By Kirsty McManus, National Director, Institute of Directors (IoD) Northern Ireland

Kirsty McManus
Kirsty McManus

In what for many of us will seem like the most traumatic and difficult year in our business lives, it will be refreshing to this week, take a moment to stop and celebrate the very best of our local economy.

Months after the event was initially due to take place, this Friday, we will finally be able to reveal the winners of the IoD NI Director of the Year Awards.

We will do so virtually with the ceremony taking place online due to the ongoing restrictions related to the coronavirus.

With COVID-19 still very much looming large, the awards act as a reminder that the Northern Ireland business community is made up of some of the most dynamic and forward-thinking leaders anywhere in the UK.

Their resilience and decision making over the past six months mean that, while it has been difficult, we’ll get through this.

Throughout the pandemic, and for many years previously, few individuals have exemplified the leadership qualities necessary to drive success more than Kainos Group CEO Brendan Mooney who will receive the event’s most prestigious accolade – the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice.

Reserved for the most high profile leaders who have made a personal impact on the culture and success of their organisation’s through outstanding professionalism and the implementation of best practice in governance and leadership.

Leading one of Northern Ireland’s few PLCs, Brendan is a giant of our local economy.

He joined then fledgling company Kainos as a graduate software engineer in 1989 and what a mark he has made in the more than three decades that have followed and becoming the firm’s Managing Director in 2001.

Entering the FTSE 250 Index in 2019 (the first tech company from here to do so), Kainos reached a stock market valuation of more than £1 billion in January this year, making it one of Northern Ireland’s most successful indigenous companies of all time.

Headquartered in Belfast and provides digital technology services for organisations within the public, healthcare, and financial sectors across the globe.

Under Brendan’s guidance, the firm has created hundreds of jobs, now employing around 1,700 people, who have voted the business onto the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For seven years in succession.

That doesn’t happen by chance and is thanks to an ethos of providing continual development opportunities and new skills opportunities for staff with a particular emphasis on wellbeing and mindfulness.

Such an outlook has fostered a workforce and a business that is among the most innovative and progressive on these shores.

And in a further show of leadership, the company announced it would repay money received from the furlough scheme, following continued strong trading.

Huge congratulations go to Brendan on his accolade and I look forward to hearing from him – and seeing the recipients of are other awards – during our virtual ceremony this Friday. Hosted by Wendy Austin, and with an appearance by comedian Paddy Raff in the guise of ‘Nigel from BT9’, the event will have the same atmosphere of celebration of previous years. I do hope you can join us.