“He who remains hungry will always have the appetite to succeed”

ken-osheaOn completion of his course, BIS graduate Ken O’Shea took up a role as a data analyst with Trend Micro in Cork. He shared his story with us…

Why did you do BIS?
I spoke to a friend that was the year ahead of me around the time the CAO applications were due and he gave me an overview of the course. However, it was when he showed me his VB 6.0 project that I knew I wanted to do BIS. Since then I have spoken to a number of students that were considering BIS and I have promoted the mix of business and technology that the course gives each and every student.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
This is a tough question to answer as I feel that I have gained quite a lot as a result of completing BIS.  If I had to choose only one thing it would be that the course is held in high regard and companies view BIS graduates as “all-rounders” rather than just being pegged into a specific bracket. This really gives you the confidence to apply for any job.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I worked for AXA-Equitable in New York/ New Jersey. My internship was spent in the Project Portfolio Management department where I was mentored by a business analyst. The role required me to work predominantly with SharePoint, Excel and the local PPM tool which was used primarily to track ongoing cases and projects at various stages. I created a user manual for the tool and built reports to highlight case productivity.

Where are you now?
I have been working in Trend Micro in Cork since July 2014 as a data analyst. However, I have also been doubling up as a resource for the BI team. This has enabled me to add a whole host of skills to my repertoire that I may not have had the opportunity to at another company. The company culture is fantastic and very welcoming to any new starter.

How did you get this job?
I landed the role on the back of completing my masters in BIS in UCC. I had been looking for entry level jobs in the data analysis and data science fields and came across the position on LinkedIn. After reviewing the job spec I spoke to a friend of mine that used to work for Trend Micro and he told me that it was a great place to work. A few interviews later and I had the job.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
One of my friends once told me to remember how hard I fought to get the job, how much I wanted the position, and to treat the position with the same amount of enthusiasm every day. For me this has always been a source of motivation as he who remains hungry will always have the appetite to succeed.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
For me it is probably knowing when to pull back. I like to take on almost any challenge. While being enthusiastic can be a great quality, it can also lead to you taking on more than you are capable of due to time restrictions, and can sometimes run the risk of interfering with your personal life. I have been quite fortunate that I have my boss to remind me when I have enough on my plate and that sometimes it is okay to say no (I still hate saying it though).

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Not at all. Character is developed over time and I believe that mistakes or experiences shape you for the better over time.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
I feel that there is a lot of pressure on students to pick a course based on the number of points they get in the Leaving Cert. A lot of people I know who received very high marks felt the need to apply for medicine, dentistry or pharmacy. Then after completing the course or dropping out, they have then gone in a completely different direction with their careers. I would like to encourage people to follow their interests because if you choose a job you love you will never have to work a day in your life.

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“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.

“I was offered a graduate role off the back of my placement”

BIS graduate Laura Kennedy recently returned to UCC to speak to students at the Autumn Open Day. We had a chat to her about her BIS experience, and how it has led to her current role in Global Markets IT at Credit Suisse, London.

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Why did you do BIS?
After deciding I didn’t want to pursue a career in acting or theatre, I went looking for the right ‘business’ course I wanted to study. I heard about a course that offered a mix of business and IT and it sounded really appealing. I hadn’t a clue about computers or anything ‘tech-y’ (we still had dial-up internet at home), but I was fascinated by how the internet could connect us to people on the other side of the world in real-time and I was keen to learn more.

I attended the BIS talk at the UCC Open Day and there were two graduates speaking who were now working in San Francisco and from that point on I was sold. One other reason that I chose BIS was at the time I figured technology was only going to become more prevalent and play a more significant role in terms of how we get things done, how we go about our day to day lives, and so I figured it was a good area to build up some skills and knowledge.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
Two stand-out things – the lifelong friends I have made, and the transferrable skillset.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
Credit Suisse, London, working as a business analyst on a Monte Carlo Risk Simulation.

Where are you now?
Credit Suisse, London. I am in my 3rd business analyst role here now. I have worked in Operations IT, Risk and Finance IT, and I’m now working in Global Markets IT looking at algorithmic trading of equities and FX.

How did you get this job?
Surprise surprise as I’m still here since placement, I got this job through BIS. I had my first introduction to Credit Suisse in 1st year when I attended a lecture by a senior female director from CS. After that, I was determined that I was going to get myself to London and into the company. In 2nd year I applied for their IT Spring Week Program after attending a networking event hosted in UCC by CS, and my application was successful. Following the one week spring internship in London I was fast-tracked onto their placement program hence completing my 3rd year placement here, and subsequently I was offered a graduate role off the back of my placement.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
I once heard someone say “hold yourself to a level of understanding” and that’s really stuck with me. If I don’t understand something I’ll ask and ask again. I would also say that building a network of contacts, as opposed to acquaintances, is really important and its advice I’ve been given by many people.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I don’t’ think so. If I could go back to being in the labs again for the laugh we had, I’d be there in a second!

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Go for it! BIS is a fantastic course with global opportunities and multiple career possibilities – you won’t regret it!

