Top 10 traits I most admire in a Manager

 

I have worked for a variety of managers to date and have met many more along the way!  As a result, I have experienced many traits I admire and some traits I dislike.  These are the Top ten traits that I most like in a people manager.

  1. Give credit in public – acknowledge your staff’s contribution and don’t pretend you do all the work!
  2. Promote people with potential – you should look out for the high performers and help them become the leaders of the future.
  3. Be honest about people’s performance – give constructive feedback – both negative and positive and don’t make false promises about salary increases that will never happen.
  4. Create a co-operative and collaborative environment where peers help each other rather – avoid “warring tribes” syndrome.
  5. Don’t ask your people to do something that you’re unwilling to do yourself.
  6. Be respectful towards individuals.  People respond positively when treated with dignity and respect.
  7. Take the time to build team spirit.  Hold team meetings and build in time for team members to meet each other face-to-face.  This will dramatically improve their working relationship.
  8. Be supportive when your people make mistakes.  It’s easy to be nice when everything is going well, but great managers give support to their team members when things are going wrong.
  9. Trust your team to do their job – give clear direction and review progress, but don’t disempower your staff by micromanaging their hourly activities.
  10. Build relationships – work is about more than getting the task done, it’s also about building relationships with colleagues and stakeholders.  Great managers make an effort to connect on a personal level with their team members, helping to understand what makes them tick. And if they like Bruce Springsteen then that is a great start!

How many of these traits do you already exhibit?  At Aspira we do our best to demonstrate these traits, as I believe it is a key factor in any successful company.

I find this quote really good to guide my thinking and behaviours “People do not leave a company, they leave a manager”

Author: Mary Dwyer, Operations Manager, Aspira.

Aspira – Building Bridges in Dublin Docklands

 

 

Aspira’s new Dublin office is open a little over a year now & has seen significant changes in that short period. Here at the heart of Silicon Docks building developments mushroom overnight, new neighbours are arriving & exciting infrastructural plans are afoot. The return of the cranes to the Liffey skyline, and the general increased buzz around the Quays has really confirmed our decision to locate our Dublin HQ in what was a much quieter area only 2 years ago.

While the resulting noise and construction traffic can sometimes be a challenge, our staff are understanding – after all, engendering change and progress is often what Aspira provides to our consultancy clients.

On our doorstep is the flagship development, Capital Dock http://capitaldock.ie/ which will bring over 2,000 new jobs to the area but that is only part of a bigger story.

The IDA & Enterprise Ireland continue to drive inward investment & opportunities while Dublin Chamber is playing its part with the ‘Great Dublin Survey’ http://www.greatdublinsurvey.ie/  which is looking as far forward as 2050 and Dublin Docklands Forum also has ambitious plans for a vibrant community well into the future http://docklandsbusinessforum.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Proposal-for-the-Grand-Canal-Basin-and-Plot-8.pdf

Now ranked in the top 10 European cities for their startup eco-system, Dublin Docklands provides the perfect springboard for reaching a European Market and with Brexit uncertainty continuing without resolution, candidates are now choosing to make the jump from the UK to a Dublin base. This has been of great benefit to our HR & Resourcing Team, as we continually strive to source and place new consultants on our own projects or on clients sites. Many of our clients are located within 2 miles of our Office, Matheson, EirGrid, RTB, Central Bank, AIB, Dublin City Council and the Department of Public Expenditure to name a few. It’s a great advantage to have our consultants close to the Office to ensure a great sense of belonging to the Consulting & Resourcing Divisions.

The new plans to build additional footbridges to connect the North & South Quays, and also Ringsend open up new possibilities for easier access to our clients, or the host of new social venues that are springing up all over Docklands. The advantage of our location, close to Hannover Quay will be further enhanced by a quick stroll over the new bridge to the Point Village in the future. We hope that the new bridges prove to be a symbolic reference to Aspira building up our local client base and continue the growth of all of our service lines into 2018.

