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Whitaker Award

2019 Dr. Chris Horn

Dr Chris Horn being presented with his award by IAM Chair Dr Felicity Kelliher

One of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs and investors Dr Chris Horn is a well-known name in business in Ireland. Chris graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1978 and subsequently completed his PhD in the Computer Science Dept. in 1983.  He then spent a year working as a civil servant and advisor in Brussels for the European Commission’s ESPRIT programme.  Following a return to Ireland he worked in the faculty of the Computer Science Department of Trinity College until 1991.

He then co-founded and became CEO of the well-known Irish software company IONA Technologies.  Starting with an initial investment of just €1,250 each, Chris in his role as CEO, along with 2 colleagues grew IONA, into a real Irish success story. The company had a slow steady growth fuelled by winning EU research grants and had to deal with being turned down by local venture capitalists before an investment in the company by Sun Microsystems, as well as a landmark technology deal with Boeing, propelled the unassuming founders into the business stratosphere.

In 1997, Iona became the second ever Irish technology company to go public on the NASDAQ exchange, the fifth largest IPO in NASDAQ history at that time, raising US$137m in the process.  At its peak in 2000 Iona, which was leading the world in the development of middleware for large enterprises, was worth US$1.75bn and had an annual turnover in excess of US$100m. IONA was one of the largest top ten software companies by revenue in the world, having over 1,200 staff in 22 offices worldwide.  Chris retired as CEO and Chairman in 2000, but subsequently returned as CEO from 2003 until 2005 to rebuild the company.  He then stayed in a non-executive role on the Board until company was sold in 2008 for over $160 million.

Chris however is not one to retire as is evident in his significant contributions through board chairman positions and memberships to many companies including Cloudsmith, SOPHIA, Atlantic Bridge Ventures and Kastus Technology.

He was the inaugural chair of the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin in 2006. This was the world’s first science gallery. He remained in that role until 2012 when several other cities and universities worldwide adopted the concept. He then became inaugural Chair of the Science Gallery International, a position he held until very recently. He is also a former director of Science Foundation Ireland, and a former chairman of the Irish Management Institute and of UNICEF Ireland. Dr Horn regularly contributes to debate on Ireland's high-tech industry and was a member of the ICT working group at IBEC and was the founding chairman of the Ireland China Association.

His commitment to learning is evident in the fact that in 2006 he was founding chairman of the Science Gallery International. This is the world’s only university network dedicated to public engagement with science and art. And Science Gallery International provides the services, tools and resources to power and expand the network. 


2018 Máire Anne Geoghegan-Quinn


Máire Anne Geoghegan-Quinn being presented with her award by IAM Chair Dr. Felicity Kelliher

Máire Anne Geoghegan-Quinn is one of Ireland’s most successful politicians. She has had a distinguished career in politics and has played a leading role in placing research and innovation centre stage in Europe. Maire began her political career in 1975, becoming a Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West. She was appointed Minister for Gaeltacht in 1979. Importantly, she was the first female cabinet level Minister since Constance Markievicz. Subsequently she held Ministerial office in the Departments of Tourism and Sport, and the Department of An Taoiseach. One of her major contributions to Irish life came when Marie was appointed Minister for Justice in 1992 and spearheaded the passage of the Act that decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 (which is 25 years ago this year). Reflecting on the implications of that vote she has said that it was the “end of the beginning” for a societal shift that would usher in a very different Ireland. After a distinguished 22 year career in the Dail she retired from domestic politics at the 1997 General Election. However, Maire was not one to retire from public life, as this time marked the beginning of her European career. Marie was appointed by the Irish Government as a member of the European Court of Auditors in 2000, serving for 10 years. The work of the European Court of Auditors involves improving the EU’s accountability towards citizens for the use of public funds. Maire was then appointed by the Irish Government as Ireland’s European Commissioner in February 2010. She was allocated the role as Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and she served in this role until November 2014. Her stated goal was to push research and innovation further up the political agenda, and to direct research funding towards important challenges in policy areas. Her success in achieving these goals are clear. Today, research and innovation are at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy, and EU leaders set the Europe 2020 Research & Development investment target at 3%. In 2014 in recognition of her remarkable contribution to the European project she was awarded the French Legion d’Honneur by the French Government. More recently, in July 2015, she was appointed to chair an independent panel to examine gender equality in Irish 3rd level education. The proposals of that expert group continue to have significant implications for third-level institutions. And in April 2018 in recognition of her extensive national and international experience she was appointed to the Board of Science Foundation Ireland. On announcing the appointment Minister John Halligan said Máire brings a wealth of experience and international insight to the Board of Science Foundation Ireland which will assist in delivering the goals to make Ireland a global innovation leader. For her significant contributions to business and the wider community of current and future scientists in Ireland and beyond, it gives us great pleasure to present Maire Geoghean Quinn with the Irish Academy of Management TK Whitaker Award 2018.


