“I purposely chose to give up full time employment to go back and do BIS”

owen-odohertyOwen O’Doherty gave up full time employment to go back and do BIS. It was a decision not taken lightly, but which he felt intuitively was right for him. It is a decision he has never regretted and he has since founded his own company , Carefolk.

Why did you do BIS?
I came to BIS from a slightly different angle than most by virtue of the fact that I was a mature student. I purposely chose to give up full time employment to go back and do it. It was a decision not taken lightly, but felt intuitively right for me, and one I never regretted.

I have a passion for business and tech, and exploring the intersection where they meet. I had gotten into doing design work and web work, and enjoyed the creative side of it, that quest for crafting something beautiful and useful to people. I wanted to broaden that, and learn how to apply the technical and commercial structures to it to make it work. I felt that BIS was the right choice to offer me that skill-set, and ultimately gave me the grounding to carve my own path, which was my ultimate aim.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
That’s a hard one to pin down, as there were so many. It broadened my eyes more to people, and the opportunities of the world. In terms of developing my abilities, I found every support and motivation I needed to sharpen my technical skills and business knowledge.  On a personal level, I grew as a person during the experience. The people in my class were just great. They brought a smile to my face every day. The Management and staff are invested wholeheartedly in the student body, operate an open-door policy, and are very helpful.  The effort that goes into constructing the syllabus, the 3rd year placement, and running the department is immense. All of this combined results in a wonderful student experience.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I worked as a software developer with a US company, American Tower, based just outside Boston, MA. I continued to work for them when I returned to Ireland.

Where are you now?
I have founded a company called Carefolk (www.carefolk.com) which is developing products designed to make caregiving easier for professionals and family carers, and enable smart independent living for people who require care. It is our aim to make a positive difference in people’s lives and foster a global ‘Care community’.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
‘To thine own self be true’ – Be true to yourself and your passion.  A well-worn adage perhaps, true none-the-less, and often rarely followed.

I am a firm believer that if you are true to yourself and your intuition, which can be hard as often it can run contrary to the advice of others, then opportunities will open up in the future that you may not even be aware of yet. Follow your own path.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
Starting a business, product building and customer engagement is full of challenges. That makes it interesting, and rewarding. Time management and personal discipline in adherence to goals are two challenges that you meet every day. Mastering them is the difference between success and failure. Equally, knowing when you have hit a wall and need a break is important to avoid long term burn-out.

Generally speaking, maintaining a level equilibrium when challenges arise is important. It also helps tremendously to have the discipline to create and follow a routine for decision making, priority planning, and time allocation when things pile up. A routine gives you something to fall back on if you are under pressure. I find writing very useful for structuring my thoughts. Something as simple as a do-to list is cathartic in terms of stress relief.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
There are always going to be certain aspects, certain situations, certain encounters, that we would do a bit differently in hindsight. That’s the nature of being human. The important thing is to learn, accept that everyone is on a learning path, keep asking, and to forge ahead.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
If it’s for you, go for it, and put your heart into it. It is a fantastic experience, and incredibly rewarding, personally and practically.

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