"We knew it was imperative to continue to serve our community during one of the greatest challenges of our generation," says professor Anthony Brabazon, dean of the UCD College of Business.
"We needed to be able to reach multiple audiences at a time when many people are working from home, often directly involved in addressing the economic and business fallout of the crisis."
The UCD Business Impact podcast launched in March and features world renowned academics, industry leaders and alumni from Ireland's leading undergraduate and graduate business schools. With Ireland's largest university alumni base, UCD is in a unique position to offer a truly global perspective on the challenges we face - looking at the business, social, workplace and health implications of the crisis at local and global levels.
The 30-minute episode series is hosted by former Business Post editor and current UCD Quinn School lecturer Emmet Oliver. Each week, thought leaders join Emmet to discuss the most compelling issues affecting society from a business perspective.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is primarily a public health crisis, but it has huge economic and business consequences, and we wanted to find a way to focus on those elements and some wider societal themes too," says Oliver. “Out of adversity came an opportunity to tap into the network of experts available to us, through the School and wider alumni network."
"Through something as simple as a Zoom call we realised we could unlock some great insights. It's about adapting and using what you have, creatively. While our focus at present is obviously Covid-19, we believe the podcast format is the ideal vehicle for exploring big societal themes over the long term too. Business schools globally increasingly reach out beyond their physical campuses and we see this format in that context. With so much misinformation circulating at present, we believe it's imperative to hear the voices of both true subject matter experts and industry leaders."
As an example, Emmet cites a recent interview with CEO of Bord Bia, Tara McCarthy, who made a bold prediction that while Irish food, drink and horticulture, are currently facing a very tough climate, in time, reputation and food safety will be key calling cards for the sector.
“Consumers will want functional foods that will help ‘shield' them from a range of health threats. This was a great example of looking at the post-pandemic possibilities for one of Ireland's most vital national industries," recalled Emmet of the interview.
"The key piece for us is not to waste the crisis," says McCarthy in the podcast which went live on May 12th, 2020. "There's a lot of analysis and investigation being done as to, 'Where is the opportunity here?' And there is a huge reputational opportunity for Ireland, Inc. with regards to the resilience that it's shown," continued McCarthy as she discussed Ireland's continuation in international markets when the crisis abates.
“Ireland is serving every single customer globally and addressing the challenge. I think when you look at where the food industry is positioned in Ireland it is viewed as a priority industry-that's being seen globally as a huge asset.”
The first episode of UCD Business Impact, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Covid-19 Financial Impact, featured professor Niamh Brennan, Ireland's leading expert on corporate governance, where she discussed topics ranging from controversial dividend payments to her admiration of Ireland's crisis response.
"As is always the case, there will be decent people doing the best they can in very adverse circumstances and then, unfortunately, there will be the chancers ... for example, I have been completely disappointed, and that's not even a strong enough word ... disgusted, is the right word, at the companies who have recently paid a dividend when they saw this coming," says professor Brennan.
"There is a discussion around the moral integrity of those companies that have paid rich shareholders but have no qualms about making staff redundant or putting them on furlough."
"The range of experts in the wider UCD College of Business community is truly unlike any other in Ireland," says professor Gerardine Doyle, director of UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
"Considering the members of our advisory boards in both Ireland and North America, alumni who are global business leaders and the faculty who teach at Ireland's top business school, the collective range of business acumen in the group is staggering."
"The podcasts allow our students to see the impact that members of the UCD Business community are having in Ireland and around the world, making a difference not only in business, but healthcare, sustainability and technology," continued professor Doyle.
The series also allows prospective students the opportunity to experience, in short form, the calibre of lecturers and guest speakers that they will be able to connect with at UCD Quinn School, UCD Smurfit School and UCD Smurfit Executive Development.
“The podcast gives us an opportunity to engage with our alumni, advisory boards, and faculty in a new way as they can share their expertise to a much larger audience," continued Dean Brabazon.
“It gives them a platform to reach out to our students and the wider business community through a compelling series of conversations on a range of topical issues including those of critical importance such as Covid-19 challenges and the ripple effects on business and society globally."
The conversations offer insight, spark curiosity and challenge listeners to rethink how they do business in a changing world.