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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-06-29 06:20:03

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Is a university degree essential for success or can
the smart and enterprising forge their own paths?

We talked to four successful business women
about their route to the top.

Mary McMahon Dublin ad agencies. This was great as it gave me loads of ammunition for
the interview for the Masters in Advertising in DIT. I then got hired into
HEAD OF STRATEGIC PLANNING, OWENSDDB one of those agencies (McConnells) as a junior strategic planner when I
“When I was leaving secondary school I wasn’t quite sure what
careers were out there so I applied to study something I was interested There are huge opportunities to continue learning in the industry.
in. Thankfully my parents were supportive. I started in University of People want to keep up to date with digital so there are many evening
Ulster Coleraine studying Humanities Combined (Media, Theatre courses available. This year was the first year I entered the Institute of
Studies and Philosophy). At the end of first year I finished at the top Advertising Practitioners (IAPI) ADFX Awards so to give it my best
of the class in Media Studies so the University encouraged me to study shot I did an eight week morning course on writing effectiveness papers
straight Media Studies. I now have a BA in Media Studies from UUC, which was run by IAPI. My paper for Volkswagen was shortlisted in the
and a MSc in Advertising from DIT. Automotive category, which is a great honour.

A lot of people in the industry, especially the under 40s, have high My advice to people starting out would be ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’.
levels of education. It’s harder to remain in education now due to the Don’t be stressing over everyday issues, they will come and go. Treat
cost – but there really are lots of opportunities for interns. I think people everyone with respect. It’s a small industry and you will be continuously
who have the right skill set can come in and prove themselves without crossing paths with the same people. You never know – they might end
having huge amounts of qualifications. If you are willing and able to do up your boss in the future – or you might be theirs!”
work experience then you can prove your worth to an agency.
OwensDDB has been shortlisted for this year’s IAPI ADFXAwards
My way of getting my foot in the door was to do a Masters in
Advertising and go into the industry at a junior level. I had taught
primary school for a couple of years (back then you could teach if
you have an Arts degree), then backpacked round the world for a year
and a half. When I returned I did some work experience in two large

“LEARN Debbie O’Donnell
TO WALK “I did a BA in Sociology and Psychology in UCC as I
BEFORE originally wanted to be a criminal psychologist. Pretty
YOU CAN soon after I started my course I realised that the criminal
RUN, AND psychology route was not for me and decided that I wanted
DON’T GIVE to do something in media instead. When I was in college
there were very few post-graduate courses in media, unlike
UP!” the variety there is now so instead I did a post-graduate in
Public Relations in DIT, Aungier Street. It gave me a good
DEBBIE O’DONNELL insight into public relations and I realised that I wanted to
work in television.
I took the long way to get into television and I worked
my way into Sky News in London from the bottom and
worked as hard as I could. If you want to work in television

