Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland business leaders recognised in 2018 New Year Honours list

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland business people have been recognised for their contribution to the economy in the New Year Honours list.

From a knighthood for Wrightbus co-founder William Wright, to an OBE for Dunbia's Jack Dobson and an MBE for venture capitalist Jayne Brady, a range of sectors is represented.

Ellvena Graham, the president of the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry and chair of the NI Economic Advisory Group, has received an OBE for services to economic development and the advancement of women in business.

Chamber chief executive Ann McGregor said: "The award is a fitting recognition of the unique voluntary contribution which Ellvena has made to economic development in Northern Ireland as chair of the Economic Advisory Group, a supporter of the Prince's Trust and more recently as president of NI Chamber. She has also been a role model for women in business through her career success as the former head of Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland and head of business for Ireland and in her current roles as chair of the ESB Group and the Belfast Waterfront/Ulster Hall."

William Wright (90) co-founded Wrightbus in Ballymena with his father Robert. It's now become an international leader in bus-building, with turnover of around £260m and over 1,800 employees.

Mr Wright's knighthood is the second big honour he's received lately. In November 2016, Queen's University announced it was naming its new mechanical and aersopace engineering centre The William Wright Technology Centre. Mr Wright was awarded a CBE in 2011.

Economist John Simpson said Mr Wright's elevation to a knighthood was "well-deserved". His career is a special example to young aspiring competent engineers who start with strong motivation and a mindset to develop organisational skills to supplement their personal abilities.

"His is a lifetime story of good, basic early learning giving a basis for what has become an internationally famous business," he said.

Another major strength had been to draw on the talents of the people of Ballymena, Mr Simpson added.

Meanwhile, Jayne Brady has received an MBE for services to economic development. Ms Brady, who has had leadership roles in multinationals and start-ups, is a partner at venture capital firm Kernel Capital.

Niall Olden, managing partner of Kernel Capital, said: "We at Kernel Capital are delighted at the inclusion of our colleague Jayne Brady on the New Year's Honours List.

"Jayne has made a tremendous contribution to business, ensuring the positive impact of venture capital within Northern Ireland's innovation ecosystem."

And, Jack Dobson, co-founder of Dunbia along with brother Jim of Co Tyrone meat firm Dunbia, receives an OBE for services to economic development. In the list, he's described as a group executive director for Dunbia and a consultant to Cranswick (Ballymena) - a subisdiary of UK plc Cranswick, which bought Dunbia's pork business just over a year ago.

Rhona Quinn, a founding member of construction firm QMAC, also receives an OBE for services to the NI construction industry and the community.

And John Martin Hughes, the managing diretor of Ryobi Aluminium Castings (UK) has also been given an MBE for services to economic development, along with Kenneth Nelson, the chief executive of economic development agency LEDCOM. Professor Gerard Parr has also been awarded an MBE for services in developing telecoms infrastructure.

Belfast Telegraph

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