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2019 graduates celebrate their success at conferring ceremonies

21 October 2019

The Institute’s graduates of 2019 celebrated their success at conferring ceremonies in UCD’s Belfield campus. They celebrated their hard work and commitment with family, friends, the Chief Executive, Mary O’Dea; President, Clive Bellows; Vice President, Rob Warnock, and IoB faculty and staff.

Hear from our CEO Mary O’Dea and some of our students as they share their stories:

The graduation ceremonies mark one of the biggest days in the academic year and is a day of celebration for all our graduates, especially those who show exceptional talent and are recognised through our President’s Education Awards and TK Whitaker Scholarships.

Daniel Bohan was placed first in the 2019 Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning class. As a financial advisor and planner for 14 years, Daniel has guided his clients on a multitude of financial issues and concepts, tailored to their own individual circumstances. “The reason I undertook this programme was more about my clients than myself. That might sound strange, but my strongly held belief is that improving my client's financial outcomes is all that ultimately matters. After that everything else takes care of itself. Whether that’s a better outcome on an investment strategy / retirement strategy or a tax planning strategy, enhancing their lives and their peace of mind was always my main driver for enrolling in the programme.

"The experience of the overall programme was hugely positive both in terms of the content and the practicality / applicability of the subjects covered. Unsurprisingly, the level of work required was substantial when factoring in a full-time job, lots of travel and a family life. My wife Sinead and I have a beautiful boy called Sonny whom we adore. Sonny is three years old and has Down Syndrome. During the programme he had a few lengthy stays in hospital, which meant that I was often studying in a hospital ward while my wife got some well-earned rest. It’s important to say that I would never have been able to complete the course without the incredible encouragement and support she gave me. Sinead carried the load when I disappeared for hours on end to study or to complete assignments. She has given me phenomenal support to develop my own career while at the same time putting her own career on hold.

"I believe that developing your career academically is a bit like playing sport at a high level"

“I believe that developing your career academically is a bit like playing sport at a high level. It’s a selfish business, because you have to give all you have in order achieve at that level. For us that meant late nights and long weekends when I wasn’t around, often missing important family events especially around assignment deadlines and exams. Everyone has their own story and that’s ours, but in truth there’s only one hero in our household and it certainly isn’t me.

“I enjoyed every aspect of the programme. People complain about the pressure of exams and assignments, but I had a very clear goal from the outset and every challenge I encountered just got me closer to achieving it. Through every step I wanted to soak up as much learning as I possibly could. Maybe that comes from my background in the GAA, having played football for Kerry for a number of years. The necessity of a strong work ethic as well as the need to continuously improve was always foremost, or maybe that’s just the way I’ve always been wired. It’s probably a combination of both, but I found every aspect of the programme enriching and rewarding.

“While I was already implementing the course concepts the programme brought them to the next level in terms of integrated / ‘joined up’ thinking across all facets of the advice proposition. I grew up in a home with minimal financial security or financial literacy so I am deeply aware of the importance of good financial decision-making and the enormously positive impact it can have in people’s lives regardless of their level of wealth or social background. The course has only enhanced that awareness and it has helped me to work at an even deeper level with my clients.”

Caroline Kenny of Bank of Ireland, who achieved joint first place in the Professional Diploma in Financial Services said: "Throughout my career, I have worked in various areas from retail banking to operations support and I have spent the last five years working in business banking client services.

I decided to complete the Professional Diploma in Financial Services to broaden my knowledge of the principles of banking and to enhance my understanding of the contemporary issues facing the financial services industry. Having not studied in a number of years, the Institute made the return to education stress free as the flexibility to complete the modules allowed me to choose when I wanted to complete them while still retaining a good work / life balance.

"I particularly liked the element of continuous assessment"

I particularly liked the element of continuous assessment. The support and guidance provided by the course leaders in the Institute empowers you to continue your learning.”

Damien Kelly LIB QFA Professional Banker from permanent tsb achieved joint first place in the Professional Diploma in Financial Services programme. Here's what Damien had to say; "I am currently working as a Credit Underwriting Manager with permanent tsb for the past four years, having previously worked in various roles in credit and distribution within the organisation since 2001. I decided to undertake the Professional Diploma in Financial Services as I felt it was the appropriate step back into further education after successfully obtaining the QFA qualification a number of years previously.

"The Institute of Banking’s blended learning style allowed me to take the programme at my own pace"

The Institute of Banking’s blended learning style allowed me to take the programme at my own pace. I must admit the demands of completing the programme with my two young kids, Chloe (4) and Harvey (2), did prove extremely challenging at times! However, my very understanding and supportive wife, Leah, shouldered a great deal of the parental duties throughout and for this I am truly grateful. Overall the programme has definitely deepened my technical expertise and awareness of critical areas within the banking industry, shaping me into a more rounded individual."

John O’Rourke, who achieved first place in the Graduate Diploma in Financial Services class has worked for Citi for over 22 years and spent most of that time working as an Operations Manager across various securities businesses. He explains: “I decided to undertake the programme for both personal and career development reasons. Having joined the workforce shortly after completing my leaving certificate, I always felt that I had not fulfilled my potential at an academic level. As my career has developed, it also became more and more apparent how important education can be when seeking out opportunities. The programme offered me the opportunity to address both of these points together.

