When NCI graduate Laura Buckley selected the BSc (Honours) in Technology Management as her top choice on her CAO form, she didn’t know which aspect of the course she would enjoy more; business or technology. Her talent for the business and IT management subjects soon became evident and, equipped with a solid foundation in computing and a focus on business management, Laura set her sights on becoming a leader in the technological/agile project space.
Her passion for lifelong learning and the offer of a scholarship, which recognised her achievements during her undergraduate degree, lead to Laura deciding to continue her education at National College of Ireland with a postgraduate degree. Laura believes that she developed essential leadership skills while undertaking the MSc in Management which contributed to her ability to successfully manage and lead a team in her current role as Senior Business Analyst at Westpac, one of Australia’s biggest financial institutions.
Laura shares her path to becoming a female tech leader in the finance industry below.
Tell us a bit about your career to date.
I started my career on a Graduate Programme with Goodbody Stockbrokers in 2014 as a Junior Business Analyst. This was a wonderful opportunity that taught me so much about business acumen, professional standards, and the day-to-day operations of a Corporate Business. I then went on to specialise as a business analyst in financial crime and later moved to an agile Senior Analyst and now I work in the Business Digital space with one of Australia’s big 4 banks – the second largest to be precise.
The companies that I have worked for have always been SAAS businesses and financial institutions. I have a very keen interest in agile, continuous improvement and digital projects. There are so many opportunities in Australia, and I have had the pleasure of working with wonderful organisations and managers that have immensely helped me upskill and develop my skills and talents both professionally and personally – particularly in my current role.
Why did you choose to pursue a postgraduate degree in Management?
I undertook the BSc (Honours) in Technology Management in NCI, and while I really enjoyed the ICT and IT subjects, I had a stronger pull towards the business and IT management subjects. I believed that I had a very good foundational background in IT and that it was time to focus on the business and management side, this was why I had chosen the MSc in Management.
I have a passion for learning and always want to be the best I can be. I knew that my long-term goal was to be a leader in the technological/agile project space and that studying a postgraduate degree in management would help set me on this path.
Why did you decide to continue your studies at NCI?
I knew from my undergraduate degree that I was in good hands in an institution that promotes learning by academia with the added value of their educators being very experienced and accomplished in their fields.
The lecturers that educated me during my 4-year bachelor’s degree at NCI were absolutely fantastic, they had real-world experience which I found so valuable. I also believe that my lecturers were the most supportive educators that I have ever had. All of the lecturers worked tirelessly to prepare us for the real-world, offering wonderful insights from their experience while balancing this with academia. The faculty at NCI really go above and beyond for students, often offering their spare time as project supervisors or providing extra study classes in preparation for exam time.
"There was no other college that I would have wanted to study my postgraduate degree"
When I was offered the Dean’s Postgraduate Scholarship, I knew I had to embrace the opportunity with open arms. There was no other college that I would have wanted to study my postgraduate degree. I hope to study data analytics in the future and NCI will definitely be my chosen place to study.
Can you share some insights into studying at NCI?
Studying at NCI, I have always had wonderful supports including:
- Course Director: Eugene O’ Loughlin was a fantastic Course Director who was passionate about education and created many online videos as extra support for students
- Maths Support: Jonathan Lambert in Maths Support was excellent at teaching us very new mathematical concepts
- Computing Support: Frances Sheridan in Computing Support was a very knowledgeable IT tutor who was compassionate and supportive.
- Inspiring Lecturers: Ron Elliot is one of the most professional and passionate marketers that I have ever come across and was a real inspiration of what I would want my professional brand to say.
The whole faculty at NCI is supportive right up to the President of the College who has a real passion for providing students with the foundation they need to kickstart their professional careers.
It was difficult balancing a new corporate role full-time and studying part-time, but it was made possible by the support from my lecturers.
You’re currently working as a Senior Business Analyst, how has studying management helped you in your current role?
Studying IT and Management has been crucial for me in my current role. I am able to be flexible in my role and provide technical understanding while still fulfil my role as a business digital Senior Business Analyst. I believe that studying management has given me the skills to lead teams, facilitate vital sessions to understand business needs, objectives, and processes.
I know from experience that not everyone can be a manager or leader and I feel that anybody managing a team could benefit from formal studies in management because the education I have been equipped with has made me very aware of what constitutes a successful leader. I have used this in the past to manage a team of over 30 analysts on a very critical remediation project with very aggressive timelines and deliverables none-the-less-so. We worked tirelessly while still maintaining a good team culture and exceeded our deliverables to meet the date imposed by government agencies. I strongly believe that the education I received contributed to how I lead the team to success. This delivered value to our customers, our country and all of our internal stakeholders. We set a new standard for Financial Crime Processes.
What advice would you give to someone considering gaining a qualification in this area?
The skillset and knowledge that you will acquire is useful in every industry and many roles. Many people believe that you do not need to study management as it is something that comes naturally. I believe by studying the MSc in Management, you will set yourself up for better success. It is a hugely insightful programme and will open your mind to a new way of thinking about management and leaders. I strongly suggest attending NCI opening evenings, online events and reaching out to NCI Alumni.
"I strongly believe that education is the best investment you will ever make in life"
I was fortunate enough to receive the Dean’s Postgraduate Scholarship which helped me focus on my studies. NCI offers a range of scholarships for both NCI and non-NCI graduates along with Government-funded education options and grants which I would recommend you review. Based on my experience studying at the College, I would highly recommend applying for the MSc in Management and also taking a look at all of the IT courses that NCI offer.
I strongly believe that education is the best investment you will ever make in life. A qualification from NCI is one that is internationally recognised and will provide you with wonderful opportunities.
Laura studied the BSc (Honours) in Technology Management and progress to the part-time MSc in Management at NCI. Visit the NCIRL website to learn more about studying with us.