Colman qualified as a medical doctor and then worked in Rwanda and then Kenya. There he met the inspiring Betty Nyagoha, a social entrepreneur who was setting up a new school in the slum of Nairobi. On his return to Ireland, he completed a Masters in Multimedia and went on to work in IT at Proctor and Gamble and General Electric.
Years later, Colman met a group of students who wanted to set up an organisation to support education in developing countries. Still inspired by his experiences in Africa, Colman left his job at Enterprise Ireland and co-founded the not-for-profit Suas. Within just 3 years they had developed programmes in India, Kenya, and Ireland, becoming one of the fastest-growing not-for-profits in Ireland with innovative programmes in service-learning, partner development, mentoring for literacy and the Bridge21 (in partnership with Trinity College Dublin)
Colman then co-founded the School for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, before joining the Innovation Academy on a short contract to start a programme in Kilkenny. 7 years later he is still here, leading our team to design and deliver courses in Creativity, Innovation, Leadership, Entrepreneurial Mindsets, and Sustainability.
Colman has worked across nearly all the IA courses and delivered the Academy’s programmes for universities and governments in Malaysia, Switzerland and Vietnam. He also co-pioneered our Professional Diploma in Creativity and Innovation for Education. This course supports educators to develop an innovation mindset, adopt a ‘learning by doing’ approach and become leaders in education reform. To date, over 250 educators have completed the programme, across Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education. This has directly benefited over 18,000 students, and another 36,000 through institutional changes.
His main interest right now is Sustainability, which he views primarily as a learning challenge – about our collective ability to learn, innovate and adapt. He believes we can only meet the challenge by reimagining what is possible for ourselves, our societies and the world.
Colman is an awardee of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Programme, the Arthur Guinness Fund, and a Medal for the Development Cause of the Vietnamese National University.
Colman is motivated by the little wins – watching people overcome their fears to exceed their own expectations, or, finding a new path forward for themselves and by the need for systemic change to ensure an inclusive, flourishing, sustainable future for us all.
In his spare time, Colman enjoys travel, being in nature, getting lost in a good book, film or TV show and spending time with family and friends.
Why I joined the UCD Innovation Academy…
“I joined the Academy on a short contract, but then I stayed. There were very few places in Ireland doing this type of education, and it was very rewarding to help people to reinvent themselves after the financial crisis.”