Author:  Philip McGillycuddy, BDM, ASPIRA

 

Project Resourcing and Staff Utilisation: A view from the bench, and the benefits of our virtual bench to our clients.

Using my regular football analogies in this blog, it occurred to me how the dynamics of staff utilisation in medium to large consultancies can have many similarities with the challenges of managing junior soccer teams. We featured our sponsorships of Cork City and Castleknock Celtic previously and my experience of managing under age teams has often helped me in my professional capacity as HR & Resourcing Manager at Aspira. I am under no illusions that Cork face much wider considerations and challenges but bear with me.

”Don’t you dare leave me on the bench!…..”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Aspira most of our staff work on in-house and external clients projects. They are specialist PMs, Business Analysts, Software Developers & Testers, System Admin and tech support professionals. As a consulting organisation, it is important that these staff are kept busy for their own personal job satisfaction as well as for the obvious commercial reasons. We hire staff who enjoy working with clients, have a sense of pride in meeting their expectations and feel comfortable with our policy of knowledge and skill transfer throughout project delivery. But there will be down time, and time on the bench….

All Aspira staff have a training plan and we ensure that time is set aside to complete training courses, upgrade certifications, and also work on Aspira internal projects. This utilisation strategy needs to align with our clients’ needs. They value our resources, and generally retain them for at least 3-9 months or longer in some cases. Our software projects tend to have more control from our side so we can plan downtime better. One of our .NET teams will be coming off a major project over the Summer and our plans are already in place to update and appraise their training and certification needs before they are snapped up again on their next client assignment.

This coming and going of staff in our Dublin and Cork Offices is something we are very used to. I know that many of us are always wary of being thrust onto tender work when coming off a project, but our Subject Matter Experts are the very reason that we have won so many public sector tenders. They understand what clients are trying to achieve on their projects, and are able to articulate very clear and comprehensive approaches to tender responses and proposed deliverables. As they are our own staff, we can stand over their delivery and make our prices attractive to client organisations. We believe that this level of engagement with our consultants give them a greater sense of belonging to Aspira, and more aware of our overall objectives.

So this brings me back to my football team. All parents want their child to play, but there are 16 on the squad which means 5 on the bench. I don’t expect any of those 5 to be happy to be on the bench, and I need them to be motivated and ready to play when I need them. I also need to make sure that the 11 on the pitch are set up in the correct formation, give us the best chance to win the game, whilst all are playing in their favoured positions. As with any company project or in the ongoing running of a client’s business, not everything will go to plan in a football match. The opposition are stronger, break us down on the right or left wing, have a greater threat at corners or present any other risk to our hopes of winning the game. So I make changes to counter that. We may switch to a 4-4-2 formation, replace a more skilful player with a more physical player, or use a different more direct approach that requires your tallest player up front. In that brief 80 minute period, the team that adapt better to the pitch, use their resources the best, have the highest work rate, play to a plan, and take their chances…..will win. I want everyone to play, and everyone to feel part of the objectives of the Club and our team. There are only 11 players on the pitch at any one time, but all 16 will feel rewarded in their combined efforts. Our players roll on and roll off the pitch, in the same way that our consultants help our clients deliver their projects.

We pro-actively manage a bench of skilled Project Managers, Business Analysts, Test & Test Managers, Software Developers and IT Support staff who can react promptly to our client’s project demands. Whilst this may not be as urgent or immediate as replacing my injured right back with a suitable substitute, it can be a huge benefit to our client to have a highly skilled PM come onto a project at short notice, and have an immediate impact on a project rescue or simply in standing in for a sick member of staff. The same goes for our SW development team. Clients may not have the headcount clearance to have 10 developers full time, which is where Aspira can help.

Aspira also have a proven resourcing methodology that allows our clients to issue staffing requirements to us, for diverse technical skill sets that our skilled HR team can source from our associate database or through referral. Our excellent screening processes, and inhouse technical expertise and prior knowledge of our clients work culture allow us to shorten response and lead times to fit the need.

