“If you really want to help society, you have to figure out a way to share all the lessons that you’ve learned.”
– Tim Ryan
Congratulations to all our honorees on this the 20th anniversary of our Wall Street 50.
Some things have changed in the 20 years since we began to explore the relationship between the Irish and our steady ascent in the financial sector. For example, our first list, published in 1998, had just one Irish-born person but today a whopping 22 percent of our 50 were born in Ireland.
The 1998 list only had three women while today the total is up to 14. Tim Ryan talks about how when he started out at PwC, the lone woman supervisor had to work harder than the men to continually prove herself. He never forgot that time with her.
The first in his family to go to college, Tim was something of an outsider in the financial world, then still the bastion of the elite where many jobs were handed down, father to son. That experience, being different, being the “Other,” inspired him to put diversity front and center in his role as leader of some 50,000 employees. Tim encourages his people to have open dialogues in the workplace and discuss, among other issues, race and gender. He has inspired other CEOs to follow his example and make the same pledge to their organization.
Like Tim, so many of our honorees believe strongly in giving back to their communities. The contributions of one of our honorees, Suni Harford are of special note. Suni, whose ancestors are from Tipperary, helped formalize Citi’s successful veterans’ initiative, CitiSalutes, in 2009. She went on to be a founding member of Veterans on Wall Street in 2010. For those efforts she recently received the Outstanding Civilian Service Award from the U.S. Army. Way to go Suni!
It’s not just the veterans of today’s wars that need help. Ken Burns’s new documentary on Vietnam brings to mind the many young Irish-Americans who fought and died in this brutal conflict. Private Michael Coyne tells his story of that war in this issue. He’s still haunted by his time there, as are so many others.
“No one wins in war,” a Viet Cong soldier tells Burns. In another documentary examined in this issue, the focus is on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Alex Gibney’s No Stone Unturned, takes us back to village of Louginisland, County Down where, in 1994, an innocent group of Catholics watching a football game on TV in a local pub were gunned down. No one was ever charged with their murders.
Gibney’s documentary is reminder of how much we owe the Irish Americans who helped ignite the peace process. One of them was Denis Kelleher, the Kerryman, who was on our first Wall Street list. He started in the mailroom in Merrill Lynch and worked his way up to great success. Today, his son Sean runs Wall Street Access, the firm founded by his father, and we are proud to have Sean on our list of honorees.
In honor of Denis we bring you a picture essay on Kerry, one of the most beautiful counties of all. In truth, wherever you land in Ireland, you will find plenty to see and explore; it seems that history is ever present. In the midst of all the beautiful landscape are many reminders of our long struggle under British colonization. One such marker is the Treaty Stone in Limerick.
No one knows better the consequences of broken treaties, than the Irish. It was the broken Treaty of Limerick, that gave us the “Wild Geese” and scattered us to the four corners of the world. It was a broken treaty that caused the Battle of Little Bighorn. Sitting Bull and his warriors may have won the day, but the retaliation by U.S. military was swift and cruel, and decimated the Native Americans. You can read about it in this issue.
Adam Farley’s interview with Tim Ryan gave me pause to think about how in manifesting our own destiny we impacted the destiny of others, such as the Native Americans. Then there is America’s original sin, slavery, its legacy everywhere today especially in cities.
As Native-Americans and African-Americans continue to suffer, the Irish have gone on to climb to greater heights, as our Wall Street 50 list shows. We could do worse that to reach out and say, “Tabhair dom do lámh” (give me your hand).
President John F. Kennedy famously said, “One man can make a difference and every man should try.” Tim Ryan is one man who has made a huge difference and we could not have picked a better person for our 20th Anniversary Wall Street 50 cover.