Global businessman Padraig Canavan has pledged do all he can to bolster Derry’s economy by leading a strong chamber of commerce.
One of city’s biggest entrepreneurial success stories, the founder and Chief Executive of technology company Singularity outlined his plan to drive Derry’s economy forward after he was elected President of the city’s Chamber this week.
And Mr Canavan, who has grown his company from a one office firm in 1994 to a businesses with bases in five countries and employing 250 people, has a solid track record in success.
As the driving force behind Singularity, the business leader has shown that it is possible to establish and operate a major international company from Derry.
Singularity has operations in London, New York, Singapore, Hyderabad and Belfast, but its headquarters remain in Derry.
The company was established in 1994 and is a world leader in business process management software, which enables organisations to achieve major improvements in their operating efficiency.
From small beginnings Singularity now has a long list of high profile clients including global brands such as Virgin, Sky, O2, Coca Cola and the UK Government.
Under Mr Canavan’s leadership, Singularity has an amassed an average annual growth rate of 30% and now employs 250 people worldwide, including 80 in Derry - making it one of the city’s larger employers.
As well as leading one of the world’s leading IT software providers, he is strongly committed to making Derry a better place from which to do business, through creating higher levels of employment and greater wealth for the benefit of the whole population.
“Accordingly, he is also the chair of the University for Derry group, which is calling for the substantial expansion of the Magee campus in Derry.
“He has been vice-president of the local chamber of commerce for the past two years, during the period in which Jim Sammon has been President.
Speaking after his election, Mr Canavan said he had a clear agenda to bring to his new role as President - “one shared by the whole Chamber”. “A strong Chamber of Commerce is key to supporting a strong local economy. Sadly, at present, our local economy is not strong – but our Chamber is,” he said.
“We can help rebuild the local economy by supporting businesses to grow and to assist them in their trading activities.
“Our number one priority is, and will remain, member services - helping member firms with networking, advising them of business opportunities and supporting them in raising their entrepreneurial and trading skills,” he added.
Mr Canavan’s long association with the lobby to improve education provision and boost student numbers at Magee campus will also feature heavily during his term as President.
“My other priorities are equally obvious. Derry-Londonderry needs a substantially expanded university presence in order to strengthen and broaden the skill base, help local employers to recruit the skills we need, to attract inward investment and to benefit from the spending of students and staff.
“The Chamber supports this objective and wants to work closely with U4D and the University of Ulster to make it happen,” he said.
Mr Canavan also has big plans to ensure that Derry’s business community makes the most of all the opportunities presented, not least the prestigious designation of UK City of Culture 2013.
“The City of Culture is now less than two years away. Businesses in the North West have a unique opportunity and not just those in the hospitality sector.
“The Chamber will play an active role in helping the City of Culture to be a great year and support businesses to prepare for it.
“And the other Chamber priority going forward remains turning our city into ‘Digital Derry’. The opportunities for creative businesses that harness ideas with the latest technologies are exciting and substantial.
“The Chamber will be in the forefront of making it happen.”
Retiring President Jim Sammon commended the appointment of Mr Canavan, adding that he’s a man that influential people will listen to. “The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is very fortunate to have a new President of the calibre of Padraig Canavan.
“He heads a major international business, which is headquartered in Derry.
“When politicians and civil servants listen to Padraig, they know he has expertise and knowledge that must be listened to.
“That is a real strength that all of business in the North West can benefit from.
“Padraig has shown inspirational leadership of the University for Derry group and in just two years has made the group and the cause of Magee expansion a force that has to be reckoned with.
“I am excited by the skills and experience that Padraig brings to the role of President.”