THIS week’s High Flyer is Jonathan Cunningham, partner at Cunningham Coates stockbrokers. His great-great grandfather started the company in 1843.
What was your first job?
Research scientist – in the field of neurobiology. I was investigating aspects of the central nervous system using the retina of carp as an easily isolated relatively simple neural network where stimuli (light) can be controlled.
What qualifications do you have?
Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment with diploma.
What do you attribute your success to?
Curiosity and a desire to keep learning and to understand all around me.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
Part introvert, part extrovert. While not comfortable ‘working a room’ I enjoy interacting with people on a one to one basis getting to the nub of issues and teasing out solutions.
Who do you look up to in business?
Today, Warren Buffet. Historically, four generations before me! To have built a culture of putting the client first which has survived and prospered for 175 years is a legacy that underpins all that we do now.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
Patience and encouragement, with some steel when needed.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
The restricted horizons that we tend to have. The examples of successful companies selling internationally not only with the roots in Northern Ireland, but maintaining a significant proportion of their operations here are limited – Norbrook, First Derivatives, Randox, and Kainos, obviously demonstrate it can be done.
Our universities are leading in a number of fields and Queens University, through QUBIS, for example, has supported the spin out of over 80 companies, including Kainos. Growing indigenous companies, leveraging our strengths has to be a long term focus.
What website or app could you not do without?
For work, Bloomberg and the Economist, though I have to admit preferring the written word in print rather than on screen.
What was the last book you read?
The Tao of Pooh (It is an introduction to the Eastern belief system of Taoism for Westerners using the characters of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories to explain the basic principles of philosophical Taoism.)
What car do you drive?
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I am an apiarist / beekeeper.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
Planting and maintaining woodland on my small farm near Templepatrick. Notwithstanding using firewood sourced on site the carbon captured by the number of trees we have planted in the last 15 years and the energy we export from the small water turbine installed means I can view our house as having a negative carbon footprint.