Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Johnston Encourages Allstate Employees To Dream No Little Dreams

Allstate Northern Ireland held a Global Leadership Conference at the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s Riddell Hall in June 2014. This was a fitting venue for Allstate NI because of the Institute’s link with its parent company, The Allstate Corporation, in the US. More than 150 of Allstate’s global managers gathered to hear from a number of key speakers at the event, including current President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston, who encouraged leaders to “dream no little dreams.”

In his speech to Allstate’s leaders, Professor Johnston emphasized the importance of leadership as having a “passion for making a difference, a passion that goes beyond the individual to the collective.” Professor Johnston likened his experience as Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University and said, “Like Allstate we view our people as our most important ingredient – We take time to invest in our staff, focus on leadership, meritocracy and transparency, and do it in a way that lets everyone have a collective ownership.”

Allstate NI has recently embarked on a global leadership program for people who work with employees across the US, Northern Ireland and India, providing crucial development for leaders who now work across multiple time zones, manage teams virtually and face cultural differences.

Research shows good local leaders do not necessarily make good global leaders and that different mindsets and skills are required. Professor Johnston talked about his experiences of working in Washington, DC, and globally to establish Queen’s University as a world class research centre. He encouraged Allstate’s leaders to, “not be afraid to make mistakes but also learn to take the time and patience to reach your destination.” Professor Johnston concluded his presentation to the group by saying, “leadership is about courage, conviction and putting you second – not first.”

Professor Johnston made such a lasting impression not only on Allstate’s employees but on Suren Gupta, Allstate’s executive vice president of technology and operations, that he invited Professor Johnston to speak at a leadership meeting at the company’s US headquarters. Suren Gupta thanked Professor Johnston for his contribution to both events and said, “Professor Johnston is inspiring, both to me personally and to our global leadership team. His passion and commitment to research and development and making a difference in people’s lives is simply outstanding.

“Allstate NI already has a long standing relationship with Queen’s but we hope to expand that into new arenas within research and development and are currently working on an exciting project relating to cybersecurity. It is the unique collaboration between education, government, business and the talented workforce that makes Northern Ireland so attractive as a destination.”

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InterTradeIreland FUSION Programme - Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management Graduation July 2014

The first cohort of the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme - Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management graduated in July 2014.

The programme is run by the William J Clinton Leadership Institute and Queen’s University Management School on behalf of InterTradeIreland.  The programme commenced in April 2013 and includes five modules, a business project and has a strong learning community within the cohort.

Participants combined completing the Diploma with full time work in companies from right across the island, North and South   - representing the diverse and dynamic nature of the SME environment on this Island.  The modules include Strategy, Finance, Marketing, HR and Leadership.  The completed assignments demonstrated understanding and awareness of the issues that are critical for business success and take a long-term, strategic look at the businesses the participants are working in.

Background to the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme.

The FUSION Programme offers graduates the opportunity to work for some of the leading innovative companies across the island. They can fast track their career and take a lead role in the company they are working in to develop new products or processes within the Science, Technology or Engineering sectors.  While getting this vital experience, the graduates are also able to develop their skills by participating in the fully funded Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management from The William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University, Belfast.  Graduates are offered a real opportunity to significantly improve their career prospects coupled with an attractive salary and training package.

FUSION develops partnerships between companies with a technology need on one side of the border, and colleges or universities that can provide the specialist knowledge, expertise and support on the other side. The partners work collaboratively to plan a specific project role that solves a technology need within the company. A dynamic graduate is then employed to spearhead the project for a period of 12 or 18 months and acts as a facilitator between the university and company.

Recognising the substantial business and economic contribution graduates can make to the economy, Margaret Hearty, Acting Chief Executive explained:

“InterTradeIreland is committed to bringing together graduates, companies and academics from different parts of the island to offer quality employment which is of vital importance in the current climate. Graduates have a lot to offer our ambitious SMEs. They are bright, well educated, enthusiastic and keen to learn – exactly the type of people we need working with our SME businesses.   They can help apply the latest thinking from academia and their ideas and skills can make a huge difference to business performance.

