Sinéad D'Arcy, Graduate Programme Manager, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard
From as far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a Primary School teacher, so
that’s what I did in college, graduating in 1999/2000 from Coláiste Mhuire and Trinity College Dublin with a Bachelor of Education. Teaching First Class in Castleknock, Dublin is where my career journey started. During my time as a teacher I also taught Senior Infants and spent two years working in a learning support role. I loved teaching and found it very rewarding. However, after four years I was bitten by the travel bug and felt I needed a new challenge outside of teaching. So I handed in my notice to a full-time teaching role and headed off to Australia. Whilst there I worked in a variety of roles including working in the banking sector and the bar trade in Melbourne and Sydney. It was a great experience and opened my eyes
to a whole new world of possibilities and career opportunities.
When I returned to Ireland I knew I wanted to move to a role in the private sector. However I struggled to convince recruiters that my teaching background provided key transferable skills such as people management, time management, planning, organisation, team-building and presentation skills. So I decided to up skill by completing a business qualification in UCD, Smurfit School of Business, graduating in 2005 with First Class Honours. I hoped this one year full-time Diploma in Business Studies would provide a commercial edge to my CV that would be attractive to recruiters. I supplemented my studies with part time teaching, promotions work and working in the accounts department for an emerging games development company. This experience helped develop work ready skills while gaining my business qualification.
I had thought that I would go down the accountancy route when I completed my qualification however through my studies and work experience I realised accountancy was not for me, I was more interested in the personnel development side of organisations. When I graduated I was fortunate then, to be successful in gaining a role as Recruitment Officer with Ericsson’s HR department. During my postgraduate studies I was exposed, for the first time, to the world of graduate recruitment and while working with Ericsson I became interested in the value of graduate recruitment to an organisation. I worked with the HR team to introduce a centralised graduate recruitment process for the company. For the next two years I developed a structured approach to graduate recruitment and built relationships with key internal and external stakeholders including Careers Advisory Services and gradireland. As a result over a two year period more than 200 graduates were recruited across the company’s business units. I was very happy in my role, as it offered the opportunity to add value to the business and offered the challenge I had been looking for.
In 2008 an opportunity arose with Ulster Bank which offered the opportunity to join their graduate recruitment team and become involved in implementing the full lifecycle of their graduate programme. It was a very interesting opportunity so I went for it. Little did I know that 2008 would be the year that the financial world would be brought to its knees.
In September 2008, the impact of the impending financial collapse was evident and it became clear that this would have an impact on the area of graduate recruitment. This prompted my next career move which took me to UCD as Programme Manager in UCD Quinn School of Business.
My role in UCD Quinn School of Business was the management of the Diploma and Degree programmes in the Centre for Distance Learning. There was a definite period of readjustment as I got used to the rhythms of public sector working again. I’d come full circle and enjoyed working in education again and, in particular working with adult learners. The role also gave me the opportunity to lecture in Communication Skills and Developing Learning Competencies such as Research Skills. I really enjoyed being involved in developing modules to support the development of learning competencies for mature students returning to learning. I spent over three years at UCD but was always eager to rejoin the area of graduate recruitment. As the economy began to slowly recover, I was on the lookout for opportunities.
Doing a job I love
In 2012, an opportunity arose with Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard as Graduate Programme Manager. I could sense that graduate recruitment was beginning to pick up again and this revival was something I was keen to be involved in. The recruitment process was intense and included two interviews, a presentation and psychometric testing. I was delighted when offered the role and looked forward to combining my background in education, in HR and specifically in graduate to make an impact in my new role. My combination of skills and experience meant
that I could hit the ground running and was able to get stuck into the role right away. My role now involves the attraction and recruitment of graduates and the management of the full recruitment, training and management cycle of the Jameson Graduate Programme including
the strategic development of the ‘The Vital Ingredient’ recruitment campaign. Our programme offers graduates the opportunity to work as Jameson Brand Ambassadors in an international market offering the opportunity to kick start their career working with the world’s fastest growing international whiskey brand.
My advice to students is to start thinking about what you want from your career early in your college studies. Don’t leave it to final year. Build up a portfolio of experience and skills through getting some work experience and internships and through engaging with college societies. If you’re going to travel, work while you’re away and bring back skills that will distinguish your from other candidates. Also, learn a language. In an ever evolving jobs markets this is a skill that is increasingly required by employers.
What I’ve learned
Self-awareness is important. Learn about yourself, how you work best, your strengths and your weaknesses, how you leverage your strengths to add value to the organisation and how you address your weaknesses. It’s all about potential and how you recognise and realise your
potential. There are plenty of opportunities out there for graduates, but you need to have the right attitude to succeed. You need to be hard working, passionate and focused on what you want and how you aim to get it. The most important thing is not to give up. Be happy in yourself, confident in your abilities and whatever happens, move forward without fear.
Sinead was interviewed for gradireland’s Irelands 100 Leading Graduate Employers 2013/2014.