President’s Dinner 2016

“You need bad days to know what good days look like”

The TBA was delighted to welcome 180 people to this year’s President’s Dinner. With full attendance the room was buzzing and a fantastic evening was had by all. Guests arrived at 6:30pm and enjoyed a prosecco reception in the Senior Common Room. Guests were then seated in the Dining Hall and current TBA President, Tom McAleese opened the evening by welcoming members and introducing the guest speaker, Gary McGann; “A top CEO with a strong work ethic. Gary is a man that can bring people along with him without them even knowing”.

Pic Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

Gary took to the podium and told his story. From a traditional Irish background, and the eldest of four children he puts his success down to four things:

Encouragement from many people
The inspiration of courageous business leader
Family support

Gary reflected on his illustrious career – the hard work, fantastic colleagues and luck involved in his achievements. Commenting on the business world at present, Gary said that it is now “more volatile than ever – a dangerous place…There is a great sense of financial fragility and the most worrying aspect is the political disillusionment.” Gary sees this as a challenge, we need to “find leadership on both a political and a business level.” Most importantly, Gary puts his success down to education. “It is our national resource as a people. The country is in great hands and regenerating education is the way to do it.”

Gary concluded his keynote speech with conviction, stating that we are “at a crossroads. We have a choice, either go with the herd or be different.” Gary spoke with an urgency about the present adversity in today’s business world but his sense of belief in young people, education and our ability as a nation to overcome these challenges was palpable. “You need bad days to know what good days look like.”

Pic Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

The speech was followed by a three course meal, after which Tom McAleese reflected on the past year of the TBA. “The TBA is about three things: connecting college, connecting students, and connecting business.” There were various events throughout 2015 for TBA members to attend: Dinner in Cameras, breakfast seminars, an MBA Masterclass and the Student Career Forum. Tom encouraged members to stay tuned for upcoming events in 2016 and thanked alumni, members, corporate sponsors and Trinity College for their support throughout the year.

Tom then chaired a lively Q & A session with Gary McGann. When asked if he had any advice for young people new to business Gary responded

“Business is the most exciting thing you can do; it makes the world go ‘round. Your first degree is all about education and Ireland does this well. It is not what you study but about engaging in a broad subject range and broadening your mind. You need more than skills – you need charisma. So keep engaging, keep networking.”


Pic Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

Gary McGann is Chairman of Paddy Power plc, Aon Ireland and Sicon Ltd (Sisks). He is also a director of Smurfit Kappa Group plc, Green Reit plc and MPS plc,, the Irish Business Employer’s Confederation (IBEC, where he is also a former President) and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. He is the former Group CEO of the Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG), one of the leading providers of paper-based packaging solutions in the world. Gary also holds directorships in the “not-for-profit sector” – Barnardos; Business in the Community (BITC) and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI).