Marie-Thérèse began her career as a teacher in further education. In the 1990s, she moved to develop policy for the youth service in Northern Ireland and in 1995 joined the Civil Service in the Urban Regeneration Initiative. In 1999 she joined the Belfast City Council as Director of Development heading up a newly-created department combining the economic development, arts and tourism activities of the Council with the physical development and management activities. From 2009 until her retirement in 2020, Ms McGivern was Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College, the biggest further education college in Northern Ireland.
Marie-Thérèse is also the Chair for the Employability and Skills Advisory Board for the £10b Belfast Region City Deal, and a Non-Executive Director of the Strategic Investment Board for Northern Ireland, and Invest NI.
Marie-Thérèse is also a Fellow of both the City and Guilds of London Institute and the Institute of Directors.