Aged just 30, Gráinne Leathem has the world at her feet. From her roots in West Belfast to her role as Commercial Manager for Titanic Quarter Ltd, Gráinne’s story has certainly been one of success. Now, she has not only been shortlisted by the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce Business Awards in the Young Business Person category, but is delighted to have won.

Gráinne says, “It’s a dream to be part of this development. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am today and to win this prestigious award feels amazing. It was very exciting to even be shortlisted and to have my hard work acknowledged by the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce.”

Master planned over 185 acres, the site of Titanic Quarter is one of the largest waterfront regeneration projects in Europe and Gráinne’s hands are full as Commercial Manager. Managing the commercial properties on site owned by Titanic Quarter Ltd is all in a day’s work, along with managing the wider Titanic Quarter estate. Gráinne says, “My goal is to continue delivering business results for Titanic Quarter Ltd. while studying for my APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) to be a Chartered Surveyor.”

“There are around 1500 Chartered Surveyors in Northern Ireland and over 80% of them are male which has made me even more determined to succeed. Only 2% of Chartered Surveyors are under 30.  I’m proud to be an ambassador for women in this industry and I am also a member of Women in Business.”

Gráinne attended Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School and excelled in her GCSEs and A levels. Then came university decisions. “At that time the property market was soaring. It seemed that everyone was buying and I was inspired by property development programmes on the TV. I often thought how interesting it looked!”

It just so happened that this particular year saw the introduction of a new MSci integrated degree in Planning and Property Development at Ulster University, and owing to her love for architecture and property, Gráinne applied without hesitation and was accepted. This integrated Master’s degree programme was the first in Ireland to be accredited by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute). Gráinne graduated with Distinction.

“During my placement year I worked as an estates officer for the Andras House Group in Belfast where I gained invaluable experience of the commercial property sector. After my degree I worked as an estate agent for Property People and then spent three years in the Portfolio and Facilities Department of Lidl before travelling to New Zealand.” During her year in New Zealand, Gráinne’s expertise helped her secure a role as technical writer for the acclaimed Fletcher Construction in the wake of extensive reconstruction after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

At home, Gráinne has the support of her mum, dad and fiancé Gerard and frequently enjoys walking and yoga. “In my spare time I love to read and listen to motivational speakers. At the minute I’m listening to Tony Robbins. I also always make time for ten minutes meditation in the morning – there’s something wrong if you can’t spare ten minutes out of your day for yourself!”

“I love my job with Titanic Quarter Ltd.  There are so many big plans for the site over the coming years and being the Commercial Manager is very exciting.  The commercial tenants here are some of the best and varied I’ve ever worked with and I have a great relationship with them. Every day is different from working with global corporate clients, to retail and the film industry.” 

“I'm delighted to have been nominated for this award, never mind win - there were so many great young business people in the category. Thank you to Titanic Quarter Ltd. for all their support - I can’t believe I get to work in such an amazing space every day. I hope I can inspire young people by showing them that you can achieve great things no matter where you’re from or what your background.”

Edward Gray