Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Why we need a vision to lift the dark clouds

Northern Ireland needs to embrace entrepreneurial spirit and have a long-term vision to battle its way out of economic gloom, according to a leading international businessman.

Sir Paul Judge was speaking ahead of a lecture on globalisation at the Ulster Business School. The Londoner worked for Cadbury Schweppes, and led the buyout of its food arm to form Premier Brands.

He was subsequently chairman of Food From Britain, director general of the Tory Party and ministerial adviser, and palys key roles in various organisations worldwide.

Sir Paul, president of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said global headlines around Northern Ireland do not bode well for investors.

He said he would be willing to offer his services to devise a long-term plan to aid our economic growth.

He said: "Northern Ireland people have always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a strong manufacturing base but people here have to compete against places like Vietnam and China where things can be made cheaper and faster.

"The shipbuilding was good, but it will never be that good again. People have to think about what services they can offer. They have to think about what they are good at - things like telecommunications and agriculture - and what makes Northern Ireland unique to those looking to invest. Being a small place, Northern Ireland needs foreign direct investment so it has to attract those big companies. To attract investment a country needs a vision."

He said the province boasted a good education system, good infrastructure and an attractive cost of living.

"We just need more political co-operation and better management level people and more leadership to help formulate a plan," he added.