Six local women to watch
Recently it has come to our attention that there are a few ladies in Northern Ireland doing some very exciting things as part of their career. Whether they are entrepreneurs, working for global companies or shooting up the ladder in impressively quick time, here is our guide to who to watch out for this year.
She has been shortlisted for Outstanding Young Communicator at the upcoming PRide Awards and Jane Williams is certainly making her mark on the local PR landscape. A graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University, Jane’s first foray into PR peaked with a double page spread in the Sunday Times as part of her final project.
Now a Senior Account Executive at JPR, Jane describes her return to PR after a short sabbatical as a baptism of fire that was a steep learning curve, but hugely enjoyable, working on major campaigns for her mainly consumer client list. For IKEA, Jane travels back and forth from London and Sweden to ensure that global campaigns resonate effectively in Northern Ireland. She also works with the Henderson Group on consumer campaigns that are creatively changing the perception of convenience in Northern Ireland. Jane is an Accredited Practitioner thanks to partaking in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme. As an active member of the CIPR, she sits on the regional committee, developing events and training schemes to further strengthen the local industry.
Leading the field in the world of IT is Lorna Hermin, Principal Architect at Kainos. Kainos is a leading digital solutions provider and she is responsible for the technical solution delivery and governance of several of their government projects. While studying Computer Science at the University of Ulster in 1998 Lorna undertook a placement with Kainos before rejoining in a graduate role. She now has wider corporate responsibilities as head of the Kainos technology capability, which seeks to build a sense of community amongst those in technical roles.
This year Lorna started a new initiative called TechAdventure in conjunction with Girlguiding, sponsored by Kainos. The inaugural event was held in July with Girlguiding South West England, where a group of 12-15 year olds learnt the basics of computer programming and found out about careers in technology.
Harnett’s Oils grows, cold-presses, filters, bottles and markets oilseeds on a 250 acre family farm in Waringstown, County Down. The company is headed up by Jane Harnett (31) along with her brother William and her parents Ann and Michael. Jane has been working full time on the farm since 2007, after a career at university studying for a BSC in Rural Resource Management and a Masters in Rural Environmental and Land Management.
Although she has worked on other farm projects over the years, it is the oil production that has given Jane the most satisfaction and after recently celebrating selling the millionth bottle, it has also given her a thriving business. You can usually find her in St George’s Market on a Saturday, selling her full product range of flavoured oils and vinaigrettes to local foodies and tourists alike. The future is bright for this young farmer as she develops her plans to increase market share for the oils, as well as diversifying into new lines of production.
She studied Law then moved to Europe to pursue a Masters in European Law at which point Fiona felt that her career was mapped out in the legal field. After six years living in New York, she found herself facing a crossroads when moving back to the UK. Fiona decided to take the opportunity to make a change – and a big one at that. She wanted to bring a slice of America home with her so set about opening the popular Red Ruby Rouge in Holywood. Red Ruby Rouge has echoes of her most cherished stores with an online presence giving it genuine reach. Initially she only sold US designers but in time Fiona realised that angle limited her options.
She said: “What people loved about our lines wasn’t where they were from but that they were different. Now we source and support up and coming designers from everywhere and the store is all the better for it. RRR has evolved and will continue to do so because we listen to our customers. Over the next few months we have plans to launch our completely revamped and custom e-commerce site which is currently well underway.”
A marketing graduate from the University of Ulster, Sarah Bloomer has worked with global brands in London agencies and is now helping to steer the marketing strategy for one of Northern Ireland’s most successful, iconic exporting businesses – Chain Reaction Cycles. Sarah got her first taste of a live marketing environment during a placement with Ardmore Advertising. But the real turning point came when she joined Being Communications in Belfast, where she got her first experience in digital marketing.
Hungry for new challenges and keen to gain new skills, Sarah moved to London in 2010. In the first week with integrated marketing communications agency Tangent Snowball she was managing the Carlsberg account – one of the agency’s largest, most profitable and toughest accounts. Sarah moved back to Belfast to join another digital agency, Big Motive, working with such local brands such as the University of Ulster, Bloc Blinds, SendMyBag and TotalMobile. Sarah said that developing the global marketing strategy for one of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies at Chain Reaction Cycles is a ‘thrill’ and she is enjoying every minute of it.
In 2004 Grainne McGarvey completed a three month graduate placement in a PR agency, fast forward ten years and she is now running her own company. Based in the Northern Ireland Science Park, Pulse PR helps companies promote products and services in media outlets, as well as managing their reputation with key stakeholders. The company was established in 2010 and since then it has become synonymous with working with innovative online and offline campaigns across the north of Ireland. Although Grainne’s main focus when starting the company was corporate and consumer PR, as the business has grown she has diversified into many complimentary areas.
She is one of the youngest regular contributors on BBC Radio Ulster, writes various magazine columns for business and lifestyle publications and is an online video presenter reporting on social and cultural events. This experience has allowed Grainne to broaden the services she offers clients and now includes media training and video content creation as part of the company’s core services. The future is bright for this young businesswoman as she continues to grow her company by recruiting new members of the team and taking office space in the Science Park’s new premises in the North West. Grainne is a firm believer in lifelong learning and is currently working towards a diploma in Management, which she adds to a diploma in Digital Marketing, a Masters in Media and Communication Studies, a Postgraduate diploma in Marketing and a BA in Humanities.