 

 

 

In many ways, our children, players, parents and the wider community are the customers of Castleknock Celtic, and this is how I see my role as a mentor. In the same way, our clients staffing needs and projects demands are the priority of our Resourcing team. Please call or email me if you require our assistance in sourcing your staff solutions over the coming months.

 Author: Russell Moore, HR & Resourcing Manager, Aspira.

Aspira customises Microsoft Dynamics applications for Laya Healthcare

 

Laya healthcare is the second largest provider of private health insurance in Ireland with over half a million members, offering some of the most innovative benefits in the Irish health insurance market along with life insurance (Layalife.ie), travel insurance (Layatravelinsurance.ie), and Thrive health and wellness provided by Ireland’s largest wellness team.

 

Challenge

The challenge faced by Laya healthcare was to source a CRM system that could best support its efforts to not only manage and service existing members; but to identify new opportunities and also deliver robust reporting capabilities.

 

As Laya healthcare evolved from providing much more than health insurance solutions, its previous system could not cater for its fast-changing needs. The insurer was becoming the leading health and wellness provider in Ireland; supporting its corporate clients in achieving their wellbeing goals.

 

The company’s previous system wasn’t built to cater for its fast-growing needs, and Laya healthcare saw its teams develop their own solutions to manage new requirements. The insurer quickly identified this and sought to find a new CRM system to ensure its members continued to experience an uninterrupted, great level of service.

 

Solution

Aspira customized, designed, and developed Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the rollout of the Health and Wellness project and the Quotations system for Laya healthcare. This solution involved the customization of Microsoft Dynamics including entitlements, forms and reports and custom designed .NET workflows and plugins.

 

Thrive Health and Wellness

 

Thrive Health & Wellness by Laya healthcare provides tailor made, evidence based health & wellness programmes which are personalised and measurable for individual workforces. Laya healthcare’s connected health approach is unique compared to competitor offerings in that it utilises data to map the best possible programmes for members and it is delivered by Ireland’s largest team of clinical professionals.

 

To support, Laya healthcare’s fast-changing needs, Aspira customized a form on Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the Business Developer Manager to import and export information on the clients screening to their profiles on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM site. This functionality makes life easier for the Business Developer Manager to add this information to the system and keep a track on the health check history of their clients.

 

Quotations System

 

Before the Microsoft Dynamics quotations system was implemented, the Laya healthcare team were manually using excel sheets to provide information to their clients. These processes weren’t talking to each other or providing client contact history.

 

To ensure processes were talking to each other, a customized data feed of all the clients on CRM was introduced and ran separately to CRM on a scheduled task that outputted the results of all the account details and claim details of each member on CRM. The system provided the user with a screen to select different healthcare providers, plans and costs of the available plans that was on the market by Laya healthcare and other competitors. This tool gave the Business Developer Manager a comprehensive view of what kind of plans were already on the market for their members and to help them acquire potential new members.

 

Therese Condon’s (Corporate Development Manager at Laya) testimonial:

 

The support we have received from Aspira’s CRM consultant on our digital transformation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been exceptional. Throughout the entire process, Aspira supported Laya healthcare in evaluating our needs, identifying the scope and requirements for our team while also identifying the impact any changes would have on our members – who are at the heart of all our decisions here in Laya healthcare.

 

The importance of having an expert local partner who has comprehensive knowledge of the capabilities, functionality and configuration experience of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, was critical in the success of this project.

 

Authors: Anita Fitzgerald, PMO and Damien Kearns, Senior Consultant, ASPIRA.

10 reasons employees should bring their dogs to work

10 reasons employees should bring their dogs to work

Dogs are everyone’s best friend. Our four-legged friends work alongside us every day, but it seems this is forgotten. Police dogs catch criminals while service dogs assist their owners to live independently. Dogs have many roles working alongside their humans. But, the most important job of all, dogs are companions, best friends and family members. They make people’s lives better with their unconditional love. You can celebrate that on Take Your Dog To Work Day on June 23.

