Nigel Wright, CEO, Converge Technology Specialists
“World-class people produce world-class results. But we need focus.”
“I’ve only just returned after 10+ years of running the business in England.” explains the highly successful entrepreneur Nigel Wright over Zoom. “Great people, great location, great family values. There’s loads to love about Northern Ireland. But by a billion miles, Northern Ireland’s greatest strength is its people. If it can find a way of making the most of its brilliant people then it could achieve amazing things.”
“But a few other things need to happen to allow us to really reap the benefits. First, we’ll need to see some mindset changes. I’m not talking about politics and the Government. People living here need to believe that they can be world-class. Then we can create something.
“We’ve already got a business-friendly Government that’s ready to invest in local enterprise and our future success and I think that that means we could do something really clever if we focused.
As a place, a people and a proposition Northern Ireland needs a clearly identifiable brand – and an all-encompassing and strong value proposition – positioning our clear value driver on the world stage.
“Northern Ireland is a really small place, almost like an island unto itself. Combine that with the fact that we have well-educated people, a friendly work environment and a supportive government and it strikes me that it’s a really good place for trying, testing, developing and innovating new technologies on a national scale which we can then commercialise and export globally
“But it’s going to require focus. We’re not big enough to be all things to all men. Think of the nordics, we have lots of similarities, small northern nations on the edge of Europe but who have absolutely smashed it on a world stage with their technological excellence. We need to think global. I want someone who’s in Jakarta to think ‘this is from Northern Ireland, so it must be great.’ That needs to be the scale of our ambition.”
“The success we’ve had at CTS as a business is by having one product in one market and genuinely being the best at what we do and who we do it for. I’m a firm believer that specialisation is also key for Northern Ireland if it wants to play a role on the global stage.
“So I think we should bet on 3 or 4 core sectors, and then really, really commit. There are great things happening already in cyber, food technology and film and digital. I have been aware of a firm in the south of Ireland called Manna, innovating with drone deliveries for prescriptions from doctors to people’s homes during Covid.. If they get it right, it could scale to be a multi-billion-dollar business very quickly, that’s exactly the type of innovative tech that we should be supporting and which would really put Northern Ireland on the map.
“One of the things I would really love to see is us fostering a growth mindset in schools, really early at universities, and in our young business people. It’s definitely something that you can instill in people too – it’s not inherited or limited to a certain group of people. We just need to grasp the opportunity.”
Nigel is the founder or CTS, the leading cloud technology provider to the legal sector.