Top business chiefs offer to run Irish state agencies for free
Published 07/10/2011 | 15:00
One hundred top-ranking business chiefs from around the world are to offer to help run Irish state agencies free of charge.
Under plans revealed by expatriate technology bosses in Silicon Valley, leading lights from the Irish community overseas will even travel at their own cost to sit on public sector boards.
Barry O'Sullivan, senior vice-president at technology firm Cisco, said the idea was already getting an enthusiastic response from the Irish Government, although there has yet to be a formal approach.
"We think it's an offer that can't be refused by government, in terms of the pool of people we want to put together," he said.
Mr O'Sullivan and other Irish Americans are asking influential business figures gathered at the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle to volunteer.
Once a list of 100 leaders has been completed, it will be made public and handed to the Government, which will be asked to match an individual's experience with a relevant board.
They will initially offer to work for free to help run state bodies until 2016.
Mr O'Sullivan said they were targeting people at chief officer and vice-presidential level, with a track record of success, for the initiative to help Ireland's economy get back on track.
"There's huge excitement, huge interest," he said.
"People are putting their hands up, saying I want to help, I need to understand a little bit more.
"I think we are going to get a lot of momentum this week with it."
It is also intended to offer the pool of experts for an advisory board to the Government, to advise on investment in innovation as well as research and development strategies.
Mr O'Sullivan refused to be drawn on the appointments process in Ireland and the experience of board members. But he said exchequer problems meant Ireland could not afford to spend huge amounts of money on state boards.
"All we want to do is offer our availability," he said.
"I think we have a different perspective."
Already signed up are Mr O'Sullivan; John Hartnett, a Silicon Valley technology investor and founding president of the Irish Technology Leadership Group; and Tom McEnery, former mayor of San Jose.
Rory McInerney, vice president of Digital Enterprise Group and director of Enterprise Microprocessor Group; and Conrad Burke who started solar business Innovalight in Silicon Valley, recently bought by the DuPont corporation, are both also on board.
They are all involved with the Irish Technology Leadership Group, made up of Irish and Irish American senior executives in Silicon Valley, forging stronger links between there and Ireland.
The group also intend to use a new social media website worldirish.com, launched by Riverdance co-founder John McColgan at the two-day forum, to connect with business leaders in the Irish diaspora.