In a modern world, with many hours spent at work, dogs get left at home while employees earn a living. Pet Sitters International started Take Your Dog To Work Day in 1996 to encourage employers to allow dogs at work.

 

Here are 10 ways dogs make the perfect resource partners.

Boosts employee morale

Dogs are dependable, reliable, optimistic and have an unquestioning willingness to do what you ask. They alert staff to problems and are always happy to see you. Dogs in the workplace improves staff productivity because their best friend by their side.

Increases teamwork

Dogs invite interaction and help form strong bonds among staff. They are great for breaking the ice. People are more likely to talk to each other when someone has a dog. Employees can find common ground over dogs. This can cut down office gossip because they are too busy discussing dog stories.

Promotes good health

The added bonus of dogs in the workplace is that it forces employees to take breaks. Staff have to walk them for a good 10-minutes a few times a day. This promotes a healthy work life balance during the day.

More employee flexibility

Many people cannot wait to leave work to get home to their pooch. Their pet has been locked up, alone all day and need their human’s time at the end of the day. Dogs are part of employees’ families, so allowing them in the workplace removes the need for staff to rush off. Employees will be more flexible with their time if their best friend is by their side rather than waiting for them to get home. What a great way to increase productivity.

Financial benefits

Bringing their dogs to work has huge financial benefits for employees and costs the company very little. No longer will employees have to pay for dog walking services or doggy day care if their dog is at work every day.

Attract the best people

People think of their dogs as part of the family.  Potential employees may prefer a company that allows dogs at work over a company with a no dog policy.

Improve the company image

Dogs in the workplace improve a company’s image. Clients will see the company as forward-thinking and progressive. Being able to interact with pets when they visit, will boost your clients’ sense of wellbeing. It helps them relax and enjoying visiting your workplace.

Relieves stress

Dogs are natural stress relievers. They are sensitive to your needs. When you need to blow off steam, they are ready to play. They will snuggle close when you feel down and need a quiet moment. A dog friendly workplace relieves employee stress and encourages harmony, which, in turn, increases productivity each day.

Reduce staff turnover

Staff turnover is a huge problem for employers. It costs time and money to get new hires up to speed. Workplaces with a ‘bring your dog to work’ policy encourages people to stay rather than risk not being able to bring their dog to work somewhere else. This is a great perk to keep staff loyal to organisations.

Pets reduce employee sick days

Dog owners do not want to leave their pets at home while they go to work. Employees can call in sick or leave work early to attend to their pet’s needs. Allowing pets in the workplace eliminates this problem.

At Aspira we understand the problems of resourcing your projects. We can help boost your business to achieve your vision. Contact Aspira to found out how – www.aspira.ie.

 

A Problem Shared Is A Problem Halved?

 

We’ve all heard the saying ‘A Problem Shared Is a Problem Halved’, but when it comes to Project Management is this really the case?

 

As a Project Manager, and a Mentor to other Project Managers, I often jokingly remark that my job can be that of a ‘PM Counsellor’. I meet with my clients for an hour at a time and, swapping a reclining couch for a Gantt Chart or Risk Log, discuss their most recent project woes, challenges and achievements. More often than not, whilst working together in this manner, we unearth potential solutions where there may initially have appeared to be none.

 

Over time, working with clients of varying levels of seniority and experience across many different industries, one observation has cropped up again and again. Sometimes simply the exercise of articulating a problem to an impartial third party can be just what is needed to gain perspective on a particular situation or challenge. In my own experience I’ve found that by providing a non-judgemental, supportive environment to the Project Managers I meet, they often answer their own questions in the process. Having neutral, unbiased support where there’s no judgement on the proverbial ‘stupid question’ can make it a lot easier to come to a satisfactory solution to the challenges that face every project.

