Alastair Campbell, one of the most recognised political advisors of the modern era, having been a director of strategy within successive UK Labour governments and a key advisor to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, brought great insight and debate to the latest edition of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce Leadership Live series.
The guest speaker at Electric Ireland sponsored event, is renowned for his straight-talking political commentary and he didn’t disappoint the Belfast audience as he shared personal experiences of leadership and success in the face of adversity, throughout one of the most fascinating periods of UK political history.
Electric Ireland has partnered with the Northern Ireland Chamber for seven years on the Leadership Live series, and this latest event with Mr Campbell was well received, with lively debate and insightful commentary which kept the audience engaged throughout. With the last 18 months seeing the series adapt and move to a virtual setting and the opportunity to finally host an event in person and network significantly added to the dynamic on the evening.
Dermot McArdle, Head of Business Markets at Electric Ireland, introduced guests to the event which was held at the Penthouse suite in the Europa Hotel and giving guests stunning views of the Belfast night-time skyline.
Mr McArdle then provided an overview of transformational change that is taking place within the energy industry in Northern Ireland, Electric Ireland’s leadership in supporting that change to a sustainable and carbon zero future, closing with the business's commitment to support communities across Northern Ireland through game-changing and empowering sponsorships.
Beginning his oration, Mr Campbell immediately sought interaction and engagement with the Northern Ireland business leaders in attendance, seeking their views on Brexit, the Northern Ireland Protocol, Boris Johnson’s government, and how his own party might perform in the next election producing targeted local insights.
He outlined the key facets of good leadership, breaking it down to a simple acronym OST: objectives, strategy, and tactics, which all must work in tandem for a leader to be successful.
With the world undergoing such rapid change in the last 20 years, Mr Campbell explained how leadership has changed with it, with the influence of social media creating a much more horizontal decision-making environment as opposed to the top-down approach that was seen previously. He cited the ability to adapt and absorb pressure as key elements of successful leadership in this new dynamic environment.
As the questions rolled in from the Belfast audience, the Good Friday Agreement and the role Mr Campbell played alongside Tony Blair was a key topic of conversation and one that he described as a proud achievement. He also provided some fascinating insights on the intricacies of Mr Blair's approach in bringing the agreement together and outlined how it could not have been possible without the leadership from all sides. He was equally keen to stress the role that Northern Ireland's female leaders had to play in the negotiations.
With the event drawing to a close, Mr Campbell then turned to his charity work on mental health and well-being, highlighting the role that business leaders must now assume in supporting employee well-being and mental health.
Judging by the rapturous applause as Chamber President Paul Murnaghan brought the event to a close, it is safe to say that Mr Campbell left a considerable impression on the leaders in attendance.
Electric Ireland is delighted to continue to support the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce in delivering these Leadership Live events and we look forward to having more exciting guests provide leadership insights in the months and years ahead.