has the right


to a decent, affordable broadband connection of 10 Mbit/s or above by the end of the current parliament.

(34%, or 254,000) have now chosen to take up superfast broadband, up from 29% a year earlier.

Ofcom’s analysis shows that this speed is sufficient to meet the current needs of a typical household.

Superfast broadband is now available to eight in ten Northern Ireland homes (83%), up from 77% last year. This has been driven by BT upgrading its network and on-going investment by the Northern Ireland Executive. Superfast services are now available to 71% of small and medium sized enterprises or SMEs – up from 66% in 2015.

However, households are likely to need greater speeds as new, data-hungry applications emerge. We will therefore monitor the universal service and recommend its minimum speed to rise when necessary. The final design of the service will be decided by Government, and then implemented by Ofcom. This is a very important initiative but we should also highlight the progress that has already been made in spreading faster broadband services in Northern Ireland. The Connected Nations Report shows the average download speed of a broadband service in Northern Ireland jumped by 21% over the previous year, from 28 Mbit/s to 34 Mbit/s. This reflects not only better coverage, but also people choosing to pay for faster broadband packages. Around a third of Northern Ireland homes

With Government funded interventions continuing in tandem with ongoing operator investment, we expect the availability of superfast broadband to further increase for SMEs, and for all consumers more generally over the coming years. So we’re seeing good progress, but there is a long way to go. Ofcom recognises access to high quality fixed-line and mobile communications services are increasingly vital for consumers and businesses, and we want everyone to benefit from better coverage Ofcom will keep working with Government and industry to ensure that Northern Ireland has the mobile and broadband networks it needs for the coming years. ■


Name: Jennifer Callister Position: Head of Ireland - Royal Caribbean International

A word from

The Wise How did you start out in business? I started in the travel industry at the age of 20 working for Joe Walsh Tours as an Overseas Holiday Representative in Tenerife. My love for travel has grown from there and I am passionate about the industry. I joined Royal Caribbean International in 2012 and was promoted to the position of Head of Ireland for Royal Caribbean International earlier this year. It is undoubtedly been my greatest career achievement - it is such an innovative and extraordinary business to work for and I am committed to further growing the already buoyant cruise market across the island of Ireland. What did you find the most challenging during your years in business? The most challenging, but influential part of my career to date was my first year with RCL Cruises Ltd. I was responsible for selling and marketing the three Royal brands in Ireland: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. Looking back now it was a great learning experience for me and enabled me to understand all the aspects of the company’s business. This experience has definitely been instrumental in me achieving my career success – today I work on the Royal Caribbean International brand. We have 25 spectacular ships that visit over 250 amazing destinations and we are committed to making each and every holiday truly extraordinary.

How would you describe your management style? I am democratic - I work very closely with my team and ensure that they are fully integrated into all elements of the business and are part


The column with an ear for experience...

of the decision-making process. When there is good communication present, trust and respect follow. What would you change if you could go back and do it all again? To be honest I don’t have any regrets! I would not change the industry I work in and my career journey has lead me to my current role with Royal Caribbean International. I have had the opportunity to travel the world, visit some breath-taking destinations, experience new cultures and meet so many fascinating people. It is great to be part of such a progressive company that is seeking to challenge outdated perceptions of cruising and support brand growth. Have you done it all on your own? My role requires me to be on the road almost daily and regularly travel internationally. I have actually just returned from a ship visit in New York on Anthem of the Seas – we are always keen to showcase our ships to our travel agency partners, as it is only by experiencing them that you can truly understand how extraordinary they are. How would you like your business career to be remembered? I would like to be remembered as being passionate about the company I worked for; a true professional; friendly; approachable; hardworking and with a good sense of humour. I would also like to feel that I was the best in the industry and set a bench mark for others. What piece of advice would you give a 20-year-old you? Take a role with a company that is willing to invest in you long term. Work the hardest you can and always go the extra mile as this is what makes you stand out from the rest. ■



Ryanair Chief executive Michael O’Leary

'Too soon' for Ryanair to make decisions about its presence in UK after Brexit By John Mulligan


t's still "too soon" for Ryanair to make any decisions about its presence in the UK following last June's Brexit vote, according to the airline's chief financial officer, Neil Sorahan. But he said that despite announcing an expansion at Stansted Airport, Ryanair could reduce feed at some smaller airports in the UK or not grow as quickly there as it might otherwise have done. Speaking at the Global Airfinance conference in Dublin, Mr Sorahan said that despite UK Prime Minister Theresa May's speech this week outlying a hard Brexit, there's still no clarity. "We still don't necessarily know what that's going to mean," he said. "She laid out a plan that will see her get lots of really good things and leave all the bad things behind. I can't see that happening." "We're looking at lots of different scenarios internally," he added.


"It's too soon to start doing anything at this stage. Article 50 hasn't been triggered." He said it would be interesting to see what kind of stance European politicians take this year in light of upcoming elections in countries such as France, the Netherlands and Germany. Mr Sorahan said Ryanair's options for dealing with the impact of Brexit include possibly obtaining a UK air operator's certificate. Ryanair currently has a 15%c market share in Europe, and Mr Sorahan said that would grow to 22% or 23% over the next few years. It won't defer plane orders, he said. "We see phenomenal opportunities for us to continue to grow," he said. "We have some modest ambitions to grow to about 200 million customers a year by March 2024." Ryanair will have 585 aircraft in its fleet at that stage. "We're short aircraft at the moment," he added. He said that Ryanair and Norwegian Air Shuttle technology teams are currently working out details of a planned interlining agreement that would see passengers able to

transfer between the carriers. Last September Mr O’Leary said the Brexit vote had prevented him from basing a further aircraft at Belfast International Airport. Then he expressed concern about the impact of Brexit on the economy here. “Nobody in the airline industry knows what the outcome of Brexit is, which puts us in exactly the same situation as most of the cabinet of the Government of the UK, since they haven't a clue either,” he said. “The European Union is not going to make it easy for the UK. All this kind of arrogant nonsense in London - 'we're the fifth biggest economy in the world, they'll give a good deal”. Also speaking at the conference, Angus Kelly, chief executive of the world's biggest aircraft lessor, AerCap, said that Ireland could benefit from Brexit. "There is potential for Ireland to do well out it," but he added that personal tax rates remain too high. ■

Mergers & Acquisitions


Deal makers kept busy D

eal makers in Northern Ireland were kept busy last year but it seems the appetite for high value deals tailed


while activity in the financial services industry jumped by 238% to 44. But the report said that while all three industries saw a sharp increase in the number of deals, only financial services saw a corresponding increase in value.

The latest report from credit experts Experian revealed 228 merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions in 2016, the busiest ever year on record and 31% more than in 2015.

It jumped to £467m by 372% while manufacturing and wholesale dropped by 40% and 75% respectively to £674.6m and £354.8m.

However, the total value of those deals stood at just £977m for the 12-month period, sharply down on the £1.9bn recorded in the previous year.

The table of the most busy legal advisors was topped by Tughans with 71 deals under its belt, followed by A&L Goodbody with 46 and Carson McDowell with 31.

In its quarterly report, Experian said the fall comes after a particularly prosperous period for M&A here.

Tughans also took the top value spot with £610m worth of deals followed by A&L Goodbody on £424m and both Herbert Smith and Linklaters on £340m.

“It is also worth noting that the previous two years were particularly strong for the region, comfortably the highest performing over the past decade, potentially amplifying any declines,” it said. When it comes to sectors, manufacturing remains the most active and accounted for over one third of all transactions with 69. Wholesale and retail saw 58 deals recorded


The latter sum can be attributed to the fact both lawyers acted on the biggest deal of the year in Northern Ireland, the sale of Hampden Group, which trades as Homebase, to Wesfarmers. The deal meant the financial value table was dominated at the top by the three financial advisors which were involved in the transaction: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Lazard and EY. The latter took the top spot have also advised on

another deal in Northern Ireland. When to comes to the financial volume table, KPMG led with 15 deals with HNG Partners in second place with 10 and Keenan CF in third with six. When it comes to size of overall deals, there were two large deals of over £100m announced during the year worth a total of £560m compared to three deals worth £560m in 2015. In the mid-market there were 74 deals worth £2.8bn compared to 86 worth £3.5bn during 2015. When it comes to small deals, there were 54 recorded worth a total of £119m respectively. ■


Northern Ireland’s biggest deals of 2016 Date


Deal type






Hampden Group Ltd

Bunnings (UK&I) Holdings Ltd




Wireless Group Plc

News Corp UK & Ireland Ltd




Delta Print & Packaging

Huhtamaki Oyj




Junction One

Tristan Capital



Venture Capital

Curlew Third

Property LP




Damolly Retail Park

MJM Prime Investments Ltd




Screggagh Wind Farm

Greencoat UK Wind Plc, London



Venture Capital


Generation Ltd




Investment Property

Herbel Property Development Ltd




Lisnagelvin Centre

Scotco (Northern) Ltd




Deals in the news Finnish packaging giant buys Delta Print and Packaging for £80m


elfast company Delta Print and Packaging was been bought by its Finnish rival for £80m last year.

