Ayman Hafez says BIS gave him the right mix starting out in his career

2013 BIS graduate Ayman Hafez’s final year project helped him secure the role of Product Manager with Payfirma in Vancouver, Canada. Here he tells us how…

Ayman HafezWhy did you do BIS?
From an early age, I always had an interest in computers and I was given my own at the age of 5 to tinker with.  This, coupled with a fondness for Junior and Leaving Certificate Business Studies made BIS an easy choice from early on in my school life. Open days at UCC further solidified this logic with future job opportunities and friendly, experienced staff adding to mix.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
The diverse skill-set has been incredibly beneficial to my career, with my current position relying on communication across multiple departments. Throughout the 4 years at UCC we were always challenged to find solutions to everyday problems and having the confidence to translate this skill, coupled with the technical and business knowledge to reinforce it, has been indispensable.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
My 3rd year placement took me to Boston, where I worked with TriZetto, a healthcare IT solutions provider. As a software engineering intern, I was thrown into the deep end from day one with a set of requirements for a project of my own along with an intimidating deadline. With the countless number of projects I had under my belt from the BIS course in the previous 3 years, I was able to address it like any other, and within a month I completed my very first product which was rolled out to the entire team.

Where are you now?
I’m currently a Product Manager with Payfirma in Vancouver BC. Payfirma is one of Canada’s leading Payment & Technology companies. As part of my role here, I launch new products and features for our 5000+ merchants by creating preliminary design concepts while working with the development team to implement and iterate. I also collaborate with other departments to find innovative solutions for customer needs, along with guiding ongoing marketing campaigns.

How did you get this job?
I arrived in Canada in November 2013 and attended a tech start-up job fair where a number of local companies were hiring. To stand out, I brought my Final Year Project along with me which acted as a critical talking point throughout the night’s discussions. The following day I was invited for an interview where we discussed my background further and my skill-set tied in perfectly with their requirements. Since joining as a Product Specialist, I have been promoted to Product Manager which has a number of additional responsibilities.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
Surround yourself with positive, smart people. Every encounter is an opportunity to learn more and more.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
Moving to Canada without any connections and little knowledge of the tech industry here was particularly daunting. Attending meet-ups, arranging coffee networking sessions, and showcasing my final year project to potential employers helped me overcome this in a matter of weeks. If moving abroad was easy, everyone would be doing it – and although it was difficult in the beginning, it has been a defining moment in my career and personal life.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
No, every mistake is an opportunity to learn, and the mistakes I’ve made have helped shape me into a better person.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Take some time to research the individual modules for each year and you’ll see how everything pieces together. By doing this you’ll also get a deeper understanding into how BIS is not just “Commerce with Computers” or “Computer Science with Business”, it’s so much more.

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