“Once you feel you are learning and growing, and you are enjoying yourself, everything else somehow falls into place.”

dave-curranBIS graduate Dave Curran’s Brazilian based business Love Mondays was recently acquired by Glassdoor, the leading global careers site. We had a chat with him about how he got to where is is today…

Why did you do BIS?
I was entering my 6th year of secondary school in 1998 when the first dot-com bubble was peaking. There was a lot of excitement about the internet and the new business models that were emerging and I wanted to participate in it. I was more keen on the business side of things, but still wanted to have a technical understanding. BIS offered the perfect mix of both.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
For me it helped open my mind to a broader set of possibilities. Also through BIS I also met with one of my earlier professional mentors who I worked for for a few years after finishing the course.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I worked with Fidelity Investments in Boston. It was a fun time!

Where are you now?
I co-founded a business called Love Mondays a few years ago. We’re based in Sao Paulo, Brazil and help professionals here make better career decisions through providing access to company reviews and salary data, all posted anonymously by our users. Our business was recently acquired by Glassdoor, the leading global careers site.

Why a business in Brazil?
I met my fiancee in 2009 when we were both studying at Oxford for an MBA. She is from Brazil and we both shared a passion for wanting to start a business. After the MBA I moved to Dubai to work for a few years as a management consultant, while she stayed in London. We talked more and more about quitting our jobs and starting something but we didn’t quite know what or where. We saw that Brazil’s economy was going strong and felt there was a great opportunity there. So in May 2013 we made the move, landing in Rio de Janeiro with eight suitcases and a list of potential business ideas.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
A seasoned boss of mine once told me to “Make one decision, and if it doesn’t work out, make another”. Having this kind of mentality lifts the pressure and permanency of making important decisions and you start to realize that you shouldn’t worry so much about whether you are doing the right thing for your career. Once you feel you are learning and growing, and you are enjoying yourself, everything else somehow falls into place.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge professionally has been moving my understanding of my role from being an individual self-sufficient contributor to empowering others to deliver. You can’t build a sustainable business if everything rests on your shoulders. You need to find the right people, coach and support them to deliver. It’s very easy to revert to wanting to do it yourself, to try to control the outcome more, but you end up exhausting yourself in the process. I’m still on this journey – am not sure it ever finishes.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
It’s hard to say, because doing something differently would have meant I would have missed out on learning from doing what I did. No major regrets.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
It’s a great experience that opens up lots of opportunities. You won’t regret it! (and if you do, just make another decision).

“One of the best things about the course is the network within BIS & the relationship between the younger & older years”


Final year BIS student Maria O’Sullivan gave us an insight into what BIS means to her, and what’s in store for her down the line.

maria-osullivanWhy did you do BIS?
I, like most other Leaving Cert students, had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do in college. Business was always a subject I was interested in in school since it was relevant to what was going on in the world, and so I knew I wanted to go down that route. It was my Business teacher in secondary school who recommended BIS to me. She said it provided a good mix of subjects and had great job prospects.

What is the best thing you have got out of the course so far?
As a final year student there have been so many standout moments throughout my time in BIS. However the highlight of the course has to have been my time spent on industrial placement. As part of BIS, 3rd years spend six months on a paid work placement. I was lucky enough to be one of the students who secured an internship in the United States. Before coming into BIS we were told about the opportunity to spend placement abroad. There are also opportunities in various locations in England, however I knew that the US was the place for me.

I worked with Fidelity Investments in Rhode Island as a software engineer. Here I got the chance to contribute real work to an organisation, while simultaneously improving my coding skills and learning about working in a professional environment. It gave me the chance to work with American colleagues and experience and compare their culture to ours. I also had the opportunity to travel along the East Coast during weekends off. Working close to Boston with your fellow class mates truly is a once in a life time opportunity which very few students are presented with. It will be a period of time in my life which I will always cherish.

What’s the one thing that has surprised you most about the course?
One of the best things about the course I find is the network within BIS and the relationship between the younger and older years. In secondary school I found that years are quite segregated. From the get go of BIS you are constantly integrating with the older years for various reasons. Every year, tutors for 1st, 2nd and 3rd year, are 4th year students, which creates more of a relaxed and friendly learning environment. A lot of a BIS student’s time is spent in the labs which gives us a great chance to get to know others in the class.

The BIS society also runs several events throughout the year including the BIS ball and the BIS cup which students from all years attend and participate in, and which is another chance to socialise with one another. Having friends in the year ahead is always very helpful as you can ask them about their experience since they have gone through everything you are and will be going through.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
It’s always a tough question to answer but after spending 6 months in America I am hoping I will either have spent more time in the States as a Technology graduate or will be travelling over there by that time.  As to what role I will be in, I have yet to figure out.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?-
If you have any interest in business or technology, BIS is definitely the course for you. However this does not mean that you need to have a background in either of these since all subjects are done from scratch in first year. Within the business side of BIS there is also a wide variety of modules to choose from including Accounting, Marketing and Management subjects.

One of the things that attracted me most to BIS was the fact that you are not confined to going down one career path at the end of the 4 years, unlike a lot of other courses. I personally feel BIS students come out as well rounded graduates with the skills ready to tackle any job that comes their way.