Since starting placement here in March, it was clear I was not here for the good of my health. To say I came in at a busy time is an understatement, and although I had been told it would be a tough few months, nothing could’ve prepared me for the whirlwind that is EOY!
After months of preparation, both before and after I joined, the 2016 finalists had been announced. Our first proper encounter with them was through the PR Briefings and our Finalists Induction Dinner, where finalists, alumni and people from EY all met for the first time. Kevin and Sean presented on the night and as they discussed the prospect of the upcoming CEO Retreat to Boston, I could feel the excitement buzz around the room. I wanted nothing more than to be going on this trip, but I knew it was too far-fetched a dream.
However, the next day, and the final day of the briefings, Claire and Michael asked to speak to me – I hadn’t a clue what for and was wondering if I was in trouble – I was racking my brain for anything I might’ve done wrong over the last few weeks! When Claire asked me if my passport was in date things started to click into place – I was shell shocked! I couldn’t believe they asked me to come along. This would be without a doubt the craziest week of my life.
There’s a lot of hard work to be put in when organising this trip. Between getting the brochure done up, finalising itineraries, getting venues sussed and organising flights, the team were kept on our toes.
Before we knew it Ireland Day was upon us. We had great speakers at the event from Gina London on leading change, Professor Neil Gibson from the University of Ulster on Global Economic Trends, Mike McKerr, EY Ireland’s Country Managing Partner on Talent, Gerry Maguire from Atlantic Bridge Ventures on Funding for Scale, Paul Kerley and John Purdy on the Fenergo Story and Dr John Teeling from 162 Group on what makes an entrepreneur. Mark Pollock also spoke to us at dinner on how he is overcoming losing his sight and becoming paralysed, and his vision to find a cure for paralysis. Each of these speakers had something new and different to offer the crowd.
The next day, half the group boarded the first flight with Michael and Tara, and once they left, Claire James and I started setting up for the morning’s talks which included a panel discussion on digital disruption from Eoin Goulding of Integrity360, and EY’s Yvonne Kiely and John Farrelly, followed by a workshop on imbedding a growth mind-set in your team from Jessica Hayden from UCD. Both small group sessions were extremely interactive and had the entrepreneurs heading off for the airport buzzing with new ideas.
We arrived and quickly freshened up before dinner and our first Boston speaker. We had a talk from Stephen Kaufer, the CEO of TripAdvisor – I was furiously writing notes as he spoke, giving us a great insight into his business.
Sunday was the most relaxed of the days as the morning sessions were taking place in the hotel – Brittany McDonough on Trade and Investment and Jonathon Ruane on Digital Economics. We spent the afternoon in Fenway Park under the blistering sun watching the Boston Red Sox play and networking with the group. This was a great opportunity for me to chat to the finalists and the alumni and get to know them. President of Fenway Sports Management, Sam Kennedy, came up to say hello to the group while we were there before his talk later in the week. We then headed back to the hotel and loaded the buses once more to bring us to our dinner cruise around Boston Harbour. The views lent to many a photo shoot taking place for the evening and even a break dancing challenge, duly accepted by Ciara Clancy, one of our emerging finalists!
Monday morning had us walk to the EY offices in Boston. We split the group so one of the team would walk in front, two in the middle and one at the end, to make sure everyone had made it. We had talks from David Thompson from Wicklander – Zulawski who works with the FBI on interrogation. He applied his knowledge on this to a business environment. This talk sparked a great reaction from the group and we all found ourselves doing lots of gestures that are linked to guilty people!
Susan Duffy spoke to us with regards the business benefits of gender parity, which lead to a very interactive, passionate and colourful discussion amongst our group! After lunch we then had a panel discussion about scaling led by Mark Gallagher of Silicon Valley Bank, followed by Dr Padraig Moloney, a Lockheed Martin Senior Scientist on world class R&D.
That evening we again got everyone on the buses and headed for 60 State Street for dinner with EOY Alumni from New England and a speech from Secretary Jay Ash, Secretary for Housing and Economic Development. This night was jam packed with talks from some of the finalists and from John Bowen, esteemed member of the alumni, who also said grace in Latin, as is EOY tradition – a lovely aspect of the night.
Check in next week to see how we got on for the second half of the trip!