Darden Executive Education and UCD Smurfit Executive Development launched what both organizations hope to be a long-term partnership with the development and delivery of a custom program for Irish executives focused on “Building a Growth Enterprise,” which ran over two modules in September and October 2018.

The first module, held in Dublin at Smurfit’s facility, focused on personal leadership and a leader’s role in identifying and contributing to a firm’s growth strategy in a changing economic and technological landscape. Module two was held at Darden’s new facility in Rosslyn, VA with a focus on the key challenges facing advanced economies, corporate venturing and building and managing a growth enterprise, integrating analysis and data into decision making processes, design thinking, and strategy execution.

During their residency at Darden in Rosslyn, the participants were invited guests of the Irish Ambassador to the US, Daniel Mulhall, to mark the bicentennial celebration of Frederick Douglass’ birth.

Though he started life enslaved in Maryland, Douglass escaped to the relative safety of Massachusetts in 1837, in his early twenties. Two years later, he had established himself as a gifted abolitionist orator. By 1845, to avoid bounty-hungry ‘slave-catchers’ he left the states for a lecture tour of the British Isles. He cited his four months in Ireland in the 1840’s as a transformational experience, including his relationship with the great emancipator and leader Daniel O’Connell.

The program was both practical and experiential, with industry speakers, assessments and coaching, peer learning activities, a wellness component that included pilates in Dublin and rowing in D.C., and a company project challenge that executives worked on between and after the face to face modules.

The diversity of organizations, industries and experiences of the cohort contributed greatly to the learning. The active learning approach meant that the perspectives of an Aer Lingus executive rubbed up against those of an executive at the Central Bank of Ireland and were built on by executives in a talent solutions organization or a tech company specializing in disruptive lighting and imaging for the subsea market.

We’re looking forward to continuing the collaboration with Smurfit – the exchange of ideas and approaches that will enhance both EE groups work and the learning opportunities for future Irish and American executives.