Niall FitzGerald KBE: photo gallery and full text of his address to Principals Club

Business, Editor's Choice | Mon 26 Feb | Author – Business & Finance
Niall FitzGerald KBE addresses the Principals Club dinner at the Merrion Hotel

Niall FitzGerald KBE called out “a crisis of leadership” as he addressed the Principals Club dinner, in Dublin, hosted by Business & Finance last Thursday.

Niall FitzGerald KBE called out “a crisis of leadership” as he addressed the Principals Club dinner, in Dublin, hosted by Business & Finance last Thursday. At the prestigious gathering of political and business leaders in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel, Mr FitzGerald, former Chief Executive Officer of Unilever PLC, was honoured for his contribution to global business.

Invited guests at the exclusive Principals Club dinner included leaders from the world of politics (Enda Kenny TD, Michael Noonan TD and Senator Michael McDowell), business (Lochlann Quinn, Terence O’Rourke, Julie Sinnamon and Breege O’Donoghue) and sport (rugby stars Keith Wood, Doug Howlett, Hugo McNeil and Fergus Slattery). Each table also hosted an MBA candidate from the Smurfit Business School, offering the business leaders of tomorrow a unique opportunity to connect with mentors and benefit from the collective wisdom in the room.

Bookended with amusing anecdotes and personal reflections, Mr FitzGerald nonetheless imparted a speech with a very serious and relevant message. In the main body of his address he claimed people worldwide have lost trust in leadership, citing a lack of trust because “Leaders do not behave in ways consistent with their own rhetoric.” His speech dealt with what he termed “Principles for Principals”, in other words how business leaders can foster trust.

He detailed how William Lever, co-founder of Unilever engaged in an early model of what we might now term CSR, with social purpose resonating throughout the business and its efforts to make improvements to the lives of its employees.

Ultimately, irresponsible business practices are short-termist, as Mr FitzGerald explained: “For a business to be sustainable in the long term it needs a properly functioning society around it. Intelligent business leaders realise that they share responsibility for building and maintaining that society. You cannot have a sustainably successful business in a broken society.

Read and download the full speech here: Niall FitzGerald address to Principals Club