The search is now on for the 2019 award recipient to follow in the footsteps of 2018 winner Gregory Bradley, Managing Director of BLK BOX and to be crowned Northern Ireland’s Young Leader of the Year.

Sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills, the “Young Leader of the Year” Award is presented to an outstanding young professional (under 40) who has shown exceptional leadership skills and demonstrated continued commitment to personal development (both their own and that of others). Nominations for the award must be submitted by 12 noon on Friday 17th May. Entrants can be self-nominated or alternatively nominated by a third party who considers that the entrant meets the relevant criteria. Online entries can be made via or by emailing to request an entry form.

In 2018, the judges of this prestigious award noted that winner Gregory demonstrated a compelling combination of ambitious passion for his business on a global scale and a keen desire to develop and invest in his team; some of the key attitudes of any strong leader that judges will be looking for in 2019.

Speaking on the 2019 search, Young Leaders NI Chair, Jenna Mairs said: “These awards not only celebrate aspiring individuals at the forefront of leadership performance but shine a spotlight on best-in-class practices. This year’s conference will focus on overcoming adversity and our speakers will share their experiences and advise on how to overcome, address and conquer difficult situations in order to demonstrate sound leadership. Each year the calibre of entries improves, and it is great to see past winners go from strength to strength in their career.”

Lisa McLaughlin, Director of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Belfast office, commented, “Herbert Smith Freehills is delighted to be sponsoring Northern Ireland’s Young Leader of the Year award for the eighth successive year. Across our global firm, we are committed to recognising and developing the talent of our young leaders.  We are also invested in recognising the energy and entrepreneurial skills of the young leaders in our local community.  Winning the Award, and indeed being recognised as a shortlisted candidate, is a fantastic platform from which aspiring leaders can raise their profiles and showcase their talents and areas of expertise.”

Lisa continued: “At Herbert Smith Freehills, we appreciate that success comes not only from hard work, skill and resilience, but also from developing the ability to spot opportunities that others don’t and having the courage to be disruptive and cultivate innovative ideas. These are the types of qualities we will look for in this year’s winner, in addition to a demonstrable commitment to encouraging a culture of inclusion and positivity in the workplace”.

This year’s winner will be presented with the winner’s trophy at the Young Leaders Conference on 14 June and will have the opportunity to further develop their leadership skills by receiving a complimentary place on one of three leadership training programmes offered by Queen’s William J Clinton Leadership Institute.

Taking place on Friday 14th June at Riddel Hall, Belfast, the conference will bring together more than 220 young leaders to share best practice and learn from established business leaders and from each other. The event is sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills, reception sponsor EY and associate sponsors AKFP Group and VANRATH.

This year’s keynote speaker is Welsh International and Heineken Cup rugby referee, Nigel Owens.

For more information on the Young Leader Award, conference speakers and to buy tickets please visit the YLNI website via

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