Belfast Telegraph

Try harder: business leader tells firms to emulate All Blacks success

By David Elliot

Northern Ireland can become the All Blacks of the global economy, the chairman of one of the most influential business bodies said last week.

Making his inaugural speech at the CBI Annual Dinner, sponsored by eircom, Ian Coulter said the attributes of the World Cup winning rugby nation should be used by businesses here.

"New Zealand applies a very narrow focus by placing its rugby team first, second and last," he said. "If Northern Ireland puts our economy first, second and last, together with an obsession with specific skills, a maximisation of their talent, and a coherent and well understood strategy, then what a force we would be to be reckoned with."

He said the focus should be on rebalancing the economy and underpinning a more dynamic private sector.

"The economic strategy is a welcome framework for supporting growth in our economy but we need a more laser-like focus on our gazelle companies and sectors if we are to achieve our ambitious targets."

He said the Executive should sharpen its focus on five or six core areas and resist the temptation of trying to be "all things to all men and women"; it should be obsessive about developing the skills set to match these priority areas; ensure all stakeholders are clear about the direction of our economic strategy and "unapologetically support our future champions for growth".

"Our Executive must accelerate co-operation on a number of key areas of intervention both across Stormont departments and with our friends in both Dublin and London," he said.