A black tie Gala event hosted Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s took place in the Sir William Whitla Hall at Queen’s University on Friday 18 November 2011.
This highly enjoyable annual social occasion provides a good opportunity to celebrate the friendships and connections made throughout a year of high level business networking between higher education and industry.
Guests arrived for the drinks reception to the strains of harp music provided by Ursula Burns. Once seated, after Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher gave a welcome address, everyone enjoyed a splendid dinner served by the Great Hall catering staff.
After the meal, entertainment was provided by mentalist David Meade, whose second BBC television series, ‘The David Meade Project’, had just begun. David amazed – and terrified – his audience by randomly picking on ‘volunteers’ to take part in his impressive mind-reading feats. David also raffled a range of prizes, kindly donated by a number of local business, meaning many guests went home with an early Christmas present.
Later, many of those attending took to the floor, dancing into the early hours, to the music provided by a favourite local band, ‘The Usual Suspects’.
As 18 November was BBC Children in Need day, two of our students who were helping out on cloakroom duties, took up a collection as guests departed, raising an impressive £496 forthe charity.
Almost 250 private and public sector business leaders gathered at Riddel Hall on Tuesday 6 December for a Northern Ireland economy debate, where there was a call for radical change in our strategy and vision for economic growth in the next 20 years in Northern Ireland.
The debate – Going for Growth: Time for Radical Change - was jointly hosted by the Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s and Clarendon Executive, and chaired by BBC Business and Economics Editor Jim Fitzpatrick, who facilitated commentary from a panel of leading industry experts.
Ciaran Sheehan, managing partner of Clarendon Executive, said: “The fact that almost 300 business leaders attended the event demonstrates a very clear desire among the business community in Northern Ireland for decisive, strategic action to grow the local economy, and this was reflected in the comments from both the audience and panel.
“The overwhelming theme of the night was the need for radical change in what can only be described as a cultural attitude towards risk-taking here and the necessity for a more integrated, joined-up thinking between the business community, the public sector and our schools, parents, universities and colleges.”
Panellist Tracy Meharg, managing director of the Innovation and Capability Development Group at Invest NI, highlighted the organisation’s clear objective to grow the private sector in Northern Ireland and stressed that the Northern Ireland Executive has continued to put the economy at the centre of its agenda.
But Ian Coulter, managing partner at Tughan’s and incoming Chair of the CBI in Northern Ireland raised concerns that, if this really is the case, then not enough is being released into that area in comparison with England, Scotland and Wales.
NISP Connect’s Steve Orr responded to this by urging the private sector to shift away from a culture of always looking to government to fix problems towards a more transformative vision for the next 20 years: “A very different role needs to evolve for the private sector – entrepreneurs need to step up, roll up their sleeves and get to work, and this will require lots of risk taking if we are to transform our economy.”
Seamus McAleavy, CEO of NICVA, concurred, saying that we need to encourage a private sector that isn’t just thinking about what public sector contracts it can win and what funding it can avail of, and instead focus on attracting and retaining talent in Northern Ireland.
Adding to this, Queen’s Economics lecturer Dr Graham Brownlow said that Northern Ireland shouldn’t be trying to “tinker with small pieces of finances when there are global markets out there.” He claimed that there is currently an issue around the allocation of resources – saying that public sector economists need to move away from evaluating evaluations of evaluations, which is “perhaps a legacy of the Troubles”.
Northern Bank Chief Economist Angela McGowan meanwhile stressed that the emerging ‘them and us’ attitude really isn’t healthy and suggested that there is a definite role for more public private partnerships (PPPs), which can deliver increased speed, abilities and efficiencies.
The importance of the education sector in Northern Ireland sparked much debate from the panel and audience alike, with Ian Coulter calling for DETI and DEL to be much more co-ordinated, potentially even becoming one at some stage. Angela McGowan suggested that there is a lack of innovation in our education system at the primary school level and called for a radical view of education to come through in the programme for government, saying that a joint-up vision between education and the economy would be essential.
Speaking about the skills gap in certain industries, Tracy Meharg said that the attractiveness of these industries is their own responsibility and agreed that a partnership approach between parents, schools, universities and industry would help to address the problem. Her comments were backed up by an audience member, who suggested that those industries experiencing severe skills gaps should recruit future employees at school level and pay for their university education, similar to what is done in the US.
Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, summed up the debate by saying: “This was a very lively debate and I sense a lot of ambition in this room. The challenge is now to turn this ambition into reality, especially in the areas over which we have influence as business leaders in Northern Ireland. We need to take tonight’s debate forward and crystallise it into clear actions for our universities, business communities, schools, parents and the public sector.”
Members and guests who attended the first Chief Executives’ Club event of 2012, were treated to an exhilarating and thought provoking presentation by our guest speaker, Baroness Susan Greenfield.
In the comfortable surroundings of the Riddel Hall Courtyard, our speaker outlined her views on how the brain will work in the future and suggested that the change could be so dramatic that ‘mind change’ could be the new climate change’ in terms of its importance as a subject for debate.
Baroness Susan Greenfield is a British scientist, writer, broadcaster and member of the House of Lords. She is also Senior Research Fellowin the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford. Specialising in the physiology of the brain, Susan researches the impact of 21st Century technologies on the mind, how the mind generates consciousness and novel approaches to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.Sn researches such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
In her stimulating address, Baroness Greenfield began by providing a fascinating overview for non-specialists of what is known currently about how the brain works. She then explored a range of societal trends that she argues will impact on how our brains evolve and work. She explained that the brain is a highly adaptable organ, evolving to accommodate environmental factors affecting our use of it.
Baroness Greenfield told us that the environment of 21st century technology is unprecedented in changing how we think and feel. As more people, particularly the younger generation, spend increasing numbers of hours in an on-screen environment, be it using social network sites, search engines, or gaming, she suggested that this will affect how we use our brain and think. She gave examples from her own research of the nature of these changes, suggesting that more time spent on computer screen interaction could result in reductions in empathy, fragmented attention and increased recklessness. She emphasised that whether the changes will be for the better or not, society needs to consider now the implications of more screen use and what it may mean for how the brain will work in the future and how it could best be utilised in the workplace.
Our guest speaker delivered a captivating talk and gave frank and insightful answers to the many questions that were put to her by guests at the talk’s conclusion.
Afterwards, over dinner, many of the eye-opening predictions Baroness Greenfield made were hotly debated by guests.
For anyone wishing to read more about this fascinating subject, Baroness Greenfield has written several non-specialist books on issues relating to the mind and brain for the general reader, including: ‘You and Me: The Neuroscience of Identity’, ‘ID: The Quest for Meaning in the 21st Century’ and ‘Tomorrow’s People: How 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way we Think and Feel’.
Queen’s University Management School and the Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s were delighted to welcome John Bird MBE, founder of the Big Issue magazine, to the University on 29 February, when he gave the annual KPMG Distinguished Visiting Lecturer address before dinner in the Courtyard at Riddel Hall. His lecture was entitled ‘The Necessity of Poverty – incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility’.
Professor Mike Tomlinson, Head of the Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, introduced the guest speaker.
John Bird spoke passionately, with humour, many personal anecdotes and with authority, on a range of issues relating to Corporate Social Responsibility that included leadership, poverty and social enterprise.
In his own words, John Bird “was born into poverty, brought up in care and has lived through a lot”. His life’s journey has included spells as a prison inmate, sleeping homeless on the streets of London, artist, and leader of one of the world’s leading social enterprises.
Launched in 1991 The Big Issue has worked with and on behalf of society’s most marginalised individuals, helping thousands of homeless and vulnerably housed people to take control of their lives. The paper’s model is used around the world, giving homeless people the opportunity to engage in helping themselves by selling magazines on a self-employed basis, and earning a dignified living in order for to break out of the poverty cycle. As a result of the success of The Big Issue, The Big Issue Foundation was established in November 1995 to address the wider needs of homeless people.
After John Bird’s talk, Professor Noel Hyndman of the Queen’s University Management School, chaired a lively question and answer session. Jon D’Arcy, a Partner with KPMG, the company that sponsors the annual Visiting Lecturer Series, thanked the visiting speaker and commented on his address before announcing that dinner would now be served.
At a time when Corporate Social Responsibility is preoccupying business leaders and consumers alike, John Bird offered an authoritative, fresh approach and original perspectives on the interaction between business and society. His diverse experience, combined with his exuberant personality and skill as a raconteur, made for a compelling evening and the debate was continued by guests over dinner.
How companies can manage technological change through innovation in order to stay ahead of the competition was the central theme that Professor Christopher Tucci discussed during his InterTradeIreland Innovation Lecture at Queen’s University Belfast. The lecture entitled Managing Technological Change Through Innovation: What's an Incumbent to Do?, was delivered on Monday 2 April 2012 in Riddel Hall.
Professor Christopher Tucci is Chair in Corporate Strategy & Innovation at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. He is co-author of the books Nurturing Science-Based Ventures and Internet Business Models and Strategies, and has many years of experience advising businesses of all sizes on how to use innovation as a means to increase their market share.
The innovation lecture was aimed primarily at members of the local business and industry community who are interested in exploring innovative ways to develop and grow their businesses, as well as academics specialising in innovation and local policy makers.
Aidan Gough, Strategy & Policy Director at InterTradeIreland, who introduced Professor Tucci said: “For the ambitious firm, achieving sustainable, innovation-led growth is both a complex and challenging imperative. Internal capabilities are no longer sufficient to gain and sustain competitive advantage as companies must draw on external resources and expertise across the island and beyond to be successful.”
Professor Tucci’s lecture examined how some of the world’s leading companies stay ahead of their competition when faced with new technology that threatens to destroy them. Using examples from the energy, military, entertainment and ICT sectors he demonstrated the innovation response strategies that incumbents need to adopt if they wish to grow and prosper. He also outlined the distinction between radical and incremental innovation and referenced his latest research on how businesses can manage and thrive throughout the process of ‘creative destruction’.
Speaking in advance of his lecture Professor Tucci said, ‘My advice to local businesses that wish to prosper and grow, especially in the current economic climate, is to think not only about current product offerings, but about a continuing stream of new products and services and the best way to commercialize them’.
Professor Tony Gallagher, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning, Staffing and External Relations at Queen’s University Belfast, who welcomed the speaker to the University lecture commented: ‘Professor Tucci’s visit provides a fantastic opportunity for the local business community to get first-hand insight into business development from a world-class expert in this field. We are delighted to host such a prestigious event at Queen’s University’.
Professor Tucci also gave three masterclasses for business representatives during his two-day visit to Queen’s entitled: Open Innovation: Best Practices; Design Thinking and Innovation the IDEO Way; and Exploiting Web 2.0 to Boost Innovation.
The Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s hosted its first lunch and lecture event on Thursday 17 May in the Great Hall. The Club was delighted to welcome Martin Murphy, Managing Director for Hewlett Packard Ireland to talk to members and their guests.
An active industrial policy and education advocate, Martin Murphy is chair of JobBridge, the first (Irish) National Internship Scheme; is a member of the Irish government’s Top Level Appointments Committee (TLAC) and serves on the boards of the Smurfit Business School and the Institute of Directors.
In his address, entitled ‘Winning Investment: Making Ireland a Global Hub for R&D and Innovation’, Mr Murphy set out the story of HP’s growth in Ireland over the last 30 years. Under Mr Murphy’s leadership HP has experienced strong and sustained commercial and financial performance and is now the largest technology services provider and a leading IT employer in Ireland, North and South.
Drawing upon the recent results of a benchmarking exercise carried out for HP’s Global Location Strategy, a rigorous process used to determine the group’s future investment areas, Mr Murphy reported on its findings that highlighted Northern Ireland as a strong investment location. He commented that Northern Ireland scored highly and favourably against other global areas, in terms of its labour quality and cost, the support infrastructure available and its political stability.
He explored how Northern Ireland must work to commercialise innovation further, commending the role played in this area by Queen’s University, and reflected that the single biggest challenge across Northern Ireland is private sector job creation.
After a lively question and answer session, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education and Students, Professor Ellen Dougls-Cowie thanked our guest speaker, before guests continued to discuss over lunch the issues Mr Martin had raised.
Mr Steve Pateman, Executive Director and Head of UK Banking with Santander UK plc was in Belfast on 18 June to visit Queen’s University.
In the afternoon, in the Santander bank branch in the Queen’s Students’ Union, the banking leader met with Queen’s postgraduate students and academics to have benefitted from Santander support in the form of student scholarships, internship and study exchange visits. He was accompanied by Mr Luis Juste, Director, Santander Universities.
In the evening, Mr Pateman addressed more than 200 local business leaders in the Queen’s University Executive Education Centre at Riddel Hall, when he gave an innovation lecture entitled, ‘2012 – the start of the recovery, or a further step back?’
In his address, Mr Pateman explored the current state of the banking sector and the impact this is having on the local economy. He outlined his views on likely future economic developments in the UK and Eurozone countries, the state of the current UK banking sector and the role it can play in supporting UK business in helping to grow the economy. He stated that while 2012 could still see the start of growth in the UK economy, it is more likely that growth will be stronger in 2013.
Steve Pateman joined Santander in June 2008 and became Executive Director, Head of UK Banking in March 2012 with his appointment as a Member of the Santander UK Board confirmed in June 2011. His responsibilities include Retail, Corporate, Commercial and Business Banking, incorporating all of Santander UK’s channels under his remit.
Previously Steve worked with NatWest and RBS where he was CEO of Business Banking, Managing Director of Commercial Banking and Managing Director of Corporate Banking. Steve also worked on a variety of financings, restructurings, capital market and equity issues during his time in NatWest Markets where he specialised in the leisure and retail sectors.