David Watson receives Honorary Fellowship award from Professor Terri Scott, Principal & Chief Executive of Northern Regional College

Having joined one of Northern Ireland’s most successful exporters Ryobi Aluminium Casting (UK) Ltd in 2006, David Watson has since risen to the role of Managing Director.

Based in Carrickfergus, Ryobi is a true example of advanced manufacturing operating on a global scale. Founded in Japan over 70 years ago, it is a world leader in aluminium die casting. From its base here, it supplies a range of aluminium engine, transmission and structural car components for car manufacturers throughout Europe, with a customer list reading like a who’s who of the motor world: Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen, Peugeot Citroen and Ford.

With a headcount of some 550 and an annual wage bill of £18million, Ryobi is a huge asset to the local and wider Northern Ireland economy. Since 2012, the firm has invested over £50million in the plant, a sure sign of the confidence in its work.

Since establishing its Carrickfergus base in 1990, the business has grown and developed over the years, adapting to changing market conditions to maintain its competitive edge. For instance, it undertook a strategic review in the midst of the global economic downturn in 2008, switching its focus to high tech advanced manufacturing.

And David himself. With operational and executive experience with global names such as General Motors, Takata’s European Components Corporation, Magna-Donnelly and Wrightbus, as well as being a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering & Technology, a Fellow of the Institute of Cast Metal Engineers and a board member of the Centre for Competitiveness, I am sure you can agree that David’s rich and storied background more than speaks for itself.

Speaking to David, he says that talent and the support of education establishments such as Northern Regional College are the anchors which have allowed the company to grow. By working in partnership with the College in a number of ways and across a range of initiatives, such as apprenticeship training, student placements, factory visits, careers support and staff development, I have extremely proud to say that more than 500 Ryobi apprentices and team members have been able to benefit from bespoke training provided by the College – a monumental figure indeed.

We at the College place a strong emphasis on employability and business engagement, something which is continuing to thrive with the support of individuals like David. We are extremely grateful for the support and commitment both he and his wider team demonstrate in helping our students achieve their career goals. I have no doubt that we will continue to build upon our already strong working relationship with David and Ryobi for many years to come.