Wednesday 21 November 2018

Portrait of a CEO as a successful young man

Ralph Benson

WANT the top job? "Perform," advises Gene Murtagh, Kingspan's new boss. "Never shirk a challenge," says Pat McCann, CEO of Jurys Doyle hotel group. "Concentrate on doing the job you've got - don't think about the next one," David Went of Irish Life and Permanent recommends.

There must be more to it than that.

What characteristics do Ireland's CEOs share? Despite several new faces in the top jobs, a survey of CEOs and executive chairmen of the top 20 ISEQ companies shows the path to the top is getting less predictable.

Compared with past surveys, CEOs are getting younger, and staying for less time in the job.

When the Sunday Independent carried out the CEO survey over 18 months ago, the average age was 53 years and five months, and they had been in the job an average of nearly seven-and-a-half years. Now, the average age of Ireland's top 20 chiefs is 51.

They were, on average, aged 44 years and nine months d when appointed. That gives an average of just over six years in the job, although Michael Chadwick, who has served two decades as executive chairman of Chadwick, and Jim Flavin, who has been at the helm of DCC for a marathon 29 years, somewhat distort these figures.

On the other hand, 34-year-old Gene Murtagh of Kingspan, and bankers David Drumm of Anglo Irish and Eugene Sheehy of AIB stepped into the top job during 2005.

Most CEOs or executive chairmen have done their time in the company before leading it. The average length of time spent working for the company is 19 and a half years.

As ever, all 20 bosses are men. It may be total coincidence that a quarter of them fall under the star sign of Taurus, the bull, often described as stubborn and materialistic! And more than a third are Leos or Scorpios, noted for being attention-seeking and strong-willed.

Eighteen months ago, it was clear that a commerce degree in UCD or law in Trinity was the way to the top. This is no longer the trend. Among this year's appointments, Gene Murtagh holds a degree in business studies from the University of Limerick. David Drumm joined Deloitte and Touche aged 18 and became a chartered accountant.

And Eugene Sheehy is an AIB lifer who joined straight out of school. After 20 years in the bank, he was appointed manager of the AIB Phibsborough branch in 1993, which was around the same time as he gained an MSc in organisational behaviour from Trinity.

Nevertheless, private schools including Blackrock College, Belvedere, and Clongowes produced more than a quarter of Ireland's top bosses. Six out of 20 are accountants, and five have a legal background. Just three out of 20 hold an MBA.

While the vast majority of Irish bosses were educated in Ireland, more than half have spent time working abroad. Elan's Kelly Martin has worked in the US and Japan, while Eircom's Phil Nolan spent time in the US, UK and Australia. Gene Murtagh worked in Germany and the Netherlands in the Nineties, David Went worked in Saudi Arabia, and bankers Goggin, Drumm and Sheehy have all worked on the US east coast.

Individually the leading CEOs are as follows:

Eugene Sheehy AIB AIB's Eugene Sheehy only took over less than two months ago. He's aged 51, but has been with AIB for 34 years. Before he became the boss he was chairman and CEO of mid-Atlantic division, M&T Bank.

He was educated at the Salesian College, Limerick, and has an MSc in organisational behaviour from TCD. His salary is not clear but his predecessor, Michael Buckley, earned a total of ?1.44m in 2004. He is still house-hunting, having just returned from the US. He is married with two children.

David Drumm Anglo Irish Bank The Anglo boss is also a relative newcomer. Aged 38 he has been eight months in the job and 12 years with Anglo. Prior to his latest appointment he was head of banking, Dublin and the US. He spent six years in Boston expanding Anglo Irish's business there. Details of his salary are unavailable, but his predecessor, Sean FitzPatrick, earned a total of ?2.7m in 2004. Drumm lives in Malahide and is married with two daughters.

Brian Goggin BoI Brian Goggin has been 14 months in charge at the Bank of Ireland. Aged 53, he has been with the bank for 35 years. A certified accountant, he pocketed a total salary of ?1.9m in 2004/5. Born in Cork, he lives in Foxrock, Co Dublin, and is married with three children.

Liam O'Mahony CRH The CRH head honcho is 59 this year and has been in charge for five years, having been with the company for 34 years. He was educated at De La Salle, Waterford, followed by engineering and MBA degrees in UCC, and a law degree at TCD.

His salary last year was ?2.04m but with performance bonuses kicking in in 2005 he promises to be the best-paid CEO this year. He lives in Sutton, Co Dublin, and is married with two sons.

Jim Flavin DCC Flavin is the most enduring of the CEOs. Aged 62, he has been in his job for 29 years. He was educated at Blackrock College and UCD and is a chartered accountant. Last year his salary was ?1.3m. He is married with four children.

Phil Nolan Eircom The Eircom boss is aged 51 and has been manning the phones for three-and-a-half years. Prior to that he was CEO of Lattice Group plc and CEO of Transco, British Gas's pipeline business.

