Belfast Telegraph

Introducing final three judges for the inaugural Belfast Telegraph IT awards

Meet the final three of our judging panel waiting to see what our leading individuals and businesses have to offer

At the launch are (left) Dr Karen Rafferty, QUB; Peter Guzhar from sponsors Carson McDowell; Margaret Canning, Business Editor, Belfast Telegraph
At the launch are (left) Dr Karen Rafferty, QUB; Peter Guzhar from sponsors Carson McDowell; Margaret Canning, Business Editor, Belfast Telegraph

We were proud to announce the launch of our inaugural Belfast Telegraph IT Awards last month, supported by Carson McDowell.

With 13 individual categories available for entry, we have a panel of expert judges ready and waiting to see what NI's IT individuals and businesses have to offer.

Last week, we met our first four judges - this week, we meet the concluding three.

Dr Nicola Ayre - associate head of the School of Computing, UU

Dr Nicola Ayre is associate head of the School of Computing at Ulster University. She is a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy, with over 25 years' experience as an educator and researcher. Nicola believes passionately in the principles of widening access and inclusiveness.

She has a particular interest in developing student employability, participating in local and national forums across the education and industrial sectors. Nicola is a regular contributor to STEM employment initiatives and actively promotes women in IT.

She is involved with teaching and learning programmes at national level and mentors other academics across the sector. She is also experienced in technology transfer in computing in the industrial sector in the UK and Ireland. Teaching interests include information management and the strategic use of IT in business.

She said: "We have an incredibly vibrant and diverse technology sector in Northern Ireland, these awards are a timely opportunity to showcase our world-class IT and computing talent."

Clair Gheel - business development manager, EIR NI

Clair has worked within the IT industry for more than 20 years. She began her career with a degree in computing and information systems but moved from a technical role to technical sales and account management early in her career. Clair spent several years in sales in Great Britain with companies such as BT, Oracle and HP.

Following a move home, her focus shifted to SMEs and she has spent the past 10 years working with smaller companies, advising and assisting them on their IT strategy, systems and processes.

Clair has also been heavily involved in working with schools and young people locally to encourage and promote IT as a career.

In particular, she has focused on encouraging girls and women discover a career in the IT industry and has run several large events aimed at increasing the female representation within the IT talent pool. More recently Clair has been working with telecommunications company eir NI, furthering the growth of its enterprise business.

She said: "The IT industry is rapidly becoming a pillar of our economy, as foreign corporations and investors realise the quality of our graduates and the appeal of working in Northern Ireland.

"These awards will continue to highlight our outstanding calibre in the global industry and the exciting opportunities for our younger population to take up a career in IT."

Peter Guzhar - partner in commercial litigation and dispute resolution, Carson McDowell

Peter is a Partner in Carson McDowell's commercial litigation team and heads up the firm's IP and IT practice. He has particular expertise in intellectual property dispute matters, advising parties on both sides in trademark, patent, copyright and design right infringement cases.

He also provides support in respect of disputes relating to software licensing, ICT Managed Services, infrastructure projects and the development of bespoke software solutions.

Peter has been recognised as a Next Generation Lawyer by the Legal 500 UK Guide in TMT (Technology, Media and Telecoms).

Mr Guzhar said: "Carson McDowell is proud to support the inaugural Belfast Telegraph IT Awards, which will recognise the shining lights in one of the most important and fastest growing sectors of the Northern Ireland economy.

"We are heavily involved in this area, both through our work with exciting tech start-ups, indigenous IT companies and large-scale international investors, as well as our partnership with the globally recognised NI Cyber Cluster.

"Many of the world's most valuable companies are tech companies and it is exciting to see so many great digital businesses from Northern Ireland carving out market leading positions and making their mark in the sector.

"It is estimated there are 1,200 tech and IT companies here and I hope to see many of them entering these awards so we can celebrate the part they are playing in building an industry that will be pivotal for Northern Ireland's future."

To enter the Belfast Telegraph IT Awards, visit: To purchase tickets to the Awards Ceremony, visit:


Best 'Not for Profit' Sector IT Project of the Year

Best Use of Cloud Services

Cyber Security Project of the Year

Digital Project of the Year

Mobile App of the Year


IT Professional of the Year

Young IT Professional of the Year

Best Place to Work in IT

IT Project Team of the Year

IT Team of the Year

Small IT Team of the Year

Small Supplier of the Year

IT Woman of the Year

Judging panel

Professor Karen Rafferty, School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Queen's University

Noel Brady, Consult NB1 Ltd

Nicola Ayre, School of Computing, Ulster University

Clair Gheel, eir Business NI

Allen Martin, Kernel Capital

George McKinney, Invest NI

Peter Guzhar, from sponsors Carson McDowell

To enter the Belfast Telegraph IT Awards, visit:

To purchase tickets to the Awards Ceremony, visit: