Guest speaker at the 2015 BIS Graduation Breakfast on October 21st was Chris Kennedy, CTO and Founder of Trustev, who himself graduated from BIS in 2007. Chris addressed the graduands, sharing his story of how he founded what is now one of the world’s leading online fraud prevention technology providers; as well as offering advice and wishing them success in their careers, encouraging them to “just do it” and don’t be the one in five years’ time saying “I could have done that”. Here Chris shares a little more about his journey…
Why did you do BIS?
When looking at all the courses on offer, particularly in light of the downturn the IT sector was experiencing in Ireland at the time (we are talking 2003 here), BIS offered the best blend of IT and business-related subjects. It gave me the confidence that I would have the right skills to forge a career path, regardless of the how the IT sector might be performing when I graduated. I always knew the skills I earned would be transferable across countries and industries, which was a big plus.
What was the best thing you got out of the course?
It is a bit clichéd to say it, but the 6-month placement was invaluable. It was an eye opener, not just in terms of employment, but life in general. Moving from Tramore to Cork for university was one thing, but moving to Boston for 6 months at the age of 21 is another thing entirely.
Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I worked with Monster (monster.com) in Maynard, about an hour North West of Boston. Maynard was a quaint town with a rich history (Digital – or Digital Equipment Corporation – were previously headquartered there) but living there was not an option – it was just a bit too remote. Like many others, I lived in Brighton, just outside Boston and made the 2 hour roundtrip commute to work every day.
Where are you now?
My spiritual home of Cork, where I co-founded Trustev.
How did you get this job?
I created it myself!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
Two pieces of advice really stick with me, and to be honest I really believe they are not without risk, and certainly should not be applied across all professions.
The first piece of advice is that the best time to do anything is now. It’s really simple, but you would be amazed at how often you talk to people who regret having had an idea which they delayed on, and someone else executed on it and made a fortune.
The second piece of advice, is actually a motto of the US Marines: ‘A decision made with more than 80% of the necessary information is hesitation’.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
Getting the right work life balance, which I still struggle with today. As important as Trustev is to me, my family and my health are always more important – sometimes you can lose sight of that, and you need to be lucky to have the right people around you to not only put up with you, but also to give you a gentle push in the right direction when you get that balance wrong.
Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Well as they say, if you haven’t made any mistakes, you haven’t lived! Absolutely, I keep making mistakes and will likely continue to make mistakes for a long time. The key thing is not to wish you could change the mistakes you have already made, but to make sure you learn from those mistakes and not repeat them again!
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Don’t hesitate – apart from the 4 years you will spend in university, BIS really opens up so much choice for the rest of your life beyond that.