DIT College of Business Hosts Built to Last Business Panel Discussion

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(l to r): Paul O’Sullivan (Dean/Director, College of Business), Dr. Paul Donnelly (DIT College of Business, President Irish Fulbright Alumni Association & Board Member – IUSA), Mrs. Patricia Rooney, Ambassador Daniel Rooney, Prof. Paul O’Connor (Vice-President, IUSA).

November 16th, 2011 – DIT’s College of Business hosted a high-profile business panel discussion on the theme “Built to Last: The Irish-US Economic Relationship”. Organised in association with the US Embassy, the business panel represented the inaugural event for the newly forming Ireland United States Alumni Association (IUSA)*.

As a mark of the importance attaching to the event, Ambassador Daniel Rooney and his wife, Mrs. Patricia Rooney, both attended. In his opening remarks, the Ambassador expressed delight at seeing the growing IUSA network and said he looked forward to the First IUSA Annual Alumni Conference at the end of January 2012.

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(l to r): Dr. Stephen Anderson (Senior Commercial Counsellor, Foreign Commercial Services, US Embassy), Paul O’Sullivan (Dean/Director, College of Business), Brian Cotter (Commercial & Public Affairs Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland), Ambassador Daniel Rooney, Mrs. Patricia Rooney, Prof. Paul O’Connor (Vice President, IUSA), Donal O’Brien (CEO, Aramark Ireland).

Speaking to the theme for the evening, Ambassador Rooney noted the deep and lasting ties between Ireland and the United States and cited the findings of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland’s recently launched Built to Last: The Irish-US Economic Relationship report as an acknowledgement and an endorsement of the economic bonds between our nations. Pointing to the US Embassy’s Growing Jobs Forum at Farmleigh, which took place in advance of the Global Irish Economic Forum, the Ambassador encouraged further linkages to support job creation and investment opportunities into the future, while highlighting the critical importance of both trade and investment to Ireland’s export-led recovery. Ambassador Rooney concluded by expressing his sincere thanks to the College of Business for supporting the IUSA at a critical juncture in its formation.

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Panelists (l to r) Brian Cotter (Commercial & Public Affairs Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland), Dr. Stephen Anderson (Senior Commercial Counsellor, Foreign Commercial Services, US Embassy) and Donal O’Brien (CEO, Aramark Ireland).

College of Business Dean, Paul O’Sullivan, acted as master of ceremonies and panel moderator, with Brian Cotter (Commercial and Public Affairs Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland) presenting key findings of the Chamber’s Built to Last report, and Dr. Stephen Anderson (Senior Commercial Counsellor, Foreign Commercial Services, US Embassy) and Donal O’Brien (CEO, Aramark Ireland) responding.

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Brian Cotter (Commercial & Public Affairs Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland) presenting findings from the Built to Last report

Mr. Cotter, who is also an alumnus of the US International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), pointed to the Irish-US economic relationship, which has been building over the past five decades, as a good news story that keeps on giving. In his presentation, he highlighted a number of the Built to Last findings, including noting that the relationship is very much bi-directional in nature (see presentation here) .

Mr. Cotter concluded by quoting the following from the report: “Built to last is the best way to characterise Irish-US relations. It is interesting to note that, since the financial crisis erupted, Irish-US commercial linkages have become stronger not weaker, deeper not shallower. The mutual dependence of Ireland and the United States has grown, not shrunk over the past three years.”

With that, both Dr. Stephen Anderson and Donal O’Brien, responding separately, both commended the report for its timeliness as a reminder of the depth and value of the economic ties between our two nations and of the potential of those ties into the future. This led into a lively question and answer session that touched on the impact of a rising Asia on the Irish-US economic relationship and on the importance of education.

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Dr. Stephen Anderson (Senior Commercial Counsellor, Foreign Commercial Services, US Embassy) responding to the Built to Last report

Indeed, the discussion on education echoed with the comments of the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland, Gerald Kilcommins, who said: “To the maximum extent possible, investment in education must be maintained. Cuts now will not only make a future generation pay a price for a crisis not of their making, but they would also have far-reaching consequences for our ability to attract FDI. Of course, this does not mean that we should not critically review the fitness for purpose, quality and efficiency of our overall education system. To put in context the importance of education, even if we had the lowest corporation tax rate in the world, it would not make up for an absence of the qualified workforce required by modern companies.”

Prof. Paul O’Connor (UCD School of Law and Vice-President, IUSA) rounded out the proceedings noting the importance and contribution of the Built to Last report, citing the potential, untapped value to Ireland of the IUSA network, and thanking Paul O’Sullivan and the DIT College of Business for hosting the event.

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Paul O’Sullivan (Dean/Director, College of Business) and Donal O’Brien (CEO, Aramark Ireland).

* By way of background, the Ireland United States Alumni Association (IUSA) emanates from a directive of the Obama Administration and is part of a global initiative by the US State Department to pull together, in a comprehensive international network, all those who have benefited from US funded exchange programmes.

Currently, the US sponsors the following exchange programmes from/to Ireland:

  • American Council of Young Political Leaders
  • Atlantic Corridor at Boston College
  • Citizen Exchanges
  • Fulbright Program
  • Fusion Arts Program
  • Gilman Scholars
  • International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)
  • Iowa Writers’ Program
  • Irish Institute at Boston College
  • Mitchell Scholars
  • Study of the US Institutes
  • Voluntary Visitors’ Program
  • Washington-Ireland Program
  • Youth Exchange Program

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There are over 3,000 Irish alumni of these exchange programmes, with approximately 100 new alumni joining each year.

As an umbrella alumni association, the IUSA vision is “to be a substantial, active, useful and creative association of members who are committed to making significant and meaningful contributions to Ireland, the lives of its people and to one another”. In terms of mission, the new association “is to mobilize and utilize the power, talents, experience and leadership of its alumni in order to make a beneficial contribution to Ireland as a whole”.

Dr. Paul Donnelly (DIT College of Business) is a member of the IUSA Board and also serves as President of the Irish Fulbright Alumni Association.

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