Development & Alumni Relations Office 

INSPIRATIONAL GRADUATE IS DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR  Johann Muldoon, former Queen's Graduate of the Year

08 June 2020

Architecture alumna Johann Muldoon MBE, Queen’s Graduate of the Year in 2017, has picked up the Director of the Year title at the 2020 Inspiring Women in Business Awards, organised by Management Today.

The Inspiring Women in Business Awards recognise the country’s remarkable, talented, visionary and ground-breaking businesswomen of all ages, at every level and across all sectors, and those companies and colleagues that are helping them to succeed.

A panel of six judges, including high ranking individuals from Accenture Strategy, Management Today and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, said Johann was: "An exceptional and inspirational female role model in the male-dominated world of architecture."

Reacting to winning this latest professional honour Johann told Queen’s: “This inspirational business women’s award is UK wide; being nominated against such extremely talented and high achievers is in itself an accolade.

“To win UK Director of the Year is immense and certainly puts Northern Ireland on the map; it's actually the first time someone from our region has won.”

Currently Managing Director of Manor Architects in Moneymore in County Londonderry, Johann was recognised in the 2017 Honours with an MBE for her contribution to architecture and business, the first female architect to receive such an honour in Ireland.    

Johann was the first in her family to go to university. While an undergraduate at Queen’s she won the Andrew Forester Award for top student and the John Trewsdale Award for Building Technology, which previously had only ever been conferred at postgraduate level.

Graduating in 1999 with a first class Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture, Johann went on to study at The Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow where she became the first ever recipient of the City of Glasgow and RIAS silver medals, the Royal Scottish Academy Architecture Prize and The Merchants House Bursary, before becoming the youngest ever tutor to work there.

Joining Manor Architects in 2008 Johann is now one of a small number of RIBA Specialist Conservation Architects in the UK. She married husband Gerard in 2013 and the couple have three children – Conn (6), Erin (5) and Jack (3).

Johann is a past winner of two Silver Medals for Architecture (The City of Glasgow Medal and the RIAS Silver Medal), is a recipient of the Merchants House Bursary and has the distinction of being the youngest tutor at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow. Mid Ulster Business Person of the Year in 2012 and 2015, Manor Architects was SME of the Year 2016.

Throughout an already illustrious career Johann has been a champion for women in her profession, flagging up in a recent interview that only 2 per cent of senior positions in architectural practices are held by women.

Johann is a regular speaker at conferences and has used her platform to help female colleagues to break through the glass ceiling. She is often called on to offer young women advice to help them make progress in their careers.

The Inspiring Women in Business achievement is the latest in a long line of tributes for Johann, who was recognised as the Best Woman Architect in Europe at the Women in Construction and Engineering Awards in 2017. She also received a Civic Award from Mid Ulster Council, was a Forward Ladies STEM Rising Star Regional Winner and has been a finalist in a number of other national and international architecture competitions.

The nominations procedure and the subsequent announcement of the results – happening as they did during the COVID-19 lockdown – had an impact on Johann. “I think during lockdown people's focus has changed and in some ways we have been 'coasting'. This certainly gave me the impetus to get back into top gear, so to speak," she said.

“When I found out, via email, I was sitting at home wondering when things might start to become normal again, and feeling slightly concerned about our economy. It really gave me the boost I needed to solidify my ambitions and the assured confidence that I was doing something right.”

The coronavirus has also left the presentation of Johann’s latest business title somewhat uncertain. “Usually I would be looking forward to buying a new formal dress and preparing for the awards ceremony, at this stage,” said Johann.

“I'm not sure if that will happen, but I'm just glad that I have another trophy to add to the cabinet and an award which raises the profile of women and architects in Northern Ireland.”

This latest achievement once again puts Johann – and Manor Architects – on the national and international map. Yet again, she has proved herself to be innovative and her company to be a leader in the field, breaking the mould in terms of what might be expected from a traditional architectural firm. Motivating future generations of girls and young women to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, and serving as an inspirational role model for female architects at Queen's and across Northern Ireland, it's another richly deserved honour. 

General enquiries to Communications Officer Gerry Power at Queen’s Development and Alumni Relations Office 

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