Grainne McLaughlin person in the telecoms/technology/ Claire Lynch,
media sector with a particular
There is no right or wrong answer, “I think third level education is really
“For my undergraduate degree, I just different paths, so I have learned important. Of course it depends on the
studied for a BCL (European Legal not to agonise about the possibility individual and for me I was indecisive at 18 so
Studies) at UCD’s School of Law of making a bad choice. Just make I believe a broad discipline such as business or
and I later spent a year at Ruprecht sure you have enough information arts gives a great foundation for a future career
Karls University of Heidelberg on a when making decisions. Ability path. It allows you to develop and to think
Master’s programme. Looking back, to make decisions and not doubt for yourself and courses which offer industry
I was fairly clueless. At 17 I was yourself is key to empowering your placements are hugely beneficial too as they
focused on the dreaded ‘points race’ career. allow the student to get a sense of the theory in
and getting a good course in a good practice. I have an Arts degree in History, Politics
university. If nothing else at least Good, positive relationships and Statistical Maths from UCD, then I did a
that probably indicated I was fairly in all areas of your life are vital Masters in Marketing in DIT. Whilst having a
career driven early on.  to your success as a person, a broad education base is great, there comes a time
professional and a colleague. Build when there is a need to specialise.
While I began in a purely legal good relationships with people at
discipline, I diversified somewhat all stages of your career (even when For a successful marketing career, I firmly
soon after qualifying. At the time, it’s hard to like everybody in a work believe you need to be passionate and
going in-house was fairly unheard of. environment!) and maintain them as demonstrate a true love of brands. This isn’t
I have been working in an in-house they will provide you with valuable something that can be taught, it comes from
capacity in a corporate environment opportunities later in life. Moreover, within. Marketing is not an exact science –
for a long time now. I think everyone you will be a happier and more theories and principles can be applied, truly great
finds their niche eventually, finding successful person overall. marketing is driven by gut (backed up of course
the area they enjoy most. Rather with insight, data and commercial acumen).
than regarding myself as purely a Career development is
lawyer, I regard myself as a business ultimately your own responsibility, Development and training is a core value of
notwithstanding the great companies McDonald’s. Personally I’ve had opportunities to
out there that give people good continuously improve my skillset and to develop
opportunities to develop their talent. my marketing career. The company puts specific
A career in law has many more paths emphasis on one-on-one coaching and mentoring
than the traditional roles of solicitor which really helps develop confidence. Through
or barrister. To deviate from that McDonald’s cross functional way of working,
path you may have to take some I’m not just a marketing specialist; I’m also a
small risks but while a law degree is business specialist.
a career in itself for many, it is also a
stepping stone for others to careers The most important thing I have learned is
in business, technology, education to ‘control the controllables’. My advice to
and many more.” young people is, don’t get caught up in the idea
marketing is all about making TV ads. Ads are
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I HAVE part of it, and are fun to make, but marketing
LEARNED IS ‘CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLES’ has become more and more commercially
driven so in addition to a desire to deliver great
CLAIRE LYNCH campaigns for your brand, every project has to
deliver to the bottom line.”
my advice is to do a third level course in journalism, it is the best way
to learn your trade. The DCU journalism course is absolutely excellent Claire, with agencies Cawley Nea and
and it includes work placement with various media outlets as part of the Mediaworks, has been nominated for this year’s
course which is invaluable for any budding journalists. Work placement IAPI ADFX Awards. n
is an invaluable way to make a good impression on future employers.
There are plenty of chances to upskill and continue learning in the
industry. TV3 is a fast changing environment and opportunities come
along all the time. The most important thing I have ever learned is not
to take things for granted and that you’re never too important to make
coffee for others. There’s always time to make coffee for your colleagues.

The one essential you cannot learn in traditional education is good
manners, you don’t need a third level education to say thank you. If
I were to give advice to anyone starting out it would be to learn your
trade. Learn to walk before you can run, and don’t give up!”


THE NEWgurus

Feeling spiritually derailed? R ocking Kundalini turbans with Isabel Marant kicks, bringing Mala beads
Looking to soothe your soul? to Ted Talks and guiding SMEs with hip hop swagger; these new self-help
Don’t book that ticket to India
just yet. Finding oneself doesn’t shamans boast fans like Oprah and Richard Branson; not to mention
necessitate an Eat, Pray, Love
excursion, a crash course in accolades from Forbes to the New York Times bestseller list. What’s more – they’ve got
chanting or three weeks in a
silent ashram. Self-awareness is the digital chutzpah to spread their hot truth like a burning sage bush. No long haul
much closer to home thanks to a
new generation of lifestyle gurus flight required.
who’ve given new age a new look.
By Annmarie O’Connor Of course, the trend of personal agency is nothing new. Since the first self-help tome

was published in 1859 by Samuel Smiles, the ‘body, mind, spirit’ triumvirate has found

its own genre; albeit with a Hester Prynne-style stigma. Thanks to the proliferation of

digital media however (think Livestream retreats, real-time Twitter jams and guided

YouTube meditations), the trend has shifted front and centre with a $13 billion net

worth to boot. So just who are the top trending thought leaders?

Leading the charge is former party girl and publicist Gabrielle Bernstein (Gabbyb.

tv) whose website blurb ‘become the happiest person you know’ finds its roots in her

own ‘miracle mindset’. Having hit ‘rock bottom’ at 25, she turned her life around

with the help of her own personal guru Marianne Williamson who introduced her

to the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles. As a motivational speaker, life coach,

Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher and author (including the New York Times

bestseller May Cause Miracles); Bernstein’s no-nonsense brand of ancient wisdom

(miracles are simply a ‘shift in perception’) spun with a practical twist (meditation


Gabrielle Bernstein
Kate Northrup
Danielle LaPorte

Marie Forleo



apps, anyone?) has made her relevant to a fast-paced need-it-nowKENZO financial decisions.”
culture. Call it intuition, call it a hunch; call it feel-good factor but if we

“People don’t need miracles ten years from now,” she explains over don’t learn to love money, it won’t love us. “That’s why so many
our Google+ Hangouts chat. “They need miracles now.” Not surpris- people avoid dealing with their finances,” she insists, “because it’s been
ingly, her latest book Miracles Now, promises just that. Touted as a boring in the past or it’s been challenging or it’s been stressful and so
‘spiritual survival toolkit for the stressed and time-pressed’; it features we just avoid it. And so, the key ingredient is pleasure and fun and
108 techniques for dealing with common problems from stressing out bringing those things to the table so you’ll keep showing up for your
to handling social media trolls with grace. finances.”

“People no longer have the attention span for long-form content,” In today’s consumer-driven society, keeping up with the Joneses
explains the New Yorker, “so I wanted to make it easy and fast.” No can be hard work but in redefining abundance from having it all, to
40 days in the desert or 21 days to reframe a habit; instead each of the simply having what you want (however small that may be); the key
108 practices is distilled into two pages with a 140-character tweeta- to happiness is easily within reach. It’s this emotional equation that
ble at the bottom of each chapter. Her fans, known as ‘spirit junkies’ finds expression in just about every corner of our lives from work to
feed on her frank urban moxie. Take technique #39 Just Show Up, for relationships; buying a dress to simply enjoying the moment.
example: “Often people say to me, ‘I don’t have time to meditate,’ or, ‘I
don’t have time to pray.’ My response is, ‘Do you have the time to feel Business strategist, inspirational speaker, former think-tank execu-
like shit?’” Can’t argue with that. tive and author Danielle LaPorte focuses similarly on creating ‘goals
with a soul’ by harnessing, what she terms ‘core desired feelings’.
Despite a loyal online fan base; what sets Bernstein apart from a very That means ditching the New Year’s rezzies and diving deep into the
crowded self-mastery market is creating spiritual teachers; not disciples. feelings pool to access life’s sweet spot.
With this, she has launched a series of Spirit Junkie masterclasses to
help mentors, coaches and healers step into their power. “Oh, I’m so “We have the procedures of achievement upside down,” she writes
excited about this!” she enthuses. “I’m giving them another level of in The Desire Map. “We go after the stuff we want to have, get,
spiritual teachings to add to their repertoire and teaching them how to accomplish, and experience outside of ourselves. And we hope, yearn,
lead the ‘spirit junkie’ way. They will learn my best practices for guiding pray that we’ll be fulfilled when we get there. It’s backwards. It’s out-
meditations, leading EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) sessions, side in. And it’s running us in circles.”
public speaking, book publishing and how to run a spiritual business.”
Looking for insta-inspiration? Listen to LaPorte’s soft Canadian
Running a ‘spiritual business’ may appear oxymoronic to some but lilt on her Soundcloud playlist ( as she sprinkles
financial wellness coach Kate Northrup (; author heart-centered haiku like a poetry slam master; or follow her gusty
of Money: A Love Story, also believes abundance to be a mindset. #truthbombs on Pinterest: ‘If it doesn’t feel good, STOP’; ‘HUNT it
“Whether it’s, ‘How much should I charge?’, or, ‘Should I ask for a down and love it hard.’ That big raise you want? Timeshare in Tahiti?
raise?’, ‘How do I pay off my debt?’, or, ‘How do I make more money?’ It’s not the goal itself you’re chasing, it’s the feeling. Sold.
any of those questions,” she stresses, “the answer is as simple and as
complex as ‘value yourself.’” Marie Forleo, founder of Marie TV, B-School and Rich, Happy and
Hot events, also advocates passion over people-pleasing. ‘Part business
Northrup, who racked up $20,000 of credit card debt in her twen- strategist, part marketing maven and part spiritual ass-kicker,’ her
ties, has harnessed her personal story (paying it off in less than two mix of online nous ( reaches over 250,000 readers
years) to create, ‘financial planning that feels good’ – a gut-led guide in 191 countries) and Jersey-girl humour has made her a scion for the
to spending with purpose. Using emotions as a fiscal GPS may not be self-employed and small business owner. “I’ve noticed that some folks
on the curriculum at Harvard but its paradoxical logic is undeniably are struggling with what I call ‘small dream shame’,” she notes on
sound. “Money is just a stand-in for what we value as humans and so an episode of Marie TV, “an insidious angst and drive to aim higher,
it is inherently emotional,” explains Northrup. “That’s what the econ- ‘think bigger’ and strive for more. But what if dreaming big is actually
omy is: it’s the collective value system of every human being. You can’t crushing your soul?”
get that in a spreadsheet. So you have to tap into your emotions and
intuition in order to access that depth of information to make good The answer is in the question: If you’re not feeling it, it’s not worth
it. Now if someone would only inform those damned Joneses. Oh
wait, we’ve got that covered… n



