Capitalism loves to bang on about competition and the value of the marketplace. So why do does a degree in business deserve your precious business, and what exactly are these colleges trying to sell you?
“I’d always advise people to study what interests you the most,” says Brabazon. “But many do know when they’re filling out that CAO form that they want to pursue a degree in business. It provides an excellent education that prepares people for a wide range of careers and is proven to be a good choice.”
Brabazon, who worked as a chartered accountant with KPMG before moving into academia, says that he has seen major changes in the world of business over the past 25 years and that a degree can prepare graduates for the changes that will come.
“The biggest changes I’ve seen are globalisation, an increase in the role of technology in the workplace and a transformation in how people view their career with people no longer expecting to have one job for life. These changes have big implications for the design of business education. We need to prepare students for the world they will face so that they can thrive in this environment, so business education has moved from concentrating on the technical aspects of business to a broader focus on communication, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership skills. Cultural awareness is also really important, because careers are so global these days: if you are working for an Irish firm you will be competing internationally and will also work with different people from all over the world.”
Robert Mac Giolla Phadraig is chief commercial officer and founding director of Sigmar Recruitment, which recruits hundreds of business graduates every year. He has a keen insight into what employers want, so are business graduates on their wish list?
“The real benefit of a business course is that it uses case studies to give a broad awareness of a business, and it also helps students to build a network of contacts,” he says. “The world of business is broad, vast and varied and won’t always neatly align what is learned in a module. But what is being assessed when a graduate enters employment is their competencies in areas such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving. The ever-important soft skills are being developed. It’s less about what is learned than how it is learned: with case studies, complex problems to be solved, guest speakers and examples which help to develop an entrepreneurial subculture among students.”
It’s not all about grades and academic learning, Brabazon agrees: a business course helps students to grow into the well-rounded people that employers value.
“There is a war for talent, and companies want the highest-calibre talent they can get. If you are going to have an impact in the workplace you need to be able to communicate well, work in teams, lead teams and collaborate with international colleagues. The best way to show you can have an impact is to show that you have made an impact in the past, so I advise students to go beyond their academic studies: get involved in a sports club or student society, volunteer and take on part-time work. It’s about being able to show you have made a difference in what you have done, not just getting high grades for yourself.”
Increasingly, major firms are less concerned about graduates having high grades and much more interested in assessing their competencies in these key areas, with a range of psychometric tests now common for job applicants.
That said, Mac Giolla Phadraig is far from dismissive of the intrinsic value of the academic content on a business course. A broad business course may contain a selection of modules across a range of areas such as sales, marketing and supply chain management as well as more formulaic classes on finance and business maths, which can help students to pivot and multitask across the full range of a company’s operations.
The alumni network which students build up on a business course is really important, says Brabazon. “As you pass through a degree, you are automatically building up this contact base of your classmates, and that alumni network will mean that you know people all over the world. In our courses, we offer a mentoring programme which connects every student with a panel of experienced alumni which can really help their career progression.”
When it comes down to it, what makes one business course stand out over another? “An internship or placement can be really valuable,” Mac Giolla Phadraig advises.
“It’s really helpful if a graduate has an understanding of what it is like to work in a certain industry, because it helps them to focus on the right fit once they have left. The more examples of experience and relevant skills that a job applicant can bring to an interview, the better. It’s particularly valuable when an applicant can show what they have learned on the placement instead of just coasting through it. We had a management buy-out of Sigmar about nine years ago, and I learned so much of that through doing; business learning does come from real experience.”
No college graduate, of any discipline, can expect that graduation will be the end of their education. Continuous professional development is increasingly important and a good business course should help prepare students for a world where they need to constantly pivot, says Mac Giolla Phadraig. “I’d advise graduates to compete on merit and to show their merit through work, academia and extracurricular activity.”
Would he advise students to opt for a broad, general business degree, or to hone in on a specific area like marketing or accounting?
“Decisions are often driven by influencers such as peers and, in particular, parents. But if someone knows from a young age what they want to do, that is a gift, so they should go for it. For the other 95 per cent of us, it’s probably the case that a broader degree is better.”
“I decided on business and marketing because these were the subjects I really enjoyed in schools and where my strengths were. I wanted a course that would allow me to go into an area where I had lots of different opportunities, so I chose marketing at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
“When choosing my degree, I researched a lot of courses, and I found it really beneficial to speak to friends and family who were already studying business or marketing; this can sometimes tell you a lot more about a course than any prospectus can.
“A business course gave me an academic grounding in the field I wanted to pursue. It was an intense course which was challenging at times, but this gave me great experience on how to prioritise, plan and deliver in the timeframes we were given, and these are the foundations of what you need to do in your daily job. The course covered a wide variety of subjects with a great mix of theory and more practical case study projects. We worked as a team on a projects and this is valuable experience for the workplace. I was also grateful for the level of support and interaction we had with our lecturers at DIT, and lecturers pushed us hard but were always there to guide and support us. The course taught me prioritise, plan and deliver on work.
