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NI Director of the Year Awards

IoD NI & AIB Director of the Year Awards 2021
Celebration of Leadership Talent, Success and Achievement

Open for Entries!

2020 was a tumultuous year. Directors faced extraordinary, ever-changing situations that required bold, often difficult, decisions to ensure organisations withstood the challenges, staff were supported and client and stakeholder needs were met.

Innovative and resilient Directors have enabled their companies to survive and be ready to take advantage of future trends. These Directors should be applauded, and what better way than by entering the IoD NI Awards.

Those shortlisted will be invited to a small ceremony on Thursday 25th November, 12-3pm, at the stunning Merchant Hotel Belfast.

These cross-sector awards are open to all Directors or equivalent level, whether or not IoD members. They are free to enter. There are 10 main categories as well as regional awards (see Categories & Criteria, below).

Whatever the size of your business, whatever the sector (private, public or third), whether you are a young entrepreneur, long-established Director or NXD, these Awards are for you.

Submissions comprise six general criteria questions and two category-specific questions. If entering more than one category, you can replicate your general criteria answers.

The judging panel recognises that all sectors are likely to have been disrupted by Covid-19, so of course this will be taken into consideration when assessing entries; the panel will be looking at a range of criteria as well as long-term goals.


  • Outstanding Directors should stand out!
  • Awards are good for you, your team, your clients, your stakeholders and your business.
  • IoD NI works with all finalists to maximise publicity across traditional and social media
  • Increased profile benefits your business strategy

ENTER to submit an application. You can start, save, and return to your application until you are ready to submit

NOMINATE a colleague or client for an Award, and they will be contacted & invited to submit an entry.



Remember that the IoD is about individuals, not organisations, so your answers should be biased to what you have done, achieved or influenced. If the organisation has made great achievements, stress what you did to make it happen.

You don’t have to complete your submission in one go – you can work on it up until the entry deadline. Time taken to complete an entry varies but feedback suggests it is likely to be a number of hours (or 'a couple of evenings') to ensure responses of depth and quality. Best wishes for your submission and, remember, please be in touch at if you have any questions.

• Vision: articulate your vision and how you are driving it forward.

• Approach to challenge and innovation: talk about the challenges you have encountered and how you overcame them. What did you learn from the experience? Tell the judges how you have innovated with new ideas, approaches and processes.

• Company culture: how do you foster a good culture? How do you drive this through the organisation?

• Corporate Governance: if your organisation is too small to have a full board, demonstrate how you ensure you make good decisions, for example a mentor or consultant. If you are a larger organisation, discuss the role of the independent chair and NXDs and how you ensure the board is balanced and remains up to date.

• Leadership: describe why your team would see you as a role model and how you have provided strong leadership at times of stress and challenge and how you support your staff and communicate with clients, stakeholders etc.

Remember - the person being entered is best placed to respond to the questions, but working with a colleague can help.

2021 Categories & Criteria


New for 2020/21: Director of the Year − Agility & Resilience

This award recognises a director who has demonstrated determination and resilience throughout the pandemic and tackled challenges head-on – who went ‘above and beyond’ during 2020.

Director of the Year − Large Business
This award recognises exceptional talent among leaders of Northern Ireland’s major organisations. It looks for directors displaying courage and vision in decision-making to keep their business ahead of the competition and whose leadership is based on knowledge, skills and a strong ethical mindset.

Director of the Year − SME Business
This award is for outstanding SME business leaders. Whatever the sector – IT, financial, primary, manufacturing, construction, distribution, business services – IoD NI wants to hear from dynamic and resilient directors who, despite the challenges of 2020, have supported and led their teams to success.

Director of the Year − Family Business
This Award recognises directors whose resilience and creativity are leading family businesses to adapt and survive and be ready to take advantage of future trends.

Director of the Year – Third
The Third Sector plays a vital role in supporting communities at local level. IoD NI wants to hear about those directors who have embraced the extraordinary challenges of 2020 to continue to meet the needs of those using their services, as well as staff, volunteers and stakeholders.

Director of the Year − Public Sector
The public relies on good public services, which in turn rely on good leadership, never more so than when responding to the Covid-19 challenges. This award is open to leaders of public services, including public agencies, national bodies and governmental departments.

Director of the Year − International
NI is always seeking new global markets in a changing geopolitical environment. 2020 produced additional pressures from the pandemic and Brexit preparations. This award is for the international business leaders with evidence of credible growth and development plans to build further on their company success globally.

Director of the Year – Innovation
Who are Northern Ireland’s business disruptors, challenging how things are done and having the vision and drive to be agents for change? Are you IoD NI’s Director of the Year – Innovation? Tell us about your successful transformational ideas.

Director of the Year − Young
Whether you have recently become a director or recently set up your own business, we want to hear about your achievements. This award recognises upcoming leaders and entrepreneurs who have operated at director level or set up on their own in the last three years.

Director of the Year − Non-Executive
Whether a portfolio NXD or working for one organisation, NXDs provide independent oversight and constructive challenge to the board. Never more so than in 2020 have NXD wisdom and judgement been relied upon. Who are NI’s stand-out NXDs?

* We will also announce our highly-coveted IoD NI & AIB Chair's Award winner & the winner of the CFNI 'Philanthropist of the Year' award at the ceremony on Thursday 25th November 2021. 

Our wonderful 2021 sponsors:

Headline Sponsor


2021 Category Sponsors







Without the support of the above sponsors, this event would not be possible.

IoD NI would like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support.