Viewing life as “something of a random walk,” Ted Smyth went from rural to urban, to international, from leadership roles in diplomacy to C-suite roles in Fortune 500 companies, to a rich post-corporate career in Irish American community leadership.
On this episode of Irish Stew, Ted describes his journey from a protestant farming community in Co. Westmeath, to “finding his place” in Trinity College Dublin, an intellectual “petri dish” that fostered his growing social justice focus. That led him to Ireland’s diplomatic corps and his work on conflict resolution in Northern Ireland and Irish America engagement in the peace process.
Settling stateside, he forged an enviable business career instilled with his social responsibility ethos and is now in his “Act III,” he serves the Global Irish Nation through his writing, speaking, and volunteer service, including his roles as president of the advisory boards of both Glucksman Ireland House and UCD Clinton Institute.
A leader in government and public affairs, and brand management, Ted Smyth has been a senior executive at two Fortune 200 companies and an Irish diplomat. He is now President of the Advisory Board of Glucksman Ireland House NYU and is Chair of the Clinton Institute for American Studies in University College Dublin.
He retired from his role as EVP Corporate Affairs at McGraw Hill Financial in 2015, a company whose brands include Standard & Poor’s, S&P Dow Jones Indices and Platts Energy Benchmarks. He was a member of the Company’s Executive Committee and responsible for a wide portfolio, including government relations, corporate communications, public policy, crisis communications and social responsibility. He was a key member of the leadership team that managed the sale of McGraw Hill Education and the evolution of McGraw Hill Financial to S&P Global.
Ted was Chief Administrative Officer of the H.J. Heinz Company from 2003 to 2009 where he was responsible for Global Human Resources, Communications, Government Affairs and Crisis Management. He led the recruitment of senior talent as the company expanded rapidly in new markets such as India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Philippines. While at Heinz, he championed the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign, the Weight Watchers’ focus on healthy weight metrics, the Dolphin-Safe policy of Star-Kist tuna and Heinz ketchup marketing initiatives
Ted was an Irish diplomat for 15 years, from 1972 to 1988, serving in Portugal, Geneva, the United States and the United Kingdom. He participated in the Northern Ireland peace process, seeking support amongst key stakeholders for a non-violent, just solution. Ted served in the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) as Deputy Director of Government Information Services and as an Advisor on Northern Ireland. He served in the Secretariat of the New Ireland Forum (1983-84) which forged a historic consensus for a political solution to the NI conflict and laid the groundwork for the 1986 Anglo-Irish Agreement. As Head of Press and Information in the United States from 1976 to 1981 he worked successfully with Irish government agencies, including IDA Ireland, to attract American companies to invest and create jobs in Ireland.
Ted has served on the boards of the Hain Celestial Food Company, the Africa America Institute and the Ireland Funds. He holds an Honors BA in History and Political Science from Trinity College Dublin and a Master of Arts from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at NYU. Ted publishes regularly on Irish and Irish American issues, including a chapter on the New Ireland Forum in Brokering the Good Friday Agreement: the untold story (ed; Mary Daly), Royal Irish Academy, 2019, and an article on Irish America in the 1980s in the Journal of American Ethnic HIstory, He lives in New York City and New Hampshire, is married to the writer, Mary Breasted and is a delighted grandfather of three granddaughters. Hobbies include jogging, hiking, politics, history and painting.