“In 2008, I joined BMW Group Ireland as a sales and marketing assistant. In that role, I supported the various different sales and marketing functions in the business. Then, in 2010, I took up the position of product manager, which involved product pricing, communication, online management, product training analysis and organisation. In 2012, I became national parts manager which required me to manage all the commercial aspects and the strategic development of the retailer network parts performance and manage the marketing and promotional campaign for parts; most importantly, I ensured that customers were well looked after. From here, I took up my current position of national used car and internal fleet manager in 2015, and I’m responsible for the strategic development of our used car programme for the retailer network, retailer support and used car marketing.
“I was lucky that I chose I course I loved and was able to do it well. The key is to have a consistent approach to working hard to ensure you keep on top of what you need to do. Some of the most important attributes in business are good logic and a lot of cop on. It also helped to have a strong network of friends around me on the course, because we all supported each other - and, in business, your personality and communication skills shouldn’t be underestimated.”
Written by Peter McGuire in The Irish Times. Read the article here.
Posted by Peter McGuire on 27 April 2018
In-Demand Business Support & Customer Service Skills
In-Demand Business Support & Customer Service Skills
As companies work hard to stay competitive and provide exceptional experiences to their clients, the need for skilled staff in business support and customer service keeps growing. In this article, we'll look at the important skills businesses are looking for.1. Great CommunicationWhether you're talking or writing, it's vital to be clear. Nowadays, good communication also means being good with digital tools. Employers want people who can talk professionally with colleagues, clients, and customers, making sure everyone gets the right information.Top Tip for interviews: Prepare examples that highlight your proficiency in clear and effective communication. Share instances where you successfully conveyed complex information to non-technical stakeholders. 2. Problem Solving AcumenIn the world of business, problems come up all the time. The ability to think on your feet and adapt to unforeseen circumstances showcases your commitment to delivering results.Top Tip for Interviews: Prepare specific anecdotes showcasing your problem-solving skills. Describe situations where you identified a challenge, analysed options, and implemented a successful solution. 3. Technological ProficiencyFamiliarity with various software, tools, and platforms can significantly enhance your employability. Things like customer relationship systems, project management tools, and data analysis software are just a few examples of technologies that are becoming increasingly integral to business operations. Embracing technology shows you're ready to work in a modern business.Top Tip for your C.V: List the software, applications, and tools you are proficient in on your C.V. Make sure to also include any certifications or trainings related to these technologies on your LinkedIn profile. 4. Adaptability and FlexibilityThe Irish business landscape is always changing, which is why being flexible is so important. Companies want people who can handle change, learn fast, and switch things up when they need to. Being open to new challenges and being willing to upskill can set you apart in a competitive job market.Top tip for your C.V.: On your CV, talk about times when you changed and helped your team or company grow. For interviews, give examples of when you tried new things or took on jobs that weren't easy for you. Show your ability to thrive in dynamic environments. 5. Speaking Other LanguagesIreland’s strategic position in the European Union has led to an influx of international businesses and customers. If you know languages like Spanish, French, or German, this can be a significant advantage. It means you can talk to more people and understand more clients Multilingualism showcases your cultural awareness and ability to engage with a diverse audience.Top Tip for your C.V: Include a section that highlights your language proficiencies and any experiences where you effectively used them in a professional setting. 6. Being Kind and Focused on CustomersFor jobs where you help customers, being kind is important. If you know what customers want and care about their problems, they'll like your company more. Companies value candidates who prioritize customer-centricity, as it directly impacts customer satisfaction and long-term success.Top Tip for Interviews: Share stories of how your empathy positively influenced customer interactions, leading to enhanced customer satisfaction and/or conflict resolution.7. Time Management and OrganisationKnowing how to use your time well and organise things can make you get more done. From arranging meetings to handling administrative responsibilities, these skills demonstrate your capability to juggle multiple priorities and meet deadlines consistently.Top Tip for interviews: Provide examples of how your strong time management skills helped you meet tight deadlines or manage multiple projects simultaneously. As the business world in Ireland keeps changing, the demand for proficient business support and customer service professionals remains steady. Cultivating these in-demand skills not only increases your employability but also positions you as an asset to your employer. Whether you're already experienced or just starting out, getting good at these skills can help you find great jobs and help Irish businesses grow, even when they're competing with companies from all around the world. At Sigmar, we're committed to connecting top talent with businesses seeking excellence in business support and customer service. Get in touch to explore how we can help you thrive in these exciting fields. Email your cv to email@example.com or check out current jobs here
Navigating College Admission Setbacks: A Guide for CAO Students in Ireland
Navigating College Admission Setbacks: A Guide for CAO Students in Ireland