“The fact that 80% of those who have successfully completed our graduate programmes to date have been offered employment with their host companies, and others have moved on to secure roles elsewhere, is a testament to the contribution they can make to SMEs and the wider economy. With a high rate of emigration of our young people still happening as a result of the recent economic downturn, it is so important that graduate programmes such as FUSION exist as they can provide an alternative opportunity to local young people who can use their skills to assist in national economic recovery.”

The Mary Breslin Award

Mary Breslin was a dedicated member of the InterTradeIreland Board from 2000 to 2005. She oversaw the development and implementation of InterTradeIreland’s Graduate Programme, in particular the FUSION programme.
Mary believed that InterTradeIreland's Graduate Programme was an important means of giving young people the skills and experience they need to move from the world of study to the workplace. Sadly Mary passed away in November 2005.
In recognition of the important contribution Mary made to the organisation and her particular interest in, and support for young people, InterTradeIreland has established ‘The Mary Breslin Award’.
This award is presented to the graduate who in addition to academic excellence actively contributes and enhances the experience of achieving the Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management.

Niall Larkin- Winner of the Mary Breslin Award 2014

Anne Clydesdale, Director of William J Clinton Leadership Institute, Niall Larkin, Winner of Mary Breslin Award and Margaret Hearty, Acting Chief Executive of InterTradeIreland

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President Bill Clinton delivers leadership lecture at Queen's University
President Bill Clinton
President Bill Clinton

On Wednesday 5th March 2014, President Bill Clinton delivered the inaugural William J. Clinton Leadership Lecture at Queen's University Belfast.

President Clinton, who last visited Queen's in 2001 when he received an Honorary Degree from the University, also undertook the naming of the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute, Riddel Hall.

Welcoming the President, Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: "This is a historic occasion for Queen's University Belfast. It is also a proud moment for me as I begin my tenure as Vice-Chancellor and it is a landmark event in the life of Northern Ireland.

"We are honoured that President Clinton has given his name to our Leadership Institute and we are delighted that he has joined us in person to set the seal on that partnership.

"Once again he is demonstrating his belief in Northern Ireland and its people, as he has done with such dedication and commitment in the recent past. Now he is giving his support to an Institute that will provide our community with the leaders of the future, in business and in public life.

"The William J Clinton Leadership Institute symbolises our purpose: to create positive change in our society, to provide opportunity for individuals, organisations and institutions to grow and, in his words, helping to build creative networks of co-operation."

Delighted to be returning to Queen's, President Clinton said: "I have long tried to support economic development in Northern Ireland and believe preparing young leaders is essential to long term prosperity. So I am happy to be associated with this institute."

Chairman of The Queen's University of Belfast Foundation, Mr Tom Lynch said: "We are privileged that President Clinton will deliver the inaugural Leadership lecture also named in his honour.  As an Honorary Graduate of this University he is very much a member of the Queen's family.

"Queen's Foundation plays a vital role in securing philanthropic investment to help implement the University's bold and imaginative plans.  Over the past ten years, generous giving has transformed the academic life – and face – of the campus and enriched the student experience.

"In December 2012 we secured the largest-ever philanthropic gift to the University, £15m for the Centre for Experimental Medicine from The Atlantic Philanthropies.  This enabled the University to leverage a further £10m from government and demonstrates the power of the collaborative efforts of the Foundation and the University.

"Queen's Foundation Board greatly appreciates the generosity of the individuals and organisations who have supported the University and continue to do so."

Director of the newly named Institute, Anne Clydesdale said: "At Queen's, it is our mission to be innovative educators, to engage in research of global significance and to be a stimulus of growth in Northern Ireland. Queen's is viewed as the powerhouse of the regional economy and as such is central to Northern Ireland's ambition to become an internationally competitive region. To be associated with President Clinton who, during his Presidency, was also viewed as a powerhouse of the political world can only help the Institute achieve its goals of meeting the needs of local and global business."

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, said: "My Department is currently working in partnership with the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen's, to develop two exciting new leadership programmes for the ICT and Food and Drink Manufacturing Sectors. The Institute will play an important role as we work to ensure that these two key sectors receive the specific leadership development skills that will enable them to succeed."

Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs at 028 9097 3259/07813 015431 or

Watch the Clinton Lecture

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Winners of the UTV/Business Eye Awards 2013

The William J Clinton Leadership Institute recently won an award for Excellence in the UTV/Business Eye awards in the Business Education category.  

Pictured receiving the award from Brenda Buckley – Business Eye are Denise Falls & Anne Phillipson – William J Clinton Leadership Institute.

Anne Clydesdale, Director of the William J Clinton Leadership Institute said “ We are delighted to receive this  award for excellence in business education in the UTV/Business Eye awards for 2013. Since our inception in 2010, we have been dedicated and focused on contributing to the knowledge economy and NI PLC in general. The award represents recognition for the success and momentum we have created with all sectors in Northern Ireland in executive education, and our contribution towards creating strong leaders and good leadership.”

Flybe's General Manager for Market Development, Andrea Hayes, a member of the judging panel, commented that the entries for the 2013 awards were stronger than ever.

“We were delighted with the all-round quality of the entries, and the Awards once again produced some excellent winners, both individuals and organisations.”

Michael Wilson, Managing Director of UTV Television, said:

“The calibre of entries for this year's awards show that there are plenty of ambitious, confident and well led companies operating in Northern Ireland. UTV is delighted once again to recognise and celebrate these top achievers and organisations in such a positive way. These awards represent all that is good about business in Northern Ireland and it is great to see growth and success in so many sectors in spite of the tough times.”

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Queen's University honours President Clinton's contribution to Northern Ireland peace process

Queen’s University today honoured US President Bill Clinton’s contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process by naming its recently opened Leadership Institute, the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute at Riddel Hall, after him.

“I am honoured to be associated with this Institute,” said President Clinton. “It will prepare future business leaders for a time that requires economic innovation, and in the process, will demonstrate the determination of Queen's in Northern Ireland to seize the opportunities that peace has made possible."

Making the announcement, the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: “Queen’s is proud to honour President Bill Clinton for the part he and his administration played in helping deliver the Northern Ireland peace agreement. President Clinton’s role should not be underestimated and Northern Ireland owes him a great debt of thanks.”

 Explaining why the University chose to honour the President’s contribution in this way, Professor Gregson said: “The aim of the Leadership Institute at Queen’s is directly aligned to the goals of the Clinton Foundation. It will provide a focus at the heart of the local business community, supporting ongoing economic development to shape its future. Through direct engagement with both public and private sectors, its impact will be felt across business and the professions; there will be a special emphasis on supporting the development of small businesses upon which the Northern Ireland economy depends.  This development provides an enduring legacy for a remarkable President.”

Anne Clydesdale, Director of the newly named Institute, said: “At Queen’s, it is our mission to be innovative educators, to engage in research of global significance and to be a stimulus of growth in Northern Ireland. Queen’s is viewed as the ‘powerhouse’ of the regional economy and as such is central to Northern Ireland’s ambition to become an internationally competitive region. To be associated with President Clinton who, during his Presidency, was viewed as a ‘powerhouse’ of the political world can only help the Institute achieve its goals of meeting the needs of local and global business.”

Welcoming the announcement United States Consul General in Belfast Gregory Burton said: “The U.S. Consulate commends the work of the Leadership Institute at Queen’s University, whose members offer valuable synergies that help Northern Ireland’s economic position.   We warmly welcome the Institute’s new association with President Clinton who has enjoyed significant connections to Northern Ireland both during, and beyond, his Presidency.  We have every confidence that this exciting partnership will augment the outstanding reputation of Queen’s University as a centre for professional training and academic excellence”.

 Media inquiries to Queen’s University’s Head of Communications and External Affairs, Kevin Mulhern at +44 (0)28 9097 3259 / +44 (0)7813 015431 or


The Leadership Institute was officially opened by former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese on 19 October 2012.

The vision of the Institute is to support the Northern Ireland economy through the ongoing development of business leaders with a global outlook. It was established in direct response to the need identified by Government for improved management and leadership development ‘fit for 21st Century challenges’ and delivered by universities.

