An age of opportunity
American Chamber chief executive Mark Redmond talks about the enhanced role Ireland can play in relationships between the US and the EU
American Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mark Redmond: ‘What we are seeing now is an even greater strategic role for Ireland at the heart of the US-EU relationship.’
International events, while somewhat threatening, present new opportunities to play an even more important role in transatlantic relationships. That’s the view of American Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mark Redmond, who says there is evidence for this on the ground in American companies here in Ireland.
“What we are seeing now is an even greater strategic role for Ireland at the heart of the US-EU relationship,” he says. “The Irish operations of US companies are becoming ever more central to their global strategies and we are seeing more people in Ireland having global and EMEA leadership roles. We are also seeing an increase in the areas being led from Ireland. That’s a great opportunity for Ireland.”
The American Chamber’s role is also increasing in importance. “We hosted Speaker Nancy Pelosi along with a Congressional delegation which included chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal at an event earlier in the year,” Redmond notes. “Speaker Pelosi addressed over 200 Chamber members on business linkages and the Good Friday agreement in the context of the Brexit process. She specifically called out the role of the Chamber in deepening the transatlantic relationship.
“Former taoiseach Enda Kenny was our guest at the US-Ireland Research & Innovation Awards and he spent quite a bit of time talking about the role the Chamber played during the recession in promoting Ireland as a place for investment. He also focused on the leadership role which the Chamber and US company operations here have to play as the country continues to move up the value chain.”
Leadership is a central theme for the American Chamber and the organisation is running a number of initiatives in that area.
“The Leaders of Impact programme is run by our Women in Global Organisations Network,” says Redmond. “That’s an incredibly powerful programme for women in industry.”
The programme sees female leaders working in small cross-company, cross-sector, cross-functional groups which offer the opportunity to explore practices, share insights, compare experiences, gather new perspectives and try out ideas with their peers.
The 700 strong Emerging Leaders Network aims to inspire the next generation of leaders in member companies with an annual programme complete with challenging and innovative professional development and network opportunities.
“A new initiative this year is the Mandate Leader Master-Class Programme,” Redmond adds. “The objective is to share expertise from across the membership to support the current cohort of leaders to strengthen and expand their mandates here in Ireland. The master classes will be delivered by former and existing mandate leaders who have a great reserve of experience on how to manage on the global stage. We are getting a fantastic reaction to the programme and are very excited about it.”
The growing presence of Irish companies in the US is another important dimension to the relationship, he points out.
“Ireland is the ninth largest investor in the US, and we hosted an event in Washington DC in June for Irish companies establishing or expanding there. We ran the event in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland to highlight the impact of that investment. We had speakers from organisations such as Ornua and Linesight, who have travelled that path and shared their experience. It is not widely known, but 325,000 jobs in the US are dependent on goods and services destined for Ireland and Irish companies in Ireland now employ more than 100,000 people across all 50 states.”
The impact of American investment in Ireland is often discussed but the contribution made by US companies to the community, the environment and sustainability initiatives is less well known. To highlight this contribution, the American Chamber has instituted two new awards for US companies in Limerick, Cork, and Galway and the regions surrounding them.
The American Chamber Cairdeas Award, which means friendship in Irish, will be presented to an individual or organisation in the region which has strongly demonstrated community impact. The American Chamber Créafóg Award, earth in Irish, will be presented to an American Chamber member company which has demonstrated exemplary commitment and real excellence in terms of sustainability and environmental awareness.
“We are very excited about these awards and some amazing projects have already been nominated,”says Redmond.
He looks back at two events during the year which pointed to Ireland’s increased importance as a global interlocuter.
“At our inaugural US-Ireland Business Conference at the beginning of March, one of the speakers said that Ireland can explain the EU to the US and the US to the EU. Later that month, during St Patrick’s Week in Washington DC, where the Taoiseach was our guest of honour, every speaker said that Ireland was now an even more important ally at the Brussels table. And the Chamber and our member companies are the ones building those bridges in both directions.”