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Aaron Ellis

Aaron Ellis Developer of online products

Be Inspired Series

Mandy Mills

Business Information Centre Manager
Invest NI

‘The best reward is when a client gets excited by the information we have given them, because it has given them a new perspective on their business, or helped them make more informed decisions,’ says Mandy.

What does your job entail?

I work in Invest NI’s Business Information Centre and Enterprise Europe Network teams and our overall aim is to help businesses, from start-ups to multinationals, access the information they need to grow their business.

The Business Information Centre is open to anyone looking for fresh markets for their business, or new suppliers or customers, and we help by providing market research and company data.

My team is also aligned with the Enterprise Europe Network which helps local companies make the most of public sector tender opportunities and find business partners throughout Europe.

I have a varied role which means that my time is divided between management tasks and research work. 

I enjoy helping the visitors who come into the centre find the information they need. 

It is always a good feeling to know that you have helped someone start up a business, or enter an export market for the first time.

Is it 9-5?

A typical day for me tends to be from 8am — 5.30pm, with the occasional shorter day. 

I am an early bird and like to have ticked at least two items off my ‘to do’ list by nine o’clock!

I tend to have quite a few meetings with companies requesting advice and would travel to our regional offices at least once a month to save companies based in Omagh or Londonderry travelling to Belfast. 

I really enjoy this people focused aspect of my work so don’t mind the longer days.

How did you get into this line of work?

I have loved books ever since I was a child, and always imagined I would work in a public library. However, working in a small firm selling library automation systems made me realise that I also enjoyed marketing role and working with IT systems.

My job in Invest NI enables me to combine all of these aspects with the added bonus that I occasionally get to use my languages, too.

Outline your career to date?

After graduation I worked in the library at the University of Surrey for a year, doing everything from shelf-tidying to dealing with enquirers.

Following that I got a post with a library automation firm and looked after a number of big public libraries in the UK, Netherlands and France for four years.

The job involved tight deadlines and late nights, but in your early 20s eating late night takeaways in an empty factory seemed quite exciting.

After that I came home to Northern Ireland and joined LEDU as a European information executive. After a stint working on web content, I got my present job as business information services manager.

Tell us about your qualifications/training.

I graduated from the University of North Wales in Bangor in 1986 with a degree in French and German and later completed a Masters in librarianship at the University of Sheffield in 1988.

As part of the languages degree, I spent six months in France and six months in Germany.

An A-Level in business studies has also proved useful in my current job.

What qualities are required for your job — personal and professional?

I work with a broad range of people so good communication skills are important to my role.

Because there are so many elements to my job, it’s crucial that I’m able to assess which are the most urgent goals for the day, week and month. IT skills are also important, because you are working with a variety of research databases.

Professionally, my librarianship skills have helped, and a good understanding of marketing and strategy in general is important.

What are the biggest challenges and rewards of your work?

Because of the varied nature of the work, the biggest challenge is to ensure all tasks are given the necessary priority.

The best reward is when a client gets excited by the information we have given them, because it has given them a new perspective on their business, or helped them make more informed decisions.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I really love walking in the forests of the greater Belfast area, usually with a borrowed Cairn terrier! 

I also enjoy a weekly game of badminton, although we are more concerned with having fun rather than improving skills.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

On a visit to Barcelona, I once visited seven museums in one day!

Who has inspired you most in your life?

I have met many business people who have impressed me with their generosity in sharing their experience and knowledge with others.

And of course the work ethic of my parents is a constant inspiration.

Although now in their eighties, they are still volunteering in their local community.

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