Founded as the Faculty of Commerce, the Business School’s history stretches back over 150 years, to the formation of UCC. Since this time, our diverse, global and high achieving alumni have engaged in every field of business. From Finance, Food Business, to Accounting, Economics and Business Information Systems, we are proud to see our graduates fulfilling their potential and we seek to engage them in a continuous dialogue about Life in Business.
As we actively pursue accreditation and take our place among the top 50 Business Schools in Europe, we are committed to proactively engaging our alumni, telling their story and how the Business School put them on the road to success.
Read our first alumni profile below with Andrew Keating, Bank of Ireland CFO and a proud member of the UCC BComm class of 1992.
Tell me a bit about your time at UCC and your career to date
I did the Bachelor of Commerce at UCC between 1988-1992. UCC was the only choice for me because my Dad worked as a technician in the Biochemistry Department of UCC for 50 years. We lived just off College Road and UCC was like our front garden. Mum went back and graduated with a Masters from UCC at the age of 71. I would describe myself as having my mum’s brains and my dad’s determination.
I was always interested in a career in accounting and business, so after graduating in 1992, I completed a Masters in Accounting and subsequently joined Arthur Andersen in Dublin. I spent four years with the company, made some fantastic lifelong friends, travelled to Brisbane for six months, and was awarded a gold medal for taking first in the FAE exams. I then spent seven years across different finance roles with Ulster Bank, before joining Bank of Ireland. About 6 years ago I joined the board and was appointed as Group Chief Financial Officer.
The first year that I was reporting as CFO, we reported a loss of 1.5billion euro. As a counterpoint to this, last month we announced our results for 2017 and a profit of 1 billion euro. We also declared our first dividend in 10 years, and the beneficiaries of this include the State as they constitute 14% of our shareholders.
In your career to date, what has been your proudest achievement?
Without a doubt, it would have to be repaying and rewarding the State’s investment in Bank of Ireland and restructuring the Bank with the objective of ensuring that the banking crisis will not happen again.
Everybody deeply regretted that the Bank’s financial condition was such that it required the original State aid investments. However we made it our top priority to repay this investment, and Bank of Ireland has now fully repaid the State aid with a cash profit to the tax pay– at the time of the crisis the State invested 4.8 billion Euro in the bank and at this stage we have repaid over 6 billion euro, and in addition the State still hold shares worth 1 billion Euro. BOI is the largest lender to the Irish economy and over the last 4 years we have provided 20% more lending to the Irish economy than even our closest competitor in Ireland.
Given that your career has taken you around the world and you are based in Dublin, how do you stay connected with Cork and your classmates from UCC?
I am a very proud Corkman, Munster man, and a hugely proud UCC graduate. You can see in my photo that I’m wearing my UCC cufflinks!
We had our 25-year reunion for my BComm class last June 2017 in the Aula Maxima at UCC – 110 people came together and it was just a pleasure to be back. Dinner started at 6pm and eventually we were thrown off campus by security in the early hours of the morning, it was like old times!!
In terms of my association with UCC, in Oct 2016 I was invited back to speak to the graduating class for CUBS, and that speech was a very proud day for me because of my interest in giving back to UCC and in developing people.
90% of that speech was for the benefit of the students and to encourage them to Be bold, Be courageous, and to Be their absolute best.
But the last 10% of that speech was selfishly for me to publicly thank my parents, who were livestreaming that day, because without their support all the way through and in my education at UCC, I would never have achieved my professional ambitions and my personal dreams.
I am also very proud to sit on the board of the Irish Management Institute (IMI) following their recent merger with UCC and I am hugely excited by the opportunities for the IMI under Simon Boucher’s leadership.
We are issuing our first alumni newsletter to coincide with the student-organised CUBS Conference, and the theme is the Workforce of the Future. What do you think of how the workplace is changing?
This is obviously a multifaceted question. I think purpose is increasingly important to people in this era, so working for an organisation that is purposeful is very, very important.
Diversity & Intergenerational workforce – we have unprecedented opportunities for people from all backgrounds to work together. Technology – clearly technological evolution has been extraordinary and within the bank we now have a very strong robotics team. We have 100 robots who help us to add real value to the customer experience. Ironically we now even have robot supervisors who manage their robot colleagues.
Another dimension is Agility. Work today is much more focused on achievement and far less focused on where you choose to work from. On a personal level, I have chosen to role model this and I now work from home a half day a week, and it’s probably among the most productive hours of my week!
Do you see yourself, your generation, as part of a new era of leadership in Ireland?
In my role as a leader in BOI, I see this as an opportunity to support people development. What gives me a huge personal and professional satisfaction is the time and energy I put into supporting, coaching and developing my colleagues.
I see myself as a huge advocate and architect of the BOI Inclusion and Diversity programme – and there’s been a huge shift here in the past couple of years.
Within my own finance team, we have people from 25 countries around the world. This became the seed of our national initiative to celebrate diversity with an annual Multicultural Day every May.
One of the most inspiring events I’ve been at in the past few years was the day we launched the BOI LGBT+ Network and flew the rainbow flag over the House of Lords on College Green in Dublin.
After our internal network for LGBT+ was established, we became a founding member of the Fusion network which raises awareness of inclusion within the finance sector in Ireland. For the past few years Bank of Ireland proudly sponsors the Dublin Pride and Cork Pride festivals.
Another issue that is very close to my heart is gender diversity and equality. My mother was one of the generation of women who would have been forced to give up work when she got married because of ‘the marriage ban’ that existed in Ireland before 1973
In my Finance team we formally launched our Maternity charter last year which outlines the supports we provide our colleagues before, during and after maternity leave. It’s a set of commitments we have documented, signed up to and now live by to provide tangible support to our female colleague who are at a state in their personal lives where they are having families and continue to develop their professional careers. We are also in the process of setting targets to hold ourselves accountable on gender equality.
As Bank of Ireland is in every town in Ireland and is part of the fabric of Irish society, we have a responsibility to show leadership in all of these dimensions.