Irish Enterprise IT Company opens office in Amsterdam and announces 30 new jobs
Irish Ambassador to the Netherlands officially opens Aspira’s new European office
14 February 2019: Aspira, the wholly Irish-owned consulting and IT project specialists, today announced the opening of their new mainland Europe Headquarters in Amsterdam and the creation of 30 new high-level jobs. The award-winning company experienced accelerated growth, more than doubling in sales over the past three years, driven by a number of new project wins.
The 30 new jobs, which will be based primarily at the new Amsterdam office with some in Aspira’s Irish offices in Dublin and Cork, will be rolled out over 18 months and will include project management, business analysis, data analysis and software development roles. This office opening is in response to the rapidly expanding client base in Europe and Middle East.
The Irish Ambassador to the Netherlands, His Excellency Kevin Kelly, will officially open Aspira’s new state-of-the-art headquarters in Strawinskylaan, Amsterdam today.
Speaking about the jobs announcement, Aspira-Europe Managing Director Peter Ryan said, “The Netherlands is in the EU Top 3 for IT and project management and demand for these services is expected to grow significantly over the next four years. However, Dutch business leaders have identified that the shortage of good IT professionals represents a major challenge to that growth. Aspira bring deep bench-strength and experience in both IT and project management to the Netherlands and so this announcement of 30 new jobs is very welcome news.”
Aspira Group CEO, Pat Lucey said: “The new roles we are announcing today will strengthen our delivery capability and our management team at a time when we are expanding rapidly to international markets. We forecast overall sales to double again over the next three years, with international sales growing at an even faster pace.”
Aspira was established in 2007 and currently employs over 100 people. Its accelerated growth has seen it named in the Financial Times Top One Thousand Growth Companies in Europe for the past two consecutive years. Mr Lucey continued, “For twelve years we have consistently provided best-in-class enterprise solutions for our clients, ensuring their delivery on time and on budget. We will continue to offer a world-class service that will address our clients’ growing needs for deep technical knowledge, data analytics and an Agile approach to delivery.”
Aspira caters for a diverse, international client base, including leading players in the IT, financial services, pharma/med devices, healthcare and energy sectors. Aspira is supported by Enterprise Ireland, the state agency for developing Irish business globally, which has provided the company with international market entry assistance and will work closely with the company to accelerate its position in global markets over the next phase of its growth.
For further information, or to arrange an interview with Peter Ryan or Pat Lucey please contact:
We invited Niamh Kelly to write this guest opinion piece about her personal experiences as an independent consultant.
A job for life… career stability… security… these mantras are often bandied about as the holy grail of #careergoals. I disagree with all of these largely because they don’t exist. Job security, predictable income, Ts & Cs and the ability to plan far into the future based on holding on to a job is a mirage which is long gone. Teachers, lawyers & the current nurses strike are hard proof examples.
I noticed the trend toward moving away from a Job for Life in the early noughties fresh out of university and jumped on board as an early adopter of skill survival but it has taken many years and a huge recession for the penny to drop for many others. Some unfortunately are still in denial.
The term job-hopping is used in a negative way to describe people who move from company to company. There is a huge problem with subscribing to this mind-set for you, the employee, as you will get stuck, you will operate from fear and you will make decisions based on external opinions instead of listening to your gut and trusting yourself. As an independent consultant, I job-hop for a living although I prefer the term client-hop and once you move past all of this external noise you will find that it is easier to design your life and carve out your career in a way that works for you. This is a day, a week, several months in my life.
When the last recession hit in 2008, by 2009, I experienced my first redundancy, it was devastating but an extremely well disguised gift. There were some huge life lessons I learned quickly and brutally:
1. Life gets in the way and even if you do everything right, the worst can still happen. It’s not you it’s them.
2. Always be prepared financially for the rug to get pulled from under you.
3. Be prepared to mobilise quickly in all types of economies – hone your skills, diversify if necessary and be flexible to change. If you are not flexible you will break like a stubborn tree in a hurricane.
Another redundancy came a few years after that in my favourite company to date with our Dublin HQ closure and that was almost more brutal than the first as I was emotionally invested in the company and my team. The grief was different this time; I mourned what was lost but I was not afraid of surviving the future. I knew I had what it took, I‘d done it before and this time I had even more skills, more experience and higher resilience. I felt secure in knowing that I had cleverly branched out into the technology sector which was thriving and changing the working landscape. Instinctively, I did not put roots down in my next permanent position, I saw an opportunity to expand my skillset even further in Tech Project Management and start-up environments and sought out a way to step outside my comfort zone deliberately. I took on difficult tasks whether I liked them or not as a way to stretch my professional legs. I don’t like spreadsheets but I became highly Excel competent, not a fan of public speaking but workshopped more ideas, improvements and knowledge sharing than I can count and while I’m no Mathematician if you put a € in front of anything I can negotiate, manage and track it to the nearest cent even with a moderately bad hangover. I can plan, strategise and forecast with the best of them although I always liked doing that so it doesn’t count.
As I was outgrowing my last permanent job the feeling of being stuck was gnawing at me but I had now become a little too comfortable and wasn’t feeling under pressure to make any swift decisions. The universe had other plans, it threw up an opportunity for me to buy a very unique and special home which was meant for me, I already owned a property and initially I didn’t think it would be possible. I somehow made it happen within nine days and when I came up for air on day 10, incredulous that I pulled this off, I suddenly realised the scale of financial responsibility I now had to bear which hadn’t even entered my thoughts two weeks previously. This could have been overwhelming but I went along with it.
Several months later, I left the permanent job after being there for a few years, it was time, and I took the leap and branched out as an Independent Consultant and so far it has been a great move for me. I work when I decide or when the right contract lands and I take time to travel in between. I am also a landlord and while I employ a company to manage the property, I often find myself managing them. I am designing my life. In the last two years, I have visited eight countries on four different continents and have three more pencilled in later this year. Consulting gives me flexibility I would not get in a permanent role and I have upskilled with every contract and stretched myself professionally in a way that I was hindered from doing in permanent employment. Best of all, I have increased my income exponentially which allows me the freedom to travel, pick good contracts and live my best life. I rely heavily on my network to connect me with good clients and you have to be prepared to walk in somewhere on day one and instantly take the reins to keep the show on the road. You also need to have the ability to propose frameworks for improvements and change. I have recently coupled up with Aspira through an old network contact of mine who I worked with several years ago. I sent him a speculative email on a sunny afternoon last summer and we met for a coffee within days to chat and see if we could do some business together and now we are. While I remain independent, working with our latest client running a huge internal hardware and software migration for 700 users has been fantastic and I now have the support of the Aspira family behind me to help me with any challenges I may come up against. They are a valuable support system for me and also act as knowledge pool that I can tap into at any time to help me to help our client, it’s a win/win/win.
So what about company loyalty, I hear you wonder, she hasn’t mentioned that at all, isn’t that important? I know that loyalty and longevity are two completely different animals. I still have huge loyalty to the Senior Management teams and Founders of the two companies I mention above. I continue to be friends with and mentored by these individuals, many years on, and I believe that many of us will work together again in the future – lads if you’re reading this you know who you are. I have huge respect and admiration for these people and have learned so much from how they handled the challenges as well as the successes. I have remained longer in other companies where we didn’t quite fit but I had a purpose, I delivered it and moved on. Relationships and positive networking are hugely important if you are taking this path, as the old saying goes, it’s all about who you know – but then to stay doing this and make a good living from it you have to be good at what you do.
Will I remain independent forever? Who knows, but right now I am incrementally maximising my skills & income level and pushing myself to achieve what I envision for myself, in the shortest amount of time – patience has never been my virtue. If I create a good solid design now then I should be able to withstand whatever the economy throws up at me in the future and it’s exciting and comforting for me to know that Aspira are part of this journey.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing in this world can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.
When we consider the reliance of a business on IT systems, we can also say with certainty that, along with death and taxes, should a major IT systems outage occur, it can have a detrimental impact on your business, reputation and your customers perception. A mitigation against the potential impact of an outage is to develop and maintain a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan.
Why develop a disaster recovery plan?
When you consider emerging phenomena such as Spyware, Phishing and Ransomware then no business that has any reliance on IT can be considered safe. Disaster recovery planning is not just for large and enterprise scale businesses, it’s for all businesses.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, Ransomware damages reached $5 billion in 2017 and IBM reported that 70% of businesses paid to get their data back from ransomware attackers in 2016. In the case of traditional risks, research has shown that the most common causes of IT outages are Power, Human Failure and Natural Disaster with the direct costs annually running to 2.5BN dollars (IDC). It is fair to say preventative and remedial security measures such as an effective Disaster Recovery plan have now become essential.
