BSc '15 (Singapore)
Having moved from Singapore for a six-month programme at UCD in 2014, Edward Emmanuel subsequently converted an internship in Rome into a permanent position that has involved helping to set up a Dublin office for his new employer. His long term goals include using his background and experience to act as a bridge for technology and investment transfer between east and west.
About Edward Emmanuel
Tell us a bit about your early education and career
I was born in Hong Kong but was raised mainly in Singapore, where I did most of my education. I majored in information technology at third level and was then drafted into the military for two years of service. After that, I worked for around four years in IT sales consultancy, which combined my technology background with my interest in business.
While I felt I was learning a lot on the job I wanted to go back to school and finish my studies. Looking around for the appropriate course I came across UCD’s IT and Business Management fusion programme, which ticked all the boxes for me.
A number of the modules were done through distance learning, which suited me as I was still working. It meant I had time for my career and classes at my own speed and worked out very well.
How did you end up coming to Dublin?
About halfway through the course, I was offered a transfer to Dublin to finish up the programme. It was a very big decision as things were going very well for me at work, but after talking it through with my boss and my family I came to the conclusion it would be a great opportunity.
And I did have some affinity and connections with Ireland – I spent 10 years at a school that was founded by Irish brothers. And we had a priest who was really close to our family and he was from Dublin.
I came here in the middle of 2014 and while it was a big move I really enjoyed it from the get go. Everyone was really warm and welcoming and the co-ordinators at the School of Business were very helpful. The lecturers were fantastic – they were patient and very informative. And I was living in Belfield and had great housemates and basically soaked up the campus lifestyle on offer.
What happened when you finished the programme?
I graduated in 2015 and decided to spend some time travelling around Europe, which was something I’d always wanted to do. I backpacked around Ireland and then went to France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Serbia and Croatia. All the while I was keeping abreast of what was going on back home and with potential school and work opportunities. I came across an internship role with an interesting company called Alien Technology Transfer based in Rome, applied for it, did some Skype interviews – I think I was in Serbia at the time – and got accepted.
That meant I had to cut my trip short so I could go back home to Singapore before starting in Rome at the end of June.
The company was founded in London in 2014 and provides consultancy on funding from the European Commission. There was a bit of a steep learning curve at first. There were things I’d learnt before that I just had to really sharpen up on and some things that were very unique to the company’s business model.
Very quickly, it became clear the company was doing really well and looking to expand – either to Tel Aviv or Dublin. When asked for my opinion, I had only great things to say about Dublin and that’s where the powers that be eventually chose to set up the subsidiary.
We moved into to the Digital Hub in October 2015 and were up and running a few weeks later. We were initially in a co-working office environment but now we have an office of our own. Right now, we’re about eight people and we’ll have two more joining us by the middle of the year.
Since October we’ve helped six European companies, including two local Irish firms, to optimise their business strategies and get funding from the European Commission.
What is your role?
I’m an analyst and project manager. I liaise with the companies that come to us and really examine their technology and their business. I do an analysis of their technical documentation and deliver some insights on what they should do to make it more effective. It’s consulting work. We evaluate these businesses thoroughly before we send it on to the European Commission, which then decides whether these companies and projects are worth public investment.
What are the plans for the company over the next while?
We’re expanding quite rapidly and have just opened another office in Vilnius in Lithuania. We’ve been doing really well and the plan is to consolidate our success and help more of our clients achieve their goals in terms of commercialising throughout the EU.
What is your leadership style?
I would say it’s collaborative. You can’t be the best at everything so you have to get the best out of everyone. To do that, you need an environment where information flows very freely and everyone feels able to chip in, even if their ideas sound ridiculous or far-fetched. Then you get to pick the best bits and come up with the best solution.
Of course, the time comes when you have to make a decision and if I have to make a call I stick to that decision.
What is your philosophy in business and in life?
It might have been said many times before, but I think you have to be able to take the knocks. Funny thing about the human experience, you don’t really remember the hard times, or the good times to an extent. You should always be prepared for the knocks that are coming your way. How you handle your knocks is so important. It’s like the classic business cycle – there will always be ups and downs and the way you respond in the down cycle is very telling. If you’re proactive and positive in adversity, it does wonders and makes all the difference. Anyone can ride the good times but when the chips are down that’s when you’ll see what you’re made of.
Who or what are your big influences?
From a personal perspective, my family was a huge influence. My mother always espoused the qualities of integrity and kindness as being most important. They’re simple qualities but they’re really important. If you don’t hold to your word or follow through on what you say, it’s very slight but it does affect your life in the long run. And of course kindness is something we all need. As you grow older, you realise these traits are very important – they’re high up the list and it sets the tone for the rest of your life.
And I would also say that people who have gone through adversity and lived to tell the tale are huge influences.
What are your tips for success?
Keep improving yourself. It’s a 24/7 job. You have your jobs for employment and for the family and looking after the house, but there’s also the job of yourself that happens all the time. Whether it’s physically, mentally, even emotionally and spiritually, you need to have things to unwind. And you need to step away from work as well.
Whether its exercise or reading – for work or for pleasure – and doing the things you love, you just have to make a mental note to do the things you enjoy and keep working on yourself. There’s no downtime for that.
What have been your biggest successes and failures in business?
Earlier on in my career, our company had an account that was handling a large sale. The valuation of the proposed deal was a significant amount, especially at the time when I was early days in the workforce. I really wanted to handle the account convinced my boss to let me have a go.
Long story short, the deal did not go through so I lost the account for my company. That was a huge blow and I was distraught. My general manager called me into the office and could see I was beating myself up about it. He just said, every mistake is a learning outcome, it’s fine to make mistakes and we move on from it. It was very reflective of his management style.
Those little moments, like how my manager dealt with it and how I chose to respond, those are very important.
What are your plans going forward?
The company is expanding and, eventually, its ambition – and mine – is to go global. There’s a good chance we might still make it to Tel Aviv, but we will move both west and east. Having come from the east, I get a little bit more excited about that. I would like to be a bridge in terms of investment and technology transfer between Europe and what Asia Pacific has to offer. As the operations expand and we do move onto that, I intend to link up with investments and technology going both ways, for market penetration on both sides. This is definitely the plan.
What are your interests outside work?
I enjoy reading a lot, both for business and pleasure. It depends what takes my fancy – it could be fiction, non-fiction, lifestyle books. I enjoy music very much. I play the guitar and it helps me de-stress a lot and heals the soul. And of course, spending times with loved ones and trying to keep fit and healthy in terms of exercise are also very important.