 

When I reflect on my own career progression as a Project Manager I realise now that I may not always have leveraged the vast wealth of knowledge and experience of the people around me. There were occasions when I could have found a simple answer to a question, if only I had just asked someone on my team who I trust. So for those of you who are new to Project Management, or more experienced people who maybe too slow to ask for help, here are some tips to help you on your way:

 

  • Use your Team! Delivering a project is a collaborative effort and your project team are in it with you. Each member of the project team will have different areas of expertise and experience so don’t underestimate the knowledge which is readily available to you.
  • Talk to other Project Managers in your organisation – chances are they’ve faced similar challenges before and have the scars to prove it. I’ve yet to meet a PM who doesn’t love to be the Superman or Wonder Woman of project management solutions, and they will be happy to share their experiences.
  • Find someone independent to your project that you trust to give an unbiased opinion. When faced with a difficult decision, maybe treat them to a coffee and talk through the challenge with them. Often you’ll know what the best course of action might be, but saying it out loud, could be just what you need to gain a better perspective on the situation.
  • Get a Mentor – in addition to giving advice based on their own experience, a mentor will help you develop your strengths as a Project Manager and can introduce you to a network of people who may help your career progression in general.
  • Join a Project Management Community – forums like the PMI Chapter in your area or the various Online Groups that sites like LinkedIn provide, are excellent opportunities to meet your peers in both social and professional environments.

 

As the now iconic British Telecom ads of the early 1990s endorsed, “It’s good to talk”. Make this your motto as you navigate your career in Project Management.

For more information on Aspira’s Project Management Mentoring & Coaching Services please contact info@aspira.ie

 

Author:  Emma Daly, Project Services Director, Aspira.

Land Speed Record – How to Survive

The official land-speeds record (measured over a mile) is 1,227.985km/h or 763.35mi/h. The record was set by Andy Green in ThrustSSC (a turbofan jet powered car) on the 15th of October 1997, in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada USA.

When taking on a challenge like breaking the land speed record there are many key considerations; firstly and most importantly the drivers safety. Secondly developing a vehicle that has the ability to move fast enough to break the land speed record.

To make a successful attempt at breaking the record it is vital that there are clearly defined requirements gathered. The requirements include all the considerations for a successful attempt at the record. The requirements are broken down into functional and non-functional. Functional requirements should be gathered by subject matter experts to ensure the requirements gathered are accurate. High-level functional requirements when trying to achieve the land speed record in a motor propelled vehicle include; an engine powerful enough to beat the current land speed record, the vehicle must be aerodynamic to reduce drag (drag is friction caused by air), also required is a functional and practical cockpit to aid the driver in pursuit of the record and most importantly a vehicle that is safe for the driver.

Once the requirements are successfully gathered a plan can be initiated to roll out the development of the vehicle. The plan will include a testing phase and although each phase of the project serves a purpose, the testing phase is crucial to ensure the original requirements have been met. The test plan should be derived from the functional specifications (functional and non-functional requirements doc). When testing a vehicle designed to break the land-speed record, the tester is essentially responsible for ensuring the vehicle has hit all the requirements as specified in the functional doc, in other words; the engine has enough power to move the overall weight of the vehicle fast enough to break the record; that the vehicle’s shape will allow air to pass over and around it to reduce drag which will maximize efficiency on the engines power output; And most importantly that the driver is safe and that disaster recovery procedures are in place and more importantly they work.

Before an official land speed record attempt can take place, the test manager must ensure all the planned test cases have passed. Any failed tests must be addressed, resolved and retested before the testing phase can be signed off. The purpose of testing is to minimise the risk of overall project failure. Risk on projects vary in terms of impact, but when attempting to break the land-speed record the risk can potentially include fatalities. So there is a lot of pressure on the test manager to conduct the appropriate tests to ensure everything is working as it should. At the end of the day when it all boils down to it, it is the driver’s life at stake.

