Pictured: Lord David Puttnam CBE, at the Business & Finance Awards, 2019
Mario Draghi, recipient of the Sutherland Leadership Award, and Lord David Puttnam, CBE, recipient of the TK Whitaker Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Life, spoke at length about the importance of openness and trust in today’s world.
On Thursday December 12, 2019, the 45th annual Business & Finance Awards took place in The Convention Centre, Dublin.
In association with KPMG, the Business & Finance Awards honoured Mario Draghi, former President of the European Central Bank, and Oscar-winning film producer, educator and politician Lord David Puttnam CBE, with the Sutherland Leadership Award and the TK Whitaker Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Life, respectively.
Mario Draghi, recipient of the Sutherland Leadership Award
Mario Draghi is widely credited with stabilising the Euro during one of the most turbulent periods for the Eurozone.
He served as President of the European Central Bank from 2011 to 2019. Mr. Draghi’s tenure in this position was noted for his navigating the European Union’s various complex political institutions.
In spite of this complexity, he succeeded in promoting growth in the Eurozone through an aggressive course of quantitative easing, while championing negative interest rates.
“[Europe] needs to show in the face of new challenges that markets and justice can go together, it must provide a fair and effective common house for its members. One where countries share sovereignty to regain sovereignty, always faithful to Europe’s founding values of peace, freedom and democracy.”
Mr. Draghi was recognised with the Sutherland Leadership Award, established in honour of the late Peter Sutherland, former Irish Commissioner to the EU, who was also World Trade Organisation director general and Goldman Sachs international chairman.
The inaugural Sutherland Leadership Award recognised former President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. At the Business & Finance Awards in December 2018, former Chairman/CEO of Unilever, and friend of Peter Sutherland, Niall FitzGerald, presented Mr. Barroso with the special recognition in Mr Sutherland’s name.
Mr. Draghi opened his remarks by expressing his gratitude for the recognition. He then highlighted the correlation between his work and that of Peter Sutherland: “I am thankful for the opportunity I have to celebrate Peter Sutherland’s legacy … And I would like to think Peter would have recognised my own work.”
He went on to say that he and Peter Sutherland both sought openness, as “openness creates opportunities, gives people access to new markets.”
He continued: “Peter also strived to apply these same principles at the global level in setting up the WTO, which was, without a doubt, one of his greatest triumphs.”
Mr. Draghi concluded by saying that the European project is proof that countries can have at once the benefits of open trade, “without its worst excesses.”
“As one of the most important policymakers of our time, Mr. Draghi has played a leading role in European economic affairs over many years.”
For Europe to continue, he noted, “it needs to show in the face of new challenges that markets and justice can go together, it must provide a fair and effective common house for its members. One where countries share sovereignty to regain sovereignty, always faithful to Europe’s founding values of peace, freedom and democracy.”
On presenting the Award to Mr Draghi, Seamus Hand, Managing Partner, KPMG Ireland (title sponsor) said:
“It is fitting that in almost half a century of celebrating the theme of leadership, including both the Company of the Year and the Business Person of the Year, that this year’s Business and Finance Awards in association with KPMG also honours Mr. Mario Draghi. As one of the most important policymakers of our time, Mr. Draghi has played a leading role in European economic affairs over many years.”
Lord David Puttnam CBE, recipient of the TK Whitaker Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Life
Lord David Puttnam CBE is a film producer, educator, and politician. He is the producer of Chariots of Fire, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1982. Other notable films in his vast filmography include The Mission, The Killing Fields and Midnight Express. Together his films have won 10 Oscars, 10 Golden Globes, 25 BAFTAs and the Palme D’Or at Cannes.
He has lived in west Cork for over 30 years, and has been a vocal champion of the Republic of Ireland in Brexit discussions in the upper house of the UK Parliament, where he sits as a Labour Party peer. He has recently gained Irish citizenship.
The TK Whitaker Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Life was established in 2016 to mark the 100th birthday of Dr. Ken Whitaker. The Award recognises Irish and international political and social leaders who have made a unique contribution to public life.
“My present role at Westminster involves chairing a parliamentary select committee looking at the relationship between digital technologies and democracy – how can the former be encouraged to support, rather than undermine, the latter?”
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins was the first recipient of the TK Whitaker Award in December 2016, followed by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD in 2017. Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese received the 2018 TK Whitaker Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Life as part of the 44th annual Business & Finance Awards. Lord Puttnam is the fourth recipient of the award.
On receiving the award, Lord Puttnam reflected on his strong roots with Ireland, saying:
“I’m immensely honoured to be the 2019 recipient of the TK Whitaker Award. Aware that Ken Whitaker played such a significant role in Irish life […] this recognition offers the challenge, as well as the opportunity, to become a genuinely useful citizen to my adopted country.”
Lord Puttnam then spoke at length about his current work in Westminster, which involves looking into how digital technologies can interact with democracy, and the issues that can spring from their union: “My present role at Westminster involves chairing a parliamentary select committee looking at the relationship between digital technologies and democracy – how can the former be encouraged to support, rather than undermine, the latter?”
He notes that the reason for our hesitation to embrace digital technologies stems from a lack of trust: “I think at the core of our bewilderment lies the issue of trust […] As we’ve all discovered, trust is hard to win, but incredibly easy to lose.”
Lord Puttnam concluded his remarks with an anecdote centred on the idea of trust: “Several years ago, I was asked to open a brand new school in the north east of England,” he said.
“As I walked through the impressive glass atrium to cut the ribbon, I looked up, and in letters of fire were the words, ‘If it’s not true, don’t say it. If it’s not right, don’t do it’ – Marcus Aurelius.
“On the train back to London, I couldn’t get the image out of my head. I kept thinking how is it possible that we’ve struggled so hard to conform to a simple rubric handed down by a Roman politician over two-and-a-half thousand years ago, because in truth I see the emergence of very few solutions, but an ever-increasing number of seemingly insurmountable questions – all the more reason why we in Ireland have to seek our own place in the world.”