Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Brian Conlon, BSc, DSc (died 28 July 2019, aged 53)

An obituary can also be found in the Irish Times.

Brian Gerard Conlon, BSc Accounting 1987, DSc (Econ) 2012, Founder and CEO of one of Northern Ireland's most successful technology companies - the Newry firm First Derivatives - died in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, following a short battle with cancer.

One of four children born to local Newry couple Gerry and Josephine (née Carroll), he was educated at the Abbey CBS grammar school in the city before going up to Queen’s to study accountancy.

An accomplished GAA footballer, Brian also played for his native Down in the 1980s until a serious knee injury sustained during a Sigerson Cup match for Queen’s in 1987, ended his playing career.

His professional career included spells at KPMG (where he worked in the audit department), Morgan Stanley (wher he was part of the risk management team) and then as a capital markets consultantthe at the NASDAQ-quoted Sun-Gard, a major global derivatives software house based in London, where he devised structured financial products and travelled regularly between Silicon Valley, Germany, France and elsewhere in Europe.

He returned to his native Northern Ireland as part of a LEDU come back home programme to set up First Derivatives in 1996 in his mother’s spare bedroom, with a £5,000 loan from the local Credit Union.

In 2002, with 26 employees and a turnover of £2 million, First Derivatives was floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in 2002 in London. The company provides rapid data analysis for a wide variety of industries now operates in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia on behalf of clients including Airbus Defence and Space, and Red Bull Formula 1.

It currently employs over 2,400 employees in 15 offices worldwide, and has an estimated valuation of £1 billion. Most of the First Derivatives are embedded in major banks from Hong Kong to San Francisco and from London to New York.

In 2010, he won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) Award. Two years later he was awarded an Honorary Degree from Queen’s ‘for services to business and commerce’.

Earlier in 2012, Brian helped establish Northern Ireland’s first ever financial trading facility at his alma mater – The First Derivatives Trading Room – supported by Invest NI. It has continued to provide a dynamic learning environment for Queen’s students wishing to embark on a career in financial services or technology.

In 2015, he was the recipient of the INVENT Innovation Founder Award and was the Belfast Telegraph's Business Person of the Year. In 2018 he received the inaugural Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice, at the annual Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI) Director of the Year Awards.

He is survived by his wife, Julie (née O’Hare), with whom he had two children – a son Fionn and a daughter, Danu – his mother Josephine, and his siblings Kathy and Ciaran, who both work for FD. He was predeceased by his brother Ronan.


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