What is disaster recovery planning?
DR planning is putting in place the measures and actions to be taken in the event of an IT systems failure to recovery those systems to an acceptable state in an acceptable timeframe. It is a component part of a company’s security profile, as well as being an essential element of a comprehensive Business Continuity Management (BCM). However, a DR plan should not be confused with BCM, which is much broader and considers not only IT but environmental as well has human impacts on a business’s ability to operate.
Disaster Recovery Challenges
When we look at what is involved in implementing a DR plan, a lot of companies struggle with two main challenges – Budget and Expertise.
No one wants to spend money on something you hope will never be used, and a lot of companies don’t have, or want to have, the expertise to plan the detail on delivering and maintain what could be a complex IT operation…….. that no one wants to ever use!
Defining a Disaster Recovery Budget
Cloud services now make the possibility of an Enterprise level DR solution at an main street price a reality for a lot of IT environments. Cloud solutions now mean that for relatively low costs (when compared to investing in hardware and onsite services) any company can have robust DR solution that provides levels of availability that would have previously been beyond reach in terms of cost.
Identifying Disaster Recovery Experts
On the challenge of expertise: Companies can now extend a Cloud service to becoming a Managed Cloud Service for Disaster Recovery. Outsourcing the setup, operation and maintenance of your entire DR requirement to an expert partner but doing it at a completely affordable price point.
What Disaster Recovery Plan do I need?
There are two concepts that you can use to determine what level of DR Plan you might need. You should look at the business processes that run your business, then look at the IT systems that these processes depend on (end to end), and define:
1. RPO: The Recovery Point Objective for the systems driving your business. Basically, if you must restore or recover and entire system – how old can the data be? This may seem obvious, but it is very important to realise that if you have a backup at 2am in the morning, what is on your backup is all your data up to 2am. If the server fails at 4pm the following afternoon and you must recover from backup, what you get back is all the data to 2am that morning. i.e. all information from then to 4pm is lost. In this example, 2am is the recovery point.
2. RTO: The Recovery Time Objective for your systems, is how long can you be without a system before your business (or the process affected) starts to become seriously impacted. For example, if you have an online ordering system and it becomes unavailable, how long can you sustain business without the system being online?
While RTO & RPO are linked, they can have different goals. i.e. you might need a system back online within 2 hours to enable business transactions, but the data can be a day old, or recovered offline as it is not urgent. Conversely, you might have an RTO of 24 hours, but the data must be no older than 15min!
Kickstarting your Disaster Recovery Plan
All businesses should now be, if not already, considering how a DR plan can form part of a security and business continuity process to safeguard operations, integrity and reputation. Managed Cloud services bring the capability of Enterprise DR solutions to all business’s. Once you have defined your reliance on IT, through a simple process of defining Recovery Point and Time Objectives, you can begin to formulate a plan to protect your IT and your business.
For more information on Disaster Recovery, or to speak to one of our expert team, contact us today.
Having worked a range of high technology Irish pharmaceutical and Government customers, we know that flexible engagement models, and a wide range of skills and expertise are required for successful software project delivery. Head of Software Development Jim Blair has put together his top tips for your software project success.
INCREMENTAL DELIVERY IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING
There are almost unlimited ways to build a customer software solution which means that Software projects in particular, can be very complex to deliver. It is for this reason that builders lean towards incremental value delivery. Using Customer Development suggests that software teams should plan incremental deliveries to the customer. Teams can use feedback from the deployments to tailor subsequent deliveries, with short turn-around time periods. This approach ensures that the subsequent solutions are built on top of software that has been tailored for customer value.
AGILE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Incremental value deliveries are ideal for getting feedback that can tune the solution value. The Agile software development process is specifically geared to supporting incremental customer deliveries. Scrum, which is one of the most popular Agile frameworks (there are over 40 different Agile frameworks!), defines an iteration as a “Sprint”. Common Sprint iteration cycles are two to three weeks. Scrum also defines an explicit process for planning each Sprint and planning the higher-level scope for a chain of Sprints. The success of each Sprint is proportional to the planning effort put into each Sprint plan. So, although the Agile principle of “Working software over comprehensive documentation” puts emphasis on getting working software, the principle doesn’t imply that planning can be omitted.
