A Walk Down Memory Lane of Recent Irish Economic History


Kevin Cardiff of the European Court of Auditors addresses the Dean’s Speaker Series

The Dean’s Speaker Series had another event last Wednesday when Kevin Cardiff of the European Court of Auditors and also Auditor of the European Stability Mechanism visited Smurfit School. The Dean, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh welcomed Mr. Cardiff to Smurfit. Mr. Cardiff is a decorated senior civil servant and regaled attendees with a detailed summary of economic history in recent decades, spanning the 1992 currency crisis and various iterations of the ERM up to the recent financial crisis of 2008 and beyond.

In a detailed address resembling memoirs, Mr. Cardiff described the tribulations of the 1992 currency crisis in fine detail – featuring newspaper clippings of the big events at the time including the days of major turmoil for Sterling and the Púnt, including the devaluation of the Púnt. He also touched on the advent of the Maastricht Treaty and the departure from the single currency of certain countries in its early days.

Black Wednesday

Mr. Cardiff described in detail the events of the 16th of September 1992, when the United Kingdom withdrew from the Exchange Rate Mechanism. What happened on this day was that Sterling had come under pressure from speculators who had begun a massive sell-off and the UK Government raised interest rates from an already high 10% to 12% with a promise that they would raise further to 15%, in a scenario that was unfolding by the hour. One of the causes of the acuteness of the crisis was the rules of the ERM, particularly that the Bank of England were required to accept any offer to sell Sterling.

The eventual advent of the European single currency was also addressed by Mr. Cardiff. He highlighted the widening of fluctuation bands via the Brussels Compromise of 1993 and Stages II and III of ERM, when mutual exchange rates between member currencies became fixed and the physical currency was introduced in the form of notes and coins.

Mr. Cardiff also gave a detailed review of the events of the financial crisis of 2008, including key developments in relation to the recapitalisation of financial institutions, which he also deals with in his book, “Recap”.

A short question and answer session followed Mr. Cardiff’s address, when the recent event of Brexit was noted and a discussion was had around the future for the European Union. All in all, the event was a thought-provoking and interesting perspective on recent economic history and food for thought in terms of what will happen next in the EU with respect to both regulatory developments and the overall structure of the Union.

Ciarán O’Shea ~ Year 2, Executive MBA

More than just lipstick and make up …

Friday April 4th saw the second session in the Dean’s Speaker Series presented by the MBA Thought Leadership Club. Our speaker on the day was Alan Ennis, a member of the School’s North America Advisory Board and former CEO of Revlon. During his presentation, Alan reflected on lessons learned on his journey from trainee accountant in Dublin to the CEO of a multi-billion dollar turnover business in 2009. Alan spoke candidly about his role as CEO, a role which he held until recently, and passed on some inspirational messages to those in attendance. He advised all students to fully immerse themselves in any career that they pursue. In his own case he told us that while at Revlon this included physically testing nail varnish to see if it really did dry in 60 seconds or lipstick to see how hydrating it really was! He also advised us that as a leader you have to create a culture in the workplace where others want you to win, it is okay to be wrong and that life does not owe you a living – you need to work hard in order to achieve your goals.

Impressively, for someone who has managed a company as large as Revlon, Alan came across as an approachable, normal person. At lunch after the presentation we shared a few laughs about life and work. Alan seemed to be fun, outgoing and engaging just like any member of our class. Talking through his rise to responsibility it could be seen how anyone on the MBA could be progress to the levels that Alan has. He admitted that achieving in one’s career took preparation, hard work and a pinch of luck to spot and access opportunities to progress. Let’s hope that the hard work we’ve been putting in over the last year will meet some good luck on the road and this time next year we’ll be well on our ways to career success.

Liam Doyle

UCD Smurfit MBA 2014


Niall Fitzgerald visits UCD Smurfit as part of Deans Speaker series

On February 7th 2014 Niall Fitzgerald kicked off the first of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School’s Dean’s Lecture Series for 2013/14. Leading the introductions, the Smurfit Thought Leadership Club President, Liam Doyle, introduced the Dean, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, as well as Niall Fitzgerald to students from the full-time and Exec MBA programmes. Niall Fitzgerald had a 35-year career at Unilever, including eight spent as CEO and chairman of the global consumer giant. To read more about Niall Fitzgerald please click here.

The title of this event was Rebuilding Trust in Business, A Perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century. Niall started off by giving a brief background of himself and the businesses he has worked in and with. He then went on to outline the major challenges Unilever faced and the methods they utilized to alleviate these challenges. In his first example, Niall described how Unilever brought its goods to areas it previously could not reach in South Africa, and how empowering women to start selling the product at a profit to their neighbors brought about a social reform to the area as families were now able to buy things they previously could not afford. Niall then went on to ask a difficult question “Is it socially responsible that we should have introduced our own products and direct selling methods in these communities?”

Niall stimulated discussion within the room about the topic of social responsibility and what that really means and spent time answering questions from the audience about his career to date and his opinion on social responsibility topics.

Niall Fitzgerald was the first to present as part of The Dean’s Speaker Series 2013/14 and these lectures are certainly a welcome addition to the students as it allows them to hear about practical applications of what is being taught in Smurfit, as well as letting them see how important it is to stay flexible and informed in the corporate world by highly successful corporate leaders.

Jason Mildwurm

FT Class 2014