Educated at St Michael's, Enniskillen, he followed up with a BSc and PhD at Queen's University Belfast, and an MBA at London Business School. In 2004 he was paid a total of ?1.29m at Eircom. He is married and has two sons.

Kelly Martin Elan The drug company boss has been through the wars this year. He is 46 and has held the management reins at Elan for two-and-a-half years. He has a degree in politics from Princeton University.

His salary in 2004 was $858,000 (?697,500). He lives in New York and is married with five children.

David McCann Fyffes McCann's profile has risen as a result of the long Fyffes/DCC court case. He is 47 and has been working with the family firm for 19 years. He has a law degree from UCD, and practised law in Dublin before joining Fyffes. His salary was ?831,000 in 2004. He lives in Dublin.

Michael Chadwick Grafton The CEO of the Grafton Group is 54 and has been in control for 20 years. He has an MSc from Trinity College. His salary topped ?744,000 in 2004 He lives in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, and is married with one child.

John Moloney Glanbia Four years in charge of Glanbia, John Moloney is 50 and joined the then-Waterford Foods Group in 1987. Educated at Summerhill College, Co Sligo, and at UCC and UCG and at the University of Navarra, Barcelona. His salary in 2004 was ?748,000. He lives in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, and is married with two sons.

"When I graduated," he says, "my father advised me 'a degree is only a licence to practise, you must keep learning'. That and 'Go with change' are good career tips."

David Dilger Greencore Dilger has been a decade in charge of Greencore. Aged 48, he has been only the second CEO in the firm's history. Dilger went to Clongowes Wood College, in Co Kildare. He has a degree in law from Trinity and is a chartered accountant. Last year he was paid ?966,000. He lives in Killiney and is married with three daughters and one son. When it comes to giving tips, Dilger won't give anything away. "I clearly am not a believer in career plans," he told the Financial Times earlier this year.

Owen Killian IAWS He has been with the company for a quarter century, and has been CEO for the best part of two years. He was educated at St Aloysius College, Athlone, and has a degree in agricultural science. In the year 2003/4 he was paid a total of ?997,000. Killian comes from Co Roscommon but now lives in Castleknock. He is married with children.

Sir Anthony O'Reilly INM The Independent News and Media boss is aged 69. He bought control of what is now INM in 1973. He became executive chairman in 2000, and CEO last year. Educated at Belvedere College and UCD, he got a PhD degree from the University of Bradford. His salary at INM last year was ?1.3m. He lives at Castlemartin, Co Kildare. He is married with three sons and three daughters.

David Went IL&P The CEO of Irish Life and Permanent and is aged 58. He has been six years in control of the group. He was educated at High School and took a degree in law at Trinity and studied at the King's Inns. His salary was ?1.02m in 2004. He lives in Rathmichael, Co Dublin, and is married with a son and a daughter.

He drives a 2004 Saab convertible and his tip for getting to the top is on-the-job training. He says the best training he received was at his time at Citibank in Dublin, learning from Des Doyle, Michael Meagher and Jim Farrell. "Concentrate on the job you've got; don't think about the next one," he counsels.

Pat McCann JurysDoyle McCann has been boss of the Jurys Doyle hotel group for five years. He is 53 and has worked in Jurys Doyle for six years, winding up as group operations director, before moving to the top job. He went to school in Ballymote, Co Sligo, and earned a total ?786,000 in salary in 2004. He lives in Leopardstown, Co Dublin, and is married with a son and a daughter.

Hugh Friel Kerry Friel took over from the legendary Denis Brosnan at the Kerry Group over three years ago. Aged 61, he has been with Kerry since its foundation. He went to St Eunan's, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, and followed that with a B Comm at NUI Galway. In 2004 his salary was ?1.15m. He lives in Tralee and is married with four children.

Gene Murtagh Kingspan Gene is a relatively new man at Kingspan. Aged just 34, he has taken over the top job from his father. He has been 11 years at the company and was chief operating officer until last year. His secondary education took place at Gormanston College, followed by a BBS at the University of Limerick. His current salary is not clear but his dad took home ?980,000 in 2004. He lives in Dundalk and is married with three children.

John O'Reilly Paddy Power The bookies' group CEO is 55. He has been in the job for three years and with the company for 17 years. O'Reilly went to Blackrock College. He is a chartered accountant and last year pocketed a salary of ?883,000. He lives in Dundrum, Co Dublin, and is married with two children.

Michael O'Leary Ryanair O'Leary has been in control for 11 years but is still only 44. He is another Clongowes boy and he went to Trinity, although he didn't graduate. He is an accountant. His Ryanair salary was ?641,000 in 2004. He was born in Cork and now lives in Mullingar. He is married to Anita.

Liam Fitzgerald United Drug The chief executive at United Drug is 40 years old and has been in control of the firm for five years, since he took over from Jerry Liston. In 2004, his salary from the pharmaceutical company - including the all-important bonuses and benefits - was ?495,000.

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business