Huhtamaki, which already has plants in Lurgan and Lisburn, said the deal includes the firm’s Polish production plant as well as its assets in Belfast. The existing management team will remain in place with founder Terry Cross continuing to work for the business as an advisor. The new owner said the purchase will help it break into the folding carton business in Europe, an area in which Delta made its name with a customer list which includes household names such as KFC, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s and United Biscuits. Started by Mr Cross in 1981, it has experience sharp growth since then and is considered one of the Northern Ireland economy’s success stories.

Rosemary Mason, Managing Director Huhtamaki Foodservice Western Europe and UK, and Terry Cross OBE, founder of Delta Print and Packaging.

Huhtamaki previously bought its molded fiber plant – where it manufactures egg cartons and egg trays - in Lurgan in 1999 and has recently invested £4.9m at the site.

It specialises in food-to-go packaging such as cups, lids, plates, bowls and cutlery for some of the leading food and foodservice brands in the world. ■

Murdoch buys former UTV radio stations for £220m


ne of the world’s most formidable media tycoons bought the radio stations previously owned by UTV for £220m last year. News Corp, owned by Rupert Murdoch, has taken ownership of Wireless Group which counts Belfast-based U105 as well as talkSPORT and 19 other stations throughout the UK in its stable – in a deal which sees the final part of UTV Media sold. Wireless Group was a new company formed last year when ITV bought UTV’s television assets. News Corp owns media companies around the world including The Sun, The Times and The Wall Street Journal newspapers. Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News UK


and former editor of The News of the World, said the deal presented a number of synergies for News Corp. “The Wireless Group represents an opportunity for us to take advantage of its strong radio presence to build on our growing digital success story and to bring some of the best journalistic and broadcasting talent into one group,” he said. "This acquisition will allow us to increase engagement for both businesses through the cross promotion of our brands and the use of our respective talent.” And she hinted that the group would be investing in the Wireless Group. “We also look forward to collaborating in the expansion of the Wireless Group's digital audio

News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch

and international assets, which offer new opportunities for our businesses in the UK and globally." ■

First. Twice. Top NI Legal Adviser two years running*

Advised in over 30% of NI deals in 2016, 38% more than the next placed legal adviser, representing 62% of the total deal values.

tughans.com solicitors since 1896

* United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland M&A Review 2015 & 2016


Inspiring workplace mental health Inspire Students and Inspire Knowledge & Leadership.

In 2015, Carecall amalgamated with Dublinbased EAP Consultants and now provides cover to just over 1million ‘lives’ in private, public and community/voluntary sector organisations throughout Ireland and GB. 2016 saw Inspire expand its charitable activities into Ireland and another local charity, Addiction NI joined the Inspire family. As we enter 2017, this dynamic organisation has further plans afoot to inspire an even wider audience with its vision of wellbeing for all. Professor Peter McBride, Inspire’s Chief Executive, shares what has inspired him to dedicate himself to becoming a champion for the development of mental health services, and some of his plans for further expanding the reach of the organisation. So why did you want to work in the area of mental health? For me it started with my studies in social work and the management of psychological trauma. Professor Peter McBride, CEO of Inspire


nspire may not be a name you are immediately familiar with, yet this charity and social enterprise (which was formerly called Niamh), is one of the largest and longest established providers of mental health, learning/intellectual disability, workplace and academic wellbeing and addiction services in Northern Ireland. In the past six years Inspire has grown from 250 employees delivering mental health services in Northern Ireland to now operating across Ireland and GB delivering support and services to several thousand adults each


year with a mental health and/or learning/ intellectual disability. Formed in 1959, its ethos was to establish community-based mental health day and accommodation services that would act as a ‘beacon of hope’ for those experiencing mental ill-health. Through its experience, Inspire became aware that work (both maintaining and securing employment), is a key aspect of a person’s mental health recovery journey, leading to it establishing its Carecall social enterprise in 2000, now known as Inspire Workplaces,

During my first job with Cruse Bereavement Care I became interested in how trauma affected the grieving process. It was this interest in mental health that led me to work with Niamh, where I established Carecall. That was sixteen years ago. After eight years at Carecall, I was privileged to be seconded to the role of Director of Change and Innovation. When I was subsequently appointed CEO, I became responsible for overseeing the implementation of a strategy of modernisation and growth. Why is it do you think that work is such a key aspect of our mental health? Work is fundamental to our mental wellbeing for many reasons. For those who do or want to


work, doing a job we enjoy, which harnesses our skills and potential and which is rewarding, is a fundamental component of positive selfesteem.

Professor Peter McBride, CEO of Inspire, welcomes Rene Keet to the EuCoMS Network Meeting in Belfast, January 2017

Having affirming relationships in our lives is also a key contributor to mental wellbeing. So getting on with colleagues and mangers can help improve our mental health. Research also shows that work can be the biggest cause of stress in people’s lives (Mind 2013) , stress can leave someone vulnerable to becoming mentally unwell. So is this what lead to you establishing Carecall? Partly yes. Being able to provide timely support to someone who needs it can make a huge difference to their mental wellbeing. I firmly believe though that investing in employee mental health is not just good for the workforce, it is a shrewd investment for the employer too. When you think that stress, anxiety or depression accounted for 15.2million days of sickness absence across the UK in 2013 , and that mental health conditions are estimated to cost UK workplaces over £1000 per employee per year , it makes good economic sense for any organisation to invest in the mental health of its staff. Most organisations do not have the specialist expertise within their own HR departments to best know how to do this, so there was a need to establish a service like Carecall that could work effectively with both employer and employee to unlock the full potential of individual staff and the wider organisation as a whole. What learnings about workplace wellbeing do you think you have taken back into your own organisation? Within Inspire we put employee wellbeing at the very centre of our strategic development. Supporting our team to thrive at work is a key concern of the Directorate, and we invest significant resources in work-related training, personal and professional development courses and wellbeing initiatives to support staff to flourish whilst working in our organisation.


What advice would you offer to other employers in terms of ways to support the wellbeing of their workforce? No matter what sector you work in, your staff are your most valuable ‘asset’, and it will be their wellbeing that will determine the success or failure of your venture. Investing in the welfare of your staff is a way for any organisation to optimise output and improve its ‘bottom line’. If there is one thing we have learned though from providing such services for over sixteen years now it is that it is key to be proactive in your investment in your staff. Don’t wait until there are issues before calling in experts like ourselves. A proactive wellbeing training programme can not only prevent issues arising, it can also help you find ways to unlock and harness the full potential of your staff team. So what next for Inspire?

