O'Brien puts success down to his country roots


ONE MORE THING:Denis O’Brien’s farming background and its role in his success as an entrepreneur is explored in a wide-ranging interview with US-based publisher Niall O’Dowd in the latest issue of Irish America magazine.

When asked where he acquired his business acumen, O’Brien replied: “My father’s whole side of the family came from a small farming background, and I think that is where it comes from.”

According to O’Brien, city kids are missing out by not going to animal fairs.

“If you go to a mart you’ll learn an awful lot. It’s like a life’s education in a day.”

It seems that O’Brien spent time in Tandragee, Armagh, where his father’s family had a chicken farm.

“So I understand, ‘What’s the price this week for eggs?’ and so on,” he said.

He told O’Dowd that some of the best managers in his Digicel mobile phone group come from Kerry.

“I listen to presentations in Digicel and these tough country guys are up there talking about what’s going on, and it might be a tough market, so you need these men.

“In fact, in some of our harder markets, we put the mountainy men in.”

O’Brien’s key recommendation to aid our economic recovery is to appoint a minister for China to improve relations with the country.

“It could be a junior minister, but we need a minister for China and indeed a minister for the diaspora,” he said.

O’Brien, the biggest shareholder in Independent News Media, also outlined his distaste for the media’s pursuit of certain former politicians involved in our economic collapse. “I thought chasing Brian Cowen to some university in California was an appalling thing to do. He’s out of public life. He’s a private citizen. Leave him alone.”

Interestingly, a Google search reveals a story on Independent.iefrom August 4th based on a doorstep interview an Indo reporter conducted with Cowen during a break from lectures in Stanford University.

Cowen was reported to be “enjoying” a smoked salmon bagel in the sun. Some of his classmates were quizzed about the former taoiseach and there are three photographs of Cowen in a T-shirt at the university.

I wonder what O’Brien thought of that interview?