Support for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland in London
Garrett Hayes, partner at McDermott Will & Emery and member of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s Leadership Circle
We are hugely grateful for the support of London-based Irish business people and entrepreneurs over the past two decades. It has been invaluable in allowing Social Entrepreneur Ireland to deliver on our mission of accelerated social change through the power of people.
Earlier this month (16th November) we were delighted to co-host a special event at McDermott Will & Emery’s London office. The event brought together stalwarts of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, as well as new faces, and was themed around the role leaders play in accelerated social change.
Leadership in Action – Introducing the Panel
(Left to right) – Tim Griffiths, Mamobo Ogoro, Dame Kathryn McDowell, Conor O’Shea
Following a warm welcome from Garrett Hayes, partner at McDermott Will & Emery and member of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s Leadership Circle of supporters, our CEO Tim Griffiths introduced the panel who spoke about their leadership experiences in three very different fields.
Conor O’Shea, esteemed former Irish international rugby player is now the Executive Director of Performance Rugby at the England Rugby Football Union was joined by Dame Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, originally from Belfast, and Mamobo Ogoro, founder and CEO of GORM and current Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Changing Ireland Accelerator Awardee.
A Fireside Chat on Social Change and Growing up in Ireland
The fireside chat began with reflections from each of the speakers on the Ireland they grew up in. Dame Kathryn spoke to the experience of those who grew up in Northern Ireland: “even though people had their divisions, and there were problems in those societies, there was a generosity of spirit and a willingness to be to help one another at a local level, which I think is something that we are still looking to find in many communities these days.”
Mamobo shared her experience of moving from Nigeria to Wexford. Reflecting on her childhood, Mamobo explained “In the early nineties, Ireland kind of went from a country that people would leave, to a country that people would come into. So, my family were among those people that actually came to Ireland. There were a lot of situations that I had growing up myself, and from those situations I grew curious as to why prejudice exists in society.”
Lessons in Leadership
Each speaker kindly shared their unique insights and lessons learned from their time in leadership positions with the audience. Conor spoke about the importance of getting away from the desk and speaking to everyone in the organisation, focusing on their ideas and concerns. His personal anecdote came from his move to Italy as the national coach and a colleague asked him whom he thought was the most important person on the team? The answer, we learned, is the kitman. He told the audience “the players tell the kitman everything, they tell him their problems, they tell him if they’re happy and they tell them which coach is bad!”.
Conor O’Shea, Former Irish international rugby player and Executive Director of Performance Rugby at the England Rugby Football Union
Focusing on the present and looking into the future, the leaders pondered the biggest social challenges today and into the future.
Dame Kathryn noted that “there are a lot of wobbles that came out of the pandemic period and we’re not going to be through them successfully for some time”. This was echoed by the panel with Conor highlighting the serious mental health challenges facing society, exacerbated by the relentless intrusion of social media and the negativity which accompanies that.. Looking positively into the future, Mamobo explained that there are “different types of leadership for different communities and we need to start understanding how we can see those leaderships at the very beginning and bring them along to really make that social impact and the change we want to see.”
The conversation closed with many positive reactions and comments from the audience. One such comment came from Tommy Breen, Chair of the Board of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. Tommy shed light on how the support of leaders such as Conor, Kathryn and Mamobo, in addition to the Leadership Circle in London has enabled Social Entrepreneurs Ireland to go from strength to strength:
“The work of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has resonated with the business community where it’s not just giving a donation to solve a problem but to support someone who has an idea. It is inspiring to see so many people around Ireland coming up with ideas and bringing about real change.”
Many thanks to Garrett Hayes and his team at the MWE London offices for being our hosts for the night and for the speakers for giving so freely of their time and their thoughts to inspire and move those who attended. We hope to present more engaging conversations and opportunities for reflection on the themes of leadership, social change and looking to the future during 2024.
Please feel free to get in touch with any of our Development Team if you would like to donate to support our work or have any suggestions for future events, speakers and themes.