High Flyers: Chris believes in building a better Belfast
In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Chris McCracken, managing director of LQ BID.
What was your first job?
After school I worked in the post room of the Department for Education to help raise funds for uni. I can still remember the delight of receiving my first pay cheque!
What do you attribute your success to?
Getting on the UK Civil Service Fast Stream programme gave me a good start at an early age and gave me great experience of systems thinking – taking a policy from concept through to meaningful delivery. It also taught me the limitations of government and the importance of allowing private enterprise and grass roots community to take over as soon as the policy framework is in place.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
I believe in building a better Belfast, the city of my birth in a region I am proud to call home.
Who do you look up to in your industry?
My professional role is place management and I really admire people like Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who was an outstanding lord mayor and a constant advocate for Belfast on the international stage, and Maurice Kinkead, who over the course of many years has transformed the physical environment in east Belfast and the self-confidence of its communities.
How do you get the best out of people who work with you?
Linen Quarter BID is focused on meaningful delivery. I help define projects with team members, including quality standards, then meet with them every week and provide relevant support. Aside from that I let team members get on with things and to work with autonomy and their own creative input. I am honestly amazed by how much a team of four or five people can actually achieve, when they are given the freedom to do so.
If you could change one thing about your industry in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
BIDs have a great partnership with the public sector and local government. I would love to see this taken to the next step and devolve public sector capital funds to business improvement districts, to help deliver the place management agenda.
What website or app could you not do without?
linenquarter.org - it’s our main conduit for supporting our digital mailshot and highlighting all the great projects underway including or shared public spaces including our newly launched parklet and our programme to transform the Linen Quarter into Northern Ireland’s first sustainable district.
What was the last book you read?
A Shared Home Place by Seamus Mallon. The book provides a moving account of where our society has come from, and the direction we need to travel.
What car do you drive?
I try to minimise driving. During the summer I commute to work on my Scott CR1 road bike and during the winter I switch to my Cannondale Cyclo-Cross or the excellent train service from Holywood to Belfast when wet. The NI Executive should prioritise much greater investment in cycling infrastructure to support active travel, improved health, and a cleaner environment.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I love wreck diving and have notched up memorable experiences, including U-boats in the English Channel, and the remains of the Laurentic, a White Star ocean liner that was sunk by German mines in 1917, off the coast of Donegall.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
Border Collies. I have owned three and my current dog Kerry is a wonderful companion - intelligent, playful, and active.
For more information on the Linen Quarter and the work of LQ BID, visit linenquarter.org.