This is only a small taster of the spec of requirements and testing required for such a complex project but it highlights the inseparable relationship between, requirements gathering and testing. For example; if you build a go cart, any rational person would try it on the flat before taking it to St. Patrick’s hill in Cork City to compete in Redbull soapbox race. Although, there is always an exception (Evel Knievel, springs to mind), the risk taker in this case is the driver who has the burning desire or in this case a “Need for Speed”. Don’t get me wrong, we need risk takers. In business risk takers are generally the entrepreneurs and are crucial for economic development, for innovation and social/ cultural development, unfortunately that’s a topic for another day. So, I will close by saying; test test test before you go live, because that’s how to ensure the driver arrives alive.

 

At Aspira we have a dedicated testing team with many years’ experience across multiple sectors. If you require any further information on Aspira’s services contact us on: info@aspira.ie

Author:                Arron Keenan

Role at Aspira: “PMO Lead

The 1% Better VoxPop @ The Project Management Institute – Ireland National Conference

http://robofthegreen.ie/episodes/episode-15-pmi-ireland-voxpop/

Oh yes, it’s back by popular demand!!! The 1% Better VoxPop!!

After making its debut a couple of weeks ago, and (for the most part) being well received, it’s coming back for another airing (literally). This time round, we’re going full Project Management style with the show….and combining it with the 1% Better theme!!

I recorded this show during the PMI Ireland National Conference at the Aviva Stadium on May 4th 2017. This was an action packed conference with a great selection of speakers and over 350 attendees.

Project Management is something I think we all do in one way or another. We all plan a bit, take and manage risks, create To-Do lists and ultimately want to get value or benefits from what we do with our time & resources (sorry for all the PM lingo). So, to prove this, I asked a random selection of the guests a 1% Better question relating to Project Management!!

After much consideration and debate (with myself), the question I landed on asks to what one (or two things) do you (the guest) do from the world of Project Management that you bring into your day to day personal life that adds a little bit of value, organises the chaos and makes things 1% better! This was a bit of fun but it was interesting to hear the responses…some very similar and some quite different.

Overall it was a great day, lots of learnings from it and I was more than happy to do some 1% Better podcasting during the event for the PMI Ireland. As a member of the PMI-Ireland committee, I was playing a dual role but happy do so.

To learn a bit more about the PMI Ireland Chapter, go to the site here – https://pmi-ireland.org/

I hope you enjoy the PMI Ireland Vox Pop. If you do, please leave a rating or comment on iTunes or on the site (http://robofthegreen.ie/contact/)

Have a great day/weekend,

Rob

BYOD Rocks! How the Joshua Tree influenced Mobile Device Management

The legendary U2 album “The Joshua Tree” celebrated its 30th Year in March this Year, twenty years before the formation of Aspira!   The Windmill Lane recording studio was used in the production of the album, which is around the corner from the new Aspira Docklands building in Dublin.   It is interesting to see the influence that this seminal work has had, both consciously and subconsciously…

 

Mobile devices in the workplace have rocked the World of many IT leaders.  It’s as if U2 played from the office rooftop ordering all the end users you support to buy as many devices as possible from the Streets With No Name and connect them to corporate services.

 

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) was born and employees Followed in the masse like there was No Line On The Horizon. However, it’s not all Bad.  There’s no point in Running To Stand Still or pretending it isn’t happening or saying “we don’t allow our employees do that.”

 

The truth is, it’s Out Of Control, they’re doing it already and will continue to inject noncompliant devices into your network With or Without Your permission. ONE recent Gartner survey suggested that currently, most employees are eligible to use their own equipment with employee data on board.

