‘The Irish Times’ Business Person of the Year shortlist

Patrick and John Collison, Dómhnal Slattery and David McRedmond won the award

The winners of The Irish Times Business Awards, in association with KPMG, were chosen this week by a panel of judges chaired by Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft Ireland.

 

From turning around a company’s fortunes to promising funding rounds, the winners for January, February and March of this year’s Irish Times Business Person of the Month Awards are among the country’s most accomplished business leaders.

The monthly award, in association with KPMG, was created to mark excellence and outstanding achievement in the field, and is open to business people at home and abroad as well as international executives leading major companies in the Republic.

Here we profile the winners from January, February and December.

Patrick and John Collison – Stripe

January’s award went to Stripe founders Patrick and John Collison after the Limerick-born brothers started the year with a bank, announcing a $100 million (€88.7 million) follow-on funding round for Stripe and the appointment of a tech titan to the company’s board.

The latest investment, from Tiger Global, came just four months after Stripe secured $245 million (€216.7 million) in a round led by the same company.

The online payments company also announced that Diane Greene, who previously co-founded and ran VMware, and who was until recently chief executive of Google Cloud, was to join what is already a strong board.

The company, which employs more than 1,000 people worldwide and handles billions of dollars in transactions each year, started off with relatively small clients. However, it now counts large companies such as GE, Adidas, Docusign, Slack, Nasdaq, Macy’s and the NFL among its customers.

Chief executive Patrick Collison has stressed on numerous occasions that both he and his brother are in it for the long run. He has also said that the company is still very much at the start of its journey and that with just 5 per cent of global commerce currently taking place online, it sees huge growth opportunities.

For Stripe, there appears to be no heights to which it can’t climb and the company founded by the Limerick brothers now comes with a valuation of $22.5 billion (€19.9 billion).

The rapidly growing valuation for the company has seen the Collison brothers more than double their financial net worth to $2.3 billion (€2 billion) each in the past year.

There’s no doubt that the company has worked hard to achieve that lofty valuation. In the next few months it intends to add a half-dozen countries to the 23 where its service is widely available.

In particular, it’s about to enter smaller European markets like Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Avolon chief executive Dómhnal Slattery. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images
Avolon chief executive Dómhnal Slattery. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dómhnal Slattery – Avolon

In February it was the turn of Dómhnal Slattery, chief executive of Irish aircraft lessor Avolon, to pick up our monthly award.

Dublin-headquartered Avolon recently raised $1.1 billion (€970 million) through the private placement of unsecured bonds which it will use to pay down existing debt and take a key step in winning an investment grade rating.

The move followed Avolon’s announcement that its aircraft-leasing operations generated $2.2 billion (€1.96 billion) in cash last year and grew profits by 30 per cent to $717 million (€639 million).

During 2018, Avolon delivered 33 new aircraft to airline customers around the world including the first Airbus A330 neo. By December 31st, the Irish company owned or managed a total of 971 craft, a 7 per cent increase on 12 months earlier.

It also drew investment from global financier, Orix, which took 30 per cent of the Irish company last year.

Days after Mr Slattery was announced as the award winner for February, the company said so strong was the response to its borrowing plans that it would increase the debt to $500 million (€445 million).

Mr Slattery has three decades’ experience in the aviation industry. He began his career in marketing roles with Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA) and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).

He subsequently established International Aviation Management Group, which was bought by Royal Bank of Scotland, and became RBS Aviation Capital, which Mr Slattery ran from 2001 to 2004.

Mr Slattery founded Avolon in 2010 and has led it through private equity ownership, to flotation on the New York Stock Exchange and through a take private to become part of China’s HNA Group. Avolon ranks as one of the top five in its industry worldwide.

An Post chief executive David McRedmond. Photograph: Maxwell Photography
An Post chief executive David McRedmond. Photograph: Maxwell Photography

David McRedmond – An Post

March saw the chief executive of State-owned An Post David McRedmond pick up our Business Person of the Month award in March having firmly turned the organisation around into a growth position.

Since he joined the company in 2016, the executive has presided over a swift turnaround of An Post’s troubled position and last month the company said profit grew from €8.4 million in 2017 to €40 million in 2018. That came with turnover growth of 6.8 per cent to €897 million.

To put those numbers in context, in 2016, An Post’s pre-tax loss ballooned to €15.6 million while its pension deficit swelled by more than €100 million.

The turnaround overseen by Mr McRedmond involved a step-change increase in stamp prices, a widening of the services the company offers, more flexibility in parcel deliveries, and a consolidation of its network, the largest retail chain in the Republic.

Mr McRedmond is also overseeing the company’s move into the mortgage market and it announced plans last month to offer loans of between €5,000 and €75,000 on terms ranging from one to seven years.

The loan offering through Avantcard has a tiered interest rate starting from 8.5 per cent depending on a person’s credit rating.

An Post is launching a sub-brand called An Post Money, supported by a series of advertising campaigns as part of a €5 million brand refresh to position it for its growth ambitions.

An Post services about 1.5 million customers per week and processed €14 billion worth of transactions last year.

While revenue from mail services has witnessed a global decline, An Post recorded growth of 40 per cent in its parcel business last year with Christmas parcel deliveries up 60 per cent on the previous year.