Day 17: Personal Branding

Today, we had 3 company visits. I am very exhausted; however, I definitely feel that I learned the most today out of any day that we had in this program. I was able to understand many terms and concepts of what the speakers were saying, especially our last speaker of the day, Susan Hayes from Davy’s.

We started the day off by visiting the Remembrance Park to honor those who have sacrificed their lives to gain Ireland’s independence. Then we walked quite a while to get to Croke Park. Before coming to this stadium, I actually have never heard of Irish sports: hurling and Gaelic football. This visit was truly an unique experience because this organization is completely community based volunteer promoting Gaelic games, culture and lifelong participation. It was eye wakening that the whole organization is run by clubs in which participation is solely from community/county pride and identity since we come from a country whose sport teams are based on deals and contracts. They market and promote by getting the children involved in the sports to ensure lasting traditions and pride of their community and the sport. If the United States ran the sports industry based on the pride of where the players were from, the industry will die immediately because making money and profit is the primary goal of any firm. Also, it’s unbelievable that this organization, GAA, is all volunteers and amateur players yet the park seats 82,300 and is the third largest stadium in Europe. This stadium is also carbon neutral in which 0% of the waste goes to landfill. It is unbelievable that a “not-for-profit” and a volunteer based business is succeeding as well, maybe even better than professional sport stadiums and organizations in the United States.

After this amazing tour, we went to Irish Times where we learned how a dying industry is trying to find its way to still thrive and succeed. They have numerous training courses, classes and programs that allows participants to work on their presentation, report, and digital skills, as well as programs to strengthen people who once left the labor force for various reasons. Most of these programs are government funded which allows Ireland to continue building a very highly skilled workforce. To survive in a paperless world, Irish Times was one of the first to go online to keep readers loyal and gain new subscribers. I thought the newspaper business will eventually die; however, because Irish Times has a great reputation due to their well-researched articles, they keep seeing increase in the number of subscribers.

Lastly, we went to visit Davy, a private and largest stockbroker and financial advising group in Ireland. Since this company is private, its shareholders are staff and employees with in the company. There, we met Susan Hayes. She was, in my opinion, the most influential speaker we had the privilege to meet so far. She started her speech about how Pittsburgh and Ireland are related. Then she talked about personal branding. This essentially means “how would you want people to describe/talk about you?” I thought this was very interesting and relates to the strengths that we discovered from the StrengthFinder test that we did earlier in the program. She stated that her 3 words that she uses to brand herself are: optimistic, balance, and perspective. As soon as she spoke, optimism was very obvious. She is nicknamed as ‘positive economist’ and it was very clear. She stated that she balances travel, good relationships, and a successful career. Even if that means she needs to sacrifice and compromise for jet lag, she finds joy in balancing all three since it has always been a goal of hers. Her last word, perspective, allows her to always look through other’s eyes when she is traveling abroad and is conscious of connections.

Susan stated to do things that people are not doing in order to get ahead. She has created two businesses, one is called Savvy Academy in which she helps 15 to 18 year olds choose their career, build their confidence, and help them gain communication skills. With entrepreneurship, “intrapreneurship”, and innovation, in order to succeed, she said that we have to be willing to adapt and be okay with being wrong as it is relevant in American culture. She also emphasized that we have to be pivotal, change tactic, and make sure that the money is following you. Lastly, she also helped us with pitching and the importance of customizing your pitch by actively listening to everything to find out what is important to the investor.

Today was a busy day; however I was able to see and apply the material we learned inside the classroom back in Sennott Square in the real world. My dad has always told me to listen to people and make lifelong connections and I thought it was important that Susan reiterated that to us.