Digital Skills Academy
Graduate Derek Nevin: Reaching Career Goals and Upskilling in Digital Skills

Graduate Derek Nevin: Reaching Career Goals and Upskilling in Digital Skills

Derek Nevin is a graduate of Digital Skills Academy's BSc (Honours) Degree in Digital Technology, Design and Innovation programme. 

What did you get out of the programme, what did you learn?

When I signed up for the course, I was living in Offaly, outside of Tullamore, Ireland. By coincidence, on receiving acceptance to the BSc (Honours) Degree in Digital Technology, Design and Innovation, I was called for an interview at the Digital Hub with a start up company in the Digital Payments sector called Way2Pay. I am certain that my commitment to further education and the BSc Honours Degree was instrumental in securing an interview in the first place. The role I took up was as a Project Manager, tasked with building process within the company and rolling out product training to our customers. My background and experience was in traditional management and the course enabled me to study new valuable methodologies in management. I was working off-site and managing a team and actions with online meetings and weekly team sprints for the first time. Without the formal and practical lessons I was learning from the course, I would not have been equipped to cope with these tasks.

What are the pros and cons of taking the course online?

Without a doubt, if the course had not been available to pursue and complete online, it would have been impossible for me to undertake it. As many of my calls and meetings in work required me to travel countrywide, I missed some of the online scheduled meetings presented by the tutors. The ability to login and access these in my own time allowed me to keep up to date and current with course curriculum. If I had to attend lectures during this period of my early career in my new role, it would have left me too far behind on many occasions to have caught up. Also, the commute to and from a central college location would not have been feasible.

What was the advantages of working with an Industry Partner?

The benefit of working with an Industry Partner is that a working project with a structured timeline is the end game. The team dynamics and requirements, inter dependency, focus, support, performance, measurement, expectancy are all on view at all times. There is nowhere to hide, as every action or lack thereof is measured and impacts on your team. The end result of your project is a measure of your team’s understanding, cohesiveness and drive towards doing your best for yourself and each other. The projects are as real as possible and have a targeted planned and executed outcome that is measurable and offers real learning outcomes throughout all the stages.

What skills did you learn from working on an Industry Partner project?

Patience, mentoring, acceptance, respect, support, these were all traits and skills that I discovered and honed during the project. There were times when I wanted to demand and dictate the way forward as a throwback to some of my previous management experience. But through some of the learning concepts I realised that I had to adopt a different approach as we were all working in a new process. There were many times when the team achieved and pulled us all together and drove the agenda in a direction that no individual could have. Our team was formed of three strong-willed and determined individuals, who had to make many compromises. We did so with generosity of spirit and good will, as we kept the big picture and the project goals in focus. We each at times mentored or were mentored, showed or were shown patience, supported or were shown support, accepted or were shown acceptance of decisions at all times.

What benefits did you get out of working in a cross-functional team?

Working with a cross-functional team allowed me valuable insights into the inter-dependency required to complete a project effectively and on time. Understanding the types of problems encountered by the other contributors, and listening to and discussing their requirements made me more aware of the necessity to work closely as a team. Communication and honesty were core to our cohesiveness and success. Provided we kept in touch with each other and held regular team updates, we could keep on track or flag breakpoints in advance. It also allowed me to gain an understanding of some of the demands of design work, which, for instance, I was quite in the dark about prior to the team project. We each contributed in our chosen field but also agreed to contribute freely to each other’s contributions in an effort to keep each other on track and motivated if necessary.

What type of project did you develop when on the programme?

Our team developed a website based project called "Spree". Spree gave gaming developers and companies the facility to offer their respective requirements and skills to each other in a professional and cost effective way. Developers from all fields, could present their portfolio of work to respective contractors or full time employers. Employers could bypass employment agencies and deal first hand with the developers.

What was your speciality? What did you specialise in?

I was co-project manager and was responsible for the Digital Business /Marketing element primarily. Information-gathering, in the first instance, to gain an understanding of the demand, if any, for our product was central. Then, responsible for creating a Digital Strategy for launching "Spree" in the release phase of the project. In 2015, I had carried out a Post-Grad qualification in Digital Marketing, so it made sense that I would take on the role of marketing for the project.

What were your goals when you started the course and did you achieve them?

Absolutely, I targeted a First Class Honour and was determined to achieve it, and thankfully I did. I was immediately on the back foot, due to commencing a new job at the same time as the course began. However, the support from my fellow students and my determination to preserve and complete the course on time, helped me reach my goals. In the latter part of the course, my colleagues on team "Spree" really kept things positive and focused.

What are you doing now and how did the Digital Skills Academy help you to get there?

Since March of this year, I have taken on the role of Sales Manager with Way2 Pay Ireland and I am certain the learning taken from Digital Skills Academy will continue with me throughout my career. Distance learning has allowed me to understand the discipline required to successfully achieve my goals in education.  I have more confidence in my future and the learning possibilities, and I have already signed up to begin a Higher Diploma in Data Analytics to begin in January. I intend to continue my education in the Digital Sector and to continue to upskill, as required.

Anything you'd have done differently?

I don't think I would have done things any differently. I think I achieved what I set out to do. I really enjoyed the challenge and the adrenaline rush that came with having to juggle work, home life and study. It was scary and enjoyable in equal parts. I absolutely loved the opportunity to learn and be introduced to new and exciting concepts and to share and debate some of the theories with my fellow students. As mentioned, it has really whet my appetite to carry on with my education, and I have now set myself some new targets in this area.