The Global Irishman: Liam Casey’s borderless world
I asked Casey whether countries like China and India may, in fact, be eclipsing the Celtic Tiger, moving into many of the value-added, service sector roles in which Ireland has long had an advantage.
Globalization brings huge challenges, he conceded, but “we’re writing the rules for globalization now.” Any nation “has great opportunity to create what’s next.”
Of course, Casey is optimistic by nature, a trait which has allowed him to spot potential and seize on it before others. But his prescriptions are well-grounded. The Irish should look beyond Europe, he reflected. “I see huge opportunity if we can take what we do in Ireland and take it globally.”
Indeed, this is what Casey has already done with PCH, a strategy which has helped the private firm grow 30% this year, over revenues of about $115 million last year, as it employs 800 people worldwide.
In a globalized world, he predicted, the solutions to what’s happening in Ireland “won’t come from the island, they’ll come from outside.” But they’ll require the initiative of Irish people. Whether the Celtic Tiger fades into history is “up to us,” Casey declared. It’s “our decision whether we let that happen or we don’t.”
Man in the Nehru jacket
Jetting between continents, speaking at high-profile conferences, working “26-hour days” . . . I asked Liam Casey how all the hours and the travel affect his personal life.
“What personal life?” he grinned.
Weekends are rare for Casey. After meetings in California, he usually flies back to China on a Friday night, which puts him in Shenzhen late Sunday morning, with just half a day to recover.
And home, for Casey, is the Shenzhen Four Points Sheraton. Why not live in a house or a flat? “The opportunities in our business are too big to miss,” he insisted, “and time is often our number one currency.”
By now you might be imagining a stressed, highly caffeinated executive. But Casey struck me as comfortable and highly personable. He came from his client meeting wearing not a suit but a denim shirt and Nehru jacket. And he flatly rejects the workaholic label.
“It’s a cliché, but if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. . . . I love it, it’s great fun.”
Here in the Silicon Valley, Casey works with “some of the best, most creative companies on the planet.” And on the other side of the globe in Shenzhen, which he described as the fastest changing city on the planet, Casey has had “front-row seats to the changing of the world . . . Take those and put them together, and I wouldn’t say it’s work.”
Work and pleasure are so synonymous to Casey that getting him to suggest anything else he might do with more time in the day was harder than expected. Finally, after a long pause, he offered, “I think I’m . . . disruptive by nature, so I’d be looking at, what can I break next, and what can we do better?”