Mark Redmond is ‘energised, humbled and inspired’ as he prepares to step away from the American Chamber of Commerce after a decade

Cillian Boggan

Having been appointed as Chief Executive of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland in 2014, Mark Redmond has announced that he will step down from that role in March 2024.
Mark Redmond recently announced that he would step down as the Chief Executive of the American Chamber of Commerce. Having spent a decade in the job, he leads an organisation tasked with serving as the voice for over 900 US companies in Ireland that directly employ over 200,000 people. Now, Redmond speaks exclusively with Cilian Boggan.

The American Chamber of Commerce Ireland or rather AmCham’s headquarters is situated within an unassuming Georgian Building at Wilton Place in a peaceful area of Dublin City. It’s a matter of metres from Linkedin’s shining and glittering beacon of a European headquarters. It is a coincidental physical embodiment of the impact of the work for which AmCham has become renowned for. 

The organisation was founded in 1961, two years before “the real turning point” in June, 1963 when President Kennedy became the first sitting US president to make a state visit to Ireland and came to tell us that in Redmond’s words: “You guys have arrived, you have taken your place among the nations of the earth, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. Nothing.”

Definitely not retiring

“Just for the record, I am not retiring. I am leaving this organisation after 10 amazing years and then I’m going to set up my own coaching advisory practice. So that is my step which I am excited about. It was a tough decision and it’s one that I have thought very deeply about… A tough call, but the right call.”

Having previously spent 10 years as Chief Executive of the Irish Tax Institute before taking up his role with AmCham, his departure would appear similar. But this is not a decision one can arrive alone.

“My wife and I have been discussing this now for quite some time. A decision like this is a family and mutual decision.

“When you’re given the opportunity, and indeed humbled with the privilege to have a job like I have, you’ve also got to be big enough to say when it’s time for somebody else to do it as well. There is probably a moment when you say, ‘we could do more together and I know I would enjoy it,’ but I also know it’s probably good for the organisation too to have a new person as Chief Executive.”

Redmond doesn’t take excessive pride in leading the organisation as Chief Executive, at the end of the day, he’s a team member at AmCham. His relationship with Higher Education is pretty extensive. A graduate from Trinity College, a two – time graduate from Dublin City University and a former member of UCD’s Governing Authority. Despite leaving Trinity with a BA in English & History, the obvious route of second level teaching was not one Redmond pursued.

“My daughter is just starting her Masters in Astrophysics now. When she graduated in the UK, she gave back for two years. There’s a programme called ‘teach first’ where on graduation you can volunteer to teach in a socio disadvantaged school. Tough, but she’s glad she did it. I do think it would be awesome if somebody could say, ‘I’d like to teach for two years,’ and be facilitated to do that.”

When he was the inaugural appointee to the office of Director of Education & Research in the Irish Tax Institute, he decided to return to DCU as a mature student. That proved to be a formative experience.

“Just a great two years, learned loads, made some great friends and really opened my mind. And actually, very influential in my decision now because it was education and training management. You learn a lot about yourself, a lot about people development, a lot about leadership development and I know that’s been very significant in my decision now as to what to do next.” 

The Importance of Shamrock

“It is incredible to me that there is only one country in the World that is guaranteed a bilateral meeting every year in the oval office of the White House. That’s a country with 0.06% of the world population, Ireland. That is true for both a Republican presidency and a Democratic presidency.”

Redmond stresses this point because Trump’s term as president was sandwiched between that of President Obama and President Biden, whose respective state visits to Ireland in 2011 and 2023 were phenomenal successes’. But Redmond was in the room when President Trump welcomed Leo Varadkar to the White House and said Varadkar was made to feel “valued as an equal.”

“When Taoiseach Varadkar met President Trump in the White House, that morning he was hosted by Vice President Mike Pence. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in front of the world’s media told VP Pence, that if he Varadkar was who he truly is in the Ireland of yesterday, he would be committing a crime.

“As the first openly gay premier of the Irish Republic, that was an incredibly powerful statement.

“Now I took that statement and I brought it with me to New York, two days later. And there were tears in that room because at that stage gay people were feeling extremely uncertain about how they were valued in the United States of America… For our political leadership to go over there and make that statement was simply extraordinary.”

That intriguing phrase ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’ most notably associated with Marvel’s Spider Man, seems a fitting description to describe the office of head of government in a western democracy. But also with great power, comes great privilege. Leading Ireland’s St. Patrick’s day delegation to the White House and flourishing on the global stage must be one of the highlights in the career of any Taoiseach. As a consequence of the small matter of the global pandemic, Micheál Martin didn’t get to take up this privilege.

“First of all I think it’s worth remembering that then Taoiseach Micheál Martin was the sixth world leader that president – elect Biden rang after his election was confirmed. I think that’s phenomenal. 

“Sean Lemass went to the states in October of 1963, and told the world. ‘Ireland is now opening up for business.’ We in AmCham were founded two years earlier, and we look at that moment in time as almost the catalyst that unleashed what came next.”

“If only President Kennedy and Sean Lemass knew that within 60 years of them saying these wonderful things that Ireland would be the 9th biggest source of inward investment in the United States. Off the scale.”

Why I do it

“The day President Kennedy was assassinated, Jackie Kennedy said ‘I want the Irish cadets to do a drill by his graveside’. It was the first time a foreign army had ever been at a funeral of the President of the United states.”

“I’m actually talking to you straight after an event where one of our multinationals has signed an agreement with an Irish university. It’s a multinational in the life science space, medical technology. Increasingly what you see at events like this is that you have speakers whose lives have been saved, because of the work done by teams here in Ireland.

“This particular speaker had a medical stent installed after a severe heart attack. If it wasn’t installed he could have died. As he said, if it happened in his father’s time, his father would have died. He asked the cardiac surgeon for the serial number of the stent and the stent was created in Galway. And he went to the team in Galway, very emotional, to thank them for saving his life. 

“That’s why I love this job because everyday I meet and work with people who through their incredible commitment and their unbelievably hard work are saving and enhancing lives around the world. From this country of 0.06% of the world’s population.”

Redmond would not say he is satisfied with the work he’s done at AmCham.

“Satisfied is the wrong word for me. It’s energised, it’s humbled, it’s inspired. It’s just really being so thankful and grateful.”

Cillian Boggan