NI Family Business Forum

NI Family Business Forum

Pictured (L-R): Michael McQuillan, Director Business Institute Ulster University SME Centre, Darren McDowell, Partner Harbinson Mulholland and Vicki O'Toole, Managing Director JJ O'Toole Ltd

Vicki O'Toole delivering her keynote address

Vicki O'Toole delivering her keynote address

Vicki O'Toole, JJ O'Toole Ltd expressed her views on paying women less in the workplace!

Vicki O'Toole, JJ O'Toole Ltd expressed her views on paying women less in the workplace!

Panel discussion

Panel discussion

Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI

Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI

Howard Hastings, Pat O’Kane, Michael McQuillan and  Darren McDowell

Howard Hastings, Pat O’Kane, Michael McQuillan and Darren McDowell

Ian Smyth, Johnston Campbell and Sharon Loane, UUJ, Global Business and Enterprise

Ian Smyth, Johnston Campbell and Sharon Loane, UUJ, Global Business and Enterprise

Robert Wilson, Hilary Griffith,  Ruth Wilson

Robert Wilson, Hilary Griffith, Ruth Wilson

Kathryn Laverty,  Ellen Woods, Joseph Woods, Angela Craigan

Kathryn Laverty, Ellen Woods, Joseph Woods, Angela Craigan

Jenifer Long, Dan Long Associates, Dan Long, Dan Long Associates and Jeremy Harbison, HM

Jenifer Long, Dan Long Associates, Dan Long, Dan Long Associates and Jeremy Harbison, HM

Celine McLarnon, ISL Waste Management

Celine McLarnon, ISL Waste Management

David Crozier, Navigator Financial Planning

David Crozier, Navigator Financial Planning

Family firms motivated by our Resilient and Ready themed event.

Another Forum done and another fantastic event for all our family businesses. The theme ‘Resilient and Ready: Surviving and Thriving in Uncertain Times’ really resonated with the guests and contributors!

Vicki O’Toole from JJ O’Toole starting things off with what can only be described as an inspirational story of resilience in family business. The Mother of five who took control of her husband’s family business after he passed away, told an entirely authentic story. She told the room of family firms how she faced up to doubters, learned the business on the job and then transformed it into a dynamic and award winning packaging firm with a list of illustrious clients such as Selfridges and Dunnes.

Some research on resilience in family firms from Ed Hearne, Fingal Council, County Dublin and successful succession from Ulster University’s Ian Smyth followed. Both added credence to Vicki’s comments and told how family firms respond when things get tough and how through succession planning they can future-proof their business if something unexpected happens.

Our panel discussion chaired by Business Eye’s Richard Buckley, looked at dealing with the prevailing uncertainty in our business environment. The topics of Brexit and our lack of an Assembly were unavoidable. However, typical of an event populated by family businesses the tone was resigned to the situation we are in and the responses, very pragmatic and ‘let’s get on with it’. Resilience it seems really is in-built within our family businesses.

The event wrapped up on an energetic note with Una McSorley’s acclaimed presentation ‘It’s a Zoo out there’. Funny, energetic and informative Una left guests contemplating their communication style and whether this made them an elephant, dolphin or lion!

We send a sincere thank you to everyone who made this latest NI Family Business Forum event such a success. We hope to continue this theme through to our spring event in 2018 – there was simply too much more to say than our afternoon allowed! See you all then.

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