Ciara Crossan is a BIS graduate who took the brave step of starting her own business, and is the Founder & CEO of WeddingDates, which links engaged couples up with wedding suppliers.
Ciara graduated in 2004 and here she tells us her BIS story…
Why did you do BIS?
When I was in school doing my Leaving Cert back in 2000, tech was really starting to boom in Ireland and I thought that a combination of business and technology would serve me well for getting a job after university. Back then BIS was one of the few courses that offered a 6 month work placement, and their connections with companies in the US and the prospect of going to Boston for 6 months on a paid internship really appealed to me.
What was the best thing you got out of the course?
The camaraderie amongst BIS students is a big thing as we spent hours upon hours in the same computer labs, so we got to know each other really well. The BIS Society also organized weekends away and outings so we bonded well outside of college too. We were all very close knit and this has definitely continued, and now 10+ years later we are still in touch with friends we made in BIS. I don’t think that happens in all college courses, it is certainly unique in my family, and similarly other peers wouldn’t have the same connection with their college class that I still maintain now.
Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
EMC in Boston.
Where are you now?
CEO of WeddingDates, an online software and marketing company head quartered in Cork.
How did you get this job?
I started the company myself in 2008. We now employ 8 people and service clients across Ireland and the UK. Since starting out, WeddingDates has won “Best Online PR” in the Irish Social Media Awards in 2011 and I am a graduate of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-up programme. I was also shortlisted as “Outstanding Entrepreneur” in the UK Women 1st SHINE Awards in 2013 which was a great honour.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
“Don’t let anybody tell you they know your business better than you.” If you believe in something persevere – tenacity is a great trait in business.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
Expanding the business into the UK, managing the risk associated with that, and facing my fear of failure in a new market, and being totally unknown with zero contacts there. I overcame it by asking for help – using my own network of contacts in Ireland to introduce me to industry folk in the UK and by engaging with Enterprise Ireland to tap into their international office in London and applying for their Business Accelerator Program to support my business growth in a new market.
Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I try not to look back with regret – just learn from any mistakes and look forward to opportunities.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Go for it! BIS is a great course that is administered and delivered by a fantastic team of staff and academics. It is very focused on real-world industry and is constantly evolving to keep up with trends etc. For someone looking to work in the IT sector and get a good grounding of both business & IT, I would say BIS is one of the best options available to them. They’re spot on when they say you will #GetTheRightMix.