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Where do our business leaders go on holidays?


Camino de Santiago in Spain and Disney World have proven popular

Camino de Santiago in Spain and Disney World have proven popular

Camino de Santiago in Spain and Disney World have proven popular

Most of us have managed to escape the old routine this summer by grabbing some days or weeks of holiday, but what about our top businesspeople and their summer escapades?

A straw poll reveals that, while most managed to get away, all stayed in touch with work via their phones whether unwinding on Lake Garda or experiencing the thrills of Disney’s Space Mountain.

John Compton, director of corporate affairs at business advisers PricewaterhouseCoopers, completed walking pilgrimage the Camino de Santiago in Spain with his wife Gillian.

“They say that at some point on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims will experience a ‘St James Moment’, a flash of understanding unique to those who walk the Way of St James,” Mr Compton said.

“Mine came early. Arriving at Madrid airport to discover my luggage was still in London, I then understood why I’d packed two mobile phones, a BlackBerry and iPad in a carry-on bag.

“Nine days and 340km later Gillian and I arrived at Santiago. We stayed close to St James, but I’d managed to stay even closer to the office.”

Gerry Mallon, chief executive of Northern Bank — soon to be rebranded in the name of its parent company, Danske — spent his summer break in the company of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck et al in Orlando, Florida.

“My wife Una and I took our four children to Disney World.

“As the head of an organisation undergoing a major rebrand, my iPhone was always close to hand — and it also helped me pass the time in those long Disney queues.”

Jim McCall, chief executive of Four Seasons Health Care, which runs around 75 care homes in Northern Ireland, made it to Lake Garda in Italy for six days. “Much to the chagrin of my nearest and dearest, I did have daily/hourly contact with the office.”

Ian Coulter, managing partner at Tughans Solicitors and chairman of the CBI, took his family to Northern Ireland’s Riviera — i.e, the north coast.

“I was chasing children around a beach on the north coast which, sadly, did have iPhone reception.

“Ten days — and I was exhausted by the end of it all.”

During his holiday, Mr Coulter could have crossed paths with Mark Elliott, business development manager at agri-IT firm FarmWizard.

“After sunning ourselves on the golden sands of the north coast, I'm convinced there's no better place to holiday than right here in Northern Ireland,” Mr Elliott said. “Of course, that's when the work phones stopped ringing.”

But the cares of work were too much for David Dobbin, group chief executive of United Dairy Farmers, who said: “With the current challenges in the local dairy sector I am not taking holidays this summer other than enjoying my weekends at home.”

Alan Armstrong, the head of pharmaceutical giant Almac, also has farming on his mind this summer.

When not overseeing the work of Almac’s 3,000 staff, he also runs a 100 acre beef dairy farm in Straid, Ballyclare.

“It’s been a busy time at Almac and also on the farm because of the bad weather earlier in the summer, so I haven’t been able to take a break away.

“I spend so much time away on business all over the world so when I do get time off I sometimes like to spend it in Northern Ireland, which is as beautiful as anywhere else I’ve been.”

But unlike most: “I’m not someone who couldn’t be separated from their smartphone from time to time to enjoy the other important things in life”.

Belfast Telegraph