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Excellence of NI Leaders Recognised at IoD Director of the Year Awards

02 December 2013

IoD Director of the Year Awards

Nine business leaders from across the Northern Ireland business spectrum have been honoured by the Institute of Directors in this year’s Northern Ireland Director of the Year awards, held at the Merchant Hotel, Belfast.

Sponsored by Abbey Bond Lovis, the accolades were presented to directors who were deemed to have made significant and valuable contributions to the success of their companies and typify excellence in leadership and corporate governance.

The category winners were:

Family Business Director of the Year - Mark Hutchinson, Managing Director of SJC Hutchinson Engineering

SME Director of the Year - Tracy Hamilton of Mash Direct Limited

Large Company Director of the Year - Jim Dobson of Dunbia

Third Sector Director of the Year - Ian  Jeffers of The Prince’s Trust Northern Ireland
 
Young Director of the Year - Aidan Flynn of Maurice Flynn & Sons Limited

Leader of the Year in Corporate Responsibility - Michelle Hatfield from George Best Belfast City Airport
 
Public Sector Director of the Year - Gordon Milligan of Translink

Non-executive Director of the Year - Brendan Mullan of the Bryson Charitable Group

Special award for Excellence in Corporate Governance - Jill Robb of Ambition Digital

IoD NI Chairman, Paul Terrington congratulated the winners. He said:

“The IoD vision is to support, empower and set the highest standards for directors and business leaders; to provide professional development that helps them attain their leadership potential and to encourage them to create and grow profitable businesses that contribute to sustainable economic growth and social and community responsibility.

“Our Director of the Year Awards support that vision by recognising leadership excellence across all sectors of our economy and acknowledging those directors who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills that help deliver success to their organisations.

“The number of entries this year was the highest in the Awards’ history with the nominees displaying tremendous business acumen, good corporate governance and above all, leadership.”

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry said:

“I commend all the award winners on their achievements. These Awards provide a great opportunity for Directors to demonstrate their leadership expertise.

“Developing leadership and management skills is vital in improving the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy and the Institute of Directors is making a valuable contribution in enhancing these skills locally.”

The judges said of each winner:

Family Business Director of the Year - Mark Hutchinson, Managing Director of SJC Hutchinson Engineering

“Under Mark’s leadership, the company has seen an increase in turnover of 51% in the last three years in spite of the challenging economic times. By investing in the latest technology to aid diversification outside their traditional markets, Mark has turned his company into a market leader, securing the future for the business, the employees and the family."

SME Director of the Year - Tracy Hamilton of Mash Direct Limited

“Tracy’s business has grown through diversification and identifying how to add value to its raw materials. In less than 10 years, this business has grown from nothing to employing more than 100 staff with a turnover of £11 million creating a multi-national, award winning household brand. Tracy has demonstrated passion, inspiration, hard work and good leadership in a highly competitive industry.”

Large Company Director of the Year - Jim Dobson of Dunbia

“The judging panel were hugely impressed with Jim’s entrepreneurial spirit, having led an organisation from very humble origins to an employer of almost 4,000 people. In a traditional sector of the Northern Ireland economy, Jim has overseen growth by acquisition but also through exporting, innovation and attention to the training and development of staff at all levels in the company. The company has seen an increase in turnover of around £100m over the past three years.”

Young Director of the Year - Aidan Flynn of Maurice Flynn & Sons Limited

“Aidan’s company has seen impressive and sustained growth in the past ten years under his leadership, through a strategic focus on specific markets that have proven to be recession-proof. Aidan joined his family business, working alongside his father and gaining an understanding of every aspect of the firm’s business activities from the ground up. The judging panel were impressed by his very hands-on approach despite the business having grown by a factor of 5 and transitioning from an SME to a Large Company this year.”

Leader of the Year in Corporate Responsibility - Michelle Hatfield from George Best Belfast City Airport:

“In an industry that requires excellent relations with the local community, Michelle has ensured that the company and its employees have engaged with local people including children, politicians, community groups and educational establishments. They recently developed an apprenticeship programme to provide meaningful work experience and job specific skills to young people.”

Public Sector Director of the Year - Gordon Milligan of Translink

“Gordon is an HR Director who has established and delivered a change agenda to create and embed a culture of continuous improvement and excellence within the organisation.  As a result of Gordon’s efforts, the organisation has achieved several awards including a Gold standard for Investors in People, putting it in the top 1% of UK organisations recognised by IIP.”

Non-executive Director of the Year - Brendan Mullan of the Bryson Charitable Group

“Brendan is a highly professional and knowledgeable Director who has represented the highest standards of corporate conduct and values. The nomination from his company cited his support and professional guidance as being crucial to its transformation from a traditional charity into one of the UK's leading social enterprises.”

Third Sector Director of the Year - Ian Jeffers of The Prince’s Trust Northern Ireland

“In making their nomination, the leadership team at The Prince’s Trust said that Ian instigated a radical restructure that resulted in an increase in resources, programmes, funding and reach to the people supported by the charity. As a result, the organisation’s reputation has improved to an unprecedented level where the charity is regarded as market leaders in terms of training and developing young unemployed people, to meet the challenge of finding employment in an economy slowly emerging from a major recession.”

Special award for excellence in corporate governance - Jill Robb of Ambition Digital

“It is very rare to see evidence of a high level of corporate governance in a company that is less than five years old and with just four employees but that is what the judges recognised in Jill. She has ensured that the appropriate processes and procedures were put in place in the very earliest stages of the company’s existence, giving the business the best chance of long term success. And it seems to be working as, in the past three years turnover has more than tripled and profits have quadrupled.”

Ian Hayburn of Hayburn & Company Limited was also Highly Commended in the SME Director of the Year category.

The winners of the Northern Ireland Director of the Year Awards will now be entered into the national awards to be held in late 2014.

Last month, two of last year’s local winners, John McMullan CEO of Bryson Charitable Group, and Helen Kirkpatrick, Non Executive Director of UTV Media plc, beat off tough competition to be named UK Directors of the Year in their respective categories.

This year’s Northern Ireland winners will also be nominated for the IoD Lunn’s Award of Excellence which will presented at the IoD Annual Dinner in Belfast on 6 February 2014.

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