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Jonathan Kelly

Jonathan Kelly, MSc from UCD Geography, 2017

What are your best memories of UCD? 

My best memory of UCD was undoubtably the field trip to Vietnam during my masters in the summer of 2017. This trip enabled me to do extensive, on the ground research for my thesis by engaging with representatives from NGOs, businesses and the Vietnamese government. Partnering with students from Hanoi University during the field trip also let me create connections for life and see the city in a unique way (while hanging on for dear life on the back of a motorbike).

What first sparked your interest in Geography?

I grew up in a small coastal town in south Wexford and was always fascinated by the power of the sea and how it shaped the landscape. As I progressed through
secondary school, I became increasingly interested in socioeconomic geography and the mechanics of supply chains that span the globe. This led me to apply for
a BA in Geography at UCD to continue my interest in the subject.

What career path have you taken since graduating?

I was lucky enough to be accepted into Deloitte Ireland’s Consulting Graduate Programme after graduating with a masters in 2017. Since joining Deloitte, I have worked with clients in the global financial services industry on ground-breaking projects while also getting involved with and leading out some of the firm’s Corporate Responsibility initiatives. More recently, I have begun to specialise in Operational Excellence which focuses on transforming businesses to ensure they operate in a sustainable, responsible and efficient manner.

How has your degree helped you along the way?

My masters has enabled me to develop a high standard of research and critical thinking skills, which are crucial to any job nowadays. Specialising in studying Development and the Global South has enabled me to develop a unique understanding of how business and society interact with our planet. Taking this experience with me into my professional life has empowered me to bring unique insights to the clients I work with and also continue my goal of making a positive impact on society through my work with local and international charities.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The most enjoyable aspect of my work is the platform Deloitte has given me to make an impact on a global scale. This has enabled me to use the professional skills I have developed and apply these with charities I have worked with on a local and international scale. For example, in January 2021 a colleague and I facilitated a 4-day Leadership and Management workshop with our charity partners in Uganda via Zoom. This was the first ‘virtual volunteering’ programme that Deloitte Ireland has run, and it made a huge impact.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Being selected to represent Deloitte Ireland at the 2021 One Young World Summit in Munich is without a doubt my proudest achievement to date. Not only did this reflect the time I have spent making an impact on society since joining Deloitte, but it also showed how I have brought what I learned during my MSc at UCD with me into my professional career. The Summit complemented what I learned during my MSc and professional career to date providing me with detailed insights into the challenges facing the world. However, it also helped me to