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Captains of industry to be hailed at Queen's University

Three of Northern Ireland's top business leaders will be honoured for services to business and commerce at Queen's University today.

Brian Conlon, the founder and chief executive of one of Northern Ireland's most successful technology companies, leading business woman Joanne Stuart, and vice president for the European and South American operations of Caterpillar Electric Power Division, Dr Mark Sweeney OBE, will all receive honorary doctorates.

Brian Conlon is chief executive and founder of Newry-based First Derivatives, which he established in 1996 - with a starting capital of just £5,000.

First Derivatives is now a leading global service provider to the capital markets industry.

Delivering the citation, pro-vice-chancellor at Queen's, Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, said: "Brian Conlon is an inspiration to the students of the Queen's University Management School graduating here today.

"The meteoric rise and success of his business - which provides software services to capital markets in around the globe - is a shining example to follow."

Joanne Stuart will receive her honorary degree from Queen's Management School.

Best known for her role as the former chair of the Institute of Directors, Ms Stuart is also a successful businesswoman in her own right, with a career spanning almost 20 years in the IT industry.

Delivering the citation, director of research and enterprise at Queen's, Scott Rutherford, said: "Joanne is a tireless champion for the local business community and has worked exhaustively to help Northern Ireland on its path to economic growth."

Also receiving an honorary degree is eminent engineer and businessman Dr Mark Sweeney OBE.

He is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and is a board member of Business in the Community in Northern Ireland.

He was president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce from 2006-2008 and was awarded an OBE 2007 for Services to Business and Commerce in Northern Ireland.

Professor Mark Price, who will deliver the citation, said: "Dr Sweeney is an outstanding example of engineers who both help make our world better and who drive our economy forward."