2017 Mr Jerry Kenelly


Mr. Jerry Kennelly being presented with his award by the IAM Chair, Prof. Margaret Linehan

One of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs as creator of Stockbyte, Newsfax and now Tweak, Jerry Kennelly is undeniably a leading force in the digital imagery world. Prior to being sold to Getty Images in 2006, Stockbyte operated directly with users throughout the world from its base at the Kerry Technology Park in Tralee as well as 130 partners in 70 countries and its photographs were published on the covers of global publications such as Time magazine and Newsweek. In recent years, Jerry’s entrepreneurial instincts drew him to Tweak – an online platform, which brings agency standard design, photography and copywriting to small businesses throughout the world.

Jerry’s contribution to Irish life is not confined to the realm of business. He has collaborated the Press Photographers Association of Ireland in documenting the work of the charity GOAL’s work abroad and using those creative images to spread their messages through the media, exhibitions and calendars. He is also dedicated to the development of a sustainable business community in Ireland and he set up Endeavour in 2009 with his co-founders, a not-for-profit technology accelerator in Kerry. The 20 participating companies now have a value of in excess of €100m. He is also the founder and curator of the Kennelly Archive, Ireland’s largest contemporary historical photo archive.

Jerry has long called for more focus on entrepreneurship in Ireland’s education system and he and his team founded the Young Entrepreneur Programme in which 5,000 secondary and third level students learned about entrepreneurship and created business plans, meeting some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs face-to-face. He is also Chairman and a co-founder of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme, an initiative aimed at promoting entrepreneurship at primary level. Every child learns about entrepreneurship, discovers their own skills and presents their idea to the class. Local entrepreneurs help them select the best idea and the class breaks into five teams to handle production, sales and marketing. Every child invests their own money and reaps a return at the end. To date, over 40,000 primary school children in every one of the 32 counties in Ireland have taken part. In 2017, the 13, 000 pupils achieved combined sales of €320,000 and shared in the profits of €230,000.

For his significant contributions to business and the wider community of current and future entrepreneurs in Ireland and beyond, Jerry Kennelly was conferred with the Irish Academy of Management TK Whitaker Award for 2017.


2016 Mr. Martin Naughton


Mr Martin Naughton, recipient of the 2016 award

Martin Naughton is one of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs and is also an accomplished engineer and thinker, who has a subtle and well-thought out philosophy of management. His first business, Glen Electric, began in 1973 with ten employees and borrowings of £60,000. Within four years he had bought out Dimplex, the leading British brand in the electrical heating market. This was just the beginning of acquisitions, which have led to Glen Dimplex becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of domestic heating appliances, employing 8,000 staff and with twenty-two manufacturing facilities throughout Europe and North America. Though sales are now in excess of €1.6 billion he was quoted in 1987, when he was Business & Finance’s Businessman of the Year, as saying that “turnover is vanity, but profit is sanity”. Profitability is something which has always been associated with his company. He runs a privately owned world-class business which he has carefully built up by thoroughly analysing businesses throughout the world and by acquiring the best. He has done this without wanting to be celebrated publicly and he is rarely seen in the media.

Martin sees his role as looking after people, employees and customers as well as making sure his company invests strongly in research & development to make its products the best in the world. He said in a 2002 Sunday Business Post interview that “To me, the one key word in management is caring…when you care about your business, you won’t let anything happen to it”. Another thing he has cared about is the profession of engineering, as a former President of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, and he has consistently helped young people to enter that profession by funding substantial scholarships. He and his wife Carmel have been extremely generous with their time and money in helping charities and various colleges throughout Ireland and this led them to being named Philanthropists of the Year in 2016. He is a very hard-working man who has done a great deal for his community both economically and personally. To any budding entrepreneur there are two very relevant quotes from him, on risk-taking and how he views his work:

On risk-taking: “Everything in life is a gamble and business is risk-taking. It doesn’t suit everybody…You need to look in the mirror and ask the one person who knows if you can do it. There are risks, but some are worth taking.”

On work: “It has been, for me, great fun… I have been terribly lucky over the last 15 or 20 years. I do it now because I want to do it, not because I have to do it.”

Martin Naughton has been so successful not because of luck but because of great ability and generosity, and so he was conferred with the Irish Academy of Management Whitaker Award recipient for 2016.


2015 Dr. Margaret Downes


Dr. Margaret Downes (Honoris Causa) receiving the TK Whitaker Award from the Chair of the IAM, Dr. Margaret Linehan

Dr. Margaret Downes was born into a family of retailers in Ballina, invaluable experience for when she received her B.Comm from UCD, qualified as an accountant and later became a partner with the firm of Coopers and Lybrand. Her career has been a sequence of superlatives. She was one of the first women to be appointed to the board of a major Irish bank when she was appointed to the Court of Directors of the Bank of Ireland. She was then appointed as Deputy Governor of that board.

She was also the first, and is still the only, woman president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and was President of the Federation of European Accountants. Her list of directorships are many and vary from the Kilkenny Design Workshop in the mid-Seventies to Ardagh, the Mothercare/BHS group, Gallahers and Bupa Ireland. These indicate her substantial status in Irish business.

For many years she was regarded by many in the business and in the media as the foremost Irish businesswoman. Irrespective of her gender, in her own right she has been a leading force in Irish business. It is easy to forget, given current legislation and given the awareness of diversity and inclusiveness, how difficult it was for her to become a leader of the accounting profession. In doing so she was a trail blazer and she paved the way for what many women take for granted in modern Irish business circles. She also has had a long involvement in the arts. She served as trustee of the Chester Beatty Library and director of the Douglas Hyde gallery. She has links with the Irish Museum of Modern Art and has chaired AXA's international piano competition. Margaret Downes has had a distinguished career in Irish business and has served as an important role model for Irish women in business.


2014 Mr. Denis Brosnan


Mr. Denis Brosnan receiving the Whitaker Award from the Chair of the IAM, Dr. Margaret Linehan

Denis Brosnan is one of Ireland's leading and most respected business men. He was the founder, chief executive and, until 2003, chairman of Kerry Group Plc. Set up by a group of Kerry farmers in 1972, Kerry Group has become a global food and specialist ingredients Group worth more than €7bn, and employs over 25,000 people worldwide. Denis has contributed significantly to the development of the South West region, and to Ireland as a whole, through his innovative leadership at Kerry Group and beyond. His influence on Irish life includes his work establishing the Irish Horse Racing Authority in 1994 and his subsequent role in the development of the horseracing industry in Ireland. In terms of social responsibility, Denis Brosnan chaired the Limerick regeneration taskforce in the wake of the Dell job losses and worked with partners in the Shannon Consortium and in Limerick Institute of Technology to try and bring a jobs and growth stimulus to Limerick. Denis’s deeds and business practice have inspired many business people and entrepreneurs and have shown the way for many future generations to come. For his record of achievement, his tireless contribution to the wider community and his leadership skills Denis Brosnan is the 2014 recipient of the Irish Academy of Management’s Whitaker Award.


2013 Senator Fergal Quinn

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Senator Fergal Quinn being presented with the award by IAM Council Members

It is easy to provide a long list of Senator Feargal Quinn’s achievements and contributions as his business career and time in public service have been highly lauded and successful. He was head of one of the more innovative Irish businesses of the last fifty years, Superquinn, which introduced, amongst many other things: meat traceability for its customers, the first Irish supermarket customer loyalty card and a very strong customer focussed organisation, evident from his 1990 publication “Crowning the Customer”. In addition, he brought a commercial sensibility as chairman of An Post, which had previously been part of the state’s joint post and telegraphs provider. His contribution to this ensured that the fledgling state organisation focussed more on providing customer relevant processes and products.

He was first elected to the Seanad in 1997 and has been re-elected ever since. He has been an extremely active member and at present he is campaigning for the Seanad’s retention. Since his first election he has been a regular producer of social and commercial legislation and his membership of the upper house of the Oireachtas has made a discernible difference to its operations. He seems to prefer quietly building a consensus and so is popular amongst many in that part of the Oireachtas. There have been many other awards, including honorary doctorates from UCD and the NUI, but what stands out most about Feargal Quinn is his personal impact on others.

 A former Superquinn worker, Aideen Pollard McManus, quoted recently in journal.ie, said that:

“I worked in Superquinn part time in the early eighties …. We were very well treated and the pay was good. Feargal was a great boss who made a great effort to get to know his staff.  I worked in Northside, as did my sister, and I’ll always remember at the time of the Stardust tragedy how he treated staff and customers with such compassion and dignity.  He promised everyone who was injured that their jobs were safe until they were able to come back. He even gave jobs to siblings of staff who were injured to ensure that there was some income coming into their homes.”

This is the mark of the man; humane, considerate and aware of commercial goals not exclusively grounded in profits. This sense of public service continued in Feargal Quinn’s aptly named television series “Feargal Quinn's Retail Therapy” which helped local businesses compete with much larger rivals and  also when he worked with a team of experts to help local economies in the series “Local Heroes - A Town Fights Back”.

What stands out most about Feargal Quinn is that in every aspect of his life he has made a sustained and immense contribution to those around him. Without his generosity of spirit the lives of many workers and many citizens would not have been as good. These are just some of the many things he has done for Irish business and society and for this he is deemed very worthy of being the 2013 recipient of the Irish Academy of Management’s Whitaker Award.


2012 Mr. Kieran Mulvey

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Mr. Kieran Mulvey after receiving the award

The Whitaker award is the highest honour the Irish Academy of Management can bestow. It is not simply a lifetime achievement award but is for someone who has made unique, substantial and ongoing contributions to management in Ireland and is named after its first recipient T.K. Whitaker

From what I’ve researched about Kieran Mulvey I think these are key aspects of the man; he is diplomatic, realistic and knows well how to deal with people of different political, trade union and business backgrounds. He was one of the key architects behind the Croke Park Agreement which many say has provided a foundation for the state to correct the imbalance in its public finances.

Kieran Mulvey has been able to do this because he has a basic understanding of people, gained as this was from his background, education and work in the trade union movement. I’d like to talk about these briefly to give you an idea of the man.

After UCD he began a career in the trade union movement and on his 24th birthday he became the youngest General Secretary of a national trade union when heading up the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT).

His ability to build consensus was obviously one of the reasons he was appointed as the first Chief Executive to the newly established Labour Relations Commission in 1991. A mark of the esteem and respect in which he is held by all political hues is in the fact that over the past twenty years he has been reappointed by governments comprised of all parts of the political spectrum, and is now in his fifth term of office.

When the current economic malaise led to the demise of the national social partnership process he stepped forward once again to suggest an imaginative and pragmatic solution, the Croke Park Agreement, which has become a fundamental mainstay of the international agreement with the troika of the IMF, EU and ECB.

Kieran Mulvey has worked consistently and tirelessly to ensure that Irish society has moved away from what often was an adversarial and fractious industrial relations climate to one which is significantly more consensual, imaginative and embraces much of the best of modern Ireland.

Kieran Mulvey has made a profound difference to our society and so he is and extremely fitting recipient of the Irish Academy of Management’s Whitaker Award. Therefore I would like to call on the Chair of the Academy, Dr Alma McCarthy, to present Kieran Mulvey with the IAM’s Whitaker Award 2012.


2011 Dr. John Teeling

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Dr. John Teeling being presented with the award by Dr Joe MacDonagh, Vice Chairman of the Irish Academy of Management.

Dr. John Teeling is a leading Irish entrepreneur and is best known as the Founder and Chairman of Cooley Distillery. He is a leading pioneer of Irish industry, holding stakes in a number of industrial ventures, as well as being the founder of the only independent Irish whiskey distillers, Cooley Distillery.

John established Cooley Distillery in 1987, with a clear vision to restore some of the ancient brands of Irish whiskey and to create more choice for consumers through innovation and the revival of old distilling techniques. Cooley was the first new whiskey distillery to be established in Ireland in over 100 years, ending a monopoly in the production of Irish whiskey and bringing much needed competition into the industry. Cooley’s whiskeys are now sold in 45 countries and exports are continuing to expand, particularly in the US, where there is a strong revival in consumption of Irish whiskey. Following the sale of Irish Distillers (owners of Jameson, Paddy and Powers) to the French multi-national firm Pernod Ricard, and the subsequent sale of Bushmills to the UK multi-national Diageo, Cooley today is the only Irish owned whiskey distillery.

John is also a veteran in the natural resources sector, dealing in gems, mineral and oil exploration. He has established numerous companies in the sector, several of which are quoted on the London Stock Exchange. He is the founder and chairman of Petrel Resources, Minco, African Gold, Persian Gold and West African Diamonds all listed in London. He is also the founder and a former director of Kenmare Resources and a former director of Arcon. West African Diamonds.

John was an academic for 20 years as a lecturer in Business Administration at UCD. He holds degrees from UCD (B. Comm, M. Econ. Sc), Wharton Business School (MBA), and a doctorate from Harvard Business School.

Dr John Teeling has been a sustained entrepreneur who has contributed directly to Irish business and to education of future entrepreneurs in his time as a researcher and educator.

For his entrepreneurial spirit, for his contribution to Industry in Ireland, and for his success in diverse businesses which have brought credit to Ireland, the Irish Academy of Management believes that John Teeling fully demonstrates the personal and professional qualities that are honoured by the Whitaker Award.


2010 Dr. Miriam Hederman-O'Brien

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Dr Miriam Hederman-O'Brien being presented with the award by Minister Batt O'Keeffe TD

Dr. Miriam Hederman O’Brien is an outstanding figure in national and European public affairs who has given decades of expert and committed service to a wide range of institutions, governments and civic programmes. In the words of Donal de Buitléir and Frances Ruane ‘a common thread of her work has been a restless dissatisfaction with the status quo and a passionate desire to make things better’. She has held the posts of Chancellor of the University of Limerick and she has said that a university’s mission: “it is a goal of the University ...to offer [its] facilities to those who are pursuing knowledge, truth and understanding”. One of the hey aspects of her career has been to bring greater truth and clarity

She is a barrister whose Ph.D in Political and Economic Science is from Trinity College, Dublin. Her career has spanned the areas of Social Partnership, the Civil Service, The Media, Freedom of Information legislation, the judicial system, Health Services, Homelessness and the Arts. She is particularly known for trying to bring clarity and equity to our Taxation system in a manner that echoes Oliver Wendell Holme’s remark that “taxation is the price we pay for a fair society”.

Her substantial contribution to the promotion of European ideals, her vision of Europe as a ‘family to which Ireland belongs’ as she terms it, has been a continuing interest. Dr Hederman O’Brien contributes to a range of European organisations: previously Chairman and President of the Irish Committee of the European Cultural Foundation, and Vice-President for almost twenty years of European Movement-Ireland. These examples provide some measure of the enormous scope of Dr Hederman O’Brien’s involvement in a range of public affairs to which she has generously given of her time, energies and professional expertise.

Her distinguished service in the political and cultural life of Ireland and Europe includes membership of the Top-Level Appointments Committee for Senior Posts in the Civil Service between 1992 and 1998; Director of Music Network 1995-2007, membership of the National Council for Economic and Social Affairs 1984-1990 and chairman of the Foundation for Fiscal Studies between 1989 and 1998.

She has also found time to be a Director of the Dublin Grand Opera Society

Committees and Tribunals, those familiar features of Irish political life, have frequently called upon the informed leadership and widely-respected integrity of Dr Hederman O’Brien. Her chairmanship of the Commission on Taxation between 1980 and 1985 resulted in a series of publications on Direct and Indirect Taxation, Special and Environmental Taxation and Tax Administration that remain landmark publications

Recognition of this dedication to the public good has already been shown by several authorities: the Gold Medal for service to Poland (1992); the European Order of Merit (1984); Honorary Doctorates from the Pontifical University of Maynooth (1997), the National University of Ireland, Dublin (2001) and the University of Ulster (2002). Membership of the Royal Academy of Ireland was conferred upon Dr Hederman O’Brien in 2005.

It strikes me that she has made a very profound contribution to Ireland in every respect, and is someone whose selfless dedication has tried to make this country as good as it can be. I will leave the final words to de Buitléir and Ruane, who said of her: she is ‘a rare and exceptional person in the breadth of her interests and the quality of her contribution over so many fields’. For these reasons and more Dr Miriam Hederman O’Brien is the 2010 recipient of the Whitaker Award.


2009 Dr. TK Whitaker

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Dr. TK Whitaker being presented with the award now named in his honour by Minister Éamon Ó Cuív TD

Thomas Kenneth Whitaker was born in 1916 in Rostrevor, County Down. He has been described as a great Irishman whose “vision, training, warm humanity and unflagging zeal ensured that the administrative apparatus of the state was applied to the country’s economic transformation at a critical juncture” (Ó Muircheartaigh, 1997: xxii).

His achievements span a lifetime of commitment and dedication to: outstanding public service; the promotion of a economic policy agenda that brought path breaking change to Ireland; the advancement of a political agenda dedicated to engaging with the Northern Ireland question; supporting the artistic and cultural life of Ireland.

He joined the Irish Civil Service in 1934 and had what has been described as a “meteoric rise”. In 1956 Whitaker was appointed Secretary at the Department of Finance at the age of thirty-nine, becoming the youngest ever person to hold this senior position. He served in this capacity for 13 years. Economic development and trade liberalisation became the hallmarks of his efforts in this role. His appointment took place at a time when Ireland's economy was in deep recession. Whitaker believed that free trade, with increased competition and the end of protectionism, would become inevitable and that jobs would have to be created by a shift from agriculture to industry and services. He formed a team of officials within the Department of Finance who produced a detailed study of the economy. This detailed study and analysis culminated in the First Programme for Economic Expansion. This programme became a landmark in Irish economic history, primarily for its brave new ideas around industrial policy and trade liberalisation. It resulted in a radical shift in the developmental trajectory of the Irish economy, away from protectionism towards a policy dedicated to securing FDI for Ireland. Economic growth accelerated as a result of these and related initiatives which he presided over. He served as Governor of the Central Bank from the period 1969 to 1976.

During his period in the Central Bank, he remained policy advisor to Jack Lynch on matters concerning Northern Ireland. In 1977 Lynch nominated Whitaker to the Seanad, where he served as an independent senator from ‘77 to’81. In 1981 he was re-nominated by Garret FitzGerald, where he served until 1982. Whitaker also served as Chancellor of the National University of Ireland from 1976 to 1996. In 1991, the then President, Mary Robinson, appointed Whitaker to the Council of State. From 1995–1996 he chaired the Constitution Review Group, an independent expert group established by the government, which published its report in July 1996.In 2001, he was voted "Irishman of the 20th Century and in 2002, voted "Greatest Living Irish Person".

T.K.Whitaker has made the most profound difference to the development of Ireland both as a society and as an economy and his lifetime of service to Ireland means that he is the most deserving of recipients of this award.

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