'Farming taught me the value of hard work'
Q&A: Kenton Hilman
Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to someone starting out in business?
A: Never be afraid to ask for advice - it will build your confidence and ability far faster than struggling on with something on your own.
Q: What was your best business decision?
A: That's a tough one to answer… but since we're talking about the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards, I'll say that sponsoring the awards has been a good decision for Ulster Bank, providing us with a strong opportunity for engagement with great businesses.
Q: If you weren't doing this job, what would be your other career?
A: I have a real love of business and finance and so probably would have been a finance director or managing director in a manufacturing company.
Q: What was your last holiday? Where are you going next?
A: My last holiday was in Portugal and Seville in Spain - a mixture of relaxation and historical sightseeing. The next holiday is to Disney - keeping an overdue promise to the kids.
Q: What are your hobbies/ interest?
A: I'm a keen cyclist having completed the Gran Fondo and Ride London last year. I'm also a big Ulster and Irish rugby supporter although I don't get as often I would like.
Q: What is your favourite sport and team?
A: My favourite sport would be rugby - Ulster and Ireland - and I enjoy watching the southern hemisphere Super 15 competition. I'm a football fan as well, a supporter of Liverpool, and keen to see them win the Champions League.
Q: And have you ever played any sports?
A: Yes, I played rugby for Ulster and Ireland at Schools, U21 and University level. I also got a few caps for Ulster at senior level and I captained QUBRFC and Ulster Schools. A personal highlight was playing for Irish Schools v New Zealand Schools, but losing in the last minute. Sad that two players from that day, Jonah Lomu and Anthony Foley, are no longer with us.
Q: How would you describe your early life?
A: Lively and fun-packed as I attended RBAI in the 80s and thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. Both parents come from farming backgrounds so showed me the value of hard work and both are still going as they approach their 70s. They also taught me the benefits of travel and experiencing other cultures from an early age. I worked in a local restaurant and continued with various jobs during school which gave me a good work ethic and made me appreciate how much effort small business owners put in to their business.
Q: Have you any economic predictions?
A: The economy is going to show modest growth as Brexit uncertainty continues to weigh on business confidence. But local companies that are exporting will continue to grow strongly and even in challenging circumstances there are businesses that will innovate and perform well.
Q: How would you assess your time in business with Ulster Bank?
A: I'm fortunate to have worked with great people over a 15-year period, and I have also been fortunate to work with many outstanding companies. The highlight has to be having supported the growth and development of some of Northern Ireland's most successful businesses.
Q: How do you sum up working in the financial services sector?
A: It's now a fast-changing and dynamic sector where technology plays a leading role.