From Database architecture, through to complex business application infrastructure, to the world’s most advanced client applications developed for popular phone and tablet platforms, to web agnostic and Microsoft specific technology solutions, Aspira offers full-stack development experience that matches most needs enterprise development teams reach out for. Our development team size supports most enterprise-class development and we have a proven development track record. We also work to deliver small projects or can provide your company with onsite contract development staff to help you deliver your software projects successfully. Contact our Head of Software Development, Jim Blair, about your upcoming project, email: email@example.com
Author: Jim Blair, Head of Software Development, Aspira.
In the past two weeks, during three independent discussions, I heard people recall some advice they received from their teachers.
My sister recalled how she was once told by her career guidance teacher that she would never achieve her own goal of becoming a teacher. The spurious reason given was that she didn’t ‘fit the mould’. It’s ironic that those very words just motivated my sister to prove her teacher wrong, to go on to have a distinguished career as an educator and is now Principal of a College. Lucky she didn’t let herself be limited by her teachers lack of vision.
A friend of mine recalled his teacher using a colorful metaphor to explain how an expert differs from a practitioner. The explanation was that an expert is someone who knows everything in the Kama Sutra but who never gets to go out on a date. That memorable quote has helped my client chart his own career path and give guidance to his team on the importance of honing their practical skills.
A colleague of mine commented on how she never had any ambition to go to college until a teacher saw something in her – the potential to achieve – that nobody else saw, even herself. But this teacher volunteered extra time and effort to help that young girl develop her confidence and is credited by my colleague for inspiring her to embark on what has been a very successful career.
Those three discussions got me thinking – once we leave school, who takes over the role of teacher? At that age we tend to blank out any advice from parents, and I don’t recall any college lecturer imparting wisdom to me in the way some teachers did. The closest I can think of is what I’ve learned from my bosses and mentors at work.
In exactly the same way as teachers, some bosses are memorable for good reasons, and some for not-so-good reasons. I remember some great advice I got from different bosses, including the advice to treat people well while I was ‘climbing the ladder’ because they were the same people I’d meet on my way back down the ladder.
That advice came true when I was made redundant from a multinational after 17 years – it was the people I had worked with for years who then became my network. Luckily many of them were happy to give me introductions and contacts to find work for Aspira – karma for treating people well.
Each of us needs to realize that in our jobs – whether as a people manager, project manager, or as mentor to junior staff- we can have a real impact on our colleagues, for better or for worse.
We can provide encouragement, career advice, and words of wisdom. Or we could choose to offer discouragement, cynicism, and negativity. Let’s make sure that each of us chooses to be the inspiring teacher who helps people to realize their potential and to Seize the Day!
Tadhg had heard great things about Aspira before starting his internship, but never could have imagined just how nurturing an environment it would prove to be.
What are you studying in college?
I’m studying Computer Science in University College Cork. It’s a four year course, with work placement taking place in third year.
What drew you to Aspira when you were seeking an internship?
I had heard of Aspira through the UCC careers service, and after researching about them online I thought it would be a fantastic place to work. They have a history of hiring UCC students for graduate and intern positions, and I saw that they had some really interesting clients, so it was a no brainer really!
What expectations did you have before you began your internship?
I had heard from past Interns that at Aspira, you’re given a lot of responsibilities right from the beginning of your placement. A lot is expected from you, in terms of being an active employee and engaging with your co-workers. Aspira has a friendly and social environment that I was really excited to be a part of. I was also excited to put my skills to the test and see how well equipped I was to work in the industry.
What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?
I was given immense responsibility right off the bat, which I thought was fantastic. I was given charge of a project which involved finishing the development of a Web Application by myself. At first, it seemed like an incredibly daunting task, but my Manager Mary and all of my co-workers were always there in support if I ever had a question. The project involved eliciting requirements from the Client, and working with a programming language I had never used before. However, I never felt like I was in over my head with such a supportive group behind me!
Did the scope of your work change as the internship progressed?
As my internship went on, I had the opportunity to work on several other development projects, along with other areas of Aspira also. I got to work in teams with many different employees, attending meetings and tackling problems in a fast paced environment. I also got to work off site, working directly with clients in a business analysis role for a time!
Can you describe a typical day in your role?