"The Institute provides excellent structure to the programme delivery and supports students throughout the entire process"

“The overall experience has been very rewarding.The Institute provides excellent structure to the programme delivery and supports students throughout the entire process. Although there is certainly a level of self-discipline and sacrifice required to manage the workload, it is very possible to maintain a reasonable work/life balance while completing the programme too.

“I enjoyed the classroom lectures most of all. It was very interesting to have an opportunity to hear not only the lecturer’s views but also the views of my fellow students who represented a very wide section of the financial services industry. The structure of programme provided me with a perfect opportunity to build on the experiences gained throughout my working career and to develop new ways of thinking about the challenges we all face in our day to day work lives.”

Graduation 2019 diversity

James Dawson, who shared first place for the Professional Diploma in Banking and was awarded the TK Whitaker Scholarship, also works in Citigroup, in the treasury and trade solutions division.

“I currently work as a Product Risk Manager. I have been working in risk management in both the first and second lines of defence for almost three years and have over 10 years’ experience in financial services. I enrolled on the course because I felt that the modules were suitable for my line of work, and because I wanted to obtain the Chartered Banker designation. I found the experience to be very fulfilling due to the interaction with colleagues in the same industry, and the level of discussion fostered in class by the lecturers. I particularly appreciated the high quality of teaching, which was a blend of academic material and recent examples centred on the core issues faced by the Irish banking industry, such as the financial crisis and the mortgage tracker scandal.

"The course has provided me with a much better insight into the Irish and global financial landscape"

"The course has provided me with a much better insight into the Irish and global financial landscape, and has broadened my understanding of risk management, for example in relation to liquidity risk management. I feel that this will have a longer-term benefit for my career in terms of enabling me to move into different areas.”

Sharing first place on the Professional Diploma in Banking and the TK Whitaker Award was Steven Moynihan: “In January this year I joined the Central Bank of Ireland to take up a role in their new wholesale market conduct team. Previous to that, I spent 12 years trading fixed income and FX markets for an asset management firm. I decided to undertake the Professional Diploma in Banking to broaden my knowledge and understanding of the banking sector. I found the course to be challenging, highly relevant and thoroughly enjoyable. The quality of the lecturers and the support they provided was excellent. The risk management in financial institutions and ethics and corporate governance modules in particular have been an enormous benefit to me in my new role."

"The quality of the lecturers and the support they provided was excellent"

David Sheehan, who was awarded first place in the MSc in Banking, joined Bank of Ireland’s graduate programme in 2004. “I have held several roles across the retail banking and business banking departments including Business Advisor, Branch Manager and now Business Relationship Manager. I have studied extensively with the Institute of Banking, completing the Professional Banker and Chartered Banker programmes before embarking on the MSc in Banking.

“I decided to pursue the Masters programme having had such a positive experience with the Professional Banker and Chartered Banker qualifications. From a career perspective, I was conscious that it was over a decade since I had graduated from my primary degree (a BSc Finance from UCC) and the world of banking had certainly changed in that time, so it was important to update my skills and to pick up some new ones. As well as the ‘core banking’ modules that the MSc offered, the programme exposed me to new skillsets such as strategy and innovation, behavioural decision making and negotiation skills – all of which I now find myself utilising on a daily basis.

"Updating my email signature to include ‘MSc in Banking’ was a proud moment and a great feeling!"

“I would highly recommend the MSc in Banking programme to anyone who is looking to advance their career and broaden their knowledge base. The module structure of the programme allowed me to manage my own time against personal commitments and the group project structure of several of the modules meant you never felt on your own during the journey. I have to say, updating my email signature to include ‘MSc in Banking’ was a proud moment and a great feeling!”

Mark Bradley has worked with Ulster Bank for 28 years and in the SME lending team within the commercial banking division for over 15. He wins his President’s Education Award for the Bachelor of Financial Services. He says: “I took this programme as I had completed the SME Diploma and Professional Banker programmes and the Bachelor of Financial Services was a natural progression. It allowed me to build on existing and new areas of interest in all areas of banking, not just SME. I also wanted to put some theory around the day-to-day experience I have developed over a long period of time in my various SME roles.

“Overall the experience was a challenge in professional and personal terms, but very rewarding. There was great support from the Institute, Ulster Bank and my family in working through the six modules. The platform provided by the Institute by way of excellent programme co-ordination, lectures and lecturer support, and staggered study plans was very helpful for the student population as a whole.

"I really enjoyed gaining a deeper understanding of subjects I had covered in my previous and current roles"

“I really enjoyed gaining a deeper understanding of subjects I had covered in my previous and current roles. And also learning on newer content such as digital age, personal development and strategy. The lectures were also insightful as they brought the individual modules to life with the collective students and lecturers, rather than just taking your lead from the books.

“The BFS programme has upgraded my skill set and given me exposure to new areas I would not normally cover. It has definitely created an appetite for further learning, and will no doubt help me in my banking career as ongoing change continues in our sector. Lastly it has given me new confidence in exploring potential new opportunities which may arise as a result of said changes.”

Yvonne Brett and Janice Daly were also recognised with a President's Education Award for their achievements in the MSc in Compliance and MSc in Financial Services respectively.