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IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh was keynote speaker at the PKF-FPM Annual Leadership Talk, Management Month initiative held in association with the Ulster University Business School, at the Belfast Campus on Tuesday 9 February 2016.

Originally from Dublin, and now based in London, Willie Walsh began his career as a cadet pilot with Aer Lingus in 1979, subsequently becoming its Chief Executive in October 2001, just as the full impact of the 9/11 terror attacks on the aviation industry was being felt.  At the age of 43, in 2005, he joined British Airways as Chief Executive Officer.

International Airlines Group (IAG) was formed in 2011 with Willie Walsh as Chief Executive when British Airways merged with Spanish carrier Iberia.  Since then it has acquired bmi, which was integrated into British Airways, Spanish airline Vueling and Aer Lingus.  IAG is one of the world’s largest airline groups with 525 aircraft flying to 255 destinations and carrying more than 96 million passengers each year.

During the one hour conversation with broadcaster Gerry Kelly, Willie’s ambition for IAG, his passion for the sector and his relentless work ethic was evident as he traced his career often through very challenging circumstances. 

Speaking at the event, which attracted a capacity audience, PKF-FPM Accountant’s Managing Director, Feargal McCormack, stated that Willie’s approach to leadership, his personal drive and his professional ambition which was shared during the in-depth discussion, was inspiring.  “Willie Walsh is one of the most well-known figures in the business sector.  His personal experience of the aviation industry at every level combined with an innate business acumen has created a modern day leader from whom we can learn a great deal.”

Professor Marie McHugh, Dean of the Ulster University Business School said, “We were delighted to work with Professor Feargal McCormack and his team at PKF-FPM in organising this now well established Annual Leadership Talk.  As a Business School that is committed to providing a professional education to prepare our students for a professional life, it was inspirational to host such a successful businessman as Willie Walsh who really does walk the talk.”