NI Chamber on hunt for new chief as McGregor confirms retirement

Ann McGregor is stepping down as chief executive of the NI Chamber of Commerce after 15 years in the role
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE north's biggest business organisation is on the hunt for a new chief executive.

It comes after Ann McGregor confirmed she is standing down from her NI Chamber of Commerce & Industry role after 15 years.

She plans to vacate the post in the autumn, by which time it is envisaged a successor will have been appointed.

And that recruitment process will begin immediately, with the relevant information being posted on the Chamber website from today.

It is understood the position could command a salary in the £80,000 to £100,000 bracket.

Originally from Limavady, Ms McGregor (65) joined NI Chamber in 2008, having previously been chief executive of Enterprise NI and having held private sector roles with a number of manufacturing firms.

Since becoming the Chamber's first female head, she has led the organisation through a period of sustained growth despite business challenges including continuing political stalemate, a global economic crash, Brexit, and more recently the impact of the pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

When she does step down, Ann will leave a remarkable legacy at the organisation, which celebrates its 240th anniversary in 2023.

A Queen’s University graduate of economic history and political science, she also obtained an MA in marketing at Ulster University.

In June 2012 Ann received an MBE as part of the late Queen’s birthday honours for service to enterprise and small business development, which was seen as a fitting recognition of the unique contribution she made to the development of NI Chamber into a first class business organisation.

Ann said: “After 15 years I've mixed feelings about my decision to leave. I've loved my time as chief executive. Through all the significant economic challenges and all the ups and downs politically, everyone involved in NI Chamber can be proud of the role we played in supporting local businesses and wider society.

“We now have a considerably larger membership, a strong, enthusiastic executive team, quality support services to provide to the business community locally, and I think the organisation is in good hands.

“I've already accepted a few roles in charitable organisations and I'm looking forward to seeking out and taking on new challenges and opportunities in private businesses as a non-executive director.

“I'm grateful to Chamber president Gillian McAuley and the board for their cooperation as we map out my departure and manage the recruitment process to appoint my successor. I'm very confident she and the board will make an excellent appointment.”

Ms McAuley said: “Ann’s leadership has been exceptional, especially during what have been challenging times for the economy in Northern Ireland and globally.

“At these times local businesses of all sizes look for support and advice from a trusted source, and Ann has ensured she and her team have been that source.

“NI Chamber has always offered support to our member businesses and even during the Covid restrictions, continued to host networking events which have always been very well attended and which our own membership research tells us are very popular.

“The level of professionalism associated with NI Chamber is down in no small way to the talent and commitment of the senior management team under Ann’s leadership. We will miss her and wish her every success in her future roles.”