Belfast Telegraph

Outgoing Invest NI boss hails experience successor will bring to the demanding role

Role: Kevin Holland
Role: Kevin Holland

By Mark McConville

Outgoing Invest Northern Ireland chief executive Alastair Hamilton has praised the experience of his successor.

Kevin Holland has more than 25 years international business experience, including serving as an advisor to the British Embassy in China.

He will join Invest NI on October 21 for a transition period before taking full responsibility once Mr Hamilton leaves at the end of November.

Mr Hamilton said he thought the board had come to a "very rounded decision".

"Undoubtedly one of the key challenges that our company will face in the coming weeks and months will be the international aspect to our work and Kevin is in an ideal position to be able to help companies," he added. "He has a lot of experience in working with companies so he knows the commercial side to businesses very well.

"He spent quite a bit of time working with the department of international trade so he knows economic development very well too."

Mr Hamilton also reflected on his 10 years in the role, calling it a "tremendous privilege".

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"I spent 25 years in the private sector selling for a company whereas the last 10 years I suppose I've been selling for my country," he added.

"That has really motivated me and stimulated the team in terms of what we do as public servants delivering a real public service and providing job opportunities for our young people.

"It's not been without its challenges - we've come through the economic downturn - but our unemployment is at an all-time low, our employment is at an all-time high and we've had such success on the inward investment side that we've outstripped all other parts of the UK for the last four years in a row.

"The biggest success factor is around our customers. Our customer satisfaction today is more than 90%. It was under 60% on the day I joined.

"That's been a real measure of the team and the capability within the organisation. I'm tremendously proud of them."

Mr Hamilton praised US software firm ESO's decision to establish an engineering centre in Belfast, creating 120 jobs.

"ESO join a list of 160 other brand new companies that we've been able to bring to Northern Ireland, bringing with them 10,000 jobs," he said.

Belfast Telegraph