This Dubliner’s hard-charging and hair-raising lifestyle served as the perfect platform from which to launch his own strategic management consultancy in 2016 after twenty years on Wall Street. His story is both harrowingly cautionary and joyously inspirational. It is one that speaks to the human side of us all, and simultaneously to the indomitable, never-say-die spirit in those of us determined to blaze our own trails.
Brian Kerrigan’s consultancy advises individuals, corporations and local government institutions on economic, ethical, business and management affairs both domestically and overseas. His style is straight-forward, practical and solution-based. With over three decades of experience in financial markets and executive management, his strategies for success are grounded in the fundamentals of good character — integrity, dedication, empathy and humility.
In addition to his corporate clients, Brian works one-on-one with individuals from a broad array of sectors including entertainment, professional sports, business, government and the arts—all of whom are seeking to empower themselves personally and professionally.
Kerrigan is a survivor of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack on September 11th 2001. Two years later an overdose almost killed him and forced him to make the choice between living or dying. He speaks freely and openly now of his former life as an active drug user, lifelong heavy drinker and high-stakes risk taker. He is a frequent speaker on social issues at schools, corporations and institutions across the United States.
Brian has been sober since 2004.
What brought you to New York City?
A one-way ticket.
I arrived here in ’94 with $22 having blown my life up in Phoenix through booze, drugs and all sorts of ‘carry-on’. It was a rough lesson in the old adage of “Wherever you go, there you are”. I was running a company with 250 employees one minute, the next, I was homeless. It was also the third time in 10 years that I’d hit rock-bottom. I figured that if I didn’t make it here I could easily disappear and that was just fine. Let’s just say I didn’t come on a winning streak.
How did you get a job trading currencies on Wall St?
I’ll never forget the interview. My future boss, a burly and whip-smart Aussie, asked if I had a strong constitution. I told him out straight that the suit I was wearing was borrowed, that I’d arrived penniless and homeless three weeks prior, could likely drink him under the table, and that I’d do whatever the hell it took to succeed. I got the job.
Can you tell us about September 11th?
I got out—thousands didn’t. I hope I don’t seem abrupt but the subject is complicated and perhaps more appropriate on a different platform. Suffice it to say that twenty years later it’s as fresh, potent and moving as ever.
What made you finally decide to leave Wall St?
The passion and hunger just wasn’t there any more. I used to live for the deal but the fun had waned somewhat. It’s probably more accurate to say that Wall St left me actually.
Also, I couldn’t shake a particular conversation I’d had with my son a few years prior that went something like this.
Jack: “Hey Dad, can you take the day off so we can go to the beach?”
Dad: “Sorry son, I have to go to work.”
Jack: “Hmm, but Dad, you don’t actually do anything”.
Out of the mouths of babes.
What exactly is strategic management?
The best way to describe my role is as temporary right-hand man. My clients all have specific needs but they often aren’t sure exactly what that need is or how it fits with their overall strategy. My job is to identify the areas where performance can improve, offer stress-tested solutions, and then help implement effective strategies. The feedback loop is essential to the process.
Do you work one-on-one with clients?
Yes, of course—that’s actually how I started out. I got certified in several key areas of coaching and mentoring and loved it. Two clients then asked me to do the same with their businesses and I haven’t looked back since.
How do you gain new clients?
I’m a dreadful ‘networker’ so I’m blessed to have clients who refer and recommend me. Personally, I think it’s an extremely effective way to run a consultancy. I have no business cards, no website and I’m quite shy. So yeah, I generally skip “networking night”!
What’s your strongest trait?
I’m a straight-talker. My clients pay me to be objective, practical and realistic.
That’s what they get.
What is the strongest trait you concentrate on when working with clients?
It’s much easier than most people actually think and it’s not a weakness as most people also think. In fact, it’s the greatest asset an effective manager can possess.
What’s your finest achievement so far?
Aside from having a 19 year old son who still likes to hang out with me?
I received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence in 2020 with a 4.0 in Economics and Management. Not having a college degree, especially working Wall St, always felt like a giant monkey on my back and a chip on my shoulder. I applied to Harvard via the front door that didn’t open. I’m now in the Masters in International Relations program at Harvard Extension School (the back door!).
What have you always wanted to do but have yet got around to?
Finishing my book “Natural Born Addict”.
I need an agent actually, so if you know of a good one…