 

This is the Elevation of An Electrical Storm: how will you support workforce Desire to use personal apps and devices while allowing them to be productive in a secure environment that protects corporate data?   Here are eight tracks to try out:

 

  • Craft Policies, It’s Even Better Than The Real Thing.
  • Evaluate devices connecting to your network – don’t leave yourself wondering if I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
  • Authenticate devices and apply user acceptance signoff.
  • Security, corporate data protection, and compliance are shared responsibilities. There is no chance of reducing risk without cooperation. A self-service portal can help users understand why they may be out of compliance – Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  • Communicate the privacy policy to users and make it clear what data you can and cannot collect from their mobile devices
  • Isolate personal data from corporate data – North and South of the River.
  • Manage data usage on subsidized plans
  • Monitor devices continuously for compliance to policies

 

Surrender:

BYOD is an emerging best practice for giving employees the freedom to work on their own devices while relieving IT’s significant financial and management burdens. However, BYOD will never deliver on these promises of streamlined management and cost savings without a well-written policy and a robust management platform.

 

Stranger In A Strange Land:

Your business isn’t limited to your own systems. Thanks to access to cloud services we can communicate with customers, share files, collaborate, video conference and more. While these cloud services increase capabilities with good value for money, its important not to forget that every connection that reaches out from your network may open the door for someone to reach in.

 

It’s a Beautiful Day!

Aspira is celebrating its 10th anniversary in May this Year and will be announcing the opening of Aspira Docklands building beside Windmill Lane.  It’s The Sweetest Thing!

 

Author:  Luca Santos, Aspira IT Operations

From Eritrea to Aspira with Love!

Sami Habtemariam was 18 when he was forced to leave his home country. He was halfway through his second year studying computer science and had hoped to pursue a career in technology, when in 2008 he decided the time had come to join the hundreds of thousands of Eritreans fleeing their homes seeking safety abroad.

His mother had already arrived in Ireland in 2003, followed by his two sisters. It took Habtemariam two years of travel via Sudan and Uganda before he was able to join his family in their new home in Cork city.

Determined to go back to his studies, Habtemariam enrolled in a computer science course at Cork’s College of Commerce four months after arriving in Ireland.

“The toughest thing was definitely the Cork accent. Even though I had studied English for 12 years before coming here, nothing prepared me for understanding the speed of the Cork accent. When I tried to speak in English I had to think in my own language first and translate. I couldn’t understand what the teachers were saying. Spoken and written English are two very different things.”

He was very grateful when an Irish classmate made the effort to show him around Cork. “When I first started my classes I felt like the new one and didn’t feel comfortable. But there was this guy next to me who was supportive and asked where I was from.

“He gave me hope. He told me about Cork and in his spare time he took me out to see the city. He is the best person ever and we’re still good friends.”

I’d go to Belfast at midnight on a Thursday to be in time for class on Friday morning

He also struggled to adjust to the Irish climate. “Where I grew up we would have four months of rain, but then it would be completely dry for the next eight months. In Ireland, I don’t think the phrase ‘completely dry’ even exists!”

 Job and Postgrad

Once he completed his computer course, he was able to transfer to second year at Cork Institute of Technology, where he completed a degree in software development and networking. After graduation he was offered a spot on a graduate programme connected to the consulting company Aspira IT and began working part time while studying a postgraduate diploma in business and management two days a week at Queen’s University Belfast.

“I’d go to Belfast at midnight on a Thursday to be in time for class on Friday morning. I’d take the Aircoach from Cork to Dublin, wait for about two hours at the train station and then take the 6.45am train to Belfast. Then I’d take the bus to Queen’s 

“The Intertrade Fusion programme gave me the chance to work with experienced people, and the guys on the team were good enough to give me help and point me in the right direction.”

Despite the long hours between work on Little Island in Cork and classes in Belfast, the year-long project really boosted his confidence both professionally and personally. After 12 months on the programme, he was offered a full-time job with Aspira, where he now works as a web developer and software developer. As far as he is aware, he is one of only two Eritreans in Ireland working in software development.

Privilege of citizenship

Around the same time he began his new job, he travelled to Dublin to attend a ceremony where he was sworn in as an Irish citizen.

“Naturalisation is a great honour for me. I feel it gives me benefits but also responsibilities. I have the responsibility to serve this country as a national and transfer knowledge to others.

“I thank God every single day for the privilege of citizenship here. It is an incredible thing to live in a place where the rule of law not only protects our rights but ensures that anything is possible.”