When it comes to entrepreneurship, there is no doubt that
women in Ireland face some unique challenges. Slowly but
surely, we’re finding ways to break them down and propel
small enterprises into big business. Jean O’Sullivan works
with Enterprise Ireland to help Irish women and their
businesses reach their full potential.

The development of start-up businesses is core to featuring successful women in
developing a sustainable economy. In Ireland and business sharing candid insights
across Europe, men are twice as likely as women into their experiences; highs and
to start a new business. Research conducted lows, dos and don’ts, mistakes
by Enterprise Ireland suggests that the key and lessons learnt are invaluable.
challenges facing women entrepreneurs in 2014 include lack I have found that successful men
of role models, less access to finance and lower levels of risk and women in Ireland are very
taking, low self-confidence, a shortage of female networking supportive to promoters who are
opportunities and a lack of technical expertise. Further on the first leg of their respective
afield, but still very relevant to Irish women, international journeys and are very willing to
research suggests that women do approach starting a business give advice and mentoring to those
differently from their male counterparts and the effect of each who need their input.
of the challenges highlighted are not in isolation from each
other, but rather, like a domino effect they roll into each other. My focus in 2014 is to continue
For example, the impact of low self-confidence can have a to support women in business and help them to scale their
bearing on levels of risk-taking and financial fundraising. It businesses, to enter new markets, to achieve the vision and
may hinder women and prevent them from joining appropriate reaching the real potential of their businesses and to seek and
networks or manifest as a reluctance to engage in sectors that tap into the supports available. This year Enterprise Ireland
might be traditionally viewed to be male dominated. has supported and co-funded four capability and development
programmes specifically targeting the key challenges impacting
Addressing the under-representation of women in business on female entrepreneurship. These include Paula Fitzsimons,
requires an understanding of the key challenges identified Going for Growth, DCU Ryan Academy, Female Propeller
in the research and the development of tailored initiatives Programme, NDRC female founders programme and Female
to bridge the current gender gap. Each challenge requires Programmes in Cork Institute of Technology. The programmes
a specific targeted action, these include specific financial are available and provide structured programmes to assist
supports, mentoring and capability building programmes and women in business, upskill and bridge management and
networking opportunities. technical capability gaps in a trusted environment supported
by peer to peer learning and mentors.
Role models are a central source of inspiration and in Ireland
female support groups and organisations have identified and There is no doubt that targeted initiatives have a positive
promoted role models through hosting networking events with impact with the emergence of growing number of women-
keynote speakers peer-to-peer mentoring facilitated groups led businesses that can achieve scale and growth. The future
and promoting female business awards. Accessing appropriate is promising for women in business with a 100 per cent
networks is a vital source of opportunities and advice for increase in the number of women-led businesses that received
new start-ups. Enterprise Ireland has recently developed and investment in 2013 and a projected increase in business activity
facilitated a web-based networking programme for female and investments in 2014.
clients. The platform acts as a conduit to facilitate greater
communication and connectivity to exploit opportunities from If you would like to find out more about funding, development
trusted referrals and advice. programmes and the opportunities that are available to you, go
Events also offer an opportunity for like-minded women in
business to come together and be inspired. Panel discussions



there was a 100 per cent increase in the connections has gone beyond the traditional networking
number of women-led businesses that template and while it may seem that you don’t have time to
received investment last year step away from the everyday slog, the reality is you probably
can’t afford not to. According to US-based careers expert Julie
Action List Winkle Giulioni, “the lines between mentoring and networking
are blurring. Welcome to mentworking.” (See details of our
The Top five Things you can do To boosT own upcoming event on page 41.)
your business:
1. Meet a Mentor 3. talk to Your Peers

