Marie-Therese McGivern was born and educated in Belfast and began her career as a lecturer in further education working in the areas of youth unemployment and enterprise development. In 1994 she moved to Making Belfast Work becoming Head of Policy, Planning and Research for the urban regeneration initiative.
In 1999 she joined Belfast City Council as the first Director of Development with responsibility for economic development, tourism, culture and urban regeneration. In 2007 her responsibilities were enlarged to include the Waterfront and Ulster Halls and neighbourhood work.
In 2009 she became Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College were she led a successful transformation programme creating an award winning college which became the designated lead college for ICT and Tourism development.
She sits as a non-executive director on the Strategic Investment Board for Northern Ireland, Invest NI and Northern Ireland Water. She is the Chair of Maritime Belfast and of the Employment and Skills Sub-Committee of the Belfast Region City Deal. She also co-chairs the Belfast Film Festival.
She has received a number of awards including the IOD UK Public Sector Director of the Year and has been made a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and the City and Guilds of London Institute. In 2021 she received a Doctorate in Social Science from Queens University Belfast.