I'm a senior lecturer in Galway Business School. I recently took up a role as manager in Grant Thornton Ireland, working in learning and development. Learning is my true passion and I strongly believe that education is the most powerful weapon to implement change and create an equal society.
What I love most about what I do is the growth I see in people. There is a technical side to what I do, for sure, but it is also about understanding people, their drivers and motivations. Some students come to accounting with a fear it will be too technical and too daunting for them. I love the challenge of turning around these perceptions. My method is to get them to think in terms of their own money, to apply common sense, tear back all the jargon and embrace it. Words can’t describe how fulfilling it is to see a person open up and grow both personally and professionally; no salary could replace this joy.
The students I work with want more from work and life, and employers are going to have to adapt to this
Students have been having a really hard time over the past few years and I find society is too quick to judge younger people. Many have suffered great hardship and grief during the pandemic, and it has made them question life and their contribution to family and society. I find the students I work with to be highly articulate and expressive. They want more from work and life, and employers are going to have to adapt to this.
If I could recommend the government do one thing in education it would be to make philosophy, sociology and psychology mandatory in our school curriculum. The study of these subjects opens the mind, and encourages critical thinking and deep-rooted understanding. Critical thinkers can get left behind in the education system because they are considered disruptive, but they have so much to offer society.
My own time in secondary school was difficult for a number of reasons, including what we would now call bullying. At 18, while in college studying accountancy, I found out I was pregnant. This was 1997 and Ireland was very different to how it is now. However, my fears were unfounded as parents and grandparents surrounded me with acceptance and love. The career I wanted was put on hold and while I went on to work in roles I enjoyed it was always with the feeling that I wasn’t reaching my full potential.
The most important business lesson I have learned in my career is the importance of patience and resilience
Returning to college as a mature student was one of the best decisions of my life. The day I qualified as an ACCA accountant in 2019, the feeling of fulfilment was overwhelming! The privilege that education gives you is hard for some to appreciate but I will always be grateful for what ACCA gave me. It has also afforded me the opportunity to share with others the power of education, to open minds and ignite passion.
My priorities this year have been to stop working as much, and spend more time with my beautiful adult daughters, husband and family. We almost lost my dad at one point and the thought that we could be without him brought a new appreciation of my family and all its wonderful colour! On a career perspective, I am finalising my master's research and networking for funding for my PhD.
The most important business lesson I have learned in my career is the importance of patience and resilience. When you don’t get that promotion or job, at the time it seems so unfair but one day you will understand the reason why. My own life has shown me the truth of the adage that ‘what is for you won’t pass you by’.