Last month, while on holiday back home in Belfast, I was invited to visit one of our brand new 2014 Queen’s Award winners, Allstate Northern Ireland.
Allstate NI (originally Northbrook Technology) was established in 1998 and has just been voted 19th in the Belfast Telegraph’s Top 100 companies in Northern Ireland for 2013. The company provides high quality software development services and business process outsourcing solutions in support of its US parent's global operations. It has won numerous awards since winning its first Queen’s Award in the International Trade category back in 2005. Allstate NI’s 2014 Award is in the Sustainable Development category and it is the only Northern Ireland company to have won in this category this year.
I was welcomed by Sonya Kerr, Head of Marketing & Communications, who straight away pointed out the company’s 2005 crystal bowl and Grant of Appointment, displayed proudly in the reception area. We were joined by Rose Kelly, Vice President and CAO of Allstate NI, the lady who really kick-started their Queen’s Awards entry and made sure they were in the running for 2014. Both Rose and Sonya were clearly thrilled with the new Queen’s Award and talked at length about the company’s achievements, from Dragons’ Den style projects to their volunteering programme and from fundraising efforts to teacher training opportunities.
Corporate social responsibility is fundamental to Allstate NI’s business operations and Rose told me how their work impacts on local communities across the province. The company ranks in the top 10% of environmentally conscious businesses in Northern Ireland, encouraging staff to reduce their CO2 output through a number of initiatives eg car sharing, a cycle to work scheme and home working. Rose was full of praise for the company’s employees, talking about their great (and valued) commitment to the organisation and how it, in turn, supports and develops them.
We had a chat about the palace reception and I shared my experience of what their attendees could expect from the evening. Rose also sounded out a few ideas for ways of celebrating the Award win with their c. 1900 staff across 3 sites - I won’t give the game away but they have some really great plans which will no doubt put big smiles on all faces.
Allstate NI is based in a prime location in central Belfast so the offices have excellent views of the city. Sonya gave me a tour of the newly redesigned 4th floor, the layout of which will be replicated on the other floors. A high tech cinema-style screen keeps Belfast-based colleagues in touch with their US counterparts around the clock, 24/7. I can’t pretend I understood any of the information flashing in front of my eyes but I did feel like I was on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Allstate NI and I’d like to thank them for being so welcoming. I hope their 2014 Queen’s Awards brings further prosperity to the business and I look forward to seeing photos of their presentation from local hero and the Lord Lieutenant of the City of Belfast, Dame Mary Peters, DBE.