Receiving news that you didn't secure a college place through the CAO can be disappointing and even overwhelming. However, it's essential to remember that setbacks are a natural part of life's journey. Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, consider this as an opportunity to explore alternative paths and make the most out of the situation. In this guide, we'll provide valuable insights and actionable steps to help CAO students in Ireland navigate the uncertainty and turn this setback into a steppingstone towards a bright future.1. Stay Positive and Manage Emotions:Disappointment is natural, but it's crucial not to let it consume you. Give yourself permission to feel the emotions, but also work on maintaining a positive attitude. Engage in activities that make you happy, talk to friends and family for support, and focus on your strengths and accomplishments. A positive mindset will help you approach the next steps with determination.2. Consider Alternative Educational Paths:Not getting into your desired college doesn't mean the end of your educational journey. Look into alternative educational paths, such as enrolling in a different college or university, pursuing online courses, or considering vocational training. Many successful individuals have taken unconventional routes and still achieved their goals.3. Seek Guidance and Support:Don't hesitate to seek guidance from mentors, teachers, career counsellors, or recruitment agencies. They can provide insights into potential opportunities that align with your interests and skills. 4. Reflect and Re-evaluate: Take this time to reflect on your academic and career goals. Is your chosen path truly aligned with your passions and ambitions? Use this setback as an opportunity to re-evaluate your aspirations and make any necessary adjustments to your plans.5. Upskill and Enhance Your Profile:Consider using this time to enhance your skill set. Take online courses, pursue certifications, or engage in relevant projects that will bolster your resume. This proactive approach not only adds value to your profile but also demonstrates your commitment to personal and professional growth.6. Develop a Plan B:It's always a good idea to have a backup plan. Research industries and roles that are in demand and have a promising future. This might involve exploring emerging fields like technology, healthcare, or sustainable energy. Having a well-thought-out Plan B can help you feel more secure in your career prospects.7. Embrace Resilience:Resilience is a valuable trait that can help you navigate setbacks and emerge stronger. Remember that setbacks are temporary, and your ability to overcome challenges will define your success. Embrace the journey, learn from your experiences, and use them to fuel your determination.Not receiving a college place from the CAO might feel like a setback, but it's important to view it as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. By understanding your options, staying positive, seeking guidance, and exploring alternative paths, you can turn this moment of disappointment into a steppingstone toward a fulfilling and successful future. Remember, your journey is unique, and the setbacks you encounter can shape you into a stronger, more resilient individual.
In-Demand Areas for the Future: A Guide for Leaving Cert Graduates
In-Demand Areas for the Future: A Guide for Leaving Cert Graduates
As the results of the Leaving Cert exams are announced, a new chapter begins for many young individuals. The choices made now can significantly impact their future careers. With the rapidly evolving job market, it's essential to be aware of the in-demand areas that promise exciting opportunities and growth potential. In this article, we'll explore the top industries and fields that are expected to be in high demand in the coming years.1. Technology and IT:In our digital age, technology continues to reshape the world, creating a surging demand for skilled professionals in IT and related fields. From software development and artificial intelligence to cybersecurity and data science, technology-driven roles offer a promising future. To maximize opportunities, consider pursuing courses and certifications that align with the latest tech trends.Average Salary Example: A software developer in Ireland can earn an average salary ranging from €40,000 to €60,000 per year, depending on experience and specialization. As of August 2023, Glassdoor states that the average salary for a software developer in Ireland with 2-4 years of experience was €63,006.2. Healthcare and Medical Sciences:The healthcare sector remains a cornerstone of society, and advancements in medical sciences are continuously improving patient care. From medical practitioners and nurses to biotechnologists and medical researchers, the healthcare industry offers diverse roles that are both fulfilling and financially rewarding. Pursuing a career in this sector ensures job stability and a chance to make a positive impact on people's lives.Average Salary Example: Registered nurses in Ireland earn an average annual salary of around €32,000 to €45,000, with opportunities for specialization leading to higher earning potential.3. Renewable Energy and Environmental Sciences:The global push for sustainability has driven the growth of the renewable energy and environmental sectors. As concerns about climate change intensify, professionals in fields such as renewable energy engineering, environmental consultancy, and sustainable urban planning are becoming increasingly vital. These roles contribute to a greener future while offering lucrative career paths.Average Salary Example: Renewable energy engineers in Ireland can earn an average annual salary ranging from €35,000 to €55,000, depending on experience and the specific area of expertise.4. E-Commerce and Digital Marketing:The rise of online shopping and digital platforms has transformed the way businesses operate. As a result, e-commerce and digital marketing experts are in high demand. Brands are constantly seeking individuals who can navigate the digital landscape, manage online stores, and create effective marketing campaigns. A solid understanding of e-commerce trends and digital tools is key to excelling in this field.Average Salary Example: Digital marketing managers in Ireland can earn an average annual salary ranging from €40,000 to €60,000, based on their level of expertise and the scale of the projects they manage.5. Finance and Fintech:The financial industry continues to evolve with the integration of technology, giving rise to the booming field of fintech (financial technology). Whether it's mobile banking apps, cryptocurrency, or robo-advisors, fintech is reshaping traditional financial services. Pursuing a career in finance or fintech opens doors to roles such as financial analysts, investment advisors, and blockchain developers.Average Salary Example: Financial analysts in Ireland can earn an average annual salary ranging from €40,000 to €60,000, with the potential for higher earnings based on experience and specialization.As Leaving Cert graduates embark on their journey into the professional world, it's crucial to be aware of the industries and fields that offer the best prospects. The future job market is dynamic and ever evolving, driven by technological advancements and societal shifts. By considering the in-demand areas mentioned above and equipping themselves with the necessary skills and qualifications, young individuals can position themselves for success and a rewarding career path.Remember, staying updated with industry trends, continuously learning, and adapting to changes will be key factors in thriving in the competitive job market of the future. Whether it's embracing technology, contributing to sustainability efforts, or shaping the digital landscape, the opportunities are vast for those who are prepared to seize them. Good luck to all Leaving Cert graduates on their exciting journey ahead!
