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Article shared from Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Ambition magazine

Ulster University’s contribution to Northern Ireland’s education sector, its growing economy and its diverse society is unquestionable. Its influence is evident amongst the leadership in many of Northern Ireland’s most respected and influential organisations, with its alumni shaping a positive future for us all across both the public and private sectors.

As they’ve progressed in their own careers or with their own businesses, many former students have kept close to the university, offering guidance and support, and helping ensure it continues to provide an excellent resource for talent and business development for a modern, progressive economy.

Patrick Gallen: BSc Hons Accounting, 1988

Patrick, the partner leading Grant Thornton’s People and Change Consulting Practice and previous chair of the Ulster Society of Chartered Accountants, is an accounting alumnus of Ulster University Business School (UUBS). Patrick is keen to articulate the importance of the university’s move to the new enhanced campus in Belfast city centre:

The future of Northern Ireland and its growth ambitions are very much enabled through people, so it’s important that Ulster University continues to provide that flow of talented, quality students. This is something that the enhanced campus will help with, ensuring our young people not only enjoy and appreciate the development but also want to be there.

He also praised the close ties the university has with all stages of business talent through the supply of highly skilled graduates, the investment in higher level apprenticeships, and the life-long learning opportunities it offers, making it a key cog in the economic engine.

Ulster University graduates are rounded and have a sense of what’s new in business. I believe that the university is very agile. There’s a flexibility there to offer new programmes and qualifications and that’s something that is extremely important to Grant Thornton as an organisation when it comes to looking at our growth plans. People are key to that.

Darina Armstrong: MSc Executive Leadership, 2010 and BA Hons Accounting, 1988

It’s that proactive approach which Darina Armstrong, Chief Executive of Progressive Building Society and UUBS alumna, believes is vital to driving its students’ success.

Ulster University takes pride in innovation and agility and is not afraid to move along with the pace of the outside world. The university encourages its students to challenge today’s world and make powerful, lasting change.

She said the encouragement and support from staff is second to none, encouraging the development of essential skills and attitudes which make for a “lifelong learning” mindset amongst students during and after their time at university.

Ulster University has always embraced the diverse talent within its student population and its expansion will aid Northern Ireland’s business leaders in gaining direct access to tomorrow’s leaders. The university has worked hard to expand its partnerships within the business community, placing collaboration at the heart of the student experience, providing the opportunity to tap into global networks and gain skills which will stick with them throughout their entire career.

Kevin Kingston: MBA, 2007

Kevin, the former Chief Executive of Danske Bank and now a non-executive director at Belfast Harbour, Invest NI and Maritime Belfast, agrees that the university’s move, combined with its ability to produce the right type of talent, promises a bright future for Northern Ireland.

As an MBA alumnus of UUBS and someone who has been part of the local business community for many years, I know how important a role the university plays in underpinning the growth of the economy here. Most obviously, it does that by providing a steady stream of talent equipped with the type of skills which employers need, something which it will be able to build on from its new city centre location, in close proximity to some of the biggest businesses on these shores.

And he agrees that its unique ability to work hand-in-hand with business is imperative for future economic success.

The university also works closely with business to develop industry-relevant courses, flexing to meet its ever-changing needs and collaborating closely to ensure a strong pipeline of skilled workers. Ulster University also provides on-the-job training to upskill employees and help keep the Northern Ireland economy at the cutting edge of global commerce. It is truly committed to partnership with industry, providing value to the economy through research, innovation and business development and, as such, has and will create a host of leaders across all sectors and in all parts of the world.

While recognising the valuable contribution Ulster University has made to their own careers, these leading alumni, who continue to work closely with academic teams in UUBS, are also looking ahead to champion the next generation. The first cohort of students attending the enhanced Ulster University Belfast campus today will undoubtedly contain some of tomorrow’s leaders. Leaders who may well be writing in these very pages in 20 years’ time about the next exciting stage of the university’s development and how it continues to channel a steady stream of leadership to steer the province to success.

Ulster University connects students, academics,  businesses and local communities both to each other and an ever-increasing range of  future opportunities. Ulster University invites you to be part of it.