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.
FT Class 2014