First Derivatives founder among winners at IoD Awards

Eleven of Northern Ireland’s top business leaders have been honoured at the annual Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI) Director of the Year Awards sponsored by First Trust Bank during a ceremony at The Merchant Hotel, Belfast

THE head of one of the north's most successful firms was one of 11 business leaders honoured at the annual Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI) Director of the Year Awards.

Brian Conlon, who established Newry-headquartered software firm First Derivatives more than 20 years ago, growing it into a £1 billion company listed on the London Stock Exchange, received the inaugural Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice at the prestigious awards, held at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast.

The awards, sponsored by First Trust Bank, seek to honour directors at private, third and public sector organisations who go above and beyond to show exceptional levels of leadership and motivation and demonstrate good corporate governance.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service received two awards, with Gary Thompson being named the Director of the Year for Inclusivity while Carmel McKinney OBE was named the Non-Executive Director of the Year. Others to be recognised included Denis Lynn of Finnebrogue Artisan who was awarded the Director of the Year for Innovation for his 'Naked Bacon'.

The 11 winners will now be considered for the UK Director of the Year Awards, taking place in London later this year.

IoD Northern Ireland chairman, Gordon Milligan commended all the winners for "encouraging exceptional standards of management".

“I was particularly pleased to honour Brian Conlon as the first recipient of the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice. As one of Northern Ireland’s pre-eminent business leaders, Brian Conlon is credited with building one of our best-known firms, with a brand that is known globally, and providing employment for more than 4,000 people."

Brian Gillan, head of business and corporate banking at First Trust Bank said this year's calibre of entries exceeded expectations.

“What was clear from this year’s judging process is that our local businesses do not sit on their laurels. Each finalist demonstrated an outstanding commitment to skills enhancement to ensure they are at the top of their profession in today’s ever-changing business environment. Reflecting on this year’s winners, a number of key attributes stand out including a focus on digital learning and adoption, innovation and responsible, open communications.”

The awards were judged by a panel made up of leading business representatives.

This year’s winners were:

Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice sponsored by 4c Executive – Brian Conlon, First Derivatives

Director of the Year - Global sponsored by Invest NI – Paula Kennedy Garcia, Convergys Ltd


Director of the Year - Non-Executive sponsored by Deloitte – Carmel McKinney OBE, NI Fire and Rescue Service


Director of the Year - Corporate Social Responsibility sponsored by IoD NI – Ray Hutchinson, Gilbert Ash


Director of the Year - Family Business sponsored by BDO Northern Ireland – Ashley McCulla, McCulla Ireland


Director of the Year - Public/Third Sector sponsored by Capita Managed IT Solutions – Bill Atkinson, USEL


Director of the Year - New sponsored by Carson McDowell – Paddy O’Hagan, Neueda


Director of the Year - Start-Up sponsored by Ulster University Business School – Stephen McDowell, Hayward Hawk


Director of the Year - Inclusivity sponsored by William J Clinton Leadership Institute at QUB – Gary Thompson, NI Fire and Rescue Service


Director of the Year - Innovation sponsored by PGR Chartered Accountants – Denis Lynn, Lynn’s Country Food – Finnebrogue Artisan


Director of the Year - Young Enterprise NI Alumni sponsored by Concentrix – Maria Doran, Skinny Sauce


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