Aer Lingus and Total Produce Chiefs honoured as UCD Business Alumni of the Year

Date: 31 Mar 2017


Dublin, Friday, March 31st 2017. Stephen Kavanagh and Rory Byrne are to be honoured this evening at the UCD Business Alumni of the Year 2017 awards dinner at the InterContinental Hotel, Dublin.

Kavanagh and Byrne join a list of prominent business graduates of UCD’s Smurfit graduate and Quinn undergraduate schools who have previously been honoured, including Breege O’Donoghue, former Director, Primark; Aidan Brady, former CEO, Citibank Europe plc and former Citi Country Officer, Ireland; Siobhan Talbot, Group CEO, Glanbia plc; Caroline Casey, CEO, Kanchi; Alan Ennis, former CEO, Revlon Group and current CEO of Glansaol; Patrick Kennedy, former CEO, Paddy Power; Senator Feargal Quinn, founder of Superquinn; Gina Quin, President, National College Ireland; Aidan Heavey, CEO, Tullow Oil; Michael Carey, Managing Director, East Coast Bakehouse and former CEO of Jacob Fruitfield; Tony Garry, former CEO, Davy Stockbrokers; Liam Fitzgerald, former CEO, United Drug, and Vivienne Jupp, former partner at Accenture, amongst others.

Pictured l-r: Stephen Kavanagh, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Rory Byrne

The UCD Quinn and Smurfit Alumni Awards, which have been running since 1991, recognise alumni who have demonstrated proven leadership skills and notable achievements in business, whether in Ireland or abroad.

Speaking of this year’s winners, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Dean, UCD Business, said, “For more than 100 years, we have led the way in educating future business leaders many of whom have gone on to have transformative careers in business in Ireland and abroad. UCD Quinn and Smurfit have been proudly honouring and celebrating the outstanding achievements of our graduates for over 25 years, since the inception of the ‘Alumni of the Year’ awards in 1991. We are delighted this year to be celebrating the achievements of two exceptional alumni, Rory Byrne and Stephen Kavanagh as ‘Alumni of the Year 2017’. Both have vast business experience and are passionate about the food produce and aviation sectors respectively. Both Rory and Stephen have each demonstrated extraordinary leadership within their organisations and are exemplars of internationalisation from and for Ireland. The characteristics which they exemplify continue to inspire future business leaders and students. We at UCD Quinn and Smurfit Schools are enormously proud of their achievements which we are pleased to celebrate through these awards, and we wish them continued success in their careers.”

The Alumni of the Year Awards Dinner 2017 is sponsored by Icon Plc and all profits raised will be donated to the UCD College of Business Centennial Scholarship Fund, supporting the next generation of business leaders.

UCD Smurfit School 'Alumnus of the Year'
Stephen Kavanagh, MBS 1991
Chief Executive Officer, Aer Lingus

Stephen Kavanagh was appointed Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Aer Lingus on 1st March 2015. Mr Kavanagh joined Aer Lingus and undertook a variety of roles in operational and commercial departments culminating in his appointment as a member of the executive in 2006. As Chief Commercial Officer, Stephen led the re-positioning of the airline’s network strategy, which transformed Aer Lingus’s transatlantic business, significantly expanded the network reach and underpinned the growth in profitability that Aer Lingus has enjoyed over the last six years. Stephen’s leadership of Aer Lingus within IAG continues to focus on bringing consistent and affordable product to market that is driven by the voice of its guests. 

Stephen is a graduate of University College Dublin. He was awarded a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1990 and subsequently completed a post graduate degree in Business Studies receiving a Master of Business Studies degree in 1991. 
Stephen lives in Dublin with his partner Clodagh and their two sons.

UCD Quinn School 'Alumnus of the Year'
Rory Byrne, BComm 1980
Chief Executive Officer, Total Produce Plc.

Rory Byrne is Chief Executive Officer of Total Produce Plc. Listed on the Dublin and London Stock Exchanges, Total Produce is one of the world’s largest and most accomplished fresh produce providers and Europe’s market leader. Operating out of 23 countries while serving many more, Total Produce‘s global infrastructure of over 120 facilities extends across Europe, India and North America. Growing, sourcing, importing, packaging, marketing and distributing over 300 lines of fresh produce, Total Produce’s turnover is over €3.5bn with the group employing over 5,500 people.

Rory joined PWC in 1980 before moving to KPMG in 1984 to participate in their international development program and spent two years in the United States and two more as a manager in their Dublin office. In 1988 he joined Fyffes plc. Rory has since garnered extensive experience across the global fresh produce industry, having held a number of senior positions within Fyffes including Finance Director of the Group’s UK business and Managing Director of its Spanish operations. In 2002 he was appointed Managing Director of the Fyffes Plc General Produce division before assuming the position of Executive Director in 2006.

With the formation of Total Produce plc on demerger from Fyffes in January 2007, Rory was appointed the group’s Chief Executive Officer. Over the subsequent ten years the group has doubled its size to become one of the world’s largest fresh produce company’s extending its geographic reach into India, Brazil and North America With a demonstrable track record in successful acquisition led expansion, Rory’s managerial philosophy is predicated on the conviction that, in bringing together the collective resources and core competencies of diverse companies worldwide, the global consumer can best be served- with empowered local management delivering the best of both worlds; the resources of a global multi-national alongside the local experience of on-the ground experts in key markets globally.

Rory was awarded a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University College Dublin in 1980 and he is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. In 2001 he was appointed Honorary Consul General for Ireland for the regions of Castellon, Valencia, Alicante and Murcia in Spain.



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