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“I’m still learning” MJM’s Brian McConville tells Northern Regional College students

The importance of lifelong learning has been highlighted by leading businessman Brian McConville, chair of the hugely successful MJM Group. 

Speaking to budding entrepreneurs at Northern Regional College in Newtownabbey this week, he said that even with 36 years in business, he is still learning and, maybe more importantly, still willing to learn. 

Since setting up his joinery business in Rathfriland, Brian McConville has gone on to create of the world’s leading marine outfitting businesses, MJM Marine, with offices in Newry, Southampton and Poland. The acquisition of Mivan, a world renowned interior and marine fit-out business, was followed by the recent purchase of specialist glass company Topglass, a long standing supplier to both MJM Marine and Mivan. The businesses now employ more than 600 across the Group. 

Advising the students that learning was a lifelong journey, Mr McConville said: “We use Michelangelo’s quote ‘I am Still Learning’ as the theme of our student engagement programme – The Navigate Programme – because I believe that in business, as in life, you need to always stay agile, ahead of the game and willing to take on new challenges. Despite 36 years in business, I am still learning and – maybe more importantly – still willing to learn.” 

Brian McConville attributed the firm’s stellar success to its people 

“MJM has a team of exceptional people who are the best in the world at what they do – it is not just me who says that – it is our customers. We have to consistently deliver to meet customers’ needs and exceed the highest levels of satisfaction and quality across every project often in short timeframes. We operate on a global stage, which requires a demand for the highest calibre of talent. A core part of our strategy is to recruit, train, develop and ensure we retain the best talent available. One of our core values is our ‘can do’ attitude which has been at the heart of our team for more than 35 years. 

“Central to this is the relationships we have developed with the educational institutions across Northern Ireland, including the Regional College network. We recently launched our dedicated group wide student engagement brand and we hope this will strengthen relationships with colleges such as Northern Regional College even further,” he said. 

Mr McConville’s visit to the College marked Global Entrepreneurship Week and the College’s designation as the Entrepreneurship Hub for the FE sector in Northern Ireland. He was the inaugural guest for the Northern Regional College’s series of conversations with successful entrepreneurs to promote the College as curriculum lead hub for entrepreneurship. During an informal and engaging chat with broadcast journalist Kate Smith, he told students how his first business venture – as an 11 year old, he gave donkey rides on a beach in County Down – whetted his appetite for self-employment and success.  

Welcoming Brian to the College, Professor Terri Scott, Principal and Chief Executive of Northern Regional College, said his story was truly inspirational and showed the importance of integrity, ambition and building positive relationships in the world of business. 

“We are committed to embedding a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across all courses on offer at Northern Regional College. Brian’s story is an inspiration to many, shining a light on just how far integrity, ambition and building positive relationships can take you in the world of business.” 

Anne Morrison, Curriculum Hub Manager for Entrepreneurship at Northern Regional College, said: “Through hearing Brian’s story first-hand, we hope that our students have been inspired to think more entrepreneurially and consider that in their day-to-day life. Brian is a prime example of how having a trade-based skillset, such as many of our students are gaining here at the College, can lead to a high level of success when hard work is supported in the correct environment.”