The Royal Belfast Academical Institution

Commerce Week Day1

Commerce Week began on Tuesday morning when the group took the walk through town to our first destination of the week: Invest Northern Ireland. Here we met Jeremy Fitch, an Instonian and Executive Director specializing in Business Growth at Invest NI
06-June-24
Commerce Week Day1

Commerce Week Day 1

Commerce Week began on Tuesday morning when the group took the walk through town to our first destination of the week: Invest Northern Ireland. Here we met Jeremy Fitch, an Instonian and Executive Director specialising in Business Growth at Invest NI. We gathered in the board room where Jeremy explained the role of Invest NI in the domestic economy, along with his role in the company, and explained what it does to help the economy. A truly insightful experience and one which I found extremely interesting.

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Only 100 metres down the road was our second destination: Danske Bank. As we had typical Belfast weather, we didn’t make it to Danske dry! At the start of the second experience, Brian Shane (another past pupil of RBAI) introduced us to his team at the bank and explained how the company runs, highlighting roles different to those perhaps imagined by most.

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Next, we had a tour of the ground floor of the Donegal Square West office where we were able to hear many of experiences of individual employees’ who explained their various career routes into Danske Bank. This was extremely useful as it gave us an idea of how many different paths there are to reach an occupation and showed us personal experiences of others first-hand. It is this lesson that has struck me most during the week. We completed the morning off with an engaging presentation from the sustainability team at Danske Bank.

It was a true privilege to experience these businesses first hand; I’m excited for the opportunity to do the same in diverse industries for the next 3 days!

Michael Hollway

Our afternoon began with a warm welcome to Templemore Baths and a generous plate of food. We met with Chief Executive Michelle Bryans who engaged us by talking about the importance of preserving, appreciating and representing East Belfast’s culture while empowering the community. The business's key focus is not to erase the area's troubled past but to learn from it. We gained valuable insights on funding and the pivotal role of the middle sector between private and public enterprises, she talked to us about the connectivity and middle ground inherent in social economics, emphasizing the aim was not for profit but to make the world a better place. This commitment is evident on the streets of East Belfast in innovative projects such as CS Lewis Square and the Strand Arts Centre, set to open soon, among others.

Thanks again to Michelle Bryans and her team for their wonderful work and for sharing their vision with us.

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Our first day ended with a visit to the in-house gym and manufacturing space of Blackbox, a local Belfast brand. Through strategic planning and undeniable hard work, Blackbox has grown from a small garage gym into a powerhouse in the sports and fitness world, collaborating with big names like Barcelona, Nike, Adidas, and Pure Gym. During our tour, we were guided through various departments where they explained each step of their manufacturing process. We saw the design room, where innovative ideas take shape, and the production floor, buzzing with activity as machines crafted high-quality equipment. They also took us into the quality control room, where meticulous checks ensure every product meets their standards.

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We also had a chance to visit their research and development lab, where new fitness solutions are tested and perfected. Throughout the tour, we learned about everything from import to export, gaining a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship involved.

In case you didn't notice, this is the same supplier that fitted out our school gym. I believe their focus on functional fitness has been a critical factor in the success of our sporting teams this year. Thanks to the owner, Greg Bradley, for sharing his story and providing us with this great experience.

Reagan Lath Amou

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