Tell us about your career to date
I worked part-time in our family-run wholesale drinks business when I was at school in Roscommon and continued working in pubs when I came to Dublin in 1997 to attend DCU. When I graduated in accounting and finance in 2000 the typical next step was into the financial services industry, which I tried for six months with Brown Brothers Harriman. But it just didn’t feel right for me at the time so I started working in commercial sales roles in the facilities management industry. I’ve spent a lot of my career in the sector – in commercial account management and sales type roles with companies such as Canon OCS, Mitie Facilities Management and the company I’m now with, Grosvenor Facilities Services. In the middle of that there was a bit of travel and short term contracts with the likes of Coca-Cola, General Electric, Brown Thomas and Sydney IVF.
Why did you decide to do the MSc Business (Leadership & Management Practice)?
Doing an MSc was never the initial plan. I probably wouldn’t have done it if it had been – I would have thought it was too much. I wanted to get back to education and to upskill, so I kind of tricked myself into doing the first diploma, which was Advanced Management Performance. But I think once you put your foot in the door at Smurfit you get the bug. The experience is fantastic and there’s a good mix of people on their first, second and third diplomas. You get the ambition to finish off the MSc when you do the first one.
Why did you choose Advanced Management Performance (AMP)?
When I reviewed the scope and material of the AMP course, it really was the right fit for me. It’s quite broad and has a good mix of modules that touch on various aspects of business. Some of them were areas that I wasn’t comfortable in and wanted to challenge myself with, like business strategy and definitely business culture. I found them really challenging modules because I had to push myself out of my comfort zone.
The improving business profitability module on the other hand was right up my street and helped me deep dive into the subject.
AMP picks up a lot of topics and I’d recommend it for anyone thinking about doing a single diploma.
Have you been able to apply the learnings in your role?
I have 100% been able to bring the learnings back into my role. The beauty of the Smurfit experience is that the education is tailored towards you and your personal circumstances. A lot of the assessments within AMP were learning journals and this is a fantastic way to apply the learnings from the modules into your current role. Through this approach you’re exploring the tools from the modules and utilising them to achieve results within your job.
I think I had a fear going into Smurfit that I was going to have to do a lot projects or a thesis and it was going to be really draining, but I actually found it enjoyable.
What was your second diploma and why did you choose it?
Having worked in sales for most of my career so far, it made perfect sense for me to choose High Performance Sales & Business Development as my second module. Career wise, I think my next step will be to commercial director or sales director so I wanted to get as much exposure as I could to the various tools to succeed in a role like that.
This programme looks at selling from various different angles. A lot of it was looking within the organisation at things like creating your own commercial team or achieving higher performance with some quick fixes rather than focusing on going out to the market and achieving growth.
Me doing this diploma has definitely had an impact on my company’s bottom line. I don’t want to go into detail of our numbers over the last two years or our group MD will think I’m advertising my credentials to our competitors, but they did increase significantly!
What did you choose for your final diploma?
To finish the MSc I was caught between three diplomas: Leadership Development, Business & Executive Coaching, and Business Finance. In my career path my next step will be commercial director or sales director so I thought the Business Finance one would provide me with the skills required within that area of the business. We’re about half-way through at this stage and I can really see how the learning and the modules link into the programmes I’ve already done.
What’s your advice for anyone thinking of doing a diploma or the MSc?
I would say just do it. No matter what happens, you won’t regret it. It does take time and effort. Life goes on around education and sometimes it can be challenging to fit in the learning but you’ll develop skills to be able to do that. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who didn’t enjoy the modules or courses they’ve done in Smurfit. It’s a fantastic experience and if anyone has the opportunity to do it they definitely should.
How has doing the MSc impacted you personally and professionally?
To complete the full MSc I’ll have done 18 modules and they all link together and I'll have met many different people along the way. So, between the learning and the interactions with my classmates, I think I’m going to become a more rounded professional.
Personally, it has been challenging, especially at times in 2020. I am looking forward to finishing but it’s been very rewarding. People often say it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey and I would agree with that. There have been ups and downs but it’s just been such a great experience that I’d advise it to anyone.