Typically, the day would begin by emptying the dishwasher if it was your turn and putting on a pot of coffee! After greeting everyone in the office, I would settle down to work on whatever project I was currently tasked with. During the first few weeks while working on the Web Application, I would have daily meetings with my Manager, discussing what I had completed, what I was currently working on, and whatever issues I was encountering or foresaw. I would also be in contact with the Client, tailoring the application to their needs and working on any issues or bugs that had arisen.
What key things have you learned during this internship?
Good communication skills from speaking with clients and managers, along with enhancing my development skills, and realising that there is something new to be learned every day.
Has this internship made you feel as though you’re on the right career path?
Certainly! I found the work incredibly fulfilling. Finishing a project always brought immense pride and camaraderie. At times during my studies, I had doubts if I was pursuing the right career, but after working at Aspira I’m positive I chose the right path.
Do you feel more prepared for working life following your internship?
Absolutely. From knowing what will be expected of me, to knowing simple skills like teamwork and communication, and even having a proper work-life balance. I feel like I now have my head screwed on and I’m going into Industry prepared next year.
Why should someone take up an internship at this company?
Aspira is a fantastic place to intern at because you’ll learn an immense amount, all the while being in a friendly and social environment. They give you plenty of responsibilities, and match it with great support. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to spend 6 months there and to have learned so much.
1. You’ll never stop learning
At Aspira, training and development provision is one of our key services. We are renowned globally for excellence in Project Management and Business Analysis Training. We constantly reiterate the need for companies to train up their staff, develop new skillsets amongst their teams and empower their employees through learning. We are no exception to that rule. At Aspira, we have a company-wide focus on personal development and career enhancement through on site, internal and formal training programmes. All Aspira staff benefit from this approach.
2. Work with a connected community
will benefit from the support of your colleagues – a team of experts across a range of areas such as Development, Cloud Deployment, Senior Project Management and Business Analysis. Our collaborative approach to work is further bolstered by the opportunity to work in multi-experienced teams to help deliver exceptional projects for our clients.
We have a very present management team who are always nearby to point you in the right direction and offer their advice and support. Aspira staff also have a hands-on approach to companywide matters, having their say in a number of broader business aspects. The only limits at Aspira are the ones you set for yourself!
3. Flexibility and rewards
Our diversity means that we work with a new way of thinking. Our teams enjoy flexible working to allow for personal circumstances and family. Working for aspira also means flexibility in the clients you work with. We work with some of the best organisations in the country across both the private and public sector, in the country. The work is always exciting and never boring!
Our staff are also offered a number of other benefits such as pension, healthcare, training allowance, and paid holidays. Not to mention that our team is considered by many to be a family of sorts.
Aspira is a diverse, international company. We have people from over 15 different nationalities building their careers with Aspira and we work with global leaders around the world. We offer opportunities to work globally and work on international assignments, so if you’re looking for a new challenge, Aspira might just be the place for you.
Aspira, the specialist Project Management and Enterprise IT Solutions services organisation, has appointed Jim Blair as Director of Software Development. The appointment follows recent growth at the company and a number of significant client wins.
Jim brings over 30 years’ experience in product and software development to the company. From designing core elements of Mac OS at Apple to leading new product development at multiple Irish start-up companies, Jim has led the engineering of many world-class solutions. Jim will contribute to the growth of the software development teams at Aspira, working closely with clients to achieve seamless design, creation and implementation of software products that contribute to these organisations’ digital transformation.
Speaking on his new role at Aspira, Jim Blair said: “I’m delighted to take on this new role as Director of Software Development. We have a vastly experienced software development function at Aspira, and I look forward to working with my software developers and the complementary groups within Aspira to enhance the bespoke customer software service we provide to our clients.”
Aspira CEO, Pat Lucey, commented on the announcement: “We’re delighted to appoint Jim as Director of Software Development. Jim brings a wealth of experience that is critical for the development of world-class devices and software. Jim will be a fantastic asset to the team, contributing his strategic vision for the growth of the software development teams to the benefit of our valued clients.”
Aspira is a specialist consultancy, focusing on Enterprise IT Solutions, with offices in Dublin and Cork. Offering Project Management and Business Analyst Training services internationally, Aspira is approved by the Project Management Institute®, the International Institute of Business Analysis® and Scrum.org.
Please visit us at: www.aspira.ie or contact us on 021-2352550 or 01-5175777.
In Part 1 of my blog, I spoke about the importance of Empathy – and making the effort to see things from the other person’s point of view. Today I want to share two other ways I have learned to improve my level of EQ, or Emotional Intelligence:
Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation
To have self-awareness is the ability to recognize your own emotions, recognize the effect that emotions have on you physiologically, and recognize the effects they have both on your behaviours and how others will behave towards you.
