A man with dark hair wearing a white shirt smiling at the camera. He is a graduate who now works for Pramerica.
Manaswee Dwivedi. Image: Pramerica

‘Letterkenny is an ideal location for people who love nature’

7 May 2019

While major cities such as Dublin and Cork have a strong lure for graduates, Letterkenny has a unique offering for those who love the outdoors.

Naturally, there are a number of graduate programmes vying for students’ attention in major cities such as Dublin, Galway and Cork. However, there are major companies dotted all across Ireland offering graduate programmes with a unique change of scenery.

Manaswee Dwivedi is a strategy analyst in Pramerica, having first joined the company through the graduate programme. This gave him the unique experience to develop his own strengths while learning new skills.

And, with a state-of-the-art campus in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, Dwivedi found the setting particularly nice to work in.

What did you study in college?

I hold a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad, and a master’s in economics and finance from NUI Galway.

With this programme, are you now working in your desired industry?

The rotational programme at Pramerica is centred around providing graduates with exposure to a wide variety of areas, from business and finance to data science and software development. The entire process of working with senior leaders from these different business units helped me quickly understand the nuances associated with these units and Pramerica’s overall strategic vision. The most rewarding part of the programme was that I was able to leverage my theoretical knowledge and transform it into practical, implementable solutions.

I am passionate about technology and like to see its impact from a business perspective. My current role as a strategy analyst in the strategic initiatives group helps me leverage both my academic knowledge from engineering and finance and my professional experience from Pramerica’s rotational programme to analyse and implement disrupting technologies.

What drew you to Pramerica when you were seeking work as a graduate?

During my time as a master’s student at NUI Galway, I was amazed at the relationship that Pramerica had built with the lecturers and professors at the university.

Being introduced to Pramerica by my programme director instead of being spammed in my email inbox by the careers office was a welcome change that got me interested in finding out more about the organisation.

I quickly realised that the company was committed to building strong ties with my university to help build a pipeline of top talent in Ireland – which has a positive ripple effect on students, the companies who hire them and the communities in which they operate. In fact, our director of corporate social responsibility and academic partnerships, David Roche, was invited as a guest to visit one of my presentations on building algorithmic trading strategies. After getting introduced to David at the event, he listened carefully to my story and suggested that I apply to the graduate rotational programme at Pramerica, which would help me utilise my academic background in engineering, CS, economics and finance.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

After looking at the programme details, I was convinced that this would provide me with exposure to a wide range of areas within Pramerica and develop my career at an accelerated pace. I would also be working with senior leaders across the organisation.

A few interviews later, I found myself sitting in the Rock (Pramerica’s new, high-spec campus in Letterkenny) and, after spending a year at Pramerica, I can say that it has been all I could have hoped for from my first job and much, much more.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

The individual rotations within the graduate programme here were structured perfectly to help me transition from the university to a professional environment. The initial responsibilities included researching disruptive technologies like machine learning and financial technology, and exploring ways to implement them into the way we do business.

Did the scope of your work change as the programme progressed?

Yes, as part of the rotational programme I got exposure to different business units, which meant that I was always working on a completely new project during each phase of the rotation. I was placed on short three-month stints in areas including Pramerica’s innovation office, real estate finance, data science and software systems. This meant that the scope of my work was constantly evolving according to business demands of the area I was in. This part of the programme was not only exciting but also key in my professional development as I was constantly learning and implementing something new.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

It is very difficult to describe a typical day as no two days have been the same. From researching new, disruptive technologies and speaking one on one with Silicon Valley start-up CEOs, to automating longstanding financial processes and working on a natural language processing engine – which went on to be recognised at the DatSci Awards 2018 in Dublin – I can confidently say that the work has been very interesting and rewarding.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees’?

One of the key benefits of working at Pramerica is that you get to work alongside industry veterans who help you quickly understand the structure and processes within their business unit.

The way projects are structured here, although you have the benefit of consulting your peers and bouncing ideas off them, you are usually in the driver’s seat for your deliverables and get lots of opportunities to make your mark.

Experienced employees usually lead a portfolio of projects and have a better understanding of the overall strategy within their business units. It is always helpful to get their perspective to understand how your work fits into the overall picture.

Do you feel more prepared for working life after completing this programme?

Definitely. The rotational programme has given me exposure to a professional work environment. It has helped me enhance my communication skills and taught me the importance of networking to deliver impactful outcomes. I now feel confident in easily navigating through what used to be challenging and complex problems.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at Pramerica?

In addition to all the amazing professional experiences I’ve had at Pramerica, coming to live in a town with nearly 20,000 people has been a very unique experience for me after living in a city with over 3m people.

It’s unbelievable how strategically Letterkenny is placed – close to beautiful and world-renowned beaches, cliffs and mountains. It is an ideal location for people who love nature and exploring the great outdoors.

I think Letterkenny and Pramerica together have carved out a unique space in the north-west of Ireland where you can get both an opportunity to work with a global firm and enjoy living in a stunning place close to nature with everything you need on your doorstep.

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