A former Northern Ireland CBI executive has been appointed to the top position at the Institute of Directors (IoD) here. Kirsty McManus succeeds Linda Brown as regional director of the IoD following Ms Brown's retirement after 23 years.
Ms McManus is a former assistant regional director at the NI Confederation of British Industry (CBI), who left to lead Ulster University's centre for SME development.
She also spent 18 months at the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry as head of business development.
The Londonderry woman is an IT graduate who also worked in Silicon Valley firm Vistage for six years.
Her appointment means that women continue to dominate the highest levels of the province's senior business organisations.
The Chamber of Commerce is led by chief executive Ann McGregor and president Ellvena Graham. The CBI here is headed by former Danske Bank chief economist Angela McGowan.
Ms McManus said: "The IoD is known nationally as the voice of business and for the tremendous work it carries out in raising standards in corporate governance and improving economic standards for all. I look forward to further strengthening that voice in Northern Ireland as we seek to build relationships with businesses across all sectors, politicians, local government and the public sector."
Joanne McAuley of recruitment firm Clarendon Executive welcomed the appointment. "It is refreshing to see more women occupying leadership positions, and we should encourage more of that, but not to fill any gender quotas, rather that they have achieved success on the basis of being the right person for the job."
Filling top roles was a matter of "merit and talent", she said. "Diversity is of course a welcome by-product of an increase in top-level female executives. They bring unique talents and business prowess to the boardroom and I firmly believe that diverse teams with diverse ways of thinking make better decisions."
Ian Sheppard, NI IoD chairman, said: "Kirsty will work to grow the IoD's membership through development and networking programmes as well as strengthening relationships with businesses, politicians, local government and the public sector. A high calibre of applicants from across the public and private sector were considered during a rigorous recruitment process and on behalf of our members I congratulate Kirsty on her success."