Budding student entrepreneurs welcomed leading real estate investor and property developer Stephen Vernon, chairman of Green Property, to DCU earlier today. Mr Vernon was on campus to address final year business students as part of the Citi Speaker Series.
The series is organised by the DCU Educational Trust in conjunction with the DCU Business School and supported by Citi. It invites leading Irish business people to campus to inspire final year business students with entrepreneurial creativity tempered by practical commercial realism.
Speaking at the event, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Dr Eric Clinton, described its importance for students. “Industry engagement is a hallmark of activities in DCU Business School. For students taking our New Enterprise Development module, it is invaluable to hear real life insights into the entrepreneurial journey from such a successful and well-known figure. The Citi Series is a great opportunity for our students to engage with senior business practitioners and to enhance their knowledge of what it takes to do business,” he said.
Mr Vernon is a leading figure in the Irish property industry who was awarded the EY Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016. During his address, he outlined his own entrepreneurial journey, moving from managing director of Green Property plc since 1993 when the company was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange to leading a leveraged buyout of the company in 2002 in a €1.85 billion transaction.
Renowned for his ability to read the market and identify significant business opportunities, Mr Vernon is perhaps best known in Ireland as the man behind the development of Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and for setting up the country’s first real estate investment trust, Green Reit plc in 2013.
He told the ambitious students gathered that, “You have to accept you will need to take risks along the way. You can’t really make a profit without taking a risk. However, the most successful people, who make a lot of money, tend to be the ones who haven’t thought about it a lot. I get a great satisfaction from seeing my buildings go up and have found money comes when you’re sensible and enjoy what you do. If you focus only on money, you are less likely to succeed. If you work hard, doing something you enjoy, the chances will come to you.”
Following his address, twenty lucky students were invited to attend a more intimate networking lunch to discuss their questions in greater detail with Mr Vernon in The Helix. One of those students, Shauna Weldon remarked that, “We spoke about what we want to do in the future; he had great insights into lots of different industries which were really interesting. It is a great opportunity to hear from speakers like Stephen about real life experiences – it helps to prepare us for when we graduate from college.”
Photo L-R - Calvin McCrea, Shauna Weldon, Stephen Vernon, Pat Edmondson, Dr Eric Clinton