Irish America Celebrates 30th Annual Business 100

Michael Flatley and Jim Clerkin hold their House of Waterford Crystal Vase awards at the 30th Annual Irish America Business 100 Awards Luncheon December 3. (Photo: Nuala Purcell)

By Irish America Staff
December 3, 2015

On Thursday, December 3, Irish America magazine celebrated the 30th annual Irish America Business 100 awards with a luncheon at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, with lead sponsor ICON, Plc. Since its inception, the Business 100 awards have sought to recognize Irish and Irish American born entrepreneurs, managers, directors, in the changing corporate environment of the U.S. Jim Clerkin, president and CEO of MoUet Hennessy North America delivered the keynote address.

With over 30 years of experience in the beer, wine and spirits industry, Jim Clerkin began his career in Ireland, where he rose through the ranks at Guinness in a variety of roles to Executive Sales Director, becoming a member of the board of directors. He joined Moët Hennessy in 2008 to take on a new role as executive vice president and chief operating officer with responsibility for global brands such as Hennessy Cognac, Moët & Chandon Champagne, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Grand Marnier and Belvedere vodka.

He was born in Rostrevor, Co. Down and has been involved with a number of charities including Co-operation Ireland where he serves as the chairman. He is the proud father of four children and resides in in Manhattan.

Speaking of his life trajectory that took him to Moët Hennessy in lower Manhattan, Clerkin spoke of his upbringing:

“I grew up on a very small farm, and I guess we were as poor as we could be, but we never knew it at the time because we always got through it all the time. And we had abundance of love. And my father had dreamt that I would come back and turn the farm into a business,” he said.

He never got there. Instead, he joined Guinness and now focuses on brands and people he said, instead of animals.

“I think it’s so important to recognize that people like myself can’t succeed unless you have a brand that you understand, appreciate, know what the DNA is, what the perception of that brand is. And then you get the right people in the right jobs.

“And certainly my father gave me a little bit of advice just before I went to Guinness. He said, ‘Listen, son, you’re a good kid, there’s no doubt about it. You work hard. But you’re not that good. You think you’re not that good. You’re going to need a lot of help. So make sure you surround yourself with the best people you can find, and make sure you put them in the right job.’ And I will tell you, I’ve been to many companies. Most of the companies I’ve had the great fortune of working with don’t have people. They’re all good people, but very often, they’re in the wrong job.”

Patricia Harty, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Irish America, and Niall O’Dowd, founding publisher, presented Clerkin with the Keynote Speaker Award, a House of Waterford Crystal Colleen Vase.

Dancer, renowned flutist, and champion boxer Michael Flatley also received a lifetime Achievement Award from Irish America. After accepting the award, he officially opened the event with a flute performance. He and his wife Niamh were special guests. Flatley is currently on Broadway in what he has said will be his final stage performances of his career in a revitalized version of Lord of the Dance, called Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, which runs through January 3. Flatley was awarded a House of Waterford Crystal Cliffs of Moher Vase.

Among the attending honorees were: Samantha Barry, Head of Social Media for CNN; Tim Connolly, Senior Vice President, Head of Distribution and Partnerships, Hulu; Tom Finn, President for Global Health Care at Procter Gamble; Kevin Kelleher, EVP and CFO for Sony Music; Bill Mullaney, Senior Advisor at Deloitte; Ciaran Murray, CEO of ICON.

Also in attendance were John Greed of Mutual of America, Ambassador Anne Anderson, Consul General Barbara Jones, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, and Kieran McLoughlin, president of the American Ireland Fund.

Irish America is pleased to thank ICON, Plc. for their lead sponsorship of the 30th Anniversary Business 100.

The magazine also gives special thanks to the annual sponsors of the event: Mutual of America, Guinness, the Coca-Cola Company, Tourism Ireland, CIE Tours International, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, The American Ireland Fund, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, Quinnipiac University, House of Waterford Crystal, and 1800Flowers.com.

For more photos from the event, see our gallery page here. ♦

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