Celebrating the 18th Annual
Wall Street 50 (Photos)
By Adam Farley, Editorial Assistant
October 2, 2015
On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Irish America magazine celebrated the 18th Annual Wall Street 50 Awards Dinner at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan. The Wall Street 50 recognizes the most exciting and innovative Irish American and Irish-born leaders in finance, profiled in the October/November 2015 issue of Irish America.
Shaun Kelly, KPMG’s Chief Operating Officer, Americas, delivered the Keynote Speech, a poignant, funny (there were dad jokes), and politically relevant discussion of what it means to come from the North during the troubles, and what that has meant for his career trajectory
A west Belfast native, Kelly joined KPMG International’s Irish member firm in Dublin in 1980 and transferred to the San Francisco office in 1984. He was admitted to the U.S. partnership in 1999. Through his various leadership roles and his extensive work serving a broad range of significant U.S. companies, which span a number of industries, Kelly has keen insights regarding marketplace trends and the business issues companies face in today’s environment.
In speech, Kelly described growing up in the North during the troubles, the influence of Seamus Heaney, the influence his father’s work ethic had on his life, and gave a shout out to the Irish national rugby world cup team. He also talked about the qualities generally associated with the Irish, and how they’ve allowed the Irish to succeed in finance and what economic stability contributed to the peace process.
“Since the 17th century financial services have been the backbone of the economy of this city. And the role of the Irish and Irish Americans has been critical to that success,” Kelly said.
“I read once that your weaknesses are your strengths overused. And one of the strengths of the Irish is we’re diplomats. We build consensus. But, I googled it, and we’re also notoriously indirect. We will never criticize, unless you’re really successful,” he said, with a wink. “We’re talkative; we’re inquisitive; we’re humble, most of the time. We put a lot of faith in family.”
“And I think that’s linked to our entrepreneurial spirit…. That ability to generate economic activity is what really solidified the peace process. When people have jobs and they see a future for their families, They tend not to be bothered to shoot the other guy.”
Kelly was introduced by Ambassador Anne Anderson, the Irish Ambassador to the United States, who praised Kelly’s kindness, linking it to a greater Irish quality. “The compassion gene is part of our DNA, something imprinted through our long, and often very sad history,” she said.
“In everything [Shaun] does, diversity and inclusiveness are the watchwords,” she said.
Patricia Harty, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Irish America, and Niall O’Dowd, founding publisher, presented Kelly with the Keynote Speaker Award, a House of Waterford Crystal Colleen Vase.
Singers Mary Deady and Ciarán Sheehan also performed for the crowded room. Deady sang two songs from her one-woman show My Love Is a Wonderer, Song for Ireland and “I Happen to Like New York.” Sheehan, an Irish tenor and Broadway performer, closed out the evening with two musical numbers, “Bring Him Home,” from Les Misérables, and “Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera.
Among the honorees in attendance were Patrick Corry, managing director and chief marketing officer for UBS; Shane Clifford, EVP and head of U.S. Business Development for Permal Group; Barbara Koster, SVP and CIO for Prudential Financial; Martin Kehoe of PwC, and Conor Murphy, SVP and CFO of European Operations at MetLife.
In addition to Ambassador Anderson, attendees of the event included Irish Consul General of New York Barbara Jones, president, chairman, and CEO of Mutual of America Tom Moran, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Tourism Ireland EVP US and Canada Alison Metcalfe, UCD Michael Smurfitt Graduate Business School head Tony Condon, CIE Tours CEO and Irish America Hall of Fame inductee Brian Stack, and Kyle Clifford of the American Ireland Fund, and Invest NI’s Andrea Haughian and Gary Hanley.
The 2015 Irish America Wall Street 50 Awards Dinner is sponsored by: Invest Northern Ireland, Mutual of America, Guinness, The Coca-Cola Company, Tourism Ireland, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, CIE Tours International, The American Ireland Fund, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, House of Waterford Crystal, and 1-800-Flowers.com. ♦