30 Jun Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Ireland – Course Wrap-up

I was quite fortunate to have had a great class again this year.  The students were committed, professional, engaged, punctual, and represented the university, the state and our country extraordinarily well.

By my count, the students have met with 19 leaders in the public and private sectors along with 5 grad students from UCD, and countless others at the companies where they worked for five days.

  1. Joe Dowd, Entrepreneur
  2. Jim Lyons, Ireland’s Honorary Consul for Denver
  3. Donal Cullen, CEO, Spanishpoint
  4. James Wolsey, Honorary Trade and Investment Representatives in Europe for the State of Colorado
  5. Ronan Loftus, Co-founder & Director, Identigen
  6. Alan Looney, CEO, National Chemical Company
  7. Kieran Daly, CEO, Shimmer Research
  8. Andrew Parish, CEO, Wavebob
  9. Colm McGoldrick, Founder, CEO, Maildistiller
  10. Paul Byrne, CEO, Trintek
  11. Bryan Keating, Angel Investor
  12. Norman Apsley, CEO, NI Science Park
  13. Willie McCarter, Former Chair, International Fund for Ireland
  14. Sir George Quigley, Chairman, Bombardier
  15. Lisa Bradley, International Program, University of Ulster
  16. Connor Walsh, CEO, Andor
  17. Deputy Bernard Durkan
  18. Peter Connor, Mentor & Entrepreneur, Startup Bootcamp Dublin
  19. Cyril Brennan, Deputy Director US Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  20. Grad Students from UCD

The students attended an informal gathering of investors and entrepreneurs in the tech space, and also a briefing to 200 business leaders in Belfast on the potential of the cloud market.  We were in Northern Ireland for the Queen’s historic visit when she shook hands with a former IRA leader.  Two of the people we interacted with met the queen during our visit, and two others we met had previously received honors from the queen.

We learned about leadership, entrepreneurship, where the potential opportunities lie, and the similarities and differences of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK, and the growing influence of the EU.  Teaching leadership, I often refer to the necessity of understanding others’ values, assumptions, beliefs and expectations.  In Ireland, many of the leaders made multiple historical references as necessary to understand the likely implications of future decisions.  This in particular stands in stark contrast to normal conversation in the U.S.

The take-away for me is human relationships – past, present and future.  The effective CEO’s we met ask good questions, keep things as simple as possible, stay focused, empower teams, and provides opportunities for growth and development.  People work with, buy from, do deals with, help, mentor, teach, and assist people they like and trust.  And people in Ireland and Colorado have a tremendous amount in common when it comes to answering the three universal questions:

  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Do you care about me?
  3. Are you committed to my success

We answer those un-asked questions in a positive way by doing what’s right; doing our best; and treating people kindly.  The east coast has two hours on us when it comes to Ireland, but what draws people to our state are the values of self reliance expressed in entrepreneurs, risk takers, and deal makers.

I feel strongly that we’ve created an outstanding academic program for our students to gain international experience. I also believe we’ve strengthened the bridge that exists between Ireland and Colorado.  The Irish Network, the University of Colorado Denver, the Graduate Business School at the University College Dublin, the University of Ulster, the Governor’s office, and businesses of all types and sizes in both countries are collaborating better than ever to develop a highly skilled workforce that can compete in a global market.  We can focus on negative news, but we can take solace from history that adversity is the crucible by which each generation’s leaders are forged.  There are outstanding examples of breakthrough performance with the five generations in the workforce today already innovating, and leveraging strengths to boost prosperity for all.

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