Take advantage of the relatively small community that is Ireland Connecting with others isn’t all about what they can do for
and reach out to a successful business person in your field who your bottom line. Conversations with others in the same phase
you think has something valuable to share. Conversely, try of start up or juggling the same situation as you can offer a
connecting with someone who has the exact opposite skills to you great deal of emotional support too.
– they might be able to see solutions or start discussions on issues
that you don’t immediately see. 4. acknowledge the Barriers

2. Book a Business Breakfast The first step toward overcoming the obstacles is being honest
with yourself. Are you acting out of fear or underselling
Or attend an evening event or join a support group. Making yourself? Do you lack the financial expertise to manage your
accounts? Are you managing your staff to their best potential?
Thrashing out the issues will help you find your answers and
where to look for help with much greater ease.

5. Believe in Yourself

The number one obstacle that crops up time and again that is
specific to women in business is confidence. Believe that you
can overcome the challenges, and you’ll be half way there. n



Apps and
programs to get
more organised:

Claire Burge Wunderlist is a to-do app
that allows you to share lists
DREAM and projects with others and
CATCHER sync them to all devices.

Your life goals don’t have to remain a pipe is a task manager app
dream. Productivity expert Claire Burge knows with seamless cloud syncing,
and daily review reminders.
just how to increase your productivity and
achieve your goals now. TIME TO is a program
VALUE YOU which helps you to make
There’s a saying; you know that thing you’ve always every digital interaction count
wanted to do? Well, go do it. That sounds very simple, Women more than men – no time-wasting allowed.
but then you recall the kids/partner/job/social life/all
of the above, which leave very little time to get started tend to use the classic is a connected
on any secret ambitions you might be harbouring. But instead
of daydreaming about shifting the time-space continuum in excuse that their partners workspace program which
order to wedge another day between Wednesday and Thursday,
know that it is possible to create the time to achieve your life and children take up too unifies your workflow into
goals. Whether it is getting an entrepreneurial idea off the
ground, expanding your current business, learning a new skill, much of their time, leaving one fluid system.
or even writing a book, streamlining your hectic lifestyle and
getting organised is the key to success. Productivity expert and very little time leftover
author of Spin: Taking your Creativity to the Nth Degree, Claire
Burge has made her career out of helping her clients to harness to work on the projects
creativity through maximizing their productivity.
that have been sitting on

their to-do lists. “I don’t

usually like raising the gender divide when I’m working

with clients,” says Burge. “But this is something I hear from

women more than men. It sounds a little harsh, but to me this

excuse is a clear indication of someone who doesn’t organise

their time well. You actually have a lot more time than you

think you do.” Regardless of whether you have a lot going

on professionally or personally, the key to creating time for

you is to prioritise it and work it into your daily routine. Not

taking the time to prioritise your own goals, can make you

feel, begrudgingly, that your other obligations are consuming

all of your time. “When you feel resentful you are not going

to be the colleague, partner and mother that you actually

want to be,” warns Burge. “If you actually prioritise time for

yourself, you approach time with them differently, because

you value it and you can focus fully on it – it will feel better,

more like proper quality time.”