We took the decision to invest in the development of a new resilience centre hub in Belfast. An informal and welcoming location where anyone could easily access advice, information or support. This led us to relocate to Lombard House on Lombard Street. Our new premises house our mental health, addiction, learning/intellectual disability and counselling services in a single location which will greatly enhance the synergy of future service developments. Its central location, excellent public transport links and the abundance of nearby parking also makes it much more accessible for anyone coming in to see us for counselling. For the first time we have suitable accommodation that will enable us to hold a variety of free wellness-themed events in 2017 that allow for any member of the public who wants to, to drop in and pick up knowledge than will inspire their wellbeing. ■ Find out more about Inspire services and the activities they will be hosting at Lombard House at: www.inspirewellbeing.org



Because you're worth it - A narcissist's guide to Twitter Adrian Weckler offers you clever tweeters a few tips to draw the attention back to‌you


n Twitter? Feel that your important views aren't getting the impact that you reckon they deserve? Never fear. Narcissists have fashioned several clever techniques to bring you back into the limelight where you belong. They know, as we do, that you're not an attention-seeker. You're a vital cog to our national discussion. With that in mind, here are some techniques to show the world that your tweets are really, really important. 1. Never reply to someone, quote them for effect


Never just reply to someone, as only those following both of you will see your point. Instead, quote them. Take a grandiose position on your reply. The world needs to know what you think about the point put to you. It's important for civic discussion, isn't it? (As an alternative, use a dot when replying). 2. Space out lines in tweets You're not like the other tweeters. Your tweets deserve more space. So go ahead and make your point. ... Like this. Put a space (or a few dots) in

between your lines. That way, people have no choice but to look at your tweet. You are providing the dramatic pause that the reader didn't even know they wanted until they saw you doing it. Clever you. 3. Retweet yourself often People may not have seen your tweet before. Remind them of what you said! Thankfully, Twitter recently introduced the ability to retweet oneself. Use it. Your followers will thank you for it. 4. Quote clever tweets, never retweet them


Interrupt and remind them! Link to your tweet! 6. Use a lot of full stops Show everyone how solemn and definitive you are by putting a full stop after every three or four words. Like this. Or this. Or even this. 7. Never attack Twitter itself, no matter how awful the harassment or abuse others receive You're a well known opponent of unfair, aggressive, abusive behaviour. You will fight and maybe even campaign for laws to help people Retweeting something clever or interesting cuts you out of the credit. But quoting a tweet, even if you have nothing more to add other than 'heh' or 'wow', may involve you in some attributable way (even a retweet). Hell, you deserve it. After all, you saw the tweet, didn't you? You're choosing to share it with YOUR followers, aren't you? So why shouldn't you have some ownership of that? 5. Link to your previous tweets as 'a matter of record' What? There's a conversation happening about a topic you tweeted about last Tuesday? You're not being referenced?


fight trolls, racists and abusers. Except if it affects any features on Twitter. Anything that restricts speech on Twitter is automatically bad. I mean, it's all very well to have a few people feel safer. But where would restrictions on Twitter freedom leave your ability to inform the world? Would silencing you really help our community, even if it knocked out a few nazis? No. Sombrely, you must argue that it is better to accept some evils in this world - all right, a lot of evil - so that true wisdom (yours) is protected. 8. Assume that this column was written about you

Yes, this column was written about you. Really. I mean, who else could it be about? The digs? The sly references? It's obvious, isn't it? Who else is as much of a growing presence on Twitter as you? Ha, you think. Mainstream media journalist. Inherently trying to keep critical voices down. So how to respond? A cryptic tweet, perhaps, referring to 'a certain person' or a 'so-called journalist'? No. You don't have to. Because your work is getting through! You're being noticed! So no, you take the high road. MSM types are monitoring your work. (As they rightly should.) So no retaliatory tweetstorm. Still, one little mention couldn't hurt, could it? After all, there are your followers to think of. If nothing else, they deserve to know about the progress you're making, don't they? So something dignified and maybe ironic. Like: "Journalists acknowledging commentary outside their own bubble‌ Am I one of the narcissists? Say it ain't so!" With an emoji. No, wait, a Gif. Yes, a Gif. Your response will be funny AND informative. This is what makes you important. Not just for Twitter or for the #Marian, #LateLateShow or #ClaireByrneLive streams. You are important for the country. For culture. For us. There are big battles being fought. But you are one of the good guys. You will keep fighting the good fight. You WILL be noticed. â–



Portaferry Hotel owners Cathal and Mary Arthurs with their children

Mary and Cathal Arthurs, The Portaferry Hotel


collective sigh of relief rose from the upper Ards last February when it emerged that Cahal and Mary Arthurs were to breathe new life into the Portaferry Hotel. Since its closure in autumn 2015, the town – already struggling with the closure of the Exploris aquarium, the biggest tourist draw in the region – had desperately missed the open doors of the iconic hostelry which had been serving tourists and locals alike for decades. The Arthurs’ arrival promised a return to the glory days for the Beannchor-owned hotel after a period of upheaval, with plans to mix their own ideas and energy with the sure


hand and attention to detail shown by the late John Herlihy - a legendary figure in the hospitality industry - during his tenure as owner. As the couples’ first Christmas season approached, Ulster Business caught up with the two entrepreneurs to find out how business had been in the first year in charge. “From the off it was a case of opening the doors and hoping people would come,” Cathal said. “Luckily they have and we’ve had a busy year, making sure we’re providing the service people expect, training and bedding in staff

and just getting everything up and running.” Although neither had run a hotel before, both have astute business heads. Mary has a background in insurance while Cathal comes from a stalwart butcher family from the town and between them they’ve built up a number of businesses and were already running fish and chip shop The Ferry Grill – which Cathal bought in 1997 – and Dumigan’s, a well-known pub in the town. That knowledge of the hospitality industry stood them in good stead in the first few months in charge of the hotel when the focus was centred on getting the basics right, something they seem to have managed.


A view of Portaferry from across Strangford Lough

For proof, you don’t need to look further than The Bridgestone Guide which stayed at the hotel and proclaimed “one of the best breakfasts of the year” while the staff were “superb – chatty, calm, helpful, funny, on top of things”. And then there’s this media group’s very own thinking reader’s gourmand Joris Minne who raved over a bouillabaisse and an overall food offering which is “better than it has ever been” and service which is “is slick, smiling and on-point”. Lofty praise indeed but acclaim which has been won by meticulous attention to detail, service and hard work. Like any successful business, particularly in


the hospitality arena, Cathal and Mary aren’t resting on their laurels and after a busy Christmas season are focusing on training staff and adding further to the business. “We have the staff in place and the offering just about right but we’re committed to making it even better. We know we have a great location but we just need to build on it,” said Mary. Realising that to build the business sustainably will need a varied offering, Mary has already held an afternoon of gin where they showcased 19 different varieties of the juniper-infused spirit and expects to repeat this and other alternative events ,such as murder mystery evenings, at the hotel in the coming months.

The business and golf market is also one the couple are keen to target and one where they can stand out from the competition. Cathal – a qualified helicopter pilot - is able to fly guests to and from the hotel, a factor which puts nearly any golf course in the country within easy reach. With additional offerings such as these, an impressive attention to service, food and interior décor and with Mary and Cathal at the helm, the reinvigorated Portaferry Hotel looks on course to reclaim its place as a top class hotel, not just for guests but for everyone. That sigh of relief is now one of satisfaction from a full belly and a good night’s sleep. ■


A DAY IN THE LIFE Paul Gibson, Sales Operation Executive for Lidl Northern Ireland takes us through a day in his working life

Paul Gibson

I’m always up at 6am, for a quick breakfast and shower before I hit the road for 6.30am. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change much at the weekend as I’ve two young boys who don’t yet differentiate between weekday and weekend! At Lidl we’ve recently really focused on encouraging a healthy and balanced lifestyle and I believe that a fit and healthy body gives me much more energy throughout the day, so twice a week I like to run or swim before starting work. My first port of call at around 8am is to visit a store with either senior management colleagues or an Area Manager. It’s a perfect opportunity to see first-hand how any recent initiatives we’ve implemented are working either behind the scenes or impacting on our customers. It also allows us to meet, talk and listen to our store teams. I’m usually back to the office for 11am, having visited another stores or two on my way with one of our Area Managers. We’ve nine Area Managers who look after our 38 stores in Northern Ireland and their role is integral as it is the vital link between the frontline teams and the support offices. I spent three years as an Area Manager so I’ve an in-depth knowledge of the role. I believe it is very important to have that experience and perspective when it comes to making decisions that impact our colleagues and customers. Once back in the car, I’ll always have a few calls to return. If I’m in the office I’ll always have lunch with a few colleagues. I enjoy and appreciate company and I find this an ideal time to catch up with people in other business areas, both professionally and personally. We are very fortunate that we have an exceptionally loyal and committed team of people at Lidl - a large proportion of whom

have been with the company for over 10 years. One of the things I enjoy most is the varied nature of my role; no day or week is ever the same. The afternoons can often be spent in meetings, interviews or presentations. Ultimately, the goal of most of my meetings is the same – how can we make improvements or provide a better experience for our customers and colleagues. Our Area Managers are vital in this process – bringing feedback from the frontline back to the business. For a team to be high performing they need to produce high performing key performance indicators. Part of my day will always involve calls or meetings on areas of the operation that aren’t performing as well as they could be. I subscribe to the ‘80/20’ rule, so I will spend most of my time trying to develop certain areas that will have the biggest impact on the region’s overall performance. I find deriving satisfaction from my job quite easy. Watching and having an impact on peoples’ career development is always the most rewarding. Seeing our financial performance develop positively is also hugely satisfying. I endeavour to leave wherever I am by 6.30pm to make my way home. Grocery retail is a sevenday week operation and on days when I haven’t been in store I’ll try and call into a store on the way home. Any evening visits are all about product availability, I also normally receive a text message from ‘the boss’ to pick up a few items that are in short supply at home! I believe in a healthy work/ life balance, not only for myself but for my colleagues too. I’ll never call anyone after 6pm unless it’s critical. I like to relax in the evening as much as possible, although the boys usually have different ideas after having not seen daddy all day.

