Gus O'Brien is pictured with his wife Margaret and their family Daragh, Kieran, Una and Suzanne. Picture: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
The outstanding lifelong contribution to the Irish co-operative movement by the former CEO of Bandon Co-operative, Gus O’Brien, has been recognised nationally by the industry’s highest honour – The Plunkett Award for Co-operative Endeavour.
Mr. O’Brien joined Bandon Co-Operative as a young dairy science graduate in 1969 and has fulfilled many important and influential roles where he is now Secretary to the Board of the Co-operative, having also served previously as CEO. In that time he has been an essential and pivotal force in the development of Bandon Co-operative and a major contributor to the business of co-operation throughout Ireland.
For over 40 years, Mr. O’Brien has been a key presence in the remarkable business evolution of Bandon Co-operative. During this period, far sighted investments were undertaken in partnership with sister co-operatives Barryroe, Lisavaird and Drinagh including the buyout in 1991 of the Express Dairies interest in Carbery Food Products where Gus O’Brien was also a director. That business is an exemplar of Irish food innovation with an expanding global footprint, notably in the protein and food ingredient sectors.
Mr. O’Brien was also the driving force behind the acquisition by Bandon, Barryroe and Lisavaird Co-ops of Clona Dairies in 1989, which strengthened the Dairies’ collective position and supported a rapidly implemented programme of food product development.
Presenting the award, Bertie O’Leary, President of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) said, “Gus O’Brien has been an incredible asset to the co-operative movement throughout his entire career. His dedication, attention to detail and professionalism are the hallmarks of his approach to everything. He has a flair for business innovation that is matched by his sense of duty to his community. He is held in the highest esteem and he is exemplary of the best characteristics and ideals of co-operative endeavour.”
Mr. O’Brien also holds a Diploma in Rural Development and a Diploma in Corporate Direction from UCC.