Sunday 8 December 2019

The Punt: Back in the Castle

Des Richardson
Des Richardson

When the Punt was a teenager it did some work experience at the Mahon Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Des Richardson took the stand that week and the Punt fondly remembers taking copious notes of everything Richardson was saying.

You'd have sworn the Tribunal would have no record of what had been said if the Punt hadn't been scribbling.

Yesterday the Punt was back at the Castle for the Department of Justice/Ibec gender equality conference, at which the charismatic Avivah Wittenberg-Cox was the keynote speaker.

A topic that kept cropping up was unconscious gender bias, about which she had some interesting thoughts.

"The danger of the unconscious bias training is it ignores the real differences between genders that require systemic change if we want gender balance.

"We need to recognise that the career cycles today of men and women are not exactly the same. If you start identifying and promoting high-potential people between 30 and 35, that is not going to serve the majority of women or men who want to do any parenting hands on."

Ex-Irish Life player scores

Former Irish Life employee David O'Brien has hit the back of the net, landing a big promotion at reinsurance giant Scor Global Life.

O'Brien has been named head of global financial and longevity solutions, one of four major appointments made by the group yesterday. He'll be based in London.

O'Brien joined Irish Life in 1989, holding a number of actuarial roles before leaving in 1998.

He then began a jet-setting career, heading off to South Africa to take up a role with a global reinsurer there and becoming its head of life and health reinsurance business in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

After four years there, he headed to the United States, where he joined Transamerica Reinsurance, eventually becoming its chief pricing actuary in 2006.

He then joined Lehman Brothers as a senior vice president (the firm collapsed in 2008) before returning to Transamerica Reinsurance's unit in 2008 as senior vice president of business development.

On joining, he was described by the firm's president as being among the "best and brightest in our industry".

In 2010 he moved to Singapore to lead Transamerica Reinsurance's Asia-Pacific business. Scor then acquired Transamerica Reinsurance in 2011.

Forgetting lessons learnt

Ted Snyder, the head of Yale's School of Management, has been in Dublin over the last few days along with colleagues from other business schools as part of the Global Network for Advanced Management meeting.

It's a grouping of some of the world's top business schools that includes UCD's Smurfit school.

Snyder, who was appointed as head of the school of management in March 2011, said students and faculty at some of the top business schools are focusing more on risk as a result of the global financial crisis. That's not terribly surprising, given what the financial world has gone through.

Indeed, it would probably be more of a shock if they weren't.

An interesting titbit he recalled during a conversation with this newspaper yesterday was that Timothy Geithner, the former US Treasury Secretary, visited Yale's management school last week and reflected on the crisis. And by all accounts his contribution was an interesting one.

"He was very candid. He basically said we weren't ready, we didn't know what was coming, we didn't know when it hit how to react," Snyder said.

"But now the interesting question is, how long will people stay tuned?"

That's a crucial question, and it could be argued that it's an increasingly relevant one, not just for the business world. John McHale, the head of the Fiscal Advisory Council, suggested this week that mounting political pressures risk leading us down the path of past mistakes.

Snyder hit the nail on the head yesterday. "It's amazing how people forget about risk, and policy makers lose their touch," he said.

 

Irish Independent

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