Tina McKenzie (politician) – Wikipedia

Businesswoman from Northern Ireland

Tina McKenzie

Tina McKenzie.jpg
Born 1973 (age 48–49)
Alma mater University of Ulster
  • Group Managing Director of Staffline Ireland
  • CEO, Grafton Recruitment Ireland
  • Chair of Policy and Advocacy, Federation of Small Businesses UK
  • Managing Director of PeoplePlus NI
  • Group Managing Director of Diamond Recruitment Group
  • Honorary Consul of Finland in Belfast
  • Visiting Professor, Ulster University
Children 3
Website staffline.ie

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

Early life[edit]

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). After a move to London she progressed in the corporate world across the United Kingdom and internationally,[2] becoming a successful Sales and managing director with experience in logistics, financial services, health and social care,[3] agrifood and banking.

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’[4] Programme in 2015.

Political life[edit]

McKenzie returned to her native Northern Ireland in 2013 to set up Staffline Group (Ireland).[5] 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,[6] proposing to support the region in Europe and promote jobs and economic growth.[7] She also stood for Belfast City Council in Balmoral.[8] She received more than 10,500 first-preference votes in the European election, however did not meet the threshold for election.[9]

On the night of the election, some figures within the party resigned, including McKenzie,[10] following allegations of misconduct made against party leader Basil McCrea.[11] Shortly after, McKenzie announced she was leaving politics on the grounds that she was disillusioned.[12]

Business life[edit]

McKenzie has worked for more than 20 years in the human resource, recruitment and employment support sectors.[2]

In her current role McKenzie is managing director of Staffline Group (Ireland) a recruitment and employment support business, comprising Grafton Recruitment,[13] Staffline Recruitment, PeoplePlus NI and Diamond Recruitment.[14]

McKenzie is a former Non-Executive Director for the Centre for Democracy and Peacebuilding.[15] She is also a former Business and Human Rights Forum Advisor for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.[16]

In 2018 McKenzie was appointed the chair of the NI Policy Forum for the Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland.[17] 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.

In her FSB role McKenzie regularly contributes to public discussion through a monthly column entitled ‘The View from the Chair’, published in The News Letter.[18]

[19] 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.[20]
More recently, as chair of the FSB, McKenzie has led the debate on Northern Ireland becoming the ‘Singapore of the Western Hemisphere’ by introducing tariff free trade between the EU and the UK.[21] In September 2018, McKenzie and the FSB published a proposal to make Northern Ireland an ‘Enhanced Economic Zone’ after Brexit [22]

In April 2021, Tina McKenzie was appointed to the FSB National Board of Directors, taking up the newly created role of Deputy Chair, Policy and Advocacy (UK).[23] Tina was then appointed as Chair of Policy and Advocacy in March 2022. [24]

In June 2021, Tina McKenzie was announced as a visiting professor in Ulster University’s Business School, based in Belfast.[25]

McKenzie previously held the position of Regional Director (Northern Ireland) for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the governing body of the recruitment industry.[26]

In addition to being an active member of several business networks such as the Institute of Directors,[27]Queen’s University Chief Executives’ Club, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Business in the Community,[28] Northern Ireland Business Assembly Trust and Women in Business,[29][30] McKenzie is a member of industry associations such as the Northern Ireland Food & Drinks Association, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and the Irish Business and Employers Confederation. She has previously held positions including being a board member of the NI Chamber of Commerce (2006–2008) and of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) Health and Social Care Sector Group (2011).

McKenzie is regularly invited to speak at conferences and to attend events as a guest hosted by organisations such as the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce, the British-Irish Association, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Northern Ireland Retail Trade Associations (NIRTA).[31]

In November 2017, McKenzie was invited to speak at the TEDx Stormont event, which featured female speakers from different industries and professions across Northern Ireland.[32][33] In 2018 she was a guest lecturer at the OxPeace Conference at Oxford University.[34]

McKenzie’s contribution to the local economy and the local business sector has been recognised by stakeholders across the island,[14][35][36] as she is frequently asked to contribute to crucial discussions impacting the local economy. McKenzie is a regular contributor to discussions hosted by the BBC, Ulster Bank and UTV amongst others,[37] and as such has helped shape local understanding of the labour market and the contributions the business sector makes to the local economy.[28][38][39][40][41]

