Conor O’Meara, who graduated from Trinity in 2016 with a degree in BESS, was named the 2016 Business Student of the Year at a reception last April. The Business Student of the Year is awarded annually by the School of Business and the Bank of Ireland, in association with TBA, to the business student who has distinguished her/himself academically whilst at the same time contributing to Trinity College or the wider community, through involvement in sports, student societies, music, publishing, philanthropy, etc.
Conor was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us regarding his time at Trinity and what he has been up to since!
- Could you tell us a bit about your background?
Conor: I grew up in Portumna, Co. Galway and moved to Dublin to study BESS. I loved the idea of being able to study such a wide range of modules, at a time when I really wasn’t sure what I wanted. Another major passion of mine is music, so I was delighted to study music in DIT Conservatory of Music part-time while completing my business & economics degree in Trinity.
- Do you have a favourite Trinity memory?
Conor: As cliché as it may seem, graduating last December was honestly one of my favourite memories of all time in Trinity. Being able to share the day with my Dad, who spent four years wondering what I got up to in Trinity, was brilliant – and the long white fur robes didn’t hurt either.
- Were you involved in any extracurricular activities? Also, could you tell us a bit about the app that you created while at Trinity (Criserv)?
Conor: I probably have a membership card from nearly every club and society in Trinity, which is more down to my inability to make a decision than anything else, especially when a good lunch deal is on the society card. In 2nd year, I was the President of Trinity Hall JCR in Dartry Road, which focuses on building a community for new Trinity students living in Halls. For many students, living in Halls represents the first time they’ve ever moved out of home, so the JCR has a big role to play in making them feel welcome, through events large and small. Being involved with the society really shaped my time in Trinity.
In final year, I became involved with Enactus, the social entrepreneurship society, and got to represent Trinity in Johannesburg, South Africa thanks to the support of the business school. The experience was fantastic, and really shaped the types of social entrepreneurship projects we developed in Trinity Enactus, which came on the back of me spending a summer working for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
One of these projects was CriServ, which I developed along with 3 other team mates in final year. CriServ is a data analytics platform, which analyses and facilitates the food distribution process in refugee camp and crisis zones. Along with the help of Launchbox, the student start-up incubator in Trinity, we developed a platform for the Calais Refugee Camp. It was incredible to think that four final year students, who came up with an idea to try help a huge epidemic, were actually able to bring their idea to the people who need it most. Since working in Launchbox, we have been working to bring CriServ to Greek Refugee camps and Turkish-European borders in conjunction with charities on the ground, due to the closure of Calais Refugee Camp.
- Can you tell us a bit about your life since Trinity?
Conor: During the summer, I interned in the US Senate as part of the Washington Ireland Program. It was an extremely exciting time to be at the heart of US politics, not only because of the presidential campaigns, but because of the dynamic political discourse at the heart of American politics. Over the summer months, Congress debated gun control legislation, the Black Lives Matter campaign, LGBT hate crime and growing foreign relations challenges in the Middle East. We witnessed the Democrat House Sit-In and Senate Filibuster, while also being able to take part in equality campaigns and gun control protests.
As part of the Washington Ireland Program, we were exposed to some incredibly interesting and exciting speakers. It was an incredible platform to discuss some of the most pressing social issues affecting Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Since finishing in the Senate and developing CriServ over the summer months, I’ve moved to London and joined an exciting start-up called Potentialife.
Potentialife combines behavioural science and technology to offer strategic transformation and leadership development to organisations. I first learned about Potentialife when talking to a former Business Student of the Year at the Trinity Global Business Forum. The company was founded by a former-Harvard Professor and a former-McKinsey Director of Strategy – so I’m definitely learning at a fast pace!
Living in London is great. The TBS network has opened me up to the London Irish Graduate Network, and even music opportunities here in London.
- How did Trinity get you to where you are today?
Conor: Coming from a small town in the West of Ireland, I really thought moving to study in Trinity was a real “sink or swim” decision. I quickly realised just how many supports were in place to help me to succeed. Trinity offered me opportunities to lead teams on college societies, teach English in Kolkata, India, use my academic skills for socially responsible projects and more often than not, simply relax on the pitches outside the Pav while an important essay deadline loomed. I was lucky during my time in Trinity to be surrounded by great friends from across College who were always there to encourage me to think differently, try new experiences and get involved.
- More specifically, how did the School of Business (or TBA!) help get you to where you are today?
Conor: Since first year, I had always been involved with the Business School, either as a class rep organising social and sporting events or school convenor helping to shape modules with students in mind. That work benefited me directly- with an expansion of modules during my final year in the BESS programme, I was able to study subjects that I really care about. The introduction of the Global Business Forum gave me the opportunity to speak about and debate those subjects and relate them to current national and international events. Finally, of course, I was humbled to be recognised by the School as the 2016 Business Student of the Year. This award gave me a renewed sense of confidence to continue pursuing the subjects that interest me the most and I’ve no doubt this sense of curiosity will stay with me for the rest of my career.
- Do you think that you will stay connected to Trinity as alumnus?
Conor: I’ve already got my ticket to the London TCD Graduate Ball!
We would like to thank Conor for taking the time to answer our questions, and for giving us a glimpse into his post-TCD life. And Conor, we look forward to seeing you at the London Ball!