Dr Michael Byrne
With a BA in genetics from Trinity College, Dublin, Michael Byrne trained as a chartered accountant before moving to London to work for various British and American investment banks in the 1990s. He then spent 12 years managing a number of City-based head-hunting companies and now advises a wide range of clients on business effectiveness issues.
'When I moved to London in 1990 I knew very little about my new home city, so I decided to study for an MA in London Studies at Birkbeck,' says Michael. 'The degree was totally unrelated to my work, and that was the beauty of it. I enjoyed my Master's so much that I stayed on at Birkeck to study part-time for a PhD in history of science, writing a dissertation on opposition to the work of Isaac Newton in the late seventeenth century.'
Michael’s relationship with the College didn’t end when he finished his PhD; at his graduation, Tim O’Shea, the then Master, asked Michael to join Birkbeck’s governing body.
'I was a governor from 2000 to 2008 and found it fascinating to be able to contribute to the progress of such a unique institution – there wasn’t a dull moment,' he says.
Michael continued his (part-time) studies after Birkbeck: he now holds Master’s degrees in theology from both King’s College London and the University of Cambridge (Emmanuel College) as well as a more recent MSc in air transport management from City University, London. Related to his interest in aviation, he hopes to gain his private pilot’s licence in early 2015.
Michael has written or edited four books: a history of the church of St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London; an account of the Boyle Lectures in science and theology which he revived in 2004 and has convened every year since then; with his late father Dr Niall Byrne, an annotated translation of a fifteenth-century manuscript detailing the construction of a chantry chapel in Waterford; and an account of the theological background and practical establishment of the same chantry chapel of St Saviour.
He has also served on the governing body of Heythrop College, London, and was a magistrate (JP) in West London for 10 years to 2014.
(Updated January 2015)