It was far from your average Tuesday night for the students who had the honour to appear at the first ever Student Slingshot conference in Dublin Castle. Upon arrival, medicine the student delegates were afforded the chance to mingle within the confines of a vaulted chamber, making invaluable connections and sampling delightful au d’oeuvres.
The event was designed to “help students meet more students, and not from the same area, so from business, from science, arts, law and drama.” According to founder Patrick Guiney, an alumni of UCD. All members of the five or six strong team are studying, and it was difficult to organise the slingshot in terms of time commitments, however Patrick believes that it was the sheer belief in what they were doing that stood to the team.
Minister Gerald Nash was the first to take to the stage, setting the tone on what was to be an enjoyable, informative and most importantly motivational night of panel discussions, talks and round table workshops.
The standard of expert speakers on the night was set at a high level. It was testament to the vision of the organisers that market leaders, and a plethora of experts from a range of areas. This was displayed in the opening round of round tables. Brendan O’Driscoll of Soundwave talked entrepreneurship, whilst across the hall Maximum Media’s Niall McGarry offered his experience on digital marketing, and Simon Phelan of Better Capital afforded his audience an insight into the world of finance investment.
The theme of development and entrepreneurship was carried from the smaller groups to the wider room as a panel of Irish, and one American, entrepreneurs took to the stage to discuss ‘Thinking differently and my advice to Generation Y’ Colin Harmon, founder of Third Floor Espresso (3FE) spoke about completing a degree in commerce, securing a job in the financial sector, before dropping everything to follow his passion and plunging into the world of coffee.
Harmon hinted at the accessibility of entrepreneurship to people from all walks of life, and that whilst it “seems superhuman but it’s just a job.” Tom Gleeson, founder of Bunsen, reiterated this message as he told the audience that no one is born a successful charismatic business owner. A personal challenge for Tom was “Trying to appear responsible and serious to staff,” some of whom Tom was younger than.
The second session of round table discussions commenced with a career in space, how design can help education in the next generation, and the most effective way for students to make an impact in our society being discussed. John O’Dea of Enterprise Ireland was on hand to discuss investment in Irish start-up businesses preceding a panel discussion with the IRFU’s Nora Stapleton, Olympic Rower Paul Donovan, Google’s Eoghan Phipps and Nora Khaldi of Nuritas.
The students sat down for their final round table discussions, and were engaged on the subjects of industry/academics in Science, and what it takes to make it in law. Professor John Flood addressed the legal tech sector which is booming at the minute, he spoke about the “imagination and innovation,” which is now entering law and the move away from a traditional old boy’s club image.
Careers in publishing and marketing in the digital age was the title for the penultimate panel discussion. The importance of having a passion for your work was both iterated and reiterated, in line with the message of the night. Linkedin’s Lindsay Browning knows this more than most as she chose a different route than third level education. Inspired by her entrepreneurial father, Lindsay set up a recruitment agency and sold it on by the age of 23. Lindsay also stressed the importance of selling yourself, stating that “LInkedin is your identity,” in this digital age.
Jane Babb, Head of Recruitment with Arthur Cox was the last of the guest speakers. Jane Babb will have inspired the budding entrepreneurs gathered before her, she gifted them meaningful advice on the art of confidence which they can carry on in life. Jane’s advice was to “think that nothing is above you, and nothing is below you,” thus maintaining a healthy humility whilst also aspiring to learn.
Founder, student, and bright young mind Patrick Guiney , a UCD graduate and currently studying his masters in Smurfitt business school, delivered a closing address to his brain child. Patrick acknowledged both students and speakers alike who had turned out to make Student Slingshot a success.