- Over 120 iconic landmarks and sites around the world will be lit up in green on March 17 to celebrate the Irish St. Patrick’s Day. For the third time, the Allianz Arena will be ‘greened’ again, too. Even within Allianz not many know that this is thanks to an initiative by Sinéad Browne, Irish, Board Member and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) in Munich.
Sinéad Browne: “The longer I am away from my country, the more I feel proud about my roots.”
Allianz.com: How did you feel when you saw the Arena lit up in green for the first time?
Sinéad Browne: Above all, I felt humble as the ‘greening initiative’ has become such a huge event around the globe. For my company to become part of it, and to be there personally when the Allianz Arena suddenly turned green – just like the Sydney Opera House, Niagara Falls or the Great Wall of China – was truly exciting.
How did it happen?
Ireland and Germany have close economic ties. I happen to be a member of the Irish-German business network and got approached by the Irish Tourism Board, if the Allianz Arena would become part of the initiative. I immediately encountered a lot of enthusiasm, both internally – Allianz holds the stadium’s naming rights – and externally by the owner of the Arena, München Stadion GmbH. Within just a few weeks we were ready to welcome the Irish ambassador to celebrate the first greening of the Arena together. That was on March 17, 2013. I’m quite proud that this has since become a tradition for Munich and for us at Allianz.
Living as an expat in Germany, what does St. Patrick’s Day represent to you?
Coming to Munich for Allianz over ten years ago was a wonderful opportunity. I love the city and my career options here at such a global company. Yet, Ireland will always be my home. I guess, I am just being very Irish: the longer I am away from my country, the more I feel proud about my roots and the more I am conscious of the unique heritage we Irish share. On St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate our culture at home and abroad. We are a small country, but with a huge diaspora, and we like to celebrate with other nationalities. It’s wonderful that everybody wants to be part of it, such as of the greening initiative which people consider ‘cool and quirky’. I can’t think of any other nation celebrating that widely.
Famous buildings around the world are “greened” on St. Patrick’s Day, including the Allianz Arena.
What do you miss most about Ireland?
Most of all, I miss the people, the dry sense of humor and the special way we socialize. In a pub in Ireland, people don’t need to know you to talk to you. It’s true, we Irish can ‘talk to a wall’. There is also the Irish business culture: it’s informal, flexible and non-hierarchical. I like that.
Would you say being Irish had an influence on your career at Allianz?
I realized that, especially in Germany and the US, being Irish is often a good talking point or a door opener. Working at various global companies of Allianz, such as the Group’s holding, Allianz Re and now AGCS, I feel my ‘Irishness’ and especially the social and networking skills that go with it, have certainly helped me in my various positions to connect with the international colleagues. I feel fortunate, because those skills enabled me to make the most of the opportunities Allianz provided, be it in underwriting, strategy, sales management or operations.
One last question: how will you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year?
There is a good chance I will be on a plane to the US where I currently spend about one week per month to steer the COO aspects of the reorganization of Fireman’s Fund as we are integrating the corporate business into AGCS and transferring the retail business to ACE. Otherwise, I really enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with some of my Irish friends in the mountains.