One of Northern Ireland’s most prominent and successful businessmen, Rajesh Rana, has taken up the Presidency role at Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce.
Rajesh is director of Andras Hotels, Belfast’s largest hotel group, who own and operate five hotels in the city, Ibis Queens Quarter, Ibis City Centre, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Shaws Bridge and are about to launch their sixth in a £12million investment, Hampton by Hilton, which is located in the heart of the City.
Rajesh takes the chain from Michelle Greeves, Centre Manager at Victoria Square, who has served one term with the 106-year-old business, which was set-up as the voice of the Belfast business community in 1912.
Speaking at the AGM event held in the Europa Hotel, Michelle said that It had been truly an honour to have held this position, and work amongst some very talented people.
She said: “I cannot believe it is a full year since I stood here taking up my term.
“It has been a very busy year and I am proud that alongside our Executive Council that we have successfully engaged council members and political parties to work on pertinent business issues for the benefit of the entire economy of Northern Ireland.
“It is essential we continue to build the relationships we have formed with those in power, and do not lose tenacity.
“Communication ensures we are aware of the key challenges faced, and how we can mutually support each other.
“We are passionate about making it simpler to do business in Belfast, making it more attractive to live and invest here and will do whatever we can in our power to make that happen.”
Michelle went on to celebrate the most recent highlight in the Chamber calendar which was the huge success of the Belfast Business Awards in Saint Anne’s Cathedral.
She said, “To have the opportunity to stand as President at our largest and most spectacular ceremony to date was truly humbling, it was fantastic to recognise and celebrate the success of so many businesses. It was a true litmus to the booming economy of Belfast at present.”
Michelle concluded that her term saw many challenging decisions that had to be made. She continued: “One such challenge was Belfast Chamber ending a very successful relationship with Belfast City Centre Management after many years in partnership. She said, this was a strategic decision so that Belfast Chamber could stand as a fully impartial organisation and able to speak freely and lobby on behalf of its members.”
Michelle concluded: “We are in a time where change is necessary to ensure relevance of all organisations, and Belfast Chamber is now ready for the next exciting chapter. We are now a limited company, will soon employ our own team directly and are moving offices to establish the beginning of our future.”
Rajesh Rana began by saying that he has come into the role with an immense sense of pride, passion and commitment and to take over the reins held by so many esteemed and valued businessmen and women was an absolute honour. One such past President was his father, Lord Diljit Rana who held the role in 2005.
Rajesh also paid tribute and thanks to the work that Michelle and her fellow Executive Council members had carried out over recent years.
He said: “Belfast has so many exciting projects planned over the next few years, the city is changing, and these are exciting times for all of us who work and live here.
“Belfast is facing a period of change and some uncertainty and as Belfast Chamber President it will be my role to find ways to help and support our members through that time.
“There is a need to maximise the benefits of the investment coming into the city for the benefit of businesses and residents. To achieve this the voice of business across all sectors must be clearly heard by government – from local elected representatives, MLAs and Westminster. We will be meeting with these decision makers, building relationships with those that we have shared objectives and lobbying to ensure change happens for the good of all businesses in Belfast and Northern Ireland.
We will also refresh and reposition our own brand identity to ensure that it stands out from the crowd and attracts further membership of impassioned people wanting to make a positive change in Belfast.
Rajesh concluded by saying: “Belfast has a great future and I am immensely proud to represent the thriving business community in our great city.”
The new president will be supported by the Executive Council elected unanimously, including: Michael Stewart, House Belfast (Senior Vice President), Christopher McCausland, McCausland Group (Junior Vice President), Stephen Mewah, House of Fraser (Junior Vice President) Peter Legge, Grant Thornton (Honorary Treasurer), Les Hume, Dawsons Music (Honorary Secretary), Michelle Greeves, Victoria Square (Immediate Past President). These senior roles will be joined by Council members: Alana Coyle, CBRE, John Lunn, Lunns, Anthony Best, Lacuna Developments, Norman Maynes, Translink. Aileen McGrogan, Andrew Irvine, East Belfast Mission, Anne McMullan, Visit Belfast, Mark O’Brien, Bank of Ireland. New members include, Chris Suitor, Suitor Menswear and Richard McMullan, Aurelius Advisory Ltd.