Socrates (the philosopher, not the footballer) said “Know thyself” in order to understand the workings of the world. When dealing with people you have to be aware of how your own reactions and emotions can affect others and their view of us.
You need to be aware of our emotions in real time – as they happen. You will often have little control over when you experience emotions, especially negative ones such as nervousness, loss of motivation or anger. However, you can regulate how you process the emotion and for how long you will feel that emotion.
I genuinely can feel a lot of anger very quickly, which has not always worked well for me at times in the past. Unless you’ve just won an Oscar, it is generally not advisable to communicate when in an overly-emotional state. Whether you feel angry, upset or fearful, you can do lasting damage to relationships if you communicate when you’re not in control.
So when you feel a negative emotion kicking in, recognise it and know it will pass. Don’t let the emotion control your behaviour – instead you manage the emotion. Consider what the behaviour was that triggered the issue, then identify what impact that behaviour has had on you to give rise to how you feel. Armed with these three pieces of knowledge – Behaviour, Impact, Feeling, also known as BIF – you now have the tools to give constructive and effective feedback. Give a BIF.
By communicating to the other person what their behaviour was, how it had an impact, and how that has made you feel; you have proactively managed the situation. Rather than sitting there seething in anger, or wallowing in self-pity, you have analysed the situation and have channelled your emotions to provide constructive feedback to tackle the problem at source. As as a result, you have self-regulated your emotions and are in control of the situation.
In my role as a Senior Project Consultant with Aspira, I am sometimes required to take on Recovery Projects – projects that have gone wrong, and where I come in as a Recovery PM to get things back on track. In this scenario, relationships can be fraught as people will feel nervous and vulnerable. This makes it absolutely critical that I maintain self-control and give calm, objective feedback to the project team members throughout. By acting in a firm yet professional manner, the team can see that there’s a ‘new sheriff in town’ and will raise their own level of performance.
To conclude, one of the key strengths I look for in a great Project Manager is emotional intelligence, and the ability to see there can be 50 shades of black and white…
It can be tempting to interpret things as simply black or white, good or bad, wrong or right. But the reality is that there are always different degrees of black or white, and while it can be difficult to discern them, it is important to tune your mindset to figure out how to identify which of the many shades of grey may be in front of you.
Throughout my life, I’ve always been looking to improve and develop, both in my personal and professional life. One area I have found where I can always improve is the area of EQ – Emotional Quotient -, which is based on the idea of IQ but looks at emotional maturity rather than raw brainpower.
Generally, I like to dissect where I can do better and one area I have found for improvement is how I relate to people and deal with situations. Sometimes it’s easy to react too quickly to a situation, only to overreact and regret that response later.
So, with that in mind, I’ve highlighted three areas of Emotional Intelligence where I try to put extra focus when dealing with difficult situations or people:
In truth, we experience life and work from our own frame of reference, and if a view is expressed which conflicts with our picture of the world, we can treat that view as simply wrong. This is a mistake, as by treating it as wrong, we make no effort to understand another’s person reasoning for disagreeing with us and we do not try to tune into their frame of reference.
Empathy is being able to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference. In other words, it’s the ability to put yourself in the other person’s position and look at the issue from their point of view.
It’s about trying to look at a situation using their perspective with a view to understanding their reasoning. I now try to take some time to understand the why of a person’s stance and try to place myself in their shoes. I find that 99% of the time they have valid reasoning for their stance and it just takes some time and effort for me to understand it. Sometimes that understanding helps me to change my opinion. There are also times when understanding their viewpoint helps me to change their mind by explaining my argument in a way that will resonate with them.
Tune in to Part 2 of my blog next week when I share what I’ve learned about self-awareness and self-regulation, and how you can channel negative emotions into a constructive force.
Do you remember Sesame Street and the song ‘Who are the people in your neighbourhood’? Have you ever stopped to consider just how many different people we meet each day – from family and friends, to complete strangers, including some people we might prefer to avoid! Have you considered how much we rely on them, without even realising it?
Firstly, there’s friends and family; we look out for each other, rejoice in each other’s success as if it were our own, and we support each other in times of need. You don’t get to choose your family, but you can choose your friends – these are the people we grow up with and, in the words from the Friends theme song “I’ll be there for you ’cause you’re there for me too”.
