On Thursday, 4th October 2018, Athlone Institute of Technology conferred a Distinguished Fellowship award on John Somers, CEO and President of Harmac Medical Products in a special ceremony at Roscommon County Council.
This award is the institute’s greatest academic honour and is bestowed on individuals who, through active leadership or scholarly pursuits, have made significant contributions to Ireland, the Midlands Region and, indeed, their local communities.
Through the conferring of the Distinguished Fellowship, Mr Somers, who has a notable record of achievement in business, has been granted life-long membership of the institute, with whom he has established a close relationship.
In 1998, under the leadership of Mr Somers, Harmac Medical Products expanded its US operations to accommodate the needs of a growing international client base. Castlerea, Co. Roscommon was chosen as the location for their European Headquarters.
The medical device manufacturer, often referred to as the “hidden partner of Fortune 500 companies”, now employs more than 300 people (many of whom are polymer graduates from Athlone Institute of Technology) at its Irish base, making Harmac one of the biggest employers in the region.
Attending the conferring ceremony, Mr Eugene Cummins, Chief Executive of Roscommon County Council, commended Mr Somers on his “unique contribution to the community” and expressed his gratitude for the “jobs he has created and for the peace of mind and security that he gives to hundreds of employees every day.”
Harmac’s investment in Castlerea and in the wider Midlands Region has also played a catalytic role in the development of Ireland as a medical technology hub with 13 out of the top 15 global medical technologies companies now based in Ireland.
Ireland’s world-class capabilities in research in tandem with intensive collaboration between companies, research institutions and clinicians, make it the perfect platform for the industry to start, innovate and continue to scale.
Philanthropic to his core, Mr Somers has left an indelible mark on the people whose lives he has touched. His employee-focussed attitude to business, handed down to him by his father and founder of Harmac, Lewis S. Somers III, has helped him achieve global success.
Awarding the Distinguished Fellowship was President of Athlone Institute of Technology, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, who commented on Mr Somers’ remarkable leadership ability, generosity, and commitment to the communities in which his employees live and work.
“Great leaders have the ability to motivate employees, help others see and believe in a vision and lead innovation in their company and John, through his role in Harmac, has gone beyond that. He has embedded a wonderful culture within his worldwide 1,000 employees, of value, appreciation and respect.
“He is changing the lives of his employees through mentoring and leadership opportunities for development, health awareness, encouraging their social conscience and ensuring that he supports his staff on their journey of continuing, professional development and lifelong learning.”
Also commenting on the conferring was Councillor Ivan Connaughton, Cathaoirleach, Roscommon County Council, who said: “It is fitting that Athlone Institute of Technology is bestowing this prestigious award on John Somers. Roscommon County Council and AIT have an excellent relationship and mutual respect for each other which has grown over the years and we will continue to work in partnership for the benefit of the region.”
In receiving this honour, Mr Somers joins the ranks of esteemed luminaries such as former President Mary McAleese, Mary O’Rourke, Paddy Cooney, Dr Don Panoz, Stephen Grant, Eamonn Coghlan, Barry McGuigan, Sonia O’Sullivan, Mark Rohan and Professor Dato’ Kamarudin Hussin.
A moving, heartful citation was delivered for Mr Somers by Director of Marketing and Communications at Athlone Institute of Technology, Orla Thornton in tribute to Mr Somers.