Cathal Keegan - Commercial Business Analyst


Cathal Keegan

Commercial Business Analyst


Summary of your daa journey and current role:

I began working in daa International’s home base, providing support in the identification of business development opportunities within our global teams. I conducted benchmarking exercises to better understand global aviation trends and industry best practices. These benchmarks ranged from studies on private aviation to taxi management systems, and helped to inform senior management’s decision making. From these benchmarking exercises, I began providing support to the Riyadh team on a number of commercial projects, and completed a two week international assignment in November 2022. I was then offered the opportunity to relocate and work with the daa International team in Riyadh on a full time basis, where I have been working as a commercial business analyst since March 2023.

What does your average day look like?

As a commercial business analyst consulting at Riyadh Airport, my average day involves conducting in depth analysis of market opportunities. I focus on identifying potential revenue generation opportunities within the airport. Additionally I am involved in the development and management of the commercial strategy to ensure it aligns with the airport’s objectives and goals. My work involves data analysis, account management, market research, strategy development and cross functional collaboration with other key airport teams to drive revenue growth and enhance the commercial output.

Developing my cross cultural communication skills has been key in my role as a graduate working in Saudi Arabia. I have had to learn and adapt to the many cultural nuances to effectively communicate with colleagues, stakeholders and partners in Riyadh. I have been able to foster better working relationships as a result, which is crucial to my role. It has enabled me to bridge cultural gaps and work collaboratively in a diverse and dynamic environment, ultimately leading to my success so far.

What’s been the highlight so far?

My first time visiting Riyadh on my two week assignment. I was in Riyadh when Saudi Arabia beat Argentina in the World Cup, which is probably the closest thing to Italia 90’ that I’ll get to experience! I also helped support in the development of the commercial strategy for Riyadh Airports Company (RAC) during this period, which is an exciting vision to transform the airport into a global leader, and I am now supporting the delivery of this strategy in my role today.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

Understanding and adapting to the cultural differences in Saudi Arabia. It was a tough transition period, moving away from my family and friends into a country with such a contrasting culture to Ireland.

Fortunately, I received great support from the daa International team on the ground in Riyadh, with my manager, Lorcan Tyrrell, making sure I had everything I needed to settle in and also checking in on me regularly. The grad programme manager, David Nugent, and my daa International manager, Sarah Flynn, were also really supportive during this period, and I was able to come home to attend the IBEC course in person every couple of months which made the settling in process a lot more manageable, as I got to see my family as well. Both Sarah and David stayed in touch through regular online meetings to make sure I was settling in okay and were always available for a call if I had an issue.

What’s surprised you most about working at daa?

The strength of the organisation’s international business. Daa International has an outstanding reputation in Saudi Arabia since it began operating in the country in 2016, and it has grown rapidly since. ARI is also a major global player in airport retail, operating in 14 countries across 5 continents.

What is the next step in your journey at daa?

I plan to stay in Saudi Arabia and continue supporting the development of daa International’s commercial function, both in Riyadh and globally.

What is your top tip for someone who wants to apply for the daa grad programme?

Research the company’s values and reflect on how your own experiences match up. It's a valuable approach to evaluate the alignment of your personal values with those of daa. If you are a good fit, you can use your personal experiences to demonstrate your compatibility during the application process.

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