Sponsored by

Motoring By Pat Burns

Contract hire: a new funding model approach By Paul Griffiths, Head of Sales – Northern Ireland at Ogilvie Fleet


gilvie Fleet are delighted to be the main sponsor for the Ulster Business motoring section for 2017.

The year ahead will see a lot of changes, new introductions and challenges to both the motor industry and subsequently to companies who operate vehicles. The new tax announcements in the Autumn Statement, and in particular the increase in road tax rates, will be implemented in April; Brexit continues to rumble in the background; the Bank of England continues its monthly review on the base rate; and plug in technology continues to grow in development and popularity. In Northern Ireland the Ogilvie Fleet name is gaining momentum with over 10% of our UK fleet now placed with businesses here. Our fleet size in the current Fleet News Top 50 is 12,195 (a 3.8% per annum growth from 10,130 in 2010). We finished our financial year on 30 June 2016 by delivering a company record of 5,117 vehicles in the preceding 12 months through our branches in Belfast, Sheffield, London and Stirling. So a huge ‘thank you’ to all our local customers. Business is also about fun and we have developed a fantastic corporate partnership with the Belfast Giants ice hockey, their game nights are a great way to thank our clients with their families. I get asked as to what our customers like about us, what makes us different? Well we decided a few years ago that in order to grow we had to change our strategy and start writing more contracts with our own money, so we secured a £100m finance package.


Paul Griffiths of Ogilvie Fleet with Brandon Benedict of the Belfast Giants

This offers huge flexibility on residuals, maintenance, mileage restructures and also extensions. We still use bank funding but we aim to write 90% of our contract hire agreements on our own funding so our clients can experience a newer and more ‘modern contract hire’ offering.

In the ‘modern contract hire’ of 2017 Ogilvie Fleet have introduced this pioneering service offering to many of our new corporate clients in Northern Ireland who are now really seeing the savings both administratively and financially.

If you talk to any of our clients they really see the benefits of this in their invoicing, credit lines, rentals, mileage restructures, terminations and extensions. Your contract is always with Ogilvie.

We will continue to invest in our people and new talent (we are Gold Accreditation Investors In People). Our unique contract hire offering along with our daily rental for short term hire and airport rentals, plus car salary sacrifice, will continue to be an attractive offering to local businesses.

Flexibility and transparency are now crucial for all SME and blue chip businesses. Our annual client fleet reviews highlight where mileages need to be adjusted both up and uniquely down. Our termination procedures are detailed properly prior to contract commencement and we don’t recharge for any damaged tyres.

I wish all businesses in Northern Ireland a successful 2017 and similar to the new plug in cars, keep it positive and don’t be afraid of a change, with change you will progress. We are here to help, assist and guide on any company car or van requirements so feel free to contact one of our team. ■


A Scenic view By Pat Burns


enault invented the compact family MPV segment in 1996 and the arrival of the fourth generation signals the complete renewal of Renault’s all-new family car line-up with Kadjar, Mégane, Mégane Sport Tourer, Scénic and Grand Scénic. The French manufacturer now has the newest model range on sale in Europe. The All-New Scénic and Grand Scénic remains as impressively practical as ever thanks to its modularity and class-leading storage and boot space. The five-seat All-New Scénic has a best-in-class boot volume of 572-litres with all seats in the upright position, whilst the seven-seat All-New Grand Scénic has a boot volume of 596-litres when configured with the rearmost two seats down. Other ingenious storage solutions, including four underfloor compartments, extend total storage capacity to 57-litres, placing the All-New Scénic at the top of its class by offering up to twice as much space as its competitors. The Scénic and Grand Scénic are each offered in four trim levels that owners of other Renault vehicles will be accustomed to –


Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. Each version provides a comprehensive standard specification, rising to the truly luxurious at the top-of-the-range.

adjustable steering column, height adjustable driver seat, gear-shift indicator and a 12-volt front socket are all standard from Expression+ trim level.

The Scénic and Grand Scénic are the only vehicles in the class to receive the Active Emergency Braking System (AEBS) with Pedestrian Detection as standard.

The new models have been given a five star safety rating by Euro NCAP. Passive safety features as standard across every version in the range include six airbags, seat belts with load limiters and pretensioners at the front, side impact protection bars and ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the two outer rear seats.

Even from Expression+, this high-end technology is complemented by the Visio active safety system providing Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition and Automatic High/Low Beam headlamps. An electronic parking brake, LED daytime running lights, roof rails (Grand Scénic only), automatic dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, electrically adjustable heated and folding door mirrors, F1-style integrated fuel filler whereby the cap is a part of the fuel flap for ease of refuelling, leather steering wheel, 4 x 20W DAB radio with fingertip controls and an AUX input with Bluetooth® connectivity and a seven-inch touchscreen are fitted to every version. Finally, cruise control, speed limiter, a two-way

Active safety features on each version in the range include Emergency Brake Assist, ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with traction and understeer control and Hill Start Assist. At launch there is a choice of five engines on offer – two Energy TCe turbocharged petrol options with capacities and power outputs of 1.2-litre/115hp and 1.2-litre/130hp. The turbodiesel alternatives are a 1.5-litre dCi 110 unit (manual or EDC), a 1.6-litre dCi 130 engine (manual only) or a 1.5-litre dCi 160 engine (EDC only). The new range is priced from £21,445 on-theroad. ■


This workhorse is a thoroughbred

By Pat Burns


he Toyota Hilux has dominated the global pick-up market for nearly 50 years, since its global launch in 1968 and its arrival in Europe a year later. So far the world’s favourite pick-up has amassed global sales of more than 18 million. Around 34,000 were sold in Europe in 2015, representing a 23.1 per cent segment share and confirming the model as the region’s best-seller. Hilux is famous for its quality, durability and reliability and continues to demonstrate an unstoppable character, conquering the North Pole, the slopes of live volcanoes and Antarctica, as well as claiming podium finishes in the gruelling Dakar rally-raid. The new, eighth generation Hilux follows its predecessor in offering customers a choice of body styles: Single Cab, four-seat Extra Cab and the five-seat Double Cab. It builds on the model’s established strengths, redefining toughness for business users with its new, stronger ladder chassis, a reinforced deck


structure, improved allwheel drive capabilities and a greater towing capacity. At the same time, it responds to the growth in use of pick-ups for leisure in recent years, offering a contemporary design, higher comfort levels, advanced equipment features and improved safety, making it more stylish and stress-free to drive than ever before. Conceived to be both a hard-wearing business workhorse and a comfortable leisure 4x4, new Hilux offers customers improvements in some key areas. While still a serious workhorse, the new Hilux combines new levels of refinement and a look that can make business users proud of their vehicle. The new 4x4 also has a more spacious and comfortable interior that combines the practicality and functionality of an SUV with car-like NVH levels. The new Hilux has a high-strength, impactabsorbing structure and is available with Toyota Safety Sense, equipping it with a Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection function, Lane Departure Warning and

Road Sign Assist. Its comprehensive braking and control systems include ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Vehicle Stability Control and Trailer Sway Control. The Hilux has a larger, stronger and more practical cargo deck and an improved towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes. For the first time, Hilux is being sold here with the benefit of a new five year/100,000mile warranty, bringing it into line with the generous cover Toyota provides for its new passenger vehicles. Toyota’s new 2.4-litre D-4D Global Diesel engine may be around 600cc smaller in capacity than the 3.0-litre unit previously featured in Hilux, but it delivers vastly improved torque and better fuel economy. The 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder 2,393cc engine is equipped with a variable nozzle turbocharger and an intercooler and generates 148bhp at 3,400rpm and 400Nm maximum torque between 1,600 and 2,000rpm. Fuel economy is 40.4mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions from 178g/km. ■



