Similar to how BIS usually operates through groups assignments and how group members rely on each other, societies also rely heavily on teamwork and depending on other people.

Keith Kavanagh has just completed his four year BIS degree, and during his four year’s in UCC played an active role in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Here he shares his story with us…

Why did you do BIS?
UCC really stood out of all the colleges I visited. I’d never really been to Cork before the UCC Open Day but I was completely surprised by the atmosphere and enthusiasm here that was not as visible from other colleges that I’d visited.

At the time I was exploring studying languages and music, however BIS was recommended to me a couple of weeks afterwards. I had a very keen interest in technology and business growing up and apart from languages or music, I couldn’t think of something else that really interested me or that I wanted to study more of or would consider a career in!

I realised I could continue music and languages through various outlets that universities offered, but the opportunity to study the unique mix of business and IT (particularly when IT isn’t a focused subject in secondary schools) was something I was excited to commit to studying for four years. The fact that the course starts teaching the technologies and business subjects from a beginner’s level made it a very attractive and reassuring decision.

What is the best thing you have got out of the course so far?
The six month placement opportunity is an incredibly worthwhile aspect that ties the whole BIS experience together. I was fortunate to be offered a position in an American Investment Management firm and to be placed in London for six months. The new skills and experience I gained from those six months will undoubtedly stand to me for the remainder of my career. Not only did it frame an understanding for the aspects of BIS I’d spent two and a half years studying but I was thankfully trusted with a heavy role of responsibility within the company that encompassed three different IT teams. I really felt that my ideas were welcomed, that my work was making a worthwhile contribution to the company, and as well as that, my teams went out of their way to expose me and the other interns to practices, technologies and teachings that we’d been unfamiliar with until then, and this was very much appreciated!

What’s the one thing that has surprised you the most about the course?
I think the extensive range of business and IT that the course facilitates is phenomenal and it’s something I only realised in retrospect. Friends from my own year at the end of our degree are now exploring so many diverse avenues that are available to them, based on their individual interests such as masters in Cyber Security, pursuing professional Accounting qualifications, securing jobs in mobile or web development, consulting, business analysis or even considering entrepreneurial ventures. BIS gives you the opportunity to taste all of these areas throughout the four years and I’m also grateful to have been able to identify areas that I am not as interested in, just as much as figuring out what I enjoy enough to pursue future jobs in.

Another thing that surprised me was the sense of community throughout BIS – many of our projects were group based and considering that we spend so much time working together on assignments, you really get to know so many people in the course. The lecturers and tutors also help to create this community type environment which makes the college experience feel less anonymous.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’ll be moving to Dublin next year to begin a consultancy role but I would love to work abroad again, perhaps London, the US or Canada! I am really excited to work in consulting and I plan to keep pursuing my interests in mobile development, music and volunteering alongside this over the next few years.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
It can be daunting having to decide what you want to study for the next couple of years and eventually decide what you want to do afterwards, but I think with BIS, if you have the genuine interest in areas of technology and business, you will be opening yourself to numerous possibilities both during and after the degree. It’s really what you make of it and the course doesn’t box you into just one or two areas, you can do so much with it.

Tell us about your involvement in the St. Vincent de Paul Society in UCC?
I’ve been a member of the UCC SVP Society since first year, jumping from a general volunteer to Secretary, Finance Officer and Vice-Chairperson over the four years. Through SVP, I’ve had the chance to help raise thousands of euro for people experiencing homelessness and families in need through creating and participating in fundraising initiatives both on and off campus.

I’ve partially been responsible for getting our weekly Child and Adult activities off the ground and organising training and Garda Vetting for new members and volunteers. Most recently, we created 100 care packages for men and women experiencing homelessness, filled with essential items and distributed them to local resource centres in Cork. It’s been an incredible experience that has really opened my eyes to the needs of society and I hope to continue working with SVP in another capacity after I leave UCC.

Throughout my time in UCC, I also joined the Choral, LGBT* and Dramat Societies and completed a semester as the Public Relations Officer of the Society Guild Executive.

