In this month’s feature we get the low-down on studying a business degree at Griffith from GradIreland’s National Student Challenge winner, Matthew Foyle.
Name: Matthew Foyle
Course: BA (Hons) Business Studies
Year of Graduation: 2015
Home Town / Country: Clonmel, Tipperary
My current situation
I've just accepted a job offer with Twilio, a cloud communications company with its HQ in San Francisco. It's an exciting time for Twilio as it's just been valued at over 1 billion dollars and was recently referenced in the Harvard Business Review, which is a real feat!
I'm from the hills of Tipperary, and grew up in the countryside. I'm a young gunslinger with a passion for business, and strategic management in particular. I didn't always want to study business, but knew I wanted to start and manage my own business. I quickly realised whilst studying a different course that it would be necessary to complete a business degree in order to make that dream a reality. During the summer of 2012, after being offered a place by Griffith, I had the opportunity to move to Dublin and study business, and I jumped at the chance! As a young adult, there was something magical about having everything you need on your doorstep, and living on Griffith College’s Dublin campus in the Griffith Halls of Residence meant I could take full advantage of that whilst staying safe and also having a quiet place to do academic work.
Why I chose Griffith
I chose Griffith for its 3-year level 8 honours business degree and the College’s reputation within the Irish career advisory community. It was a careers advisor who referred me to the College’s admissions team and he got it spot on, having realised that I would value the personal nature of study experience at Griffith.
Settling into college life
Having received information packs and having talked to the admissions team, I felt prepared before arrival. Once on campus students are given a thorough induction to the College and staff. We were given the chance to get to know our fellow classmates through the many events organised by the excellent Students’ Union. The first that I attended was a mystery tour where we had the chance to have some fun together outside of the college environment - it really helped us relax and make conversation.
Highlights of the business degree
I loved the friendly atmosphere and the personal nature of the lectures. I did not feel like a number and was able to go to both lecturers and administration staff with any questions. I felt valued as both a person and as a student. Knowing each lecturer helped me to engage better in classes as they always encourage lively debate and embrace conflicting opinions. I was able to argue my point without feeling stupid and that was really valuable – the lecturers foster critical thinking.
With fellow classmates I studied a huge variety of different subjects, from micro and macroeconomics to sales management to enterprise development. Each class enabled us to build-up a holistic viewpoint of the business world and helped us to understand its complexity. This variety was my favourite part of the course as I was never bored and was always doing something different. I feel I have emerged with a more complete picture of both business theory and practical skills. I feel prepared for anything because of it and have a strong set of transferable skills.
Most useful experience
I learnt so much that it is hard to say but the most useful was a simple piece of advice from a lecturer I had this year. I was asking about a job interview I had coming up and the best way to approach it. I asked if he had any advice. His answer was, “Don't be afraid to pause. Although it seems like a lifetime to you, it will only be a couple of seconds and those seconds will allow you to formulate great answers, having thoroughly digested and understood the question.” His words were invaluable and I passed the interview with flying colours.
Recommendations for the business course, the College and Dublin
I would thoroughly recommend the business course in particular as it gives a broad base of both theoretical and practical knowledge that equips you to succeed in the global world of business. Griffith College reflects the diversity of nationalities and cultures found in Dublin as a whole and I think the two are well matched. Having so much to do means you can work hard, play hard and this means you can make the most of your college experience.
My final year project
The business degree’s final year project is the formulation of a business plan which allows students to apply what they’ve learnt across the programme in a practical sense. The idea is that once the business plan is complete the student should be able to take the finished product to investors as a means of obtaining support and finance. Such a project involves a high level of primary research. I chose to do mine on an idea I had already been working on and it was a great way to question assumptions made during the planning process. I learnt a lot about having big ideas, and the need to back them up with data and evidence.
My tips for new Griffith business students
Especially with business, everything you learn can be somehow applied in real life scenarios, if only as a comparison to the ideal theoretical method. Also, read around your subjects – use them to help you find your own niche and discover some really interesting ideas. It could be those that stimulate an excellent viewpoint on an assignment and get you the best grade possible. Finally, remember that no one is any better or worse that anyone else. Each of us has unique strengths and weaknesses and it is important to recognise this.
Best bits of student life at Griffith …
I have made friends from all over the world and I have learnt so much about other cultures. This is especially important for business graduates as globalisation means that you will no doubt be working alongside people from other countries. Knowing traditions and customs means that you can make those people feel welcome at the same time as accommodating and respecting different beliefs. For example – I have made a number of friends from China, and learnt that a personal approach is critical there. It enabled me to enhance my own understanding of the global business world and means I'm a better person because of it.
Best thing about Dublin ...
The city is slowly becoming one of the major technology capitals of the world. It's going to be a really exciting place to be living and working over the coming years. It has maintained its Irish charm whilst growing to a size that enables diversity and opportunity. We're slowly emerging from a tough period for the Irish economy and all going well, there will be a growth in the city. This means that Dublin will be even more vibrant and a beacon of Ireland's success in the future.
My plans for the future
Twilio hold their core values close to their heart and I can't wait to help the company grow further in the EMEA market. I've just begun my journey with business, but college life has helped me learn enough about myself to make better decisions about my future. Finally, some surfing holidays here and there would be the icing on the cake!
Interview by Lydia Casey