Business news

Harbinson Mulholland puts family businesses centre stage at the MAC

Posted By:
Harbinson Mulholland

7th Sep 2022

Leading local accountancy firm, Harbinson Mulholland, is adding a touch of the theatrics to this year’s National Family Business Day with an evening of “Drama and Dilemma” at the MAC in Belfast on 22nd September, under the auspices of the firm’s NI Family Business Forum.

Adopting the format of three real-life scenarios performed by professional actors, the event will creatively address the difficult and sensitive issues of trust, generational conflict, family tension and succession that are often faced by family members operating a business, while also considering leadership and delegation, the definition of roles and values and the importance of strategic planning.

Darren McDowell, Senior Partner at Harbinson Mulholland explains the rationale behind this novel approach, on the eve of National Family Business Day:

“While working with family can be a rewarding experience, there’s no doubt it can also bring unique sets of problems that can be difficult to resolve. An event staged in this way is less threatening and more engaging than your usual workshop or lecture on conflict in the workplace. We’re certainly expecting some lively feedback and discussion from the audience after each act and during the closing Q&A session, facilitated by Dr Ian Smyth from Ulster University Business School.”

According to the latest report from the Institute for Family Business Research Foundation*around 328,000 jobs, equating to 57% of the employment in the private sector in Northern Ireland, are provided by locally owned family businesses.

“All the more reason why we need to ensure that such types of business continue to grow and prosper, especially when significant current external pressures are added to the mix.  One of the greatest challenges facing employers at the moment is attracting staff back into the office, while also meeting their physical and mental health needs”, said Darren.

With that in mind, the audience will also hear from, Managing Director Paul Black of office furniture solutions and family-owned business, Alpha Group and Chief Executive of Kingsbridge Healthcare Group. Mark Regan.

Paul Black will be discussing the importance of the physical work environment and its impact on health and productivity.  He said:

Alpha Group has been operated by my family for over 50 years and in that period, there have been huge changes in the function and appearance of office furniture. We’ve gone from basic desks and chairs to furniture and spaces that have been ergonomically and aesthetically designed to bring people together, nurture teamwork and deliver an invigorating environment that encourages happiness and creativity among employees. At a time when working from home has become the new norm, it’s important that those who want to entice staff back into the office provide facilities that will make this a realistic possibility.”

Mark Regan also echoed these sentiments.  He said:

“When we launched our “Kingsbridge Membership Club” in 2018 it was to encourage businesses to create a health and wellbeing strategy that would not only demonstrate that they care for employees but also result in a healthier, more engaged, and more productive workforce.  With all that has happened over the past three years, this issue has moved even further up the agenda, not just among employees but with business owners themselves whose health literally is their wealth. It’s never been more important to take steps to protect members of your team, especially when they’re also your family.”

Local, leading cancer charity, Action Cancer, is delighted to be the chosen charity partner for the ‘Drama and Dilemma’ event. The charity has extensive experience working with family run businesses across NI in a CSR capacity. Gareth Kirk CEO commented

‘We are delighted to be involved in this bespoke event organised by Harbinson Mulholland and sponsored by Alpha Group. We work with a wide variety of local family businesses who have realised the benefits and ‘feel-good-factor’ that supporting local people can bring. Our services support the entire family unit – from 5-year-olds up – as we recognise that following a cancer diagnosis the whole family is impacted.’

Admission to this event is available exclusively to family businesses. Places can be reserved here