From education to employment

Conference aims to boost Northern Ireland productivity agenda

Challenged to address Northern Ireland’s lagging productivity levels, business leaders are being tasked to look inside their own organisations to say what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to managing growth, driving efficiencies through new technology, embracing trade and internationalisation and smart leadership and collaboration.

While support from government is part of the solution, it’s only by making businesses across the region more productive that we can hope to address Northern Ireland’s productivity gap with the rest of the UK.

The event, which is sponsored by BDO NI and Bank of Ireland UK, took place over two days, with presentations and keynote addresses from:

  • Danny McCoy, Chief Executive, Ibec
  • Brian Murphy, Managing Partner, BDO Northern Ireland
  • Mark Cunningham, Regional Business Development Manager, Bank of Ireland UK
  • Mark O’Connell, Chief Executive Officer, OCO Global
  • Peter Shields, Director, Etain Ltd
  • James Ashton-Bell, CBI Head of Trade, International
  • John Conaghan, Group Director of Professional Services, Inspire Professional Services
  • Milan Topolic, Country Business Systems and Solutions Manager, Coca-Cola Hellenic Northern Ireland Ltd
  • John Ahern, Chairman, Indaver
  • John Irwin, Managing Director, Denroy Group
  • Georgina O’Leary, Director, Allstate and Fintech Envoy Northern Ireland
  • John McClune, Lean Process Manager, Invest Northern Ireland

Speaking at the event, CBI NI Director Angela McGowan said:

“Boosting productivity isn’t just a challenge for Northern Ireland, it’s a nationwide priority. We all have a sense of what a modern economy should look like, with new jobs, industries and opportunities supporting improved living standards and sustainable public services – but that can’t happen if we allow productivity levels to remain in the doldrums.

“There is real ambition within the business sector in Northern Ireland, and particularly among medium-sized business, to grow the economy. These companies are committed to looking at their own practices and investments to see how they can do better and steal a march on their international competitors. Boosting productivity within firms is one of the best ways to give our whole economy the jolt it needs.”

Mark Cunningham, Regional Business Development Manager, Business Banking at Bank of Ireland UK, commented:

“Given the climate of uncertainty and disruption to business models from the rapid pace of technological change, Bank of Ireland UK supports the focus on increased agility and enhancing productivity as necessities for all businesses in Northern Ireland today.

Over the past two days, we have heard some fantastic examples of how many of our local companies are rising to this challenge through exporting, innovation and adoption of new technologies and many of our attendees will now be able to use much of the experience shared in the day-to-day running of their own businesses.

BDO NI Managing Partner Brian Murphy said:

“Businesses in Northern Ireland are ambitious and eager to grow. They innovate, they invent and they invest, benefitting us all. Productivity is key to success in business and impacts the extent to which firms can remain competitive in global markets. As we stand at the threshold of being able to negotiate new international trading relationships, it is vital that we continue to outperform the competition.

“Technological advances, management structures and staff efficiency all play a role in determining productivity. By embracing new technologies, listening to and acting upon innovative ideas and introducing more effective management practices we can help deliver greater efficiencies, providing growth for local businesses and the economy.”

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