McKenzie is also a contributor to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Framework and is frequently consulted on the health of the labour market in Northern Ireland. McKenzie’s role in promoting a people-focused approach to business and the economy has also seen her become a business mentor for Women in Business NI and a contributor to the REC’s recent report on progression in low-pay work, where she promoted the value of jobs in the retail, hospitality and care sectors.[42]

In 2017 McKenzie was appointed the Honorary Consul to Finland in Belfast.[43] 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.[44] In this role, McKenzie introduced Irish President Michael D. Higgins when he delivered the Harri Holkeri Lecture at Queen’s University Belfast in 2018.[45]

Business achievements[edit]

In 2015 McKenzie was awarded the “Outstanding Management and Leadership” award by Women in Business Northern Ireland.[46]

She has also been shortlisted for UTV’s “Business Personality of the Year” Award.[47] Under her direction, in 2015 Staffline Group in Ireland also won the Fast Growth Business of the Year award from UTV/Business Eye.[48]

In 2016 McKenzie was appointed as the European Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, to harness the voices of each of the participating European countries through their individual appointees.[49]

In 2017, Tina McKenzie was named director of the Year (Mid Market Company) by the Institute of Directors.[50]

2018 saw McKenzie named as Business Personality of the Year in Northern Ireland at the Business Eye First Trust Bank Awards [51]

Tina McKenzie also received a Belfast Homecoming Ambassador Medal in November 2018 for her contribution to the Northern Irish Economy.[52]

In September 2019 McKenzie was named as Business Person of the Month by Business and Finance Magazine,[53] in association with KPMG.[54]

In October 2020, Tina McKenzie was awarded the Life Time Achievement Award by the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in association with Ulster Bank.[55]

In February 2021, Tina McKenzie was also a finalist for the Business & Finance “Business Person of the Year’ Award in association with KPMG.[56]

In April 2021, Tina McKenzie was named as one of 146 Inspiring Women Gloabal Leaders by Diverse In, the Global Diversity and Inclusion Embassy.

Tina McKenzie was also named as ‘Businesswoman of the Year’ in March 2022 by Women in Business NI. [58]

Personal life[edit]

McKenzie is married and the mother of three children.[59]


