DCU hon­ours lo­cal avi­a­tion supremo Walsh

Fingal Independent - - NEWS -

with Fer­gal Mad­dock | ed­i­to­rial@fin­gal-in­de­pen­dent.ie

FOR­MER Aer Lin­gus boss Wil­lie Walsh, who has close ties to Fin­gal, has been hon­oured by DCU for his con­tri­bu­tion to the avi­a­tion in­dus­try.

Walsh was con­ferred with an hon­orary doc­tor­ate at the univer­sity’s au­tumn grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony in recog­ni­tion of his en­trepreneurial am­bi­tion and sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the avi­a­tion in­dus­try to date.

De­liv­er­ing his ci­ta­tion, Dr Cathal Guiomard, a lec­turer in Avi­a­tion Man­age­ment at DCU’S Busi­ness School, said: ‘We are recog­nis­ing a lo­cal man who has led and con­tin­ues to lead an ex­tra­or­di­nary ca­reer in avi­a­tion…

‘As {Aer Lin­gus} CEO, he seized the op­por­tu­nity of an air­line in­dus­try that was near col­lapse fol­low­ing the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, and turned the for­tunes of the loss-mak­ing Aer Lin­gus around.

‘In ret­ro­spect, many suc­cesses look in­evitable that at the time seemed im­pos­si­ble. At the time when Wil­lie Walsh took over as its CEO, Aer Lin­gus was los­ing mil­lions of euro a day and was fac­ing rapid obliv­ion.

‘Sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant Euro­pean air­lines at that time did col­lapse. How­ever, by 2003, un­der Wil­lie’s lead­er­ship, Aer Lin­gus had be­come a bud­get air­line and was back in profit.

‘Prof­itabil­ity and vi­a­bil­ity, and cost re­duc­tions,

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where nec­es­sary, have also been themes of his ste­ward­ship of IAG. But added to these chal­lenges he also faces the more re­cent chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with Brexit, the ar­rival of the long­haul, low-cost sec­tor, the rise of global car­ri­ers based in the Mid­dle East, and, in the near fu­ture, China, as well as the need to curb harm­ful avi­a­tion emis­sions. These are chal­lenges that, even singly, most CEOS would find daunt­ing.’

In ac­cept­ing his award, Mr. Walsh said: “It is ‘a great hon­our for me to be with you to­day. This is par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant for me be­cause I grew up in this area, in fact I knew this area very well even be­fore this fan­tas­tic fa­cil­ity was ever built and I have had the plea­sure of vis­it­ing DCU on many oc­ca­sions over the years.’

Ad­dress­ing DCU’S grad­u­ates, Mr Walsh of­fered some ad­vice, stat­ing: ‘There is a very fine line be­tween be­ing cocky and be­ing con­fi­dent. Con­fi­dence in any busi­ness is clearly very im­por­tant. Ar­ro­gance and cock­i­ness is some­thing that is not very well re­spected.

‘A healthy dis­re­spect is some­thing that does set us Ir­ish apart.

‘We’re not afraid to ask ques­tions, we’re not afraid to chal­lenge, we’re not afraid to make sure that we’re do­ing things in the right way and I think that is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal in to­day’s en­vi­ron­ment.

‘So as you leave to­day’s es­tab­lish­ment and take with you the ex­pe­ri­ence that you have had here and the ex­pe­ri­ence that will stand to you in life, work and fu­ture ca­reers, don’t be afraid to chal­lenge, and don’t be afraid to ask that awk­ward ques­tion. Ed­u­ca­tion gives you the abil­ity to chal­lenge, the abil­ity to dis­cern dif­fer­ence from right or wrong, and the con­fi­dence to ask ques­tions.’

In clos­ing the cer­e­mony, Pro­fes­sor Brian Mac­Craith, Pres­i­dent of DCU, con­grat­u­lated Wil­lie Walsh and wel­comed him to the DCU fam­ily.

‘The award of an hon­orary doc­tor­ate by DCU is not only recog­ni­tion of out­stand­ing achieve­ment in a par­tic­u­lar field, but it’s a pub­lic state­ment of the prin­ci­pals and pri­or­i­ties of the univer­sity. The out­stand­ing achieve­ments by Wil­lie Walsh are plain to see and are strongly aligned with DCU’S own strate­gic fo­cus on the avi­a­tion sec­tor.

‘Three years ago we were de­lighted to part­ner with Dublin’s Air­port Author­ity to es­tab­lish the Dublin Avi­a­tion In­sti­tute to take a proac­tive role in ad­dress­ing the crit­i­cal is­sues fac­ing this in­dus­try in terms of skilled per­son­nel, ca­reer pro­gres­sion, suc­ces­sion plan­ning and the de­mand for ed­u­ca­tional train­ing,’ Pro­fes­sor Mc­craith added..

Pic­tured are Brian Mac­craith, Pres­i­dent, DCU; Wil­lie Walsh and Dr Mar­tin Mcaleese at Dublin City Univer­sity.

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