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Graduate of the Year Awards 2021

28 Apr 2022
Graduate of the Year Awards  2021

Since 2003 the Institute has been running its annual graduate awards programme. Many of our successful award winners have progressed to be influential and highly respected leaders of the discipline here in Ireland. 

The objectives of the Institute’s “Project Management Graduate of the Year Awards” are to: 

  • Recognise and honour the high achievers in the qualifying programme. 
  • Increase awareness of the high quality and standards of IPMA® qualification and certification among the business community and the general public. 
  • Increase the awareness of, and status of, project management as an important business discipline. 
  • Advocate the importance of project management as a core competency for national competitiveness. 

Working with and educating the highly motivated students that we have encountered over the years has been a very gratifying experience. As they have climbed the corporate ladder, their influence on the application and development of the discipline contributes to its future health. 

We would like to congratulate our winner on their achievements and wish them every success in their future career.  

Graduate of the Year Awards Winner 2021 

1. Aodh O'Connor (Strategic Project & Program Management Diploma)

Biographical Note  

Aodh graduated from UCD with a Ph.D. in Experiment Physics in 2010 and worked as a research scientist in Columbia University (USA) and the Max-Planck Institute (Germany). 

He joined SiriusXT as a senior scientist where he won the prestigious Marie-Skłodowska Curie Industrial Fellowship award and completed a post-graduate diploma in Management and subsequently  the Diploma in Project Management (IPMA-D). 

In 2019, Aodh joined TOMRA R&D as the Systems Team Lead working to develop machine vision systems. In 2021, he was promoted to his current role of Technical Manager of Systems Development where he leads the real-time software team and systems R&D teams.  

What influenced your decision to do the Strategic Project & Programme Management? 

Early in my career when leading small R&D projects, I’d applied self-taught agile methodologies with reasonable success. However, as my career progressed and project complexity grew these ad-hoc practices failed to adequately scale. These failures in project governance and structure often led to chaotic periods of 'fire-fighting' when unexpected issues emerged, thus leading to waste.  To help eliminate and pre-empt these stressors from future projects, I undertook a Diploma in Project Management (IPMA-D) and trialled the learnings from each module immediately into my project - thus generating a fast-feedback loop. It was an immediate success.  

As my professional responsibilities grew, new challenges emerged with them. These challenges no longer related to individual projects, but to a program of projects and in that project selection, prioritisation, resourcing, and wider program governance. To pre-empt these challenges growing into issues, I proactively decided to undertake the Diploma in Strategic Project and Programme Management (IPMA-C). 

Since completing the course what impact, if any, has the course had on you in the workplace? 

The Diploma in Strategic Project and Programme management has given me a better understanding of program development, project prioritisation, strategy execution, and project benefit realisation. Organisationally we have applied the benefits of these learnings to develop tools and implement the changes necessary to improve project prioritisation, alignment, resourcing, and approval processes. With these changes, we are reducing organisational waste whilst improving transparency and cohesion.  

2. Laura Young (Certified Project Management Diploma)

Biographical Note 

Laura graduated from University College Dublin with a first class honours in Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering. Upon graduation, she joined MSD Biotech, Dublin – a new start-up biologics drug substance facility .  

Here, she worked as an Upstream Equipment Engineer during the facility build and operational readiness phase of the project.  

She subsequently moved into the Manufacturing Science & Technology (MS&T) department as a Downstream Process Engineer. Here she worked on start-up manufacturing and process performance qualification (PPQ) for the first biologic drug at the facility.  

Since March 2022, she is a member of the New Product Introduction (NPI) team, in the wider MS&T department, as a Downstream Process Engineer. In this role, she is working on technology transfer of new biologics into MSD’s existing manufacturing facility.  

What influenced your decision to do the Certified Diploma in Project Management? 

I had an interest in coupling my practical experience from working on cross-functional teams with professional and theoretical study. I wanted to learn, in detail, about project management lifecycle and key knowledge areas such as project scope, timelines, cost benefit analyses and strategies, to better understand and later implement these approaches in the workplace.  

The benefit of not only possessing technical expertise but also having a project management skillset ensures projects are executed as efficiently as possible from start to finish. 

Since completing the course what impact, if any,  has the course had on you in the workplace? 

Since completing this course, I have a broader and more holistic perspective on all aspects of project management and delivery. I feel that the Certified Project Management Diploma has, and will continue, to assist me in my continuous professional development. I feel better prepared to understand the scope and dimensions of projects that are ongoing and contribute in a more strategic manner.