Michael O’Leary is the abrasive chief executive of Europe’s largest low-cost airline Ryanair . His dogged unrepentant style was a winning strategy for an upstart airline trying to establish itself. His obsession with cutting costs as well as trying to always put one over on the large national carriers is what makes him appear arrogant to most people. His press conferences are usually very theatrical; it is not unusual to see him dress up as any thing from the Pope to, a large Mobile Phone. O’Leary has brought Ryanair from nowhere to become the continents largest carrier, his no frills low cost service has helped make air travel affordable to most people. His unorthodox approach to business includes turning the usual airline airport agreement by persuading some airports to pay him for the privilege of handling Ryanair passengers. His rise from a tax account to the maverick of European air travel is unrivalled by most in business today. He is a straight Talking, non-suited, foul-mouthed individual, that shots straight from the hip and his explicitly hostile attitude towards corporate competitors, airport authorities, governments and unions. One advantage of this controversial approach is the huge free publicity it generates.
Michael O’Leary was born on March 20th 1961, the second in a family of six, near the town of Mullingar county Westmeath Ireland. He was educated at Clongowes wood collage Co. Kildare (described by many as the Irish Eton), a school for boys from the upper classes of Irish society it was there that he became acquainted with the sons of his future employer Tony Ryan. Although the young Michael spent his school days at such a privileged institution as Clongowes wood school for boys, his own family were far from high society, they were farmers although be it, on a very large holding in the midlands, Michael got on well with his more affluent friends at public school, he acquired the nick name ducksie from his classmates for whatever reason no one seems to know. In 1979 he started a Bachelor in Business programme at Trinity Collage Dublin. He graduated in 1983.
Following his graduation from Trinity he was employed as an account in Stokes Kennedy Crowley (later known as KPMG). Whilst there he Studied the Irish tax system and then left to open two news agent shops in Walkingstown and Terenure, Dublin.
While he was working in SKC, he had again meet Tony Ryan, who at the time was owner and head of GPA (Guinness Peat Aviations), an aircraft leasing company, who was one of the firm’s clients. O’Leary advised Ryan on his personal income tax affairs whilst working with the firm and afterwards.
In1987 Tony Ryan hired O’Leary as his personal tax adviser. Ryan’s main interest at the time was with GPA, and he had made a lot of money from the aircraft leasing business through the 70s and 80s, but like so many other millionaires before him, he decided to invest in a small airline. He set up Ryanair to ferry passengers between Waterford and London Gatwick as a kind of taxi service mainly for his three sons, it was a pipsqueak airline that seemed to have little or no future at the time. Like most small airlines at that time Ryanair was high on cost and low on passengers, it was O’Leary’s brief to try and find a way to stop the Airline leaking cash. 12 months into the job O’Leary’s advice for Ryan was to close the carrier down and cut his losses, but Ryan decided to ignore his protégée and asked him to go to the USA to study Southwest Airlines business model. The US carrier had profited from deregulation of the American market and their low price seats and quick turn around between flights, as well as no business class seating appealed to O’Leary. So on his return he ditched business class in favour of a one size fits all approach. He worked the airlines people and planes much harder and halved...
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