  1. ^ a b Dunn, Kerri. “On The Record”. Lisburn’s 98FM.
  2. ^ a b Creeth, Barton (7 April 2014). “Tina at Home: Talking Politics At The Breakfast Table Of NI21 Candidate For Europe, Tina McKenzie”. Off The Record NI. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015.
  3. ^ “87% of care staff work on contract from choice – highest of any sector”. MyNewsDesk.
  4. ^ “Leading Effective Boards | Leadership Institute | Queen’s University Belfast”. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017.
  5. ^ Canning, Margaret (14 October 2015). “Diamond Recruitment snapped up by UK employment agency”. The Belfast Telegraph.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ “Tina McKenzie selected as NI21’s European election candidate”. BBC. 7 April 2014.
  8. ^ “Vote 2014: Belfast council candidates”. BBC. 15 May 2014.
  9. ^ Dr Nicholas Whyte. “The 2014 European Election”. Ark.ac.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  10. ^ “McKenzie quits amid NI21 crisis”. UTV. 22 May 2014.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ “NI21 European candidate Tina McKenzie quitting politics”. BBC. 22 May 2014.
  13. ^ “Grafton Recruitment is bought out by Northern Ireland outsourcing company”. Belfasttelegraph.
  14. ^ a b “Diamond: One of NI’s biggest employment agencies sold to Staffline”. BBC. 13 October 2015.
  15. ^ “Tina McKenzie appointed to the CDPB Board of Directors – Centre for Democracy and Peace Building”.
  16. ^ “N.I to Debate the Business of Human Rights”.
  17. ^ “New head of policy appointed at FSB”. Belfasttelegraph.
  18. ^ “Resource library”.
  19. ^ “Tina McKenzie appointed FSB Policy Chair · BUSINESSFIRST”. 6 February 2018.
  20. ^ “Parliamentlive.tv”.
  21. ^ “Northern Ireland could become Singapore-style free port after Brexit, says business chief McKenzie”. Belfasttelegraph.
  22. ^ https://www.fsb.org.uk/docs/default-source/fsb-org-uk/northern-ireland-as-an-enhanced-economic-zone—fsb-ni.pdf[dead link]
  23. ^ “Three entrepreneurs join the Board of UK’s leading business organisation”.
  24. ^ “Northern Ireland businesswoman takes over UK-wide policy role at FSB”.
  25. ^ “Business Leaders Appointed as New Visiting Professors at Ulster University Business School”.
  26. ^ “REC welcomes new Regional Director for Northern Ireland”. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation.
  27. ^ “Ambitious Woman” (PDF). IoD. June 2015.
  28. ^ a b “Steps 2 Success launches in the Northern region”. Business in the Community. BITCNI. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  29. ^ “NIABT MEMBERS”. NIABT. Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust.
  30. ^ Grosman, Eva. “Female Business Experts Mark Women’s Entrepreneurship Day With Special Mentoring Breakfast”. Centre For Democracy and Peace Building.
  31. ^ “NIIRTA Launches Economic Five Point Plan For Europe”. NIIRTA. Northern Ireland Independent Retail and Trade Association. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  32. ^ “Member News, WIBNI Members News & Updates | WIBNI | Women in Business NI”.
  33. ^ “TEDxStormontWomen | TED”.
  34. ^ “OxPeace 2018: Equality and Business in Post-Conflict Northern Ireland: Building shared space and community | University of Oxford Podcasts – Audio and Video Lectures”.
  35. ^ Calder, Tina (20 November 2015). “Women’s Entrepreneurship Day celebrated in Belfast”. Newsletter. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  36. ^ Grosman, Eva. “IS A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY IN REACH IN NORTHERN IRELAND?”. Northern Ireland Foundation. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015.
  37. ^ “MAC Question Time, In Partnership with Ulster Bank”. The Mac Live. Mac. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015.
  38. ^ “Tackling poverty and assessing the impact of proposed welfare reform in Northern Ireland”. Community NI. Policy Forum For Northern Ireland.
  39. ^ “Policy Forum for Northern Ireland Keynote Seminar: Tackling poverty and assessing the impact of proposed welfare reform in Northern Ireland” (PDF). Policy Forum For NI.
  40. ^ “Committee for Employment and Learning” (PDF). Hansard.
  41. ^ Walker, Gavin (16 December 2014). “Steps 2 Success launches in the Northern region”. Business First Online.
  42. ^ “What progression looks like for low-paid workers today” (PDF). REC. Recruitment & Employment Confederation.
  43. ^ “Tina McKenzie appoints to honorary Finnish consular role”. 12 December 2017.
  44. ^ “Current affairs – Finland abroad”.
  45. ^ “Apr – May 2018 News | Harri Holkeri Lecture | Research | Queen’s University Belfast”. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019.
  46. ^ “WINNERS ANNOUNCED AT 2015 WOMEN IN BUSINESS AWARDS”. Woman in Business. Woman in Business Northern Ireland.
  47. ^ “UTV Shortlist”. Business Eye. 2015.
  48. ^ “UTV Business Eye Awards – Shortlist”. Utvawards.businesseye.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  49. ^ ‘More women needed’ in Northern Ireland boardrooms”. Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  50. ^ Gareth McKeown. “Female leaders the big winners at IoD awards”. The Irish News. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  51. ^ “FinTrU and Tina scoop top awards at BEFTAs”. 26 November 2018.
  52. ^ “Belfast Ambassador Medal 2018 – Belfast Homecoming”. Archived from the original on 13 December 2018.
  53. ^ “Business & Finance | Ireland’s leading business media group”.
  54. ^ “Business Person of the Month, September 2019: Tina McKenzie, CEO of Grafton Recruitment Ireland, exceeding targets and expectations”. October 2019.
  55. ^ “Belfast Telegraph Business Awards: Tina McKenzie scoops lifetime achievement accolade”. Belfasttelegraph.
  56. ^ “2021 Business & Finance Awards – KPMG Ireland”. 24 June 2021.
  57. ^ “146 Inspiring Women Leaders List 2021”. 12 April 2021.
  58. ^ “Women in Business Awards, WIBNI Awards Winners | WIBNI | Women in Business NI”.
  59. ^ 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