by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Belfast Met’s Higher Education Graduation is a highlight of the academic calendar and an event the College looks forward to hosting each year. This year the College is celebrating the Class of 2020 virtually.



Despite the difficult times this year’s graduates have adapted, remained focussed and shown true grit in completing their studies under unprecedented conditions.
Each year the College awards Honorary Fellowships at Graduation, which is the highest and most prestigious honour the College can bestow. It recognises individuals who have achieved excellence in their field, career or personal journey. Belfast Met was delighted to present two honorary fellowship this year, to David Mawhinney, Managing Director of Equiniti-ICS, and to Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer of Belfast Harbour for their contribution to industry.
Louise Warde Hunter, Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Met, said: “We are thrilled with our choice of honorary fellows this year. Our theme for this year’s virtual graduation celebration is ‘Inspiration and Resilience’, celebrating the resilience that our students and staff have shown by successfully completing their qualifications during the pandemic. Both honorary fellows are a source of inspiration for our graduates and their areas of expertise tie in with Belfast Met’s aim of producing a highly skilled workforce and filling skills gaps in key growing areas.”

David Mawhinney is currently Managing Director of Equiniti-ICS, one of Ireland’s most successful IT businesses. Prior to this he was a director of Equiniti Group where he held a number of roles, including Managing Director of the Group’s IT software businesses and Group Director of Innovation. In 2012 he was awarded the OBE for his services to the IT industry.

Mr Mawhinney said: “I am truly honoured to receive this accolade – it was very unexpected. The development of IT skills is key to moving our sector forward. It has been both productive and rewarding working with Belfast Metropolitan College on this very important task.”

Joe O’Neill joined Belfast Harbour in 1997, holding a number of roles including Commercial Manager and Port Manager, as well as Commercial Director until his appointment as CEO in 2018. Prior to joining the Port, Joe held positions with Undus Ltd and Cantrell and Cochrane Ltd. Joe is currently a board member of the Simon Community, a Council member of the Ireland US Council, and Northern Ireland CBI Council member

Mr O’Neill confirmed, “I am delighted to receive this Honorary Fellowship and to be able to congratulate this year’s graduates on their tremendous achievement in completing the Class of 2020, against an unprecedented backdrop of external challenge. I am very pleased to be part of the celebratory virtual event and to see at first-hand how this year’s graduates have demonstrated true resilience in completing their studies at Belfast Met. I wish the Class of 2020 every success in their next endeavour.”

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Frank Bryan, Chair of the Board of Governors, Belfast Met; Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer at Belfast Harbour with David Mawhinney, Managing Director of Equiniti-ICS who both received honorary fellowships from Belfast Met; Louise Warde Hunter, Principal and Chief Executive, Belfast Met.

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