We regularly meet the friendly postman who hands over bills with a smile on his face, or the local shopkeeper, who knows you by name and is always ready to discuss today’s weather. We are slightly obsessed by the weather; it’s always too hot, too cold, too wet or too windy – but it’s never boring, and a great topic of conversation! We have a mutual interest when we meet our children’s teacher, so here the weather topic is dropped, and we discuss the current school extension funding efforts, or the approaching school holidays. The periodic visit to the hairdresser or barber is always accompanied by a discussion on vacation plans, or reviews of a recent holiday trip.
We also rely heavily on those people we meet in times of mini crisis. It might be when an electrical fault causes you to stumble through the house in the dark, searching for your phone to speed dial your trusty electrician. Or it might be when that dripping tap in your bathroom turns into Niagara Falls, and you need your plumber to appear and save the day (and your house). It might be when your car splutters to a halt with a very strange noise coming from the engine, and you rely on your long-suffering mechanic’s magic touch to resuscitate the vehicle, so you can ignore all rattles for another twelve months!
Five days each week we meet work colleagues; catch up on the evening before, figure out how to share the workload for the day ahead, and make plans for the upcoming weekend. In many ways, companies are much like families. Sometimes a ‘family member’ needs a little extra help to get that project completed by the due date, maybe the project has gone completely off track and needs some expert help in Disaster Recovery.
Sometimes the company may need to take on a completely new project, but simply not have the manpower. This is where you reach out to the ‘extended family’. Aspira work closely with many companies to provide that helping hand when needed, asking our Project Managers, Business Analysts or IT Support consultants to fit right in with their ‘long-lost cousins’. They help out by hitting the ground running and providing support throughout the whole project and beyond.
As with all families, if you need that extra helping hand, pick up the phone. We’ll be there for you. www.aspira.ie
After spending 17 years working in a large multinational Financial Services company in various project and operational management roles, I decided to take a year-long career break.
During that break, I completed an MSc in Financial Services and also had the time to reflect on how frantic my working life had been. I tend to set very high standards for myself (with the exception of exercise and household chores!) and always want to be the best I can possibly be in order to reach my maximum potential.
I realised that pushing myself hard all the time had served me well and helped me progress in my career, but that same strong work ethic and ambition, coupled with a 4 hour daily round-trip commute, had probably left me feeling burnt out.
When I started to think about a return to the workplace and what my next role would be, Confucius’ saying was ringing in my ears “Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life”. This was the first problem to resolve, what was it I actually loved doing?
This is a question I have always struggled with as it relates to my career. I have a tendency to get stuck into a role and if I am performing well I tend to stay at it without ever challenging myself to assess whether I am actually happy doing the role. So rather than identify what role I wanted, I decided to identify a role that would play to my strengths, as that would surely have the potential to become a role I could love.
I quickly discarded the first few strengths that came to mind, shopping, socialising and making my friends and family laugh, none of these were ever going to pay the bills! The other strengths which seemed to offer potential were planning, organisational skills, communication, negotiation, influencing and an ability to work well under pressure.
When I put these together, it seemed like project management was the type of role that my strengths would serve me well in. I had worked as a PM for many years in financial services without realising it was my calling, perhaps because I wasn’t a pure PM in the sense I also had operational management responsibilities so my time was split between both project management and operational roles.
I happened to meet Pat Lucey, Aspira CEO, who advised that I should consider getting a project management qualification as companies tend to look for suitably qualified PMs. I did some research and concluded that PMP® (Project Management Professional) and PRINCE2 accreditations were both highly reputed in this field, giving potential employers the confidence that I had the proper level of understanding of the key project management concepts and how to apply them.
PRINCE2 is a process-based project management method that offers a systematic approach to delivering projects whilst PMP® is based on generally accepted best practices as defined by a large pool of experts from diverse industries and backgrounds.
Although both disciplines include teachings on tailoring their theory to your project and company’s needs, I felt PMP® was less prescriptive and therefore more relevant to a larger number of industries. Industry studies also have shown that certified PM’s earn more than their non-certified counterparts. The decision was made, I was going to get myself a PMP® qualification.
Tune in to part 2 of this blog next week to see how I got on!
Author: Gillian Whelan, Project Manager, Aspira
The PMI logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
The Project Management Professional (PMP®) is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.