Christina Furlong, Market Research & Consumer Insight Specialist, Kerry Group
Christina Furlong is a recent graduate of the Bord Bia MSc programme. Here she tells us about her experience of the Masters and what is has meant for her career:
Tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to apply for this programme.
Finishing your degree and entering the graduate workplace can be a tough place to be. I know that will resonate with so many people because it’s true for me and I have heard many others say the same. After putting your heart and soul into 4 years of college you find yourself having to adapt very fast to the reality of working in your chosen industry. Many degrees teach you knowledge and skills that you rarely use in the real world. I graduated with a degree in food science about 6 years ago, searched for a job for many months and then had four in 3 years, all in different roles. I had progressed through jobs because of an ambition to develop my career faster but I never really found fulfilment in any of them. Quality control was like ‘Groundhog Day’ and new product development was more like project management, there was no innovation or creativity.
When I saw the course advertised for the first time, I had a gut feeling about it. I had always wanted to go into a shop one day and see I a product that I had created for sale. The opportunity to learn about innovation and gain a masters degree while being financially supported would have been unattainable for me, yet here it was. The first lesson I learnt on the course was there is no harm in applying even if you don’t think you are good enough or the right person for the job. It’s about willingness to learn after all.
How did you find the programme itself? How much of a challenge was it?
The course was an absolute whirlwind for me. Design thinking redefines how you think and gives you tools to see the world differently. The course taught me that innovation isn’t magic, it’s a process that you can practice and refine. You might still have your eureka moment in the bath but only after you’ve done lots of hard thinking. Throughout the course, there were lots of really exhilarating days spent investigating problems ‘in the field’ or in a workshop ideating. There was of course many early mornings and late nights as well.
Living in the context of learning innovation and applying it in the workplace is another challenge but where there is challenge there is opportunity. For most participants in the course there was high expectation that you could come in and create successful innovation in the first few weeks or months and that’s not really the case. I was fortunate to find a great fit when I joined Kerry Group. I was never treated like an ‘intern’. The right people adopted me and put a structure around me that meant they could learn with me and were willing to come along on the innovation journey. Getting to know your colleagues, experiencing the culture of the company and learning about their products take time and are very important to having a successful experience. Only then can you show your impact and take on responsibility.
What doors has the course opened up for you?
Since completing the course, I was offered the opportunity to stay with Kerry. I plan on spending the next couple of years there learning more and more about insights and innovation. No two days are the same and that really excites me. The course has given me a massive boost in my career to a role that I didn’t know existed two years ago. I have a trusted and respected voice in the business and my network has vastly expanded. I would encourage anyone who is interested to back themselves and apply, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
DCU Business School and Bord Bia are now seeking applications from ambitious recent graduates who come from a broad range of undergraduate degrees and who want to develop their global food industry expertise.
To apply, please submit your CV and a cover letter detailing your reasons for and motivation in applying to this programme to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 29th 2020 at 5pm GMT.
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