Claire McGuckin, a project management office analyst at the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA), speaks to Siliconrepublic.com about moving home to Ireland, the country’s place at the epicentre of the data-driven economy, and her work with ACIA.
Where are you from?
Originally from Scraghey, a rural area in Co Tyrone, with the population the size of a small company, and a local primary school the size of a project team. I was one of five students in my year.
My family moved to various locations throughout the region, and now live in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal. We’ve been spending our weekends and holidays there for as long as I remember, so that’s where I call home.
Can you tell us about your background?
After seven years with the project team, I continued my education in Loreto Grammar School, Omagh, before relocating to Belfast to study for a bachelor of science in business management with Hispanic studies at Queens. Aside from the academic and employability credentials, I was eager to develop my cross-cultural education, and therefore spent the third year of my degree working in the competitive intelligence department of Amadeus IT Group, Madrid. This confirmed my suitability for business, technology and, undoubtedly, Spanish culture.
Admittedly, I was tempted to venture back to the Iberian Peninsula to rekindle my love after graduating, but my interest in the finance sector led me down an alternative route. I worked towards the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments investments operations certificate before securing a position in the project management office of Citi Private Bank (CPB), Operations and Technology, New York.
I’ve worked with ACIA for over a year now and have recently graduated from the National College of Ireland with a first class honours on a part-time higher diploma in science in cloud computing.
When did you decide to emigrate and why?
Although my Bachelor’s degree at Queens instilled theoretical models that underscore the essential skills and competencies in international business practice, I was keen to employ practical experience to build a strong foundation for my career by gaining experience outside Europe.
Furthermore, given the economic climate both sides of the Atlantic post-graduation, a venture in the US presented an excellent opportunity to capitalise on newly-acquired education and accelerate my professional development in an increasingly competitive global economy.
Where did you emigrate to and for how long were you gone?
Emigrated to New York. I worked in a PMO role with CPB for two and a half years. It surpassed my expectations, and the pace at which I developed both personally and professionally was astounding. From the individuals to the experiences, and the opportunities for development, it truly was an amazing experience that I would highly recommend.
What made you want to/decide to come back?
Even though I emigrated with the intention of eventually coming back to the Emerald Isle, the timing was decided by Ireland’s position in the data-driven economy. I wanted to be at the hub of one of the most significant transitions in business and technology history.
How did your current role come about?
Spurred by my involvement in a major data and analytics initiative in the US, my interest in ACIA was sparked by an article I came across in my research. I was astounded by ACIA’s early development in the industry and was sold on the opportunities being offered.
After scrambling to LinkedIn to find out more about ACIA, I spotted an interesting role related to my skills and experience. Two months later, I was riding the tsunami and loving it!
What work do you do?
My role is broadly focused on aligning our portfolio with organisational goals to create value, and the refinement of operational processes related to the set-up, management and control of such initiatives to optimise efficiency and maximise the value returned to our clients and colleagues.
What do you like most about your job?
The diversity. In working with many different teams within the company, there is an opportunity to work with a wide range of people and there is always an opportunity to learn more about the elements of the work they do. Keeping up with the fast-paced growth in ACIA makes me buzz, so that’s what I love.
How did this company make it easier for you to move back to Ireland?
From accommodating interviews through Skype, financially supporting the relocation, a warm Irish welcome and continual personal and professional growth, ACIA truly made the move back to Ireland a seamless one.
How did your time working abroad make you better suited for your job, if at all?
Through overseeing radical portfolio, programme and project strategies development at CPB, I developed the ability to decipher how geographical and cultural implications dictate the way in which businesses devise and implement various technology and operational processes. I have been able to apply these assets to my responsibilities at ACIA while further broadening my knowledge in core technologies, data and analytics.
What is the best thing about being back in Ireland?
Aside from family, friends and a great cup of tea, being part of a thriving data-driven economy and the associated countless opportunities for development. Taking advantage of these is the secret to filling the void of living in a city that never sleeps.