YLNI 19 – Leading through Adversity!

Friday 14th June saw the 8th annual Young Leaders conference being held in the beautiful Riddle Hall. This year’s theme was ‘Leading through Adversity’ and focused on overcoming times of hardship to follow your dreams and achieve your ambitions. We were proud to, once again, be associate sponsors of the day.

Young Leaders NI is a group formed by the Junior Chamber International Belfast, the Northern Ireland Young Solicitors’ Association, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Northern Ireland and the Chartered Accountants Ireland Ulster Society Young Professionals Group. It is aimed at encouraging and inspiring the leaders of tomorrow from industry and professional services across the province.

It started as a glorious sunny day as we made our way to Stranmillis, Jacqui didn’t get lost and there was only one small hiccup, so we were feeling positive!

Rachel and Jacqui getting ready

This year’s chairperson was Jenna Mairs who appeared in our ‘Inspiring Tomorrows Leaders’ podcasts as a guest prior to the event. Jenna has also been recently been shortlisted in the ‘woman of influence’ category at the Northern Ireland Women’s Awards.

The event was overseen by David Meade as compere who brought humor and sharp wit to the event! Having seen David before, we knew that we were in for a good laugh.

The day promised a fantastic range of inspirational speakers and did not disappoint!

Rachel was absolutely thrilled to meet Hannah Shields. Hannah is the first Irish woman to conquer the mighty Everest! Hannah is a seasoned explorer, adventurer and athlete. You name it, Hannah has probably done it! She has been to the North Pole, is an ultra-distance runner and has even had a go at being an astronaut. She has faced dangerous, life threatening situations such as avalanches and Polar bear attacks. How Hannah reacted to theses situations and challenges is why she is still here today. What an inspiration!

Rachel with Hannah Shields

Entrepreneur, business mentor and columnist Emma Sinclair was the youngest person in the UK to take a company public in 2005. She founded car park management firm Target Parking and now co-leads tech company Enterprise Jungle. Emma has faced boardroom disputes that have left her ostracised, yet she has continued to push forward. Emma credits her success with her healthy living lifestyle. She is an advocate of the importance of wellness alongside hard work and believes health and fitness must be a priority if you are to succeed in life.

Andrew Toogood specialises in creating high performance culture by developing emotionally intelligent leaders and teams. He is a certified Herrmann® practitioner and uses humour and warmth to build trust with clients. Andrew spoke about his many experiences of helping business leaders through difficult times and showing them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The Keynote speaker was Nigel Owens. Nigel is a Welsh international rugby union referee. He is the current world record holder for most test matches refereed. He is also a TV personality and the first openly gay rugby star. If there is anyone who knows about overcoming adversity, it is Nigel. He spoke openly and honestly about his struggle with his sexuality, his subsequent depression and suicide attempt. Nigel felt that he could not continue in his career, his passion and the game he loved because of who he was inside. Nigel spoke about feeling that he had to chose between rugby and being true to himself. When Nigel took the brave step to come out, he inspired a generation of others who were in sport and struggling to come to terms with their sexuality also. He opened the doors for the conversation about the sporting industry and its inclusiveness of the LBGT community.

This year’s winner of the Herbert Smith Freehills Young Leader of the year was Claire Stewart of Cartmill Stewart Accountants.  Claire fought off some tough competition from Linzi Rooney of Studio Souk and Rory McCurry of Modern Office Supplies. Congratulations Claire! You are a deserving winner.

The sun did not stay long, however the torrential rain did not dampen the spirits of the delegates who enjoyed some delicious food and a glass of wine (or two) at the evening reception courtesy of EY, it provided a fantastic space to network and relax.  Then on to Revolution de Cuba for the after party, and perhaps we should leave that there…..

What a wonderful event again this year, we are already looking forward to next year!

Young Leaders, Northern Ireland 2019