'Grit, resilience and a fantastic team': Madeleine Alessandri shares how the NIO powered through 2021

2020 may have been a year like no other, but 2021 was a chip off the old block and relentless from day one. The Northern Ireland Office head tells us about 12 more months of dealing with Covid while pushing ahead with new challenges
"Jaw-dropping scenery" such as the Mourne Mountains are among Northern Ireland's draws. Photo: Philip McErlean/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

By Civil Service World

31 Dec 2021


What was your highlight of 2021? 

That’s hard as there are so many to choose from. 

Certainly one of the top ones must be the Northern Ireland Business and Innovation Showcase event in London, in September. The buzz in the QE II Centre was amazing, as businesses from across NI demonstrated some fantastic new technologies and ideas and made new connections that are now starting to turn into profitable deals. What was really special was the ability for people to reconnect in a physical space after such a long time working and meeting virtually. That generated a huge amount of positive energy. 

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2021? 

With grit, resilience and a fantastic team that supported each other and kept going the extra mile, after mile, after mile. I can’t stress how proud I am of the Northern Ireland Office team, but also how conscious I am of the challenges that next year will bring and the importance of ensuring that every individual has the support they need both to be their best at work and to develop their professional skills and capabilities. 

What is your number one priority for 2022? 

To deliver on our Outcome Delivery Plan commitments to make NI an even better place to live, work and invest. It’s a fabulous part of the UK with huge potential, jaw dropping scenery and a great vibe. Yet it still lags behind the rest of the UK on almost every economic indicator, so it really is where levelling up could have a huge impact and make a tangible difference to people’s lives. 

Which historical, mythical or contemporary figure would you most like to join you for a New Year’s Eve celebration? 

This would have to be Lisa McGee, the writer of Derry Girls. If you haven’t seen it in your lockdown TV sessions over the past two years, you should. It will make you laugh your sides off – and I think Lisa would bring her insatiable and indefatigable NI spirit to make any NY celebration side-splittingly brilliant. 


Share this page