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Noel Brady: the only way is up

With more than 45 years of experience under his belt, Noel Brady has both had to pivot and re-examine how he operates his own business, Consult Nb 1, as well as assisting in the journeys of others. And while he says everyone has had to adapt, the only way is now up and 2021 brings an air of positivity about the future


Noel Brady

Noel Brady

Noel Brady

One of the first things businessman Noel Brady did as the pandemic gripped Northern Ireland’s economy was just reach out to clients, and past clients, to see how they were coping in such unpredictable times.

And in the last few months he’s worked with a host of companies and organisations around areas such as restructuring, applications for government funding, additional opportunities and repositioning, in order to deal with a changing dynamic.

“Once you realise that things have changed dramatically, you just need to adapt to that. I then had to think quickly about how do I change and react,” Noel says.

“The first thing I did was go through my existing clients, anyone who I had worked with in the last few years, just to check in and say ‘I’m here if you want to me to help in any way I can’. That could be anything from sales and marketing to structural issues – anything which would need executive support. I see myself as being the spare director the company can hire to deal with difficult situations.”

Noel has worked across a wide mixture of sectors and industries, with his firm Consult Nb1 specialising in a range of both public and private business consultancy.

His CV is a lengthy and varied mixture of work across a range of sectors. That includes 17 years in the public sector, before heading senior outsourcing roles in IT.

Noel is chairman of the Continu Group of companies which has pitched him in to a front line role during the Covid crisis. He has also been a non-executive director with DVA, a Belfast Harbour Commissioner for eight years, and four years ago become the financial non-executive director of the South Eastern Health and Social Services Trust.

“I found that connecting with businesses was very fortuitous,” Noel says. “People were glad for someone to take the trouble and ask them how things were going.

“A chairman or non-executive director can be helpful in these situations, if you have someone good, who has the experience and can be brought in to help with operational issues, it can be of real help to firms in situations like we have now.”

Noel says he’s found himself busier in some of the roles which he holds – assisting in a range of company issues.

“In some roles I’ve been asked to come on board and be part of the team to bring some experience and breadth to the team. When someone comes from outside, it can help businesses form a new way of working and a way of dealing with challenges.”

Noel’s also looking to 2021 with an air of positivity, and while he says it won’t be easy for many that “the only way is up”.

“It’s about taking a positive approach, but it won’t be easy,” he said. “We have to take the punches on the chin. But the best thing we can do is be ready to push on as hard as we can. People are positive when there is activity in the market. We need to see some investment from the public sector – let’s get those tenders back to the market. And for me, this pandemic has also shown you can teach an old dog new tricks. It’s about looking forward, and not back.”

Ulster Business