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Annual Leaders Dinner

  • Ireland
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We were delighted to host David Davis MP at our Annual Leaders dinner last night in the Merrion Hotel.

Alan Murphy, Managing Partner gave an opening address on the night. Please see the transcript below;

Opening address

"Good evening everyone and welcome.  I am delighted, on behalf of all my partners and our team at Eversheds Sutherland to welcome you to our tenth 'Annual Chief Executive Dinner'.  I am particularly pleased to welcome our guest speaker, David Davis MP and former UK Brexit Secretary.

The running order of the evening will be that after our starter and main course, I will call on Mr Davis to address the room.  Mr Davis will then be happy to take any questions you might have.

We have recently been doing a lot of work on our Values in Eversheds Sutherland and the behaviours around them and I hope that, in line with our values, we will be able to have an open, creative, professional, inclusive and collaborative discussion. Looking forward to speaking later and in the meantime, enjoy your dinner."

Speech to welcome David Davis

"And now ladies and gentlemen, we come to the main part of our evening.  I hope you have enjoyed our dinner thus far.

One of the morbidly fascinating aspects of Brexit and indeed of world politics today has been the hardening of perspectives.  A coarsening of language as recently described by Michael D O’Higgins.  Perspectives that are sometimes based on fear and prejudice but also on shared histories, sincerely held beliefs and values.  Perspectives that are apparently irreconcilable and incompatible, and so, that for so long as a particular perspective is held, no middle ground or compromise is possible.  We, here in Ireland have, I believe, a particularly unified and strong view on Brexit.  As one British newspaper recently put it: “we’re about as clear on it as knowing that we don’t want an attack of rabies!”.  And our view is not necessarily one that agrees with that of our guest speaker.

But one of the challenges for us all, both in our capacities as business leaders and as private individuals is how we might seek to avoid the hardening of perspectives.  To influence in advance of them becoming apparently irreconcilable.  Because an essential part of leadership has to be the ability to reach consensus, to bring a diverse group with us, to reach a common view which is often inevitably a compromise.  For me, an essential part of bringing others with us is to listen to their views because if we only surround ourselves with likeminded people, we will always inevitably arrive at the same decision.  And that decision will not be one of compromise and usually will not lead to a solution.  So, that is why I am very much looking forward to hearing the views of our guest speaker.  We may not necessarily agree with them but all the more reason to listen.

Another challenge of perspective is the need to be relevant.  And we all face the challenge of relevance in our respective businesses.  The need to stay relevant to all our stakeholders both internal and external.  This is something of which we are very conscious in Eversheds Sutherland and it is why we are very proud of, but not complacent about, our culture and our position in an increasingly globalised business world as Ireland’s largest international law firm with unparalleled expertise, strength and depth.  The need to be relevant obviously also strays into public life and is not without its dangers.  Because, being populist is unfortunately relevant.  Being xenophobic is unfortunately relevant and in the context of Brexit according to the Brexiteer Charles Moore of The Spectator, knowing, as he did as a child, how to lay down apples on straw strewn shelves post Brexit is relevant.

Amidst all of this though, leadership both within our businesses and in public life must be relevant.  At a time when in my view showing true leadership has never been more challenging.  I have three kids aged 15, 10 and 8 respectively.  And sometimes, when we are sitting around the kitchen table as a family, amidst the comforting banalities of “eat your broccoli” I wonder about them and I wonder for them.  I wonder are the conversations that we are having and the decisions we are making both as business leaders and as private individuals relevant to them.  Because they are, after all, the relevant generation.  The generation that will be most affected by the decisions that we make today.  And are we giving them the leadership that they deserve?  Are we being relevant?

And so Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have great pleasure in handing you over to our guest speaker, Mr David Davis."


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