Tina McKenzie (politician)

Last updated

Tina McKenzie MBE
Tina McKenzie.jpg
Born1973 (age 5051)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Alma mater University of Ulster
  • Politician
  • Businesswoman
Website staffline.ie

Tina McKenzie MBE (born 1973) [1] is a business executive and former politician from Belfast in Northern Ireland.


Early life

After graduating from the University of Ulster, McKenzie started her career co-ordinating job-skills programmes for the rehabilitation of ex-offenders, working with NIACRO, Extern, and the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI).

McKenzie undertook further studies at the Tilburg University Business School and IESE Business School at the University of Navarra. McKenzie also undertook further study at the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen's University Belfast, completing the 'Leading Effective Boards' [2] Programme in 2015.

Political life

McKenzie returned to her native Northern Ireland in 2013 to set up Staffline Group (Ireland). [3] Shortly after her return she joined newly formed political party NI21 and was appointed its first chair. McKenzie described herself as believing in the maintenance of the union of Britain and Northern Ireland, principally for economic reasons. [1]

NI21 selected McKenzie as their candidate for the European election of 2014, [4] proposing to support the region in Europe and promote jobs and economic growth. [5] She also stood for Belfast City Council in Balmoral. [6] She received more than 10,500 first-preference votes in the European election, however did not meet the threshold for election. [7]

On the night of the election, some figures within the party resigned, including McKenzie, [8] following allegations of misconduct made against party leader Basil McCrea. [9] Shortly after, McKenzie announced she was leaving politics on the grounds that she was disillusioned. [10]

Business life

In 2017 McKenzie was appointed the Honorary Consul to Finland in Belfast. [11] Her consular roles include promoting economic, political, academic and cultural relations between the Nordic region and Northern Ireland, and monitoring the rights of Finnish citizens in the area. [12] In this role, McKenzie introduced Irish President Michael D. Higgins when he delivered the Harri Holkeri Lecture at Queen's University Belfast in 2018. [13] The same year, McKenzie was appointed the chair of the NI Policy Forum for the Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland. [14] McKenzie's appointment to the role ensured that Northern Ireland's four key business lobby groups—the Institute of Directors, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry and the FSB—were all headed by women. [15] McKenzie previously held the position of Regional Director (Northern Ireland) for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the governing body of the recruitment industry. [16]

In January 2018, McKenzie gave evidence to the House of Lords European Union Select Committee on the impact of Brexit on businesses in Northern Ireland. [17] More recently, as chair of the FSB, McKenzie led the debate on Northern Ireland becoming the 'Singapore of the Western Hemisphere' by introducing tariff free trade between the EU and the UK. [18] In September 2018, McKenzie and the FSB published a proposal to make Northern Ireland an 'Enhanced Economic Zone' after Brexit [19]

McKenzie was announced as a visiting professor in Ulster University's Business School, based in Belfast, beginning in 2021. [20] In the summer of 2023, McKenzie was named as the 20th most influential behind-the-scenes figure in UK politics by Politico, which called her "one of the highly-effective Northern Ireland business lobbyists" who gained influence after Brexit. [21] She was also awarded an MBE in the King’s inaugural Birthday Honours for Services to the Economy in Northern Ireland. [22]

In February 2024, McKenzie was appointed to the Department of Business and Trade Small Business Council. Chaired by Small Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, the Council will work alongside the PM’s Business Council to address issues facing small firms. [23]

Personal life

McKenzie is married and the mother of three children. [24]

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  1. 1 2 Dunn, Kerri. "On The Record". Lisburn's 98FM.
  2. "Leading Effective Boards | Leadership Institute | Queen's University Belfast". Archived from the original on 2 August 2017.
  3. Canning, Margaret (14 October 2015). "Diamond Recruitment snapped up by UK employment agency". The Belfast Telegraph.
  4. Murray, Gemma (7 April 2014). "NI21 chair Tina McKenzie to stand in Euro elections". Newsletter. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  5. "Tina McKenzie selected as NI21's European election candidate". BBC. 7 April 2014.
  6. "Vote 2014: Belfast council candidates". BBC. 15 May 2014.
  7. Dr Nicholas Whyte. "The 2014 European Election". Ark.ac.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  8. "McKenzie quits amid NI21 crisis". UTV. 22 May 2014.
  9. McBride, Sam (23 May 2014). "NI21 implodes amid allegations against Basil McCrea". Newsletter. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  10. "NI21 European candidate Tina McKenzie quitting politics". BBC. 22 May 2014.
  11. "Tina McKenzie appoints to honorary Finnish consular role". 12 December 2017.
  12. "Current affairs - Finland abroad".
  13. "Apr - May 2018 News | Harri Holkeri Lecture | Research | Queen's University Belfast". Archived from the original on 30 July 2019.
  14. "New head of policy appointed at FSB". Belfasttelegraph.
  15. "Tina McKenzie appointed FSB Policy Chair · BUSINESSFIRST". 6 February 2018.
  16. "REC welcomes new Regional Director for Northern Ireland". The Recruitment & Employment Confederation.
  17. "Parliamentlive.tv".
  18. "Northern Ireland could become Singapore-style free port after Brexit, says business chief McKenzie". Belfasttelegraph.
  19. https://www.fsb.org.uk/docs/default-source/fsb-org-uk/northern-ireland-as-an-enhanced-economic-zone---fsb-ni.pdf [ dead link ]
  20. "Business Leaders Appointed as New Visiting Professors at Ulster University Business School".
  21. Honeycombe-Foster, Matt; Wheaton, Sarah; Wiels, Jason; Braun, Elisa (5 July 2023). "Power 40 — Tina McKenzie". Politico. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  22. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/kings-birthday-honours-2023-full-list-of-northern-ireland-recipients/a1899864066.html
  23. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sme-council-membership-revealed-ahead-of-first-meeting
  24. Staff, UTV (7 April 2014). "McKenzie to run for NI21 in Europe". UTV.
Party political offices
Preceded by
New position
Chair of NI21
Succeeded by
Olive Buckley