“In Eritrea you couldn’t even move from one county to another without permission. But in Ireland you can go everywhere, day or night. I can now move freely around Europe as a citizen and have equal rights as a citizen.”

I have heard about racism in Ireland but it’s never happened to me

He has never experienced racism during his seven years in Ireland and says his friends, colleagues and neighbours have always been friendly and considerate.

“I have heard about racism in Ireland but it’s never happened to me. Maybe I’m lucky, but I can honestly say that I always find people welcoming. My classmates and my teachers were always very supportive.”

In December 2016, Habtemariam was finally reunited with his wife Winta, whom he has known since childhood. She was accepted to come to Ireland as a refugee after travelling from Eritrea to Ethiopia. “If you want to bring family here you have to have an income and be able to support the person. I couldn’t apply for her at the beginning and had to wait until I had a job. I don’t have that stress anymore. She’s here with me now, so no more worries.”

Cancer system

Around the same time as his wife’s arrival, he learned that he was to receive an award for his involvement in developing a system used to analyse the incidence and prevalence of cancer in Ireland. In January he travelled to Carton House hotel in Kildare to receive his award alongside the chief executive of Aspira.

He is now taking evening classes after work to continue his training in software development.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe how far I have come since moving here

“I like taking classes and I like learning. In technology you have to keep learning. It’s moving fast, so you have to go faster.”

“I have been in Ireland for seven years now, and in that time I have completed my education, entered the workforce in a high-tech role and managed to deliver an award-winning project. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how far I have come since moving here.”

He misses his family back home but reiterates how grateful he is to his friends, teachers and colleagues for their guidance and friendship over the past seven years.

“My message to other people arriving in Ireland with an uncertain path ahead of them is to seek out education opportunities, to work hard and you will be given the chance to achieve success.”

Sami Habtemeriam, Software Developer, Aspira

1% Better Podcast with Pat Lucey

Check out Rob-of-the-Green’s 1% Better podcast, where his latest interview is with our CEO, Pat Lucey.

Rob’s podcasts come out every week where he helps people to reach their full potential by sharing a few personal, professional, and general life hacks (tools, techniques, tips and advice) that his guests apply directly into some part of your day/life.

On this week’s episode, Pat Lucey shares some of his own personal journey and explains what drives, motivates, inspires, and challenges him to be the best that he can be.

The goal is that these conversations will provide you with some inspiration coupled with simple tips that you can integrate into your busy life to make you 1% Better.

So – if you enjoy listening to podcasts while you commute, or while walking the dog, check out the latest one at:

Episode 9 – Pat Lucey (CEO of ASPIRA) on Business, Project Management and the Berlin Wall!

 

 

 

 

Don’t be afraid to tell me my baby is ugly!

 

CEO Pat Lucey speaks on newstalk FM about how he set-up Aspira ten years ago following the closure of Motorola. This was his burning platform that inspired him to take the entrepreneurial leap to set-up Aspira with his colleague Colum Horgan.

Pat talks about the culture change from a multinational environment,  where you are somewhat protected from the trials and tribulations of the economy, to having to deal with the challenges and demands of running your own business. However, both Pat and Colum came from family businesses, so were aware of both the risks and commitment required, to make Aspira the success it is today.

Both the combination of their multinational experience, where there was a huge investment in people and their backgrounds of growing up in family businesses gave them the confidence and ability to lead their own company. Aspira employs nearly 100 people and has offices in both Dublin and Cork.

Pat advises that creating a new business takes more than just a good idea. You need to investigate thoroughly and look at all the available supports out there, including Enterprise Ireland, which is very helpful to Aspira. Importantly you need people to tell you ‘your baby is ugly’, if the idea is not good enough.

Don’t be reluctant about giving negative feedback. People often just casually say ‘oh, that’s a great idea!”, as they are afraid of upsetting budding entrepreneurs! So don’t be afraid to tell people their baby is ugly!