A NEWTOWNABBEY man awarded the OBE for his entrepreneurial skills has said strong profitable companies will benefit everyone in Northern Ireland.
Dr Bryan Keating said he was humbled and honoured to be awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours List, if a little embarrassed as well.
The 62-year-old is currently in Canada visiting his daughter Rachel and son-in-law Brennan for the birth of their first child Regan.
Incredibly Bryan only learned of the honour while in Canada when daughter Claire called after opening his award letter.
“She said there was a letter I needed to know about,” said Dr Keating, “and asked if I was sitting down.
“When she said it was a letter from the Cabinet Office about being awarded the OBE it came as a shock out of the blue and a massive surprise. I have no idea who put my name forward.”
Originally from north Belfast, but having living in Newtownabbey for the past three decades, Bryan has worked in business for over 30 years.
He received a first class honours degree in physics from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1972 before being awarded the D.Phil. by the University of Ulster in the field of solid state physics in 1976.
Dr Keating is a visiting professor of the University of Ulster in Entrepreneurship, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
He was a past winner of the BCS IT Professional of the year in Northern Ireland in 1995 and a recipient of the Belfast Institute of Higher and Further Education 2000 Award for services to education through his work in Northern Ireland with hi-tech businesses.
And in 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in the UK.
Dr Keating has created and invested in a number of technology companies and held a number of posts with public bodies and academic institutions including Invest NI, Matrix (the Science and Industry panel for NI) QUBIS, the University Challenge Fund, NICENT (the NI Centre for Entrepreneurship), Investment Belfast, halo the NI Business Angel Network and Momentum.
He continued: “In brief I invest both time and money in young technology companies or help mentor individual entrepreneurs.
“I hope that they can learn from my successes and many mistakes and achieve what they want to achieve more easily and with less pain and hardship.
“Having strong profitable companies especially exporting ones is essential to the whole wellbeing of life in Northern Ireland. If such companies don’t prosper, social inclusion and an increasing quality of life for all will not happen.
“I feel strongly, however, that while awards such as the OBE are important they don’t hold a candle to those going to people who make great sacrifices and contribute to their communities, particularly during these hard times.
“While everyone likes to think their work is worthwhile, I feel a little embarrassed about my nomination given there are hundreds of people in Newtownabbey alone doing great things in the community day in and day out with little or no recognition.
“Yes I feel humble and honoured to receive this award and my wife and family are very delighted for me, but I am under no illusions as to where it really fits into the scheme of things given what other people do.”
Dr Keating said he was looking forward to his visit to Buckingham Palace to receive his award.
“Hopefully, it will be a ‘grand day out’ as they say,” he added.
Bryan has been married to Linda for forty years. He has three daughters Claire, Rachel and Nicola and three grandchildren, Toby (5), Brandon (3) and now Reagan aged just five weeks.