Skoda’s seven seater SUV


koda’s first ever seven-seater SUV, the Kodiaq, will start from £21,495 (OTR) and is available in four trim levels, five engine options, two and fourwheel drive, and a choice of manual or DSG gearboxes. The Kodiaq is available in 24 different variants. The range comprises three familiar trims; S, SE and SE L along with a new Edition grade that celebrates the arrival of the brand’s first ever seven-seater SUV. The range starts with the S model that despite its entry level status and price tag of £21,495 (OTR), is brimming with standard equipment. The specification list includes LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather multifunction steering wheel and manual air-conditioning. S models also feature Front Assist, KESSY Go, Swing touchscreen infotainment system, DAB digital radio and SmartLink for seamless smartphone connectivity. The S model is available with a 1.4 TSI 125PS engine only. SE models are priced from £22,945 (OTR) and are available with a broad range of


engine and transmission options. Standard specification includes 18-inch alloy wheels, sunset glass, cruise control and rear parking sensors. Customers also benefit from a Bolero touchscreen infotainment system with eightinch display, dual-zone climate control, rain and light sensors and auto-dimming rear view mirrors. Seven seats are available as a £1,000 option in SE trim. Further up the range, SE L models start from £28,595 (OTR) and feature a generous specification list. Among the equipment highlights are seven seats, which now become standard, powered tailgate, 19-inch wheels, and Columbus navigation system with WiFi. Drive Mode Select, Alcantara upholstery, heated front seats and full LED headlights are also included as standard on all SE L models. Although the Kodiaq is a completely new model, it is unmistakably a Škoda. The styling is characterised by clear, precise and clean-cut lines. Rear legroom measures up to 104 mm. The middle seat row can be folded 60:40, features

individually adjustable backrests and can slide lengthways by 18 cm as standard. The third row of seats can be folded neatly into the floor space to create a larger load area. And with a volume of 720 to 2,065 litres (5-seater with the rear seats folded down), the Kodiaq offers the largest boot within its class. As buyers have come to expect from Skoda, the Kodiaq is brimming with Simply Clever features designed to make life on board even easier. These include a new door-edge protection system that deploys automatically when opening the door. When shutting the door, the trim folds itself back in. In total, more than 30 Simply Clever features have been integrated into the new Kodiaq, seven of which are completely new. The Kodiaq launches in the UK with a choice of five engines; three petrol and two diesel. Power outputs range from 125PS to 190PS, with customers able to choose between two or four-wheel drive and manual or DSG transmissions. All engines feature Stop-Start system, brake energy recovery and a powerful thermo-management system that contributes to low consumption. ■

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Matthew McCafferty has joined firmus energy as a Billing Analyst following completion of a Mathematics degree and experience working for Randox Laboratories.

Emma McQuiggan has joined firmus energy as a student engineer while also working to complete her Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s.

Ciaran Rafferty has joined Danske Bank as Corporate Acquisition Manager. Ciaran is a Chartered Accountant with 20 years’ experience in Corporate Finance, Restructuring and Private Equity.

SHS Group have announced the appointment of Chris Lillie to HR Director. He has 20 years’ professional HR experience and is currently HR Director for Coca-Cola Hellenic in Ireland. Sarah-Jayne Hunniford has been appointed as the Divisional Financial Controller at SHS Drinks. Sarah-Jayne has spent the last few years working for Moy Park as Divisional Commercial Finance Manager. John Stewart has become a member of SHS Sales and Marketing department as a Logistics & Customer Services Director. John previously held the role of Supply Chain Director.

Alan Neill has been appointed as the Business Process & Improvement Director for SHS Group. Alan was previously Divisional Financial Controller for SHS Drinks and SHS Sales and Marketing (GB).

Jennifer Lee has been promoted to Associate Solicitor (Litigation & Regulatory) at law firm Pinsent Masons.

Catherine Mallon has been promoted to Associate Solicitor (Litigation & Regulatory) at Pinsent Masons.



David Poots has been promoted to Associate Solicitor (Corporate) at Belfast law firm Pinsent Masons. Sarah Weir has been appointed Events Manager at Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. With over 12 years’ experience in event management and public relations, Sarah has organised some of Northern Ireland’s most prominent and prestigious events. Gabi Burnside has been promoted to Business Services Manager at Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Gabi joined NI Chamber in May 2015 and has since received a promotion to Business Services Manager.

Gerard McCann has joined P2V Systems as Sales & Business Development Manager, tasked with growing P2V Systems across multiple sales channels and geographies. Andrew Givan has been promoted to Associate Director at Lambert Smith Hampton. He has over 10 years’ experience in property management and has worked in the property management division of the firm. Mark Elliott has been promoted to Director of Professional Services at Lambert Smith Hampton. Mark has worked within the division for more than nine years.

Tori Wylde, who currently heads up the Group Audit function, has been appointed as Audit/Compliance Director at Prestige Underwriting Services, part of Prestige Insurance Holdings. Justin Hillen, who currently leads the Compliance function within Abbey Insurance Brokers, has been appointed as Compliance Director to Abbey Insurance Brokers, part of Prestige Insurance Holdings

Lee Stuart has been appointed Managing Director of Cover.Net. Previously, Lee was Director to Cover.Net, which is part of Prestige Insurance Holdings.



Celebrating life, every day, everywhere


PHOTOCALL 1. PSNI Chief Constable, George Hamilton, is joined by Jorge Lopes, Diageo Northern Ireland County Director, at the unveiling of the new DRINKiQ branding at RADAR.

2. Declan McKendry, Managing Director of Northern Ireland construction company Dixons Contractors, is pictured with David Ross, Director of Design, architecture and design firm Keppie Design, at the Academy of Sport and Wellbeing at Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland.

3. Minister McIlveen MLA; William McConnell, Fane Valley Chairman and Trevor Lockhart, Fane Valley Chief Executive pictured opening Fane Valley’s new head office and logistics centre located at Glenavy Road, Moira.

4. Vasiliki Petrou, Executive Vice President of Prestige Brands at Unilever, has been announced as the keynote speaker at the 10th IoD Women’s Leadership Conference. Pictured making the announcement are Catriona Gibson, Managing Partner of Arthur Cox Belfast and Linda Brown, Director of Institute of Directors NI.

5. From left: Moore Concrete sales manager Richard Whiteside discussing plans for the new bridge over the River Wear in Sunderland with project director Stephen McCaffrey from Farrans Construction. Farrans, with the help of Moore Concerte were behind the development of the bridge.







Celebrating life, every day, everywhere


PHOTOCALL 6. Innovation was the focus of a seminar attended by one hundred representatives from Northern Ireland’s red meat, pork, poultry and fish sectors attended a seminar in Cookstown last month. Pictured at the event are (L – R) Malachy O’Connor, Retail Consultant, John Hood, Invest NI, Peter Hannan, Hannan Meats, Joy Alexander, CAFRE, Sukhvinder Gill, AHDB, and Guy Wootton, Moy Park.


7. Staff from McCue Crafted Fit are pictured launching their new charity of the year partnership with Cancer Fund for Children.


8.The resurgence of vinyl records, a rise in the severity of cyberattacks and fingerprint scanners becoming the norm on smart phones are some of the key technology, media and telecommunications trends outlined in Deloitte’s TMT Predictions report for 2017. Pictured at Deloitte’s Belfast Technology Studio is Deloitte technology partner Dr Danny McConnell.

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9. Action Renewables has launched its annual awards– the Action Renewables Awards 2017, sponsored by Vayu Energy – at the Irish Railway Gallery at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum. Rachel Sankannawar Business Development Manager at Action Renewables and Peter Girvan, Vayu Energy

10. A new 150-seat restaurant has opened its doors in Lisburn creating 35 full and parttime jobs ranging from floor staff, chefs and managers. Boston Grill head chef Andrew Logan and proprietor Robert McGregor announce the new 150 seat restaurant in Lisburn.



Celebrating life, every day, everywhere



11. Barry McCafferty from Portadown is one of the eight Prince’s Trust ‘Get into Retail’ graduates who were offered permanent positions at Asda. Also pictured is Carolanne Rodgers, Asda Academy Training Manager.

12. Titanic Belfast’s crew (Ryan Mitchell, Laura Henderson and Iulian Dudata) are pictured celebrating as recruitment opens for 60 new frontline fixed-term jobs for its summer high season.


13.Ronan Gourley, National Sales Manager Ireland at UCC Coffee; David Bucklee, Store Manager, Milltown SPAR Ballymoney and Mark StewartMaunder, Business Development Director, Henderson Foodservice Ltd., pictured at the 250th Barista Bar install and celebrating a very successful year for the coffee brand.

12 14. Tourism NI Chairman Terence Brannigan joins Aine Kearney, Director of Business Support and Events of Tourism NI, Chef Niall McKenna and John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI at an event at the Ulster Museum to celebrate the impact and achievements of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink.

15. Five-star Lough Erne Resort is celebrating the New Year on a high after winning a host of awards for excellence in food and drink, weddings, the Thai Spa and accommodation in several major industry ceremonies. Pictured are William Kirby; Noel McMeel; Lee Brunt; Lynn McCool; Andrew McKee and Sonya Boyd.





Celebrating life, every day, everywhere



16. Charles Hurst Nissan Newtownabbey has signed a sponsorship deal with Carrickfergus Grammar School’s U13/14s squad, with the car dealership helping to fund the team’s equipment and kit. The team are pictured in their new kit.




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17. Pictured inside the new 43,000 sq ft Next store at Abbey Centre are; Jonathan Martin, Associate Director and Criona Collins, Head of Retail at Lambert Smith Hampton and Emma Mackenzie, Director at NewRiver REIT.

18. Danske Bank staff and customers have raised over £145,000 for charity partner, Age NI since 2013. Siobhan Casey, Director of Marketing at Age NI is pictured with Alison Falls, External Relations Manager, Danske Bank and Colin Flinn, volunteer for Age NI.

19. Boatyard Distillery has have just secured a deal with Aelia Duty Free to stock their award-winning Boatyard Double Gin. Joe McGirr, Founder of The Boatyard Distillery, is pictured at the airport.

20. Launching the CEO programme in East Belfast recently are Sarah Daly, Creative Spark, Linzi Rooney, Studio Souk, Kenny Rodgers, East Belfast Enterprise, Rhiannon Ewing-James, Craft NI, and Dave Woods, Bag of Bees.



Celebrating life, every day, everywhere


PHOTOCALL 21. Jim Stewart CBE with the overall winners at the Sentinus Young Innovators and Big Bang Fair Northern Ireland Gareth Reid from Grosvenor Grammar School, Belfast and Clara Deehan from St. Joseph’s, Donaghmore.


22. Pictured are Ann Graham, Marketing Manager W5, Steve Thornton, General Manager, Belfast Giants, Paddy Doody Sales & Marketing Director at The Henderson Group and Neil Walker General Manager, The SSE Arena, Belfast.

23. Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said LEDCOM provided vital support to export businesses as he visited Willowbank Business Park in Larne, where he was met by Chair Henry Fletcher (left) and Chief Executive Ken Nelson (right).

24. CTS Projects has secured another multi-million contract with NI Housing Executive. From left are Paul Isherwood, Director of Asset Management (NIHE), Serena Hylands, Assistant Managing Director (CTS Projects) and Ian McCrickard, Regional Manager for Belfast (NIHE).

25. Launching the 2017 Open Web Application Security Project conference are OWASP Belfast co-founder Gary Robinson, Invest NI’s Peter Harbinson, OWASP Belfast co-founder Michelle






Celebrating life, every day, everywhere


PHOTOCALL 26. Pictured at the launch of Enterprise NI’s Enterprise Champions are (L-R) Conor Murphy MLA; Gordon Dunne MLA; Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise NI and Dr Stephen Farry MLA.



28. Pictured inside the newly-expanded premises of Cunningham Butchers, Kilkeel, is James Cunningham Jnr who now runs the family business and his father, James Cunningham Snr. The family run firm was recently crowned ‘Best Butchers in Ireland’ at the Butchery Excellence Ireland Annual Awards.


29. Lisburn-based independent retailer Midas Jewellers is celebrating 40 years in business. Owners Lynne and Jim Colin are pictured at the Midas Lisburn store.




27. Almac employees Laura McGee, Robert Elliott and Alison Quinn were are among the first students to graduate from a new MSc Pharmaceutical Analysis degree at Queen’s University. They were supported by Almac, which has contributed vital input to the course.

30. Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston joins the Chief Executive of Belfast City Council Suzanne Wylie and Seamus Mullan from the Belfast Health Trust to open the public consultation on the first community plan for the city - the Belfast Agenda.



Canapés and cocktails The cream of last month’s business events

John Keyes (MD Disten), Paul Ward (Head of Restaurant Services for McDonalds UK) and Ellis Watson (DC Thomson Publishing), pictured at the Hilton Metropole Birmingham, picking up their award

Disten lovin’ McDonalds accolade Disten Property Maintenance has been recognised for service excellence by global fast food giant McDonalds. The home of Ronald McDonald has awarded the local firm its prestigious ‘Service Company of the Year’ title for 2016.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast is pictured with Stacy Feeney, Crowne Plaza alongside George Graham, General Manager, Crowne Plaza

Andras opens Crowne Plaza in Belfast Belfast’s largest hotel group, Andras Hotels, has opened the first Crowne Plaza hotel in Northern Ireland, following an upgrade and rebranding of it’s flagship property, the four-star Ramada Plaza, Shaws Bridge.

From left: Phil Murphy, PRCA, Joris Minne, J Comms and Charlie Wilson, National Museum of the Royal Navy

Caroline brings award home for J Comms Belfast communications and content firm J Comms has secured the Public Relations Consultancy Association award for Best Public Affairs Campaign in Northern Ireland. The work conducted on behalf of the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the restoration of World War One light cruiser, HMS Caroline. “From the outset, it was important that the ship be repositioned as a shared space, one which reflects prepartition Irish history and one which celebrates and commemorates the role of 10,000 Irish people who participated in the war at sea between 1914 and 1918,” said Joris Minne, director of J Comms.


Comedian Dara O’Briain with Bassetts’ Managing Director Alan Wright

Bassetts cleans up at awards Plumbing and heating supplier Bassetts has fought off stiff competition from national companies to win the coveted title of the UK’s Heating and Plumbing Merchant of the Year at a recent awards ceremony in London. The local company, which has 15 branches in Northern Ireland, was crowned the winner at the Builders’ Merchant Award.


LEDCOM Chair Henry Fletcher (right) and Chief Executive Ken Nelson are pictured calling on central and local government and the private sector to join together to create a business corridor along the upgraded A8 dual carriageway Kevin Wall, Chairman of Barclays Corporate Bank is pictured, centre, with Adrian Doran, Head of Corporate Banking in Northern Ireland at Barclays, and Jonathan Dobbin, Head of Wealth and Investment Management in Northern Ireland at Barclays.

Barclays notch up 20 years in Belfast Barclays has celebrated 20 years of operating in Northern Ireland by hosting a special celebration event for over 200 clients and staff at The Merchant Hotel, Belfast. Speaking at the event, Adrian Doran, Barclays’ Head of Corporate Banking in Northern Ireland, said: “Barclays has been supporting businesses in Northern Ireland for over 20 years and has steadily expanded its activities and customer base since those early days.”

LEDCOM calls for A8 business corridor The Local Economic Development Company (LEDCOM) has called for central and local government and the private sector to create a business corridor along the upgraded A8 dual carriageway. Speaking after LEDCOM’s AGM, Chair Henry Fletcher called for a partnership approach to develop the A8 corridor from Larne to Belfast into an economic hotspot, attracting new innovative businesses with growth potential into the area.

UU law course cleans up

Kircubbin gin mesmerizes minister Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA pictured with Shane Braniff, Managing Director of The Echlinville Distillery based in Kircubbin, County Down, as it launches its new Single Estate Irish Pot Still Gin – The Echlinville Gin. With pre-orders locally and across Europe for their new Gin the Echlinville Distillery hope to follow the export success of their Dunville’s Irish whiskey brand by working with their American importer to launch Echlinville Irish Pot still Gin in the USA.