An important step on the road to productivity is to eliminate
time wasting activities like social media. “The worst time waster BEGRUDGINGLY, THAT OTHER OBLIGATIONS
is unplanned time on social media,” says Claire. She advises ARE CONSUMING ALL OF YOUR TIME
switching off the notifications on your mobile device, forcing
you to physically click into Facebook or Twitter to check those until last or whenever you have a spare minute. However, Claire
channels. “I use social media very actively to communicate with warns that you have to be prepared to make some adjustments to
clients and people, but they don’t rule my day. I have a very make this happen. “Getting up earlier, means going to bed earlier,
specific allocated time of two half-hour slots that I dedicate to adjusting your exercise schedule and avoiding the snooze button
social media.” Another time-wasting mistake is allowing your in the morning,” says Claire. “Yes it’s hard at first, but think about
email to drive your day. “People check their email before they go the sense of achievement you will have when you start making
to sleep, first thing in the morning, and then they spend the whole headway on the thing that you’ve always wanted to do but seemed
day chasing their inbox, not getting the thing they actually want impossible. Put the alarm clock on the other side of the room if you
to get done,” says Claire. Turn off the email alerts on your desk have to, but just do it. The quietness and peace of the early morning
top and mobile devices and instead check in every hour. “I don’t hours really lend themselves to productivity and creativity, and that
open my inbox before 12pm every day, but I have communicated positive sense of achievement stays with you all day.”
to my clients and my friends that I will not answer emails before
midday, and that is the key. People are fine with this concept once PLAN TO SUCCEED
they know where they stand, and if it is urgent people can, of
course, text me. I don’t have that sense of urgency once I wake A big thing that people overlook is the value of taking time to plan
up in the morning and it doesn’t run my day, or monopolise my your day each evening before going to bed. “One of the key things
most productive period – the morning.” If you are using email to that you need to give yourself is what I call a shutdown period at
communicate with a team for work purposes, you should think the end of the day,” says Claire. This time is should allow you to
about creating a task management environment instead. There are review your tasks from that day, the things that were completed
a lot of easy-to-use software options, which can make this happen. and those that didn’t get done, to get an idea of what your task list
is going to look like tomorrow. “You then decide what the most
MORNING GLORY important thing you need to do the next day is and prioritise that
as the first thing you will do in the morning; say for instance that
The reason Burge feels so protecive of her morning productivity report you need to write.” Then you move down your task list to
is because, she says, that’s when our brain is at its most powerful other things that might need some preparation in advance, such as
and its most creative. This is why you should do the most difficult packing the kids’ schoolbags or even your own gym bag and you
or least attractive item on your list first – the one that requires organise those. You must also remember to include time for things
most effort. And whatever that is, it should happen before you like exercise, eating well and relaxation on your task list. Never
open your email. “Checking and answering emails is the first underestimate the important of your physical wellbing and the
thing we do in the morning even though it requires the least huge part it plays in your productivity and creativity.
amount of brain power, so we are effectively dedicating the most
productive part of our day to the least important thing.” If you
have a project that you really want to get working on, think
about getting up earlier in the day to do it, rather than leaving it

What’s Your Will have ten things in progress, but case. They struggle to start doing
Time Style? nothing actually completed. work because they are constantly
researching until they get to the point
Many people think it is their THE PERFECTIONIST where they can make a decision and
personality type which makes them They really, really struggle to finish something.
seem disorganised when it comes to multitask, as they just like to do one
productivity, but in truth it is their task at a time. However, whatever THE LAST-MINUTE RACER
time style. This measures people’s they do, they do it really well and People who absolutely need a deadline
natural inclination towards how they finish it to a high level. to actually get work done. The Last-
organise their time and their day. minute Racer gets into that real peak
Educating yourself on your time style THE DETAIL DODGER performance time before the deadline,
is the first step to better productivity. They are a very high level thinker, but say for instance, the Drop and
Burge has identified five different who don’t like to get into finer details Hop will struggle with the deadline
styles – read on to see which category of how something is actually going and become stressed about it.
you might you fit into. to get done. This means that they
don’t like routine tasks and prefer to Claire is founder of Get Organised
THE DROP AND HOP delegate. Ireland ( and
A person who starts something, will be speaking along with other
doesn’t finish it and moves on to THE PROCRASTINATOR keynote speakers at the IMI National
the next task, sometimes collecting One of the most misunderstood Management Conference on 9
more work along the way. They can time styles because to everyone else October, which takes place at the IMI
be found with twenty tabs open on around them they don’t seem to be Conference Centre, Sandyford Road,
their computer at the end of the day. doing anything, but that is not the Dublin. n


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