From Graduate to Professional: Mapping Your Career Path
From Graduate to Professional: Mapping Your Career Path
Navigating the journey from graduation to establishing yourself as a seasoned professional can be both exhilarating and challenging. As a graduate, you're entering a dynamic world of opportunities, and a well-defined career path can set you on the right track. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the essential steps to map out your career trajectory. Whether you're a recent graduate or a soon-to-be one, our expert advice will help you transition seamlessly from academia to the professional realm.Self-Assessment and Goal SettingThe first step on your career journey is understanding yourself. What are your strengths, skills, and passions. Take time to reflect on your interests and values, and how they align with potential career paths. At this stage, setting clear and achievable goals is crucial. These goals will act as milestones to help you measure your progress as you advance in your career.Identifying Your Ideal Industry and RoleWith your goals in mind, research various industries and job roles that align with your aspirations. Explore job descriptions, company cultures, and growth prospects. Think about the kind of work environment you thrive in and whether a corporate, creative, or entrepreneurial setting suits you best. Remember to consider industries that are not only appealing but also have promising future prospects.Building a Strong Professional NetworkNetworking is a cornerstone of career advancement. Engage in industry-related events, seminars, and conferences to connect with professionals who can provide insights and mentorship. Social media platforms like LinkedIn can be invaluable for creating a digital professional network. Interact, share relevant content, and reach out to professionals in your desired field to initiate conversations.Acquiring Additional Skills and EducationWhile your academic qualifications provide a foundation, continuous learning is essential in the today’s rapidly evolving job market. Identify skill gaps in your chosen industry and seek opportunities to upskill. This might involve enrolling in workshops, gaining certifications, or engaging in online courses. Demonstrating a commitment to ongoing education showcases your adaptability and determination to excel.Gaining Practical ExperienceSecuring internships, placements, or even temporary entry-level positions can provide valuable hands-on experience. Practical exposure allows you to apply theoretical knowledge, learn from industry experts, and refine your skillset. Many employers value candidates who possess a combination of academic knowledge and real-world application.Crafting an Outstanding CV and Cover LetterYour CV and cover letter are your first impressions on potential employers. Tailor these documents to showcase your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. Highlight projects, internships, and volunteer work that align with the job you're applying for. Incorporate keywords relevant to your desired role to enhance your CVs search engine visibility.Navigating the Interview ProcessMastering the art of interviews is a vital skill. Research common interview questions and practice your responses. Use methods such as the SOAR model (Situation, Obstacle, Action, Result) to structure your answers and provide concrete examples of your abilities. Additionally, prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer to demonstrate your interest and understanding of the company.Embracing Career Growth and AdaptabilityOnce you've secured a job, your journey is far from over. Embrace opportunities for growth within your company and industry. Seek feedback from colleagues and supervisors to continuously improve your skills. Stay informed about industry trends and adapt to changes, positioning yourself as an indispensable asset to your employer.Transitioning from a graduate to a seasoned professional is a rewarding journey that requires careful planning and dedication. By setting clear goals, honing your skills, networking effectively, and maintaining a growth mindset, you can confidently navigate the path to success. Remember that your journey is unique, and each step contributes to your personal and professional growth. At Sigmar, we're here to support you on your journey to a fulfilling and prosperous career.Contact us today to explore opportunities that align with your career aspirations. Our team of experts is dedicated to guiding you every step of the way.