How does your BIS experience tie in with the work you do with UCC SVP?
Similar to how BIS usually operates through groups assignments and how group members rely on each other, societies also rely heavily on teamwork and depending on other people. The activities that UCC SVP work with depend on a group of volunteers to attend them each week so the committee is responsible for doing everything in our power to accommodate and facilitate the numbers and for preparing volunteers to be vetted and qualified to attend.

Everyone must complete their specific tasks in order to contribute to this success and the success of events, volunteer recruitment etc. For example, the PRO advertises to recruit volunteers, the Finance Officer books the transport for volunteers to activities, the Activity Officers must keep in regular contact with volunteers along every step of the process, and the Chairperson and Vice then must co-ordinate with the committee, volunteers and the local SVP staff in a way that doesn’t conflict with academic schedules but still gets the job done. We must also ensure that the committee has the necessary skills and tools to do their assigned tasks.

In 2017, a collaborative project undertaken by a group of 23 first year Business Information Systems (BIS) students in UCC raised €2,230 for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Cork. The first year students undertook the group project to create a charity CD of Christmas carols that saw them come together to brainstorm, rehearse, collaborate, and record the album, and once complete, sell it to raise funds for the charity which was fantastic to see!

How can people get involved in the society?
Feel free to approach the society on campus at Societies Day or Failte Fest in 2017. ‘Liking’ our Facebook page or just turning up to one of our events is probably the best way to get started! It’s never too late to get involved either, all years are welcome!

People can sign up to our mailing list in advance through this link where all the need-to-know info will be sent:

UCC BIS Students present cheque to St. Vincent de Paul

Eamonn Grennan, Keith Kavanagh and Chantelle O’Sullivan pictured at the cheque presentation by first year BIS students to St. Vincent de Paul. The students raised €2,230 through the sale of a CD of Christmas carols they recorded, with all proceeds go towards the St. Vincent de Paul education fund.


Leaving Cert students learn how to #MakeITWork with BIS at UCC


This gallery contains 45 photos.

  On Friday, May 12th, Leaving Cert students from a number of schools around Cork attended a #MakeITWork event in UCC. The event for prospective Business Information Systems (BIS) students gave them the opportunity to experience university life and get … Continue reading

“I had the incredible opportunity to live and work in London for six months”

sarah-mcnamaraFinal year BIS student Sarah McNamara shared her BIS experience with us, from choosing the course to what the future holds…

Why did you do BIS?
I was not too sure what I wanted to do in college. I knew I had an interest in technology, but never really considered doing a course in that area, but that changed after I attended the open day in UCC in 6th year and sat in on the BIS talk. I heard stories from past and present BIS students. They told us about their college and placement experiences and the job prospects after graduating and it really appealed to me. So, I decided to do it!

What is the best thing you have got out of the course so far?
There are so many highlights of my past few years in BIS, but the obvious choice is the opportunity I had to go abroad on placement for six months.

I had the incredible opportunity to live and work in London for six months. I was working with Credit Suisse Investment Bank in Canary Wharf. I was working as a Business Analyst in a Global IT team in the Risk and Finance division of the firm. Over the six months, I received a substantial amount of invaluable industry experience that will stand to me greatly in my future career. A stand out memory was when myself and Emer got to go down and watch the manic unfold on the trade floor on the day the Brexit vote – it was very surreal.

Work aside, living in London was amazing. There was so much to see and do, and we had a few weekends away around Europe. There were six of us over there and we had one of the best experiences of our lives. I would go back in a heartbeat.

What’s the one thing that has surprised you most about the course?
BIS definitely has a name for being a bit of a clique (in a good way!). I did not expect to become so close with so many people in my year as well as with people in other years. That is just the way BIS is.

As we spend so much time in the labs working on group projects everyone gets to know everyone from first year on which is important from a college experience perspective.

Also, as the fourth years tutor the years below them it creates a more interactive and relaxed learning experience for the younger students and gives them the opportunity to talk to other years about their experience.

Our ball is also very good every year – so thank you to the BIS Society who organise that!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
The job prospects that are available to BIS studies are extremely varied, from application developers to analysts and consultants, many of which offer you the opportunity to travel. These careers can bring you all around the world and I hope that in five years I’ll be working abroad in one of these roles. I would love to go to San Francisco.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
If you have any interest in technology and you like working in teams on projects I would recommend you do BIS! You do not have to be overly tech savvy, but having an interest in how things work, innovation and the industry itself is a great start.

