Posted on Thursday 3 May 2012 by Ulster Business

Young leaders launch

The launch of the first Northern Ireland Young Leaders Conference

The search is on for Northern Ireland’s Young Leader of the Year 2012, with the award to be made at the first Young Leaders Conference on May 25th at Riddel Hall in Belfast.

Sponsored by global law firm Herbert Smith, the Young Leaders Conference is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and is being organised by the NI Young Solicitors’ Association, JCI Belfast, Chartered Accountants Ulster Society and the Institute of Directors.

Libby Jackson, Director of Herbert Smith's Belfast Office said: “We are delighted to sponsor the first Young Leaders Conference in Northern Ireland. Leadership is key to economic growth and it has never been more important to nurture and develop our bright young talent in Northern Ireland. This conference will bring together heads of industry and experts in leadership to inspire young professionals to take on leadership roles now and in the future.”

At the event, the ‘Herbert Smith Young Leader of the Year Award’ will be presented to an outstanding young professional who has shown exceptional leadership skills.
Guest speakers at the conference include Gerald Ratner, who infamously wiped £500m off the value of Ratner’s Jewellers with a speech at the IoD’s 1991 Annual Convention where he said: "We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, 'How can you sell this for such a low price?' I say, because it's total crap."

Ratner’s riches to rags to riches story aims to inspire and educate today’s young leaders on perseverance and determination when things don’t go according to plan. After being deposed by Ratner’s Jewellers, Gerald Ratner started Gerald Online, an online jewellery business, which turns over in the region of £25m and is now the number one UK online jewellery retailer.

Also in the speaker lineup is David Meade, University of Ulster lecturer in behaviour and TV ‘mentalist’, as well as a panel of experts discussing all aspects of leadership including Nigel Robbins of UTV, Professor Deirdre Heenan from the University of Ulster, Brigid Napier of Napier & Sons Solicitors, Peter Allen of Deloitte LLP, Barry-John Kelly from BDO, Katy Best from George Best Belfast City Airport and fashion designer Una Rodden.

Anyone interested in attending the event, which is also supported by BDO, Abacus Recruitment and Value Cabs, can register at Those wishing to nominate themselves or someone else for the ‘Herbert Smith Young Leader of the Year Award’ should email for an application form.


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