The UCD Graduate Certificate in Digital Transformation, Technology & Resilience is now accepting applications for September 2023. 90% and 100% funded places are available to eligible candidates through the HEA Springboard+ Initiative.

Before I changed career in the early noughties, I worked in online marketing and used to advise government, financial and education sectors on their e-marketing strategies. That was at the beginning of this century, back when the internet was just a baby, and banner ads were considered avant-garde. I’ve spent the past 25 years working in the financial sector, as a stock broker and financial planner, and I have just launched my own company, Starboard Financial. I enrolled on UCD Innovation Academy’s Graduate Certificate in Digital Transformation, Technology and Resilience, because I know digital technology will be beneficial in the work that I do and I wanted to update my knowledge.

The course was a complete eye opener for me. It helped me to understand the technology of the moment. I’m not going to say doing this course meant I stepped out of my comfort zone because I feel comfortable learning new things but, you do realize when you do a course like this, that there’s a lot out there you are not aware of, and that learning about it, getting comfortable with it, will influence and change how you work. Chat GPT is just one example. It was launched right in the middle of our course, and so we got to engage with it, learned how to navigate it, and ask it the right questions to get the research we were looking for, and how to use it in our day-to-day. As a result, I may well use it as I build out my website.

I have done pretty much all the courses you can do in the financial services field. I’ve done my Masters, I’m a Certified Financial Planner™, I also have my stockbroker’s diploma. But I have never learned the way I learned on this course. In my past learning experiences, I worked on a solo basis. I did the work. I wrote the report. With this graduate certificate, I could bounce ideas off other people and our results were far greater than if I had been doing it by myself. Everybody had to pull their weight to make our projects work and certainly in my case, with the team I was a part of, it worked really well. We were also asked to constantly question ourselves. What did I learn? How did I learn? Why does it matter? These three questions were asked continuously, which is a very different approach to the learning I’ve done in the past.

And, I was learning with people from all walks of life. There was somebody with a nursing background on my course, another who was an IT consultant, someone from Ukraine who is here because of the war, and a teacher, who logged in from China, and another classmate worked in telecommunications and was making a career change. So, it was interesting from that point of view. Lots of different perspectives, ideas and approaches – people coming from different angles and working towards a similar goal. One of the highlights for me was actually meeting everyone face to face, which we did not too long ago.

The course is well structured, and although it is part-time it is comprehensive and pretty full-on. As part of the second module, I worked with a team to develop an app that would help plan your free time. Even when we were on a break, we still met to discuss our project. Although I’m not going to give too much away about it here, our idea was well received, and it may be that we develop it into something real. In the meantime though, doing this course has given me the knowledge and the know-how to perhaps develop an app for use in my new company, a tool that will be hugely useful as a way to quickly get up to speed on my clients’ needs, goals, and objectives when it comes to their financial planning.

Digital Technology has come a long way from the banners of the noughties. I feel like I’ve come a long way too, and am ready now to use the digital transformation to transform the way I do business. I’m excited for what lies ahead.