“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 ( 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.


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!

“BIS is unique. It does not follow the one-dimensional path of the conventional third level course of 2016.”

Dylan O’Brien from the BIS Class of 2015 is closing in on his first year with VMware as an Application Support Analyst; a role which combines a mix of skills acquired over his four years with BIS.

WhyDylan O'Brien did you do BIS?
The ‘Dreaded CAO’ is every student’s nightmare, as it is truly the first time in the lives of the students that the destiny of their education is in their own hands; and responsibility is a scary predicament!

BIS was introduced to me through our school career guidance counsellor. It was the open ended nature of the course which was the real appeal. With BIS, you are the master of your own destiny in terms of your career path, and having spoken to past pupils of BIS ranging from Business Analysts to CEOs of impressive start-ups, to secondary level teachers, I was really impressed by what the course had to offer, looking long-term.

What was the best thing you got out of the course?
To pinpoint one specific area or set of skills which benefited me the most is difficult as what I learned in my time with BIS was so vast. I believe on a personal level for me, my 6 months in Boston on work placement was the most beneficial to me in my career. It allowed me to mature the skills I had learned to date with BIS and showcase them on a truly global platform. Being thrown out of your comfort zone is something no one can entirely prepare for, but being allowed to take the first steps, albeit it baby steps, of my career within the environment in which I was allowed to do so, leveraged me to a great position going forward in my career.

Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I was lucky enough to be chosen along with four of my classmates to work with Eaton Vance investment management firm in the financial district of downtown Boston. That year, there were 35+ students working in companies right across Boston, North Carolina, New York and Rhode Island. It was an unforgettable experience for all!

Where are you now?
I secured my graduate programme in November of final year with cloud and virtualization software company, VMware, based in Ballincollig, Cork. VMware employs approximately 900 employees in its Cork office, and upwards of 20,000 worldwide. I am closing in on my first year here with VMware as an Application Support Analyst; a role which combines a mix of skills acquired over my four years with BIS – from SQL database management to FRD creation, and most importantly working as part of global team (USA, India, Costa Rica, Ireland).

How did you get this job?
The job was advertised through BIS to our class in November of our final year. The role appealed to me for many reasons, but none more so than the global aspect to the role. The interview followed a standard three step procedure with psychological assessments, behavioural interview on-site, and finally a video conference interview with members of my prospective team to assess my suitability for the role and adaptability with the existing team. The process from application to contract signature took approximately three weeks.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
Always deliver more than expected.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
In my current role, we undergo a process known as quarter-end whereby four times a year there is an enormous rush to push through vast amount of data through our ERP applications by hundreds of users. In my brief time with VMware I have been part of the quarter-end team on three occasions. I have had orders valuing millions of dollars stuck in process and an incredible amount of pressure from management to push through these deals.

I have learned that there may not always be an immediate solution, but there is more often than not an immediate workaround; that is vitally important in my current role. You may be the most skilled data technician in your company, but unless you can disengage for the technical aspect at critical times, problem solve, and find a solution that works for all parties, you will always be at a disadvantage.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Sure – I mean you’re only human to experience some form of regret in life be that at home, on the sports field, in the classroom, in work; wherever. I have been told, that hindsight is a glorious thing and I believe that to be 100% accurate. It provides an individual with a benchmark to better themselves; a catalyst for improvement.

Over the course of my four years in BIS could I have studied harder? Yes. Could I have produced better work? Yes. Could I have applied myself more? Yes. But would I change anything? Absolutely not.

Regret is a powerful tool, but you should never let it consume you. I find myself in the position I am today as a result of a combination of all the positive and negative events which have happened in my life, be that in college, home, work or elsewhere; and I could not be happier for it!

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
BIS is unique. It does not follow the one-dimensional path of the conventional third level course of 2016. BIS can be the course you want it to be, and with its broad spectrum of relevant topics ranging from the very technical to the very functional, each student is allowed to pursue their own particular interests, carve out a career path which interests them personally, and all in a very high-paced, transparent and supportive environment. It really has that something special.