Business Irish

Monday 26 August 2019

Apple boss tells students that Ireland and tech giant 'share same values'

Tim Cook joins students for selfies during a visit to Trinity College yesterday
Tim Cook joins students for selfies during a visit to Trinity College yesterday
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Tim Cook came to one of the few places in Ireland where there are more American twangs in locals' accents than California. "So, I was just wondering? What you think? Of values? And how important? They are? To Apple?" asked one Trinity student of Tim.

The Australians call this "upspeak". In Ireland, it's just what naturally happens when you're under 23. But despite the transatlantic inflections, the hundreds of students who packed Trinity's exam hall to hear Cook speak provided the Apple chief executive with intelligent and poignant questions.

One young student, who said he was gay, asked whether Cook could use his leadership position as a means of "soft power" in furtherance of LGBT rights.

Cook said that he didn't like the term 'power'. But he told the questioner the story of why he came out publicly last year.

"I saw kids being bullied at school and people being fired at work because they were gay," he said. "I came to the conclusion that I needed to do something.

"There would be no donation that could match me standing up and saying that I am proud to be gay and that it is one of the greatest gifts that God has given me. I think we need more people to do that."

"A kid in rural Ireland might say 'wow, if he can do it, then so can I'." It drew the morning's biggest round of applause.

Cook wasn't finished on the issue of diversity. Ireland, he said, had "championed the cause of LGBT people around the world", as well as freedom of expression and human rights. This, he said, made gave Ireland "the same values" as Apple.

"We don't see ourselves as just a company that is in Ireland, we see ourselves rooted here," he said. "Apple is proud to call Ireland home." Not everyone wanted to stick with the nobler themes. One student pointed out college-goers are skint.

"Do you think you'd consider a one-off discount for college students on iPads?" he asked. Cook demurred on that one.

These days, Trinity students are a lot more polite than in years gone by. There were no questions of tax or labour issues that Apple has faced abroad in outsourced Chinese factories.

But they do like selfies. A scrum ensued after proceedings where phone after phone was produced for a shot with Apple's CEO. Cook, the college Philosophical Society's newest gold medal recipient, seemed happy to oblige.

Irish Independent

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