Pictured at the GradIreland Awards are (l-r) Ulster University’s Dr Gráinne McKeever and Dr John McCord (second from right) with Bryan Durkan, HRM Recruitment; and Ailbhe Lee, GradIreland

A unique programme designed by Ulster University, sponsored by Allen & Overy and the Department for Justice, has been recognised as the Postgraduate Law Course of the Year at an all-island awards event. The LLM in Clinical Legal Education, based at the Ulster University Law Clinic, claimed the title at the GradIreland Postgraduate Course of the Year Awards, in recognition of its outstanding contribution to education and employment.

David Murphy tows it home The Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Cllr Brian Bloomfield MBE and his wife, Mayoress Rosalind Bloomfield, held a reception for David Murphy Towing at Lagan Valley Island recently which was attended by the owners of the business and their staff. The reception marked the 50th anniversary of David Murphy Towing. Invited guests were treated to a tour of the Council Chamber and Mayor Bloomfield made a presentation on behalf of the council to David and his son Jonathan Murphy acknowledging their service as employers in the borough.




How your gadget could testify against you Adrian Weckler investigates how your favourite technology could provide evidence against you in court


ould the gadget you got for your birthday testify against you in a police or insurance company investigation? In a year’s time, don’t say we didn’t warn you about this. Voice-activated and connected health devices are increasingly being viewed as evidence to be used in court cases. I’m not talking about iPhones, although Apple did receive 262 hundreds of requests from authorities relating to “device” whereabouts in the first six months of 2016. And I’m not talking about Facebook accounts, where similar requests from the social media giant have been made between January and June last year looking for information to help build criminal cases. No, I mean that the net is now widening to include things like Fitbits and smarthome gadgets. The latest instance is an Arkansas murder investigation where police are requesting files from an Amazon Alexa device to help build a case against an accused. The Echo is a voice-activated gadget that connects to the internet and controls household lights or heating systems by simply speaking. It’s always turned on and recording. It’s not supposed to save sounds or noises unrelated to specific commands, but sometimes it might pick up audio based on mistaken understanding of a request. Police think that the device may have recorded


something that could implicate the suspect, a man called James Bates. But in echoes of Apple’s earlier privacy stand on denying access to a terrorist suspect’s iPhone data, Amazon is fighting police requests to hand over deeper sets of data it might have that are linked to the device. In the Bates investigation, a smart water meter in Bates’s home may also turn out to be critical in proving whether Bates used an unusually large amount of water at a late hour of the night. While relatively few Irish people yet have Amazon Alexa gadgets in their home, thousands have water meters.

And homes are starting to fill up with legions of gadgets that collect critical pieces of data about us. Our Netflix accounts, smart thermometers and security cameras. Even our coffee makers, which increasingly co-ordinate with our online schedules. Such data is now being eyed up by authorities, regulators and even private companies (such as insurers) for verification or evidential purposes. The big question we all now face is: how much of it should be used for this? In the case of a household fire, would you


it adheres primarily to US law and privacy standards and (ii) it might give you up to police if asked. “We may consult with and disclose unlawful conduct to law enforcement authorities and pursuant to valid legal process, we may cooperate with law enforcement authorities to prosecute users who violate the law,” the company says in a clear warning. A few months ago, the office of the Irish data protection regulator announced that it would “step up” audits of certain ‘internet of things’ firms after a survey of 300 connected devices found “alarming shortfalls in the management of personal data by developers and suppliers”. Separately, Helen Dixon’s office is involved in an enquiry into Yahoo for reportedly handing over access to customer accounts to US authorities late last year without informing its users or European regulators. But the bigger question is whether objects in our homes and on our wrists should be legitimately yankable for the data they hold on us. If we think some circumstances merit it, how extreme must those circumstances be?

hand over access to your smart thermostat’s backup files to an insurance company if that might yield a clue as to how the fire started? If authorities suspected arson, should they be allowed to request access to such files?

Risley, given a two-year suspended sentence based on evidence from her Fitbit device.

How about other incidents, such as domestic abuse? If one spouse claims to have been beaten, assaulted or raped, should smart gadgets in the home, which might potentially help corroborate or disprove the claims, be admissible as evidence? Should they be the legitimate subject of a warrant?

The woman claimed to have been assaulted in her home but a court found that she had made the episode up after investigating police used evidence from her Fitbit health tracker to disprove her whereabouts and her movements. In that case, the woman (foolishly) consented to police parsing the Fitbit. But to what extent can authorities expect to rely on such ‘witness’ devices in future?

This isn’t an academic question. A 2015 Pennsylvania case saw a woman, Jeannine

Fitbit is an interesting case. It makes two things clear in its terms and conditions: (i)


The degrees of answer to this may resemble the split in opinion that occurred in the Apple iPhone privacy case of 2016. There, Apple executives up to and including Tim Cook said that they would not provide a “back door” entrance into iPhone encryption to FBI investigators prosecuting a domestic terrorism case. The public cheered and booed in almost equal numbers. It was a case of privacy versus security. On that occasion, privacy won the day. But for how much longer? Here, the issue may not be tested until a painful outlier case, such as a child kidnapping, crops up. ■


London Calling! Choose from up to 80 flights a week


Made in Madagascar: Natural highs in the land of the lemur Lemurs are a natural highlight, but there’s much more to this African island nation, says a smitten Sophie Gorman.


hear the indri lemurs before I see them in Madagascar’s Andasibe National Park. Their shrill, plaintive hollering is somehow both doleful and conversationally cheerful, bellowing from high up in the giant eucalyptus trees. We follow the calls until we spot these remarkable black and white furry creatures with their glowing eyes. They may appear to be lingering for photographs, but don’t be deceived. This dawdling is actually the time they spend digesting leaves and, if you stand too long underneath, you might find the results of their digestion on your head. The indri are unique among lemurs. They live in families, they can weigh up to 10kg, they are monogamous and they can survive for between 40 to 60 years - much longer than many of their lemur counterparts. Interestingly, lemur societies are almost all matriarchal, which is a rarity not only among mammals but also in openly patriarchal Madagascar. And, if you want to see a lemur in the wild, Madagascar is the only country in the world where they still roam free. The parks we visit are not zoos - these animals are wild, though you do occasionally meet a particularly bold and curious lemur, who thinks you are a strange tree and jumps on you. Most famous for its lemurs, chameleons and those majestic giant baobab trees found in the south, Madagascar is certainly a natural paradise, but it is also so much more. There is such rich diversity of cultures,


traditions, ecology and climates. The landscape can radically change in just an afternoon’s drive, from steep craggy mountains to lush valleys and arid desert plains to wet rice fields. This African island nation is full of surprises. Its markets are wonderfully unpredictable, too. One of the best I visit is a weekly combined pig and clothes market, divided by a rickety stick fence with squealing pigs on one side having their tongues pulled out to confirm their wellbeing and mountains of fine fabrics on the other. It seems inevitable that the two will at some point mingle, as they do when one sow protests forcibly to having the root of its tongue examined and goes rampaging through the clothes, followed by her seven piglets. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and almost the same size as France, from which it gained independence in 1960. With a population of 23 million people, the mother tongue is Malagasy with French the

second language. People have a gentle friendliness, I find - they welcome you without overwhelming you. It’s a predominantly Christian and also very calm country, with 18 different tribes but very little internal disquiet between them. Sadly, there are also few assets between them, as privatisation has been a key policy since the 1980s. Railways, airlines, mining rights and telecommunications have all been sold off. Rice is gold here, and the locals are rice masters - they manage three harvests in their rice terraces when most other rice nations can only manage two. You see these impeccably cut terraces as you drive across the country. The terraces meet demand, too - Malagasy people eat rice three times a day; their consumption is actually the highest per capita in the world. April is considered the beginning of autumn here, and it’s one of the best seasons for visiting (after wet summer months, everything

Fly from Belfast City Airport to London City and London Heathrow


is freshly verdant). Leaving the bustling capital of Antananarivo, I begin my lemur pursuit in Andasibe - discovering those bellowing indri lemurs, before driving on to Antsirabe, a town full of intricate craft workshops producing wood, stone and zebu-horn goods. Our next destination is the national park at Ranomafana (‘rano’ meaning water, ‘mafana’ meaning hot). It’s impressively humid. There are 12 species of lemur here, seven of which emerge during the day. The golden bamboo lemur is endemic, which makes it all the more special when we find two of them, languidly lazing. We walk in the wet heat for hours, driven on by the natural beauty of the park combined with our childish excitement at finding more lemurs - red bellied ones, beautiful sifaka lemurs, bold brown lemurs. Finally, we reach a fork in the road. Our guide tells us that the right path leads directly back home. The left one leads to a secret waterfall. Exhausted but unanimous, we turn left, trekking for another kilometre or two before emerging near the base of a gloriously thundering waterfall. One short moment later we are immersed, happily cooling down. Later in the trip, we drive to an entirely different world in Isalo National Park. Those famous ring-tailed lemurs live in the canyons between its dramatic tabletop mountains. We are first in and last out. Despite busloads of tourists arriving, we experience everything blissfully alone, including the headline act. Ring-tailed lemurs are timid, but we reach a clearing and suddenly they are everywhere, swinging from tree to tree, chattering. We sit among them, quietly euphoric. A land of unexplored treasures, Madagascar is full of such raptures. You drive down a dirt track singing along to 1980s rock music and suddenly see a 600-year-old baobab tree, or sifakas hanging above you, or a darting fossa a strange cat-like creature. Your eyes are kept wide open. ■


Routes conference heads to Belfast


ollowing strong years in 2015 and 2016, George Best Belfast City Airport is looking forward to an equally busy 2017. In recent years, Belfast has become one of the UK’s top tourist destinations, appealing to both leisure and business visitors. This has been recognised across the globe, with the city chosen to host the Routes Europe conference in April. Belfast City Airport has ambitious plans to increase its route network in 2017. Traditionally, Belfast City Airport has focused on a domestic route network. However, as a result of an increased interest in the region and in response to passenger demand for direct connections to key destinations across Europe, their European network has expanded.

Katy Best, Commercial and Marketing Director at George Best Belfast City Airport

The success of routes such as their daily service to Amsterdam operated by KLM and their Aer Lingus summer schedule to destinations such as Alicante, Faro, Palma and Malaga saw the airport smash its annual international passenger record by September 2016. The end of August saw the airport beat the previous annual high of 171,270, set in 2015, with the 2016 figure climbing to 200,977. By the end of 2016, 261,219 passengers had arrived and departed on the airport’s international routes. Reaching a milestone of over 200,000 international passengers almost four months before the end of the year is proof of the demand for flights to key European destinations in Northern Ireland, and provides a major boost for Northern Ireland tourism. The Routes Europe conference, which is being held in Belfast this year, will be a major opportunity for the airport in 2017. The Routes Europe conference is one of the most important commercial aviation events of the year, bringing thousands of aviation professionals from across the world under one roof. This April, Belfast will host 1200 delegates for at least three days at the largest European forum for aviation professionals to decide on future air route networks. This is a fantastic opportunity for the airport to showcase the region to more than 100 airlines and gives them valuable face to face time with the decision makers of airlines from across Europe, crucial for any further expansion on their current route offering. Belfast City Airport is working consistently to increase their route network and improve services at the airport, and hope to see continued growth in 2017. ■



Riding the eSports wave By Geoff Wilson


any analysts are predicting the eSports market to be worth between $460m and $500m by 2016. In 2014, eSports had 205m global viewers and made $194m in revenue! Combined with the fact a number of professional football clubs, such as Man City, Wolfsburg and West Ham, are signing agreements with eSports players, the eSports arena seems to be an attractive area for clubs and sponsors to be involved. The eSports market is young and quite fragmented with only a small number of organized league competitions in existence. Well, this is about to change in the UK and Ireland with the establishment of a new ‘Celtic eSports league’ based in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Isle of Man. The Celtic eSports league is the brain child of Co-Founder, Trevor Keane. “The Celtic eSports league will be one of the

first professionally organized leagues where local eSports players will represent football clubs from the top league in each country. The format will not only give the players a platform to show all their skills on a league and tournament basis, but will also give clubs an entry into this exciting and growing market and to engage with a younger an techno savvy generation,” said Keane. “A number of major clubs in the top tier of each league have already signed up with more to follow in the coming weeks and conversations are at an advanced stage with a number of eSports technology partners. Plans have progressed so much that a number of sponsors have already been in touch and are

Geoff Wilson

interested in being involved. The league will be incorporating many of the most played eSports titles although the launch will initially focus on football. The plan is to launch the league in the autumn of 2016.” Those interested in more information about the Celtic eSports League can email Trevor directly at Trev trev@celticesportsleague.com. ■

Geoff runs his own sports consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism NI. You can follow Geoff on Twitter @geoffwnjwilson of connect on Linedin at www.linkedin.com/in/ geoffwnjwilson

Centra teams up with Frampton’s coach


onvenience retailer Centra has teamed up with Carl Frampton’s boxing coach Shane McGuigan, along with a top team of ambassadors, to help inspire the people of Northern Ireland to Live Well Every Day. Centra’s ‘Live Well’ strategy, launched on Tuesday 17th January, represents an investment of £1 million. The new Centra Live Well programme aims to educate and inspire consumers to make healthier choices and encourage communities across Northern Ireland get active. ■

Pictured are Michael McCormack, managing director, Musgrave NI with Centra Live Well ambassadors, Jane McClenaghan (nutrition); Bridgeen Rea (mindfulness) and Johnny Davis (RunTogether) launch the new Centra Live Well campaign in Belfast. For further information about Centra’s Live Well campaign visit www.centra. co.uk or Like Centra NI’s Facebook page (facebook.com/ CentraNI). Picture by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye.


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MY DAY Uncovering the 9-5 Name: Steve Snoddon Position: Managing Director, Diamond Systems

6.30am If I wake at this time it is a lie in! My 18 month old twin girls, are awake early and ready to start the day. After breakfast with them, it’s time to leave the house and head for the office, which is located in the Belfast Harbour Estate. 8.00am Generally the first thing I do is review our integrated service management system to see what our engineers have been working on the previous day, and what is scheduled for the day ahead. The system is bespoke to the fire and security industry and gives me a quick snapshot of our operations. We maintain over 4,000 systems across Northern Ireland, with a four-hour window to attend to any emergency fault calls, so I’ll have a quick look at how we performed to our key KPI. 9.00am My assistant, Rose, will update me on the day’s appointments and we will discuss the plans for the upcoming week. My role involves meeting with Consultants and Specifiers of fire and security alarm systems, offering free design support on new projects. Diamond also runs free, CPD accredited training on standards and codes of practice relevant to

our industry, so there is always something in the planning. 9.30am I will meet with our Engineering Manager to catch up on the progress of any ongoing installations. I like to keep up to date on developments and offer support where I can to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. As an NSI Gold accredited company, we deliver systems to a very high standard, and it is my job to ensure this is consistent across all aspects of our service. 10.00am I will spend some time monitoring the progress on our e-commerce site, which we are hoping to launch in quarter one of this year. It is an exciting new venture for the company and I am responsible for overseeing the final design and functionality of the site. 11.00am I am the main point of contact with our manufacturers so I will usually have some contact with them in a day, be it a meeting or phone call. This allows me to discuss new products, or a particular project that we are working on, and provides direct access to world class technologies and support.

12.00pm If I don’t have any lunchtime appointments, I will usually spend an hour at the nearby gym and return to the office feeling refreshed. 2.00pm I regularly visit Engineering Consultants and Specifiers of fire and security alarm systems, to discuss upcoming projects which may require our expertise. As a specialist in my field, I enjoy imparting my knowledge of the features and benefits of our products, to assist designers in developing a solution that will exceed their customers’ expectations. 4.00pm My role involves keeping the company ahead of our competition, so I will spend some time reading up on the latest developments in fire and security technology, and changes to applicable standards and codes of practice. This ensures that we continue to offer our customers a fully compliant solution, using cutting edge innovation to deliver value added solutions. 5.00pm At the end of the working day it is time for me to head home and catch up with the family.

A little local knowledge can go a very long way

The Penalty Kick invented by William McCrum, Co. Armagh 1885

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Profile for Ulster  Business

Ulster Business - February 2017  

Ulster Business

Ulster Business - February 2017  

Ulster Business