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On Monday 11 September at the vibrant Belfast campus, Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice Chancellor welcomed Ulster University alumni who came together for an opportunity to meet other professional graduates from a diverse range of sectors to establish some new connections, reconnect with old friends, and find those new opportunities that often emerge when like-minded people come together.

Jayne Brady's address captivated the audience, highlighting her impressive leadership experiences spanning over 20 years and her significant contributions to Northern Ireland. She shared pivotal moments from her career, highlighting her diverse range of skills, discussing both her successes and challenges while offering valuable advice to aspiring leaders on the dedication required to achieve their goals.

One of the highlights of her speech was her appointment as the leader to some 23,000 civil servants and as chief policy adviser to the Executive, emphasising the critical role she plays in supporting the Executive government, and the delivery of public services and commitments.

Her commitment to the future of Northern Ireland was evident as she discussed her efforts to drive economic and social development through harnessing innovation. Her dedication earned her recognition in 2021, with both an MBE and honorary doctorate.

Jayne Brady, Head of Northern Ireland Civil Service said:

"If history teaches us anything, is that history itself is never finished. The agreement was not simply an agreement to settle our past but to supercharge our future. A future that will not be realised simply by birthright but through the same hard work, courage, resilience, and imagination that epitomised the leadership of 1998.

"The kind of leadership that Northern Ireland needs from me and from you. Because the truth is, it is inevitable that a challenge is always around the corner. The need for leadership and vision is as necessary today as it was in the years before 1998.

"With the right kind of leadership, the kind that I know exists in this room. We can deliver the kind of progress that will give our citizens access to the opportunities for education, health, prosperity and the happiness that they deserve.

"We are going to need leadership that is courageous. There is so much benefit from leadership training programmes and initiatives like those provided here at Ulster University, and when they become available grab them with both hands and get everything you can out of them."

Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice Chancellor, Ulster University said:

"Having Jayne Brady as our keynote speaker was a privilege this evening. Her remarkable leadership journey, unwavering commitment to Northern Ireland's future, and impressive track record of success have not only inspired us tonight but have set a shining example for all of our alumni. Jayne embodies the values of Ulster University – excellence, innovation, and impact and her presence here reaffirms the strength of our alumni network and the transformative power of education."

The event featured closing remarks from Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Ulster University Provost, who emphasised the value of alumni connections and the importance of networking events like these in building relationships and advancing careers.

Cathy said: “Higher education is about much more than the qualifications you achieve at the end of your studies. It is about the people you meet, the relationships you build, and the opportunities that present themselves along the way Tonight’s event, and all of Ulster’s Alumni networking events offer an opportunity to stay connected, a chance to learn from one another, a way of forging new  relationships based on our common experiences and, of course, a way of helping  each other out.

“Ulster University now has over 200,000 alumni across the globe and every single alum that has studied with us at Ulster is part of this remarkable network, which will give you instant access to our award-winning Employability & Careers services with 1-1 advice and guidance as well as a plethora of sector-leading digital resources.

“So I always  encourage all of our alumni to stay in touch, stay connected with us, and make use of all of the resources that are available here at Ulster, so that you can use them  open new doors,  keep up to date with career and industry developments, and identify future opportunities that will help you develop both personally and professionally”

If you are an Ulster University graduate and would like to connect with the alumni network and be updated on any new events, please contact

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