Recruitment boss Tina McKenzie has won the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in partnership with Ulster Bank.
Ms McKenzie is the chief executive of Staffline Recruitment Ireland.
And MRP, which specialises in account-based marketing and analytics, has been named Outstanding Business of the Year, praised as a “role model of ambition”.
The firm is a subsidiary of Newry-based First Derivatives plc — also winner of the Large Company of the Year Award. The winners’ success was celebrated at a socially-distanced presentation in Titanic Hotel, Belfast, also attended by Economy Minister Diane Dodds.
A representative of each winner attended at 10 minute intervals to pick up their award.
Business leader Ms McKenzie was praised by the judges — led by Professor Mark Durkin, Executive Dean of the Ulster University Business School. Belfast-born Ms McKenzie was described as “passionate about the power of employment”. She worked at the Probation Board of Northern Ireland, before setting up the Irish division of Staffline Recruitment in 2013. She then built up the company to a turnover of £150m within five years.
It has also achieved some of the biggest acquisitions in the recruitment sector in Ireland, taking over Diamond in 2015 and Grafton Recruitment in 2018.
Ms McKenzie is also regional policy chair of the Federation of Small Businesses.
Prof Durkin said MRP demonstrated “the capability of Northern Ireland business and is a real role model of ambition”. The firm has 700 staff around the world, including 200 in Belfast.
Prof Durkin said MRP’s activities were “hugely relevant in today’s digital era”. “In the last three years, the company has seen record growth in revenue and expansion of its client base.”
MRP also took home the award for Excellence in Innovation.
Speaking at the event, Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “I am delighted to be here today at the 19th Annual Belfast Telegraph Business Awards... it has been a very challenging time over the past six months, particularly for the business community.
“So I very much welcome the opportunity to join you... to celebrate the achievements of Northern Ireland businesses across a range of sectors and I would begin by saying how proud I am of our local business community, who have shown extreme resilience and determination during these uncertain times.”
Mark Crimmins, the Northern Ireland head of headline sponsor Ulster Bank, said the winners reflected how well firms had adapted to the challenges of Covid-19.
“Indeed, when we look back on 2020 the thing that will perhaps most stick in the memory is how resilient companies in Northern Ireland have shown themselves to be. This year won’t be remembered for all of the missed events and social gatherings, but rather for how we came together and supported one another during tough times.
“More than ever before, businesses have pivoted and adapted, often with little notice, and done their utmost to protect their customers and protect their people.“
He added: “It is fitting then that the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards, in partnership with Ulster Bank also reflect this resilience and proceed with recognising impressive business achievements.”