2022 IoD Northern Ireland Director of the Year award winners announced

Entrepreneur Dame Rotha Johnston was awarded the highest accolade at the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI) Director of the Year awards, sponsored by AIB, held on Friday 9th December.

The current Chair of NIE Networks, Dame Rotha Johnston DBE, was the recipient of the Chair’s Award for Excellence in recognition of her contribution to the Northern Ireland Economy and her exemplary demonstration of good governance throughout each stage of her career which has spanned large corporations, public and third sector, and family businesses.

As the director of Wildflower Property and non-executive Chair of the Board of NIE Networks, Dame Rotha becomes the first female to collect this high-profile accolade in Northern Ireland.

Making the announcement, IoD NI Chair Gordon Milligan, said, “Throughout all of her roles, Dame Rotha has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and this award is in recognition of her ability to drive investment, skills, and innovation.”

Business leaders were honoured across 13 categories at the lunchtime awards ceremony at Belfast’s Merchant Hotel, attended by over 130 people.

Seamus McGuckin, head of business banking at title sponsor AIB, said;

“AIB is proud to work in partnership once again with the IoD NI to deliver the prestigious Director of the Year awards and recognise the exceptional achievements of business leaders here.

“Each and every one of the winners honoured have been hugely successful and rightly deserve to be congratulated on their accomplishments.

From resilience and agility to good governance and innovation, we are proud to shine a light on the skills and attributes that contribute to the success of local businesses.

“On behalf of AIB, we offer our congratulation to this year’s winners and thank our partners at the IoD NI, and the team of judges for making the awards a success.”

Gordon Milligan, Chair of the IOD NI said; “I’d like to congratulate each of the winners on their highly deserved awards, including Dame Rotha Johnston for her Chair’s Award and Nick Whelan, the winner of the Large Business Director of the Year award.

“Congratulations to all those who were shortlisted and a big thank you to everyone who took the time to enter. The awards ceremony could not have taken place without the support of our headline sponsor AIB and each of our category sponsors whose contributions we are extremely grateful for.

“Today has been a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the exceptional leaders we have working across the private, public and third sectors here and a welcome return to a full event after two years of socially-distanced presentations.”

Other winners on the night included Patrick Woods of Linwoods who topped the Family Business of the Year category and Caroline Van Der Feltz of Danske Bank who was recognised for her achievements within Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. Young Director of the Year was awarded to David Smith of Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd.

Highly commended awards were also awarded in three highly contested categories with Ian Wilson, Seopa Ltd in the Young category, Lesley Millar, Allstate NI awarded it in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Category and Buta Atwal, Wrightbus in the Large business category.

Full list of award winners:

  1. Director of the Year – Family Business – Sponsored by BDO Northern Ireland: Patrick Woods – Linwoods
  2. Director of the Year – Innovation – Sponsored by KPMG NI: David Maxwell – Further Space
  3. Director of the Year – International – Sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland: Keith Farley – Aflac NI
  4. Director of the Year – Non-Executive – Sponsored by Deloitte: Alex Lee – FSCom
  5. Director of the Year – Public Sector – Sponsored by Capita Technology Solutions: Dan West – Department of Health Northern Ireland
  6. Director of the Year – Third Sector – Sponsored by Capita Technology Solutions: Carol McTaggart – Clanmil Housing Group
  7. Director of the Year – Small – Medium Business – Sponsored by Ulster University Business School: Eamonn Bunting DipIoD – Outsource Group
  8. Director of the Year – Agility & Resilience- Sponsored by Schroders Personal Wealth: Peter Minnis – TODD Architects
  9. Director of the Year – Large Business – Sponsored by ABL Group: Nick Whelan – Dale Farm
  10. Director of the Year – Young – Sponsored by Carson McDowell: David Smith – Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd
  11. Chair’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice – Sponsored by AIB: Dame Rotha Johnston DBE 
  12. Philanthropist of the Year, Community Foundation Northern Ireland – Sponsored by the Community Foundation Northern Ireland: Angela Moore
  13. Director of the Year – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – Sponsored by Tughans: Caroline van der Feltz, Danske Bank

About Dame Rotha Johnston:

A Queen’s University Belfast graduate and post-graduate, she has had a career in textiles, economic development, and food sectors.

She is currently a director of Wildflower Property, non-executive Chair of the Board of Northern Ireland Electricity Networks and an Independent member of the Advertising Standards Authority. She is also a Director of Qubis and the charity Ulster Garden Villages.

She recently stepped down as Chair of Northern Ireland Screen, the lead agency for the screen industry in Northern Ireland and as a member of KPMG’s NI Advisory Board.

Previously she was a shareholder and director of Variety Foods Ltd, a food service company supplying the Irish market; Head of Marketing in Moygashel Textiles, part of Lamont Holdings and Business Development Director, LEDU. She was also a BBC Trustee, Pro Chancellor and Chair of Senate at Queen’s University Belfast, Vice Chair of Invest Northern Ireland, a Belfast Harbour Commissioner, and director of AIB UK.

In 2006 she was awarded the CBE in recognition of her contribution to industry in Northern Ireland. In 2016 she was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the Northern Ireland economy and public service.

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