Niall McKenna, Owner of James Street South Restaurant and Cookery School, was awarded for his outstanding contribution to entrepreneurship and to the hospitality and tourism industry in Northern Ireland. Jackie Henry, Senior Partner at Deloitte Northern Ireland, was awarded for her outstanding contribution to enterprise and economic development in Northern Ireland.
The forward-thinking industry leaders were awarded the College’s highest accolade it can bestow during two ceremonies which celebrated the achievements of over 1,000 students. Local entrepreneur and Co-Owner of ShredBank, Philip Bain, joined the annual College event as keynote speaker. He reflected on his journey to success and helped to provide inspiration to graduates who are facing their next step in their career, education and personal journeys.
Niall McKenna, a former Belfast Met hospitality student, has been cooking since the age of 16. Following his training in Belfast and twelve years honing his skills under Michelin starred chefs in London, Niall returned home to open James Street South Restaurant in 2003.
He soon won a loyal customer following and greatly enhanced the Belfast restaurant scene. Niall is regarded as a true ambassador of the tourism and hospitality industries in Northern Ireland. Winning a clutch of industry awards and a dish in the 2010 Great British Menu television series, Niall has consistently demonstrated his professional cookery and entrepreneurial skills.
Through James Street South Restaurant, Niall has provided many work placements and apprenticeship programmes to Belfast Met learners over recent years. His recent collaboration with the College has resulted in the development of a Professional Chefs Academy. Jackie Henry, Senior Partner of Deloitte in Northern Ireland, has been a driving force of enterprise and economic development in the region.
Last year Jackie played a leading role in Deloitte investing an additional £30 million in growing the practice in Northern Ireland, further expanding Deloitte’s Belfast Delivery Centre. She is now overseeing the implementation of this ambitious growth plan which will see Deloitte employ over 700 people in the next three years.
Part of this growth plan was the creation of the Deloitte Data Analytics Training Academy, created in conjunction with Belfast Met. This has trained graduates with skills and accredited qualifications identified by Deloitte for new job opportunities in their Belfast-based Technology Studio.
Marie-Thérèse McGivern, Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College, congratulated the new graduates and Honorary Fellows:
“Belfast Met is extremely proud of each of our graduates and we would like to congratulate every one of them on the effort and dedication they put into their programmes of study. We are delighted to offer a special occasion that allows our graduates to celebrate their achievements with those who have supported and assisted them throughout their studies, from family and friends to lecturers and support staff in the College. “It is an absolute privilege to award our Honorary Fellowships to two truly outstanding individuals. We hope that each of the Honorary Fellows’ experience will inspire our learners as they move into the next stage of their personal and professional lives.”
Belfast Met’s Honorary Fellowship Award recognises individuals from a wide range of backgrounds who have achieved excellence in their field, career or personal journey. The Fellows are regarded as a role model for students and graduates as they continue their education and career development pathways at Belfast Met and beyond.
The annual graduation, the largest event in the College’s academic calendar, welcomed 2,000 guests to Titanic Belfast and its Titanic Quarter Campus as graduates from the Faculty of Technologies and Academic Studies, the Faculty of Health, Care, Sport and Leisure and the Faculty of Leadership, Science and Service Industries were conferred.