Over the Christmas and New Year period, Director is profiling the winners of the IoD Director of The Year Awards. Today we meet Marie-Thérèse McGivern, principal and chief executive, Belfast Metropolitan College, who won the Pubic Sector Director award…
As principal and chief executive of the longest established further and higher education college in Northern Ireland, Marie-Thérèse McGivern has brought the institution from the edge of corporate collapse to a state of financial stability, strong satisfaction levels and restored pride. So what helps her realise the institution’s vision and mission?
Who or what inspired you? The Suffragette movement.
How would you describe your leadership approach? I am deeply curious, resourceful and creative and am passionate about Belfast Met and the impact it can have. Indeed, I live by Tom Peters’ words: “If you’re not passionate about it, don’t manage it.” I believe in using evidence to frame engagement as this gives reassurance and objectivity.
What has been the most frightening moment in your business life to date? The sudden death of our deputy principal – we coped [with the fallout] by all pulling together as one.
What has been your biggest business challenge and how did you overcome it? Turning the college around. We did it with the extraordinariness of all the people that I work with.
What drives you? I love my city. My drive comes from my ambition to hand over a better city to the next generation. That means ensuring education and skills are at the forefront of strategic decisions.
What’s the best business book you have read? Leadership on the Line by Ronald A Heifetz and Marty Linsky.
What’s the best talk you have seen? Ken Robinson’s TED talk on the role of creativity in education.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt to date? Don’t sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff.