Business & Finance Awards

Mario Draghi to be honoured with Sutherland Leadership Award at the 2019 Business & Finance Awards, Dublin

By Business & Finance
29 October 2019
Mario Draghi

One of the greatest leaders of modern times, Mario Draghi, Outgoing President European Central Bank (ECB), is the 2019 recipient of The Sutherland Leadership Award. The Award recognises outstanding international leaders who have embodied the values of one of Ireland’s and Europe’s finest leaders, Peter Sutherland.

The Sutherland Leadership Award was established in 2018 with the support of the Sutherland Family recognising its inaugural honouree José Manuel Barroso former President of the European Commission. The Sutherland Leadership Award is now an integral part of the Business & Finance Awards Programme which is now celebrating its 45th year.

The Italian economist has been serving as President of the European Central Bank since 2011, with his term ending on 31st October, 2019, handing over to successor Christine Lagarde. 

Mr Draghi is widely credited with stabilising the Euro during one of the most turbulent periods for the Eurozone, declaring in July 2012 that he would do “whatever it takes” to save the single currency. Throughout his term at the helm of the ECB, Mr Draghi was renowned for navigating the complex political landscape within the European Union’s institutions and he succeeded in promoting growth in the Eurozone through an aggressive course of quantitative easing, while championing negative interest rates.

Announcing of The Sutherland Leadership Award and its second recipient, Ian Hyland, said:

With the support of Peter’s family, we are delighted to recognise a leader who has been instrumental in shaping the European financial landscape for the best part of a decade, with his legacy being the sustained survival of the single currency and wider stability the Eurozone as a whole.”

An illustrious career

Mr Draghi was previously the Chairman of the Financial Stability Board from 2009 to 2011 and Governor of the Bank of Italy from 2005 to 2011.

Prior to this, Mr Draghi worked at Goldman Sachs, although after the revelation of off-market swaps used by Greece with the help of Goldman Sachs threatened his candidacy for the ECB role, he pointed out “the deals between the Greek government and Goldman Sachs had been undertaken before [his] joining of [the company].”  

He is also a member of the Board of Directors at the Bank for International Settlements, the G7 forum, the G20 forum and the Group of Thirty Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs. He has been called the 8th most powerful person in the world by Forbes magazine, and the world’s second greatest leader (after Apple CEO Tim Cook) by Fortune. Economics Professor Paul Krugman has described him as “[arguably] the greatest central banker of modern times”.

Draghi was a full professor at the Cesare Alfieri Faculty of Political Science of the University of Florence from 1981 until 1994 and a fellow of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (2001). From 1984 to 1990 he was the Italian Executive Director at the World Bank. In 1991, at the initiative of the then Minister Guido Carli, he became general director of the Italian Treasury, and held this office until 2001. He is also a former board member of several banks and corporations (Eni, Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and IMI).

mario draghi

Mr Draghi is widely credited with saving the Euro.

ECB Presidency

After his appointment as President of the ECB in June 2011, Draghi oversaw a €489 billion three-year loan program from the ECB to European banks in December of that year. Draghi’s ECB also promptly repealed the two rate hikes made by his predecessor Trichet and increased the bond purchases from struggling euro-zone nations to help with the debt crisis. 

Late in February, 2012, a second, larger round of ECB loans to European banks was initiated under Draghi, termed the long term refinancing operation (LTRO). 

In July 2012, in the midst of renewed fears about sovereigns in the eurozone, Draghi stated in a panel discussion that the ECB “…is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.” Draghi’s statement was seen as a major turning point in the fortunes of the eurozone.

Remarking on the significant contribution of Mr Draghi to the ECB and wider financial system, Roberto Gualtieri, then chair of the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee said that Draghi has helped the ECB to “broaden its toolbox” to bring it in line with more established structures such as the United States Federal Reserve.

Parting words 

In his final speech as European Central Bank president, at a ceremony to hand over to Christine Lagarde, who will officially take charge of the ECB on Friday, Mr Draghi called for unity both within the bank and between eurozone policymakers, saying:

For us Europeans, in a globalised world, a true sovereignty that meets people’s needs for security and prosperity can be achieved only by working together.”

“What unites the governing council has always been — and will always be — much greater than anything that might divide it,” he said.

He admitted that the ECB monetary policy is losing its power and needs backup from national fiscal policies, stating, “Today, we are in a situation where low interest rates are not delivering the same degree of stimulus as in the past, because the rate of return on investment in the economy has fallen. Monetary policy can still achieve its objective, but it can do so faster and with fewer side effects if fiscal policies are aligned with it.”

“We all share the same devotion to our mandate and the same passion for Europe,” Mr Draghi said. “I trust that this shared conviction will continue to serve the ECB and Europe in the years to come.”

Incoming president Christine Lagarde, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron and Italian president Sergio Mattarella all spoke at the Frankfurt event on Monday 28th October, praising Mr Draghi, in particular for saving the eurozone during the crisis. 

Ms Lagarde noted her admiration for what she called the “Mario approach” of telling European leaders difficult truths about tough choices facing them.

Incoming ECB President, Christine Lagarde.

The Business & Finance Irish Business Awards

The Business & Finance Awards (est. 1974), in association with KPMG Ireland, has previously recognised some of outstanding leaders of our time across business, politics and wider society. Previous honourees include President Clinton, Sir John Major, former President Mary Robinson, Kofi Annan, President Michael D. Higgins, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Senator George Mitchell and Sir Bob Geldof among others.

Mr Draghi will accept The Sutherland Leadership Award at the Business & Finance Awards on Thursday, December 12th 2019.

For more information on the 45th annual Business & Finance Awards see

Jose Manuel Barroso, Mary McAleese, Joe Schmidt, Ian Hyland, Business & Finance.

Honourees Jose Manuel Barroso, Mary McAleese, Joe Schmidt at the 2018 Business & Finance Awards.