Over 100 students and faculty joined John Travers (OH) in the U.S. launch of his new book about Irish entrepreneurship, Driving the Tiger, last Wednesday in the Williams Room. The event was sponsored by Travers’ section, the Entrepreneurship Club and the Student Association, and was organized by Travers’ sectionmates Steve Shafer, Richard Linder and Priya Ratnam.
Travers’ book, launched last month at a event in Dublin last month attended by Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, looks at the success of 16 Irish entrepreneurs and, according to Travers, “describes the emergence of an enterprise spirit in the context of the Irish economic success.” During the months before he began classes at HBS, Travers interviewed all of the entrepreneurs extensively and has compiled the texts of their interviews in his book.
Ireland’s economy has transformed itself since its entry into the European Community in 1973, and particularly during the 1990’s. International firms such as Dell and IBM have established factories and customer service centers on the island, which has an economic climate that is considered more business-friendly than the rest of Europe. The strong ties between Ireland and the United States have also encouraged investment there.
The book’s title is derived from Ireland’s nickname, “the Celtic Tiger”, which mimics the name given to some of the high-growth Asian “tiger” economies.
“In the past” Travers said in his presentation, “Irish people have captured the world’s imagination through literary and scholastic achievements, but for the first time they have captured the world’s admiration and respect through their enterprise. The book sets out to capture the essence of this enterprise spirit by recording the stories of the people who personify it.”
“How is that such ordinary people have created such extraordinary success?” he continued. “I have learnt that each share three characteristics that have enabled their success: Ability, imagination and passion.”
The room was packed for the event. All of the 75 books Travers brought to sell disappeared in the first 45 minutes, and all profits from the books will be donated to the American Red Cross. Travers dutifully signed every book for his admirers. The book will also be available in the Coop in the near future.
While Richard Linder helped to organize the event, he was also excited to see his name in print in the acknowledgements. He described his role as “suggesting several titles, none of which John used.” Regardless, he said, Wednesday was “a good occasion to get people together to celebrate the success of a classmate.”
One or two disgruntled voices were also heard in the crowd-students who attributed Ireland’s success to the subsidies it has received from the other nations of the EU. “We pay for their success,” said Simon Morrish (OK), a British citizen.
But one supported the EU for its work. “It shows that behind-the-scenes, positive policy intervention by government makes success possible,” said Samantha Bolton, a Kennedy School student attending the event.
The Harbus wishes HBS’ newest author the best. A review of the book will appear in a future Harbus issue.