On 10 December, Sir John engaged with ICE members and prominent Northern Ireland decision-makers during his President's Visit and the ICE NI Annual Dinner. The key themes during the day centred around skills and infrastructure delivery and resilience.
The day began with an early start at BBC studios, where Sir John spoke about national infrastructure challenges and civil engineering in Northern Ireland on Good Morning Ulster. The radio interview lasted for about five minutes, and is available to stream on the BBC iPlayer Radio (begin at 49:00).
Immediately following his broadcast, Sir John joined other experts at an ICE-hosted Question Time Debate at the Europa Hotel. The panel, moderated by ICE NI Past Chairman Kevin McShane, also included Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry, Danske Bank Chief Economist Angela McGowan, and CBI NI Director Nigel Smyth.
During the debate, ICE members asked questions ranging from revenue-raising options to attracting investment to talent retention. Department of Employment and Learning's recently-published Skills Barometer Report was heavily referenced – one member raised the question of skills, and how Northern Ireland can develop the skilled workforce it needs for to maintain infrastructure.
After the debate, Sir John joined Brett Hannam and Martin Spollen of the Strategic Investment Board for a meeting about strategy for investment in infrastructure.
Sir John then went on a site visit to Windsor House, Belfast's tallest commercial building being converted into Grand Central Hotel by the Hastings Group.
In the afternoon, Sir John met with Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Civil Service, to speak about Northern Ireland's State of the Nation, the future skills shortage and securing funding. He then went on to address the Construction Industry Forum NI (CIFNI) Board at Clare House, briefing them on the role of the National Infrastructure Commission.
Sir John capped the day's meetings by hosting a Q&A session with the ICE NI Graduate and Student members at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.
He then spent the evening at ICE NI's Annual Dinner, an event with more than 500 invited guests at the Europa Hotel.
"Having Sir John here in Belfast was an incredible honour," said Richard Kirk, Regional Director of ICE NI. "His thoughts on how to secure economic prosperity and quality of life were invaluable, and our members thoroughly enjoyed engaging with him and listening to him speak throughout the day."
To see more photos from the President's Visit and Annual Dinner, visit our Flickr page.