A Day in the Life… Judith Owens, chief executive of Titanic Belfast
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
As chief executive of Titanic Belfast, a world-leading tourist attraction, SS Nomadic and the Titanic Exhibition Centre, it’s my role to ensure we continue to go from strength to strength, commercially. It’s my job to grow the business year-on-year and continue to develop, building upon Titanic’s legacy and putting Belfast and Northern Ireland on the map.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I took over the role of chief executive before Christmas. Prior to this, I spent the past six years or so as director of operations at Titanic Belfast, leading all front-of-house operations and management of all signature events, including BBC Sports Personality of the Year Red Carpet Event, MTV Sounds and BBC Proms in the Park. Prior to this, I gained three decades of experience in operational venue management including the Waterfront and Ulster Hall.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
Leading the strategic direction of the three businesses and driving the transformation of tourism in Northern Ireland is a privilege. I thrive when pushing boundaries across all areas at Titanic Belfast – we are constantly continuing to develop and build upon Titanic’s legacy.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE SECTOR?
There is so much competition from other cities so the pressure is on to keep improving and reinventing ourselves. There is a skills gap with demand for quality hospitality staff outstripping the current supply. With increasing visitor numbers, interest in local produce and more catering and hospitality outlets, we face the same challenges as the industry with staff and skill shortages. Hospitality isn’t seen as a career choice and we need to change this perception if we are to sustain and grow our business tourism industry in the years ahead.
PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE
It would have to be being named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the prestigious World Travel Awards last year or, in 2012, when we opened to the world with over 100,000 pre-tickets sold and media on our doorstep. I was extremely proud of how our brand-new team rose the occasion.