The relocation of the Institute of Directors (Northern Ireland) to Riddel Hall and the establishment of Riddel Hall Founders’ Club demonstrate the confidence of the business community in supporting Queen’s to spearhead leadership development in Northern Ireland. The local business community contributed £5million towards cost of Riddel Hall’s development, which is also home to Queen’s University Management School.

President Clinton last visited Queen’s in 2001 when he received an honorary degree from the University. Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the Northern Ireland peace process talks at Stormont, was Chancellor of Queen’s University from 1999 to 2009.

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FUSION of business and learning at Queen's University to boost the bottom line
Group Shot

Businesses across the island of Ireland are to receive a welcome boost over the coming months with the announcement of a new graduate programme at Queen's University Belfast.

The Leadership Institute, at Queen's new £15 million Graduate Executive and Education Centre at Riddel Hall, has won a contract to deliver a new Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management to graduates involved in InterTradeIreland's all island FUSION Programme.

The FUSION programme partners businesses with high calibre graduates and third-level education institutions, allowing them to access the wealth of research and expertise available at prestigious academic institutions across the island of Ireland.

Aimed at science, technology and engineering graduates, participants will be better equipped to understand the challenges facing their organisations, and help them to thrive in today's challenging economy.

The course will be delivered to around 150 graduates over the next three years.

Anne Clydesdale, Director of the Leadership Institute at Queen's, said: "Participants on the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme will complete this one-year course under the guidance of the world-class teaching and research staff here at the Leadership Institute.

"In partnership with the FUSION programme, the Leadership Institute at Riddel Hall aims to develop a pool of talented and skilled graduates who can make Ireland - North and South -a more attractive proposition to international investors. By enhancing the competitiveness of local companies across Ireland, and delivering a high quality Postgraduate qualification from Queen's University, our partnership with the FUSION programme will have a highly significant and positive impact on the economy.

"Queen's already has very close links with the local business community thanks to its Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme. The University is the lead institution in the UK for KTPs, and has helped more than 300 companies boost profits through knowledge transfer. Through this new venture with InterTradeIreland, we will continue to strengthen our ties with industry and see more companies cross our threshold."

Margaret Hearty, Director of Programmes and Business Services at InterTradeIreland, said: "Queen's University's Leadership Institute at Riddel Hall is a premier centre for professional and postgraduate education. With world-leading staff and unrivalled links to the business sector, it provides the perfect learning environment for anyone participating in the FUSION programme.  

"On average, FUSION companies see over £1 million of sales or efficiency savings in the three years following the project. Through access to high calibre graduates and world-class researchers and teaching staff, they have the potential to develop and improve products and services, streamline business processes, implement new technologies and increase sales and reduce costs - benefits that, in today's environment, can be the difference between a business succeeding or not.

"We are delighted to embark on our new partnership with Queen's University and, together, we aim to help businesses across Ireland boost their bottom line and at the same time to help graduates get their 'foot in the door' to fast track their careers."

For more information on the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme visit For more information on the Leadership Institute at Queen's visit :

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Anne Clydesdale...Relishing New Leadership Role
Anne Clydesdale
Anne Clydesdale

When it comes to offices with a touch of class, Anne Clydesdale has one of the better ones.

The Interim Director of the newly-established Leadership Institute at Queen’s University has an office in the much-admired new Riddel Hall at Stranmillis... looking out over the pristine gardens of what was once the home of the first women undergraduates to study at the university. But, while her surroundings are a bonus, it’s clear that Anne Clydesdale is relishing the latest challenge of an impressive career in sales and training.

“I’m really excited about what we can achieve here,” she says. “I was all set to take things a bit easier, but once this opportunity presented itself, I just couldn’t resist it. I’ve been here since March and things are really starting to shape up.

“I don’t think too many of us realise what a great reputation Queen’s University School of Management has on the global stage, and our aim at the Institute is to translate that to working on a wide range of highly practical and highly effective training programmes for businesses here in Northern Ireland.

“I really believe that there is something very special happening here at Riddel Hall, and that it will help put Northern Ireland on the business map.”

Clydesdale is a familiar name to many in the business community here. She spent 20-odd years as Director of Training at B.I.C. Systems, one of the team of five directors alongside Ed Vernon and John Convery. When B.I.C. Systems was sold at the height of the market – or close to it – to BT Northern Ireland, she moved over to BT to help manage the transition for former BIC staff before taking a break from high-level professional life... opening a delicatessen on Belfast’s Lisburn Road.

But the cut and thrust of that professional life drew her back once again, this time to join PwC where she worked on leadership and management development programmes, basing herself for a good proportion of her time at PwC’s London offices.

“In the end, I got a bit tired of the commute back and forth from London, and decided to take things a bit easier back at home. It was as simple as that at least until the call from Queen’s came through,” she smiles.

The new Leadership Institute forms an important part of Queen’s University’s master plan for Queen’s. Its ethos revolves around a desire to engage with local businesses, to facilitate their growth and development and to contribute to the growth of the Northern Ireland economy. And Anne Clydesdale is equally passionate about what can be achieved through the Leadership Institute.

“We’re working hard on introducing a range of programmes for business leaders here,” she says. “We already have our Emerging Leaders Programme in place for the coming year, and it’s a programme which will help capable departmental and specialist managers to become first-class leaders across the board.

“We’ll be moving on from that to launch a top-end leadership programme, a programme on managing organisational change, one on managing effective boards... and there will be more in the pipeline behind those.”

The Leadership Institute’s website - - has just been launched and gives full details of planned programmes as well as an insight into the Institute’s highly practical and time-effective approach to learning.

“By way of example, the Emerging Leaders Programme takes place over six months, but it requires just 10 days off-site. We’re all too aware of the time pressures facing business leaders in the current climate.

“What’s more, our approach to leadership development recognises that most of our learning occurs on the job. That’s what lies behind our 70:20:10 model meaning that our programmes can be split into 70% application in the workplace, 20% learning from others and 10% learning in classroom situations.”

The Leadership Institute can also offer bespoke and customised programmes for individual organisations in both the private and public sectors, based on face-to-face contact and detailed analysis of the organisation’s training needs. It’s an area that Anne Clydesdale is entirely comfortable with.

“At the end of the day, one reason I’m enjoying this role so much is that I’m a sales person at heart. I’m really enjoying getting out and talking to companies and organisations about what we can do for them here at Riddel Hall,” she adds.

The Institute intends to work closely with the key business organisations here. The Institute of Directors is based in the same Riddel Hall building. The Leadership Institute has already been talking to the IOD, the NI Chamber of Commerce and other key stakeholder groups to explore opportunities for collaboration.

“Part of the ethos of the School of Management here is to have robust and lasting links with business, industry and the public sector and we’re very happy to subscribe to that ethos.”

Anne Clydesdale is all too aware that there are some hurdles to be jumped. “There’s been a perception for some time that, for really high level management learning, you’ve got to hop on a plane and go the US. So there’s a challenge for us... to persuade people that they can get the learning they need right here on their doorstep.”

But the American way of doing things won’t be ignored. Clydesdale is already in discussions with Harvard, MIT & Babson College to extend links and look at potential areas of collaboration.

“Our aim is to have an evolving portfolio of programmes and activities,” she says. “That’s why it is important to engage with other leadership organisations worldwide as well as with the customer base here... the business community.”

Through its leadership programmes, the masterclasses, short courses and conference events, Anne is determined that Riddel Hall will become a valued focal point for leadership development and executive education in Northern Ireland.

The organisation has already been working with the members of the Founders’ Club at Riddel Hall, a group of leading local business organisations who signed up at an early stage to back and help fund the re-development of the new home for Queen’s University’s Business & Management activities.

“I’ve been really encouraged by the response,” says Anne Clydesdale. “Almost as soon as the Vice Chancellor’s letter introducing me went out, I was getting calls and emails welcoming me back into the business fold here in Northern Ireland.

“Over in London, you live by your CV. Here in Belfast, you live by your reputation. That’s not a bad thing....”

View the original Business Eye Interview - Sept 12  

For further information on the Leadership Institute and programmes contact:
Tel: 028 9097 4394 or Email:

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