'Education key, but intelligence is not the only driver of success'
Millennials get a hard time. Dubbed the Snowflake generation, they've been described as lazy, coddled, narcissistic and prone to jump from job to job - all unfounded, negative connotations for those young people who followed Generation X.
However, with the high calibre of entrants in this year's Young Businessperson of the Year award, the Belfast Telegraph and category sponsor Outsource Solutions know those stereotypes don't reflect the true story of what Northern Ireland's young professionals, entrepreneurs and business leaders are achieving.
The shortlist for Young Businessperson of the Year contains five of the highest achievers - Cathal Grant of CGDM Construction; Declan Murdock of AJC Group; Gareth Chambers of Around Noon; Gareth Irvine of Copeland Spirits, and Paul Lawther of Onecom. Working in a relatively young industry itself, Northern Ireland IT Managed Services Provider Outsource Solutions offers IT, communications and consultancy services, with fully staffed and operational offices in Antrim, Belfast, Cookstown and representative offices in Dublin and Edinburgh.
The firm provides design, implementation, 24/7/365 proactive monitoring, maintenance and repair to its customers IT infrastructures, delivered by a team of talented and skilled engineers. Speaking about the company's commitment to supporting and developing new talent, Terry Moore, managing director of Outsource Solutions, said: "At Outsource, we're strong advocates of young people being empowered by technology and having options outside the traditional education routes to better themselves within business.
"We fully believe in the benefits of mentoring to support growth and development, both within the workplace and externally, and do our best to ensure we put this into practice for all of our employees."
This is a claim that can easily be backed up thanks to the business's objective to have the best trained staff in the sector, or, to borrow a quote, "train them so they can leave, treat them so they won't want to".
Based on this approach, Outsource launched an initiative in 2017 offering every engineer within the business the opportunity, on a totally voluntary basis, to complete any business relevant external IT exam.
In order to support their personal development, the company also offered to pay for the course, the exam, provide time off to study and on successful completion award a bonus payment to celebrate.
With over 15 official Microsoft/ Dell Certifications successfully achieved, the success of the initiative can be summarised most simply by the actual company expenditure ultimately being more than double the original budget - one budget the business was happy to beat.
The company is also keen to further invest in new talent in order to further grow its business. With 28 existing staff, the plans are that by 2020 this figure will stand at not less than 50, increasing to 100 by 2023. The one possible external limiting factor to growth being the availability of experienced and available technical engineers.
In order to mitigate over the medium-term, Outsource has established the Outsource Academy which it believes can provide a genuine alternative to full time 3rd level education, where students can enter the workplace, learn on the job and continue, with support, their studies on a part time basis.
"Whilst education is an important aspect in professional development, we are very vocal in our belief that intelligence is not the only key to success.
"Rather, hard work, determination, and a passion for what you do, are all excellent qualities which will help deliver even more success than an 'A' grade ever will," added Terry.
"It's this commitment to supporting young people achieve their potential regardless of their background that led us to join the Belfast Telegraph in their recognition of young, emerging talent, and we are very much looking forward to meeting the shortlisted candidates and celebrating in their success on the night."