Every day during the Christmas holidays we are profiling the winners of the recent Director of the Year Awards. Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland, won the public sector director award
Joining Invest Northern Ireland in 2009 in the midst of the recession, Hamilton was tasked with putting the business development agency firmly on the front foot, transforming the organisation into the country’s customer-focused catalyst for enterprise. His first five-year plan generated a record number of new jobs and some £3bn in investment – now he’s setting his sights on even greater growth. Here’s what makes him tick…
Who has inspired you? My father, who worked in a shoe shop from the age of 14 to 74, from message boy to owner. He knew his stock, his customers, his margins and his market, long before CRM and stock control systems were thought of. He taught me everything about customer service.
What is the best business advice you’ve ever had? That you should aim to see your business through the eyes of your customers. Also, that it’s important to collaborate to compete.
What’s been your biggest challenge? Moving from private into public sector and leading a sales-focused public sector team in a political environment. Success has been delivered by positioning our customer priorities and then aligning stakeholders and partners to ensure we all focus on the key targets, making sure they are aligned, from government strategy to our KPIs – ‘the ropes must touch the ground’.
What makes our businesses strong? Northern Ireland businesses are the best because of their understated style, world-class innovation, great employees, and ability to sell to the world.
The best business book you’ve ever read? Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Where’s your favourite place to escape to? The north coast – there’s nothing I like more than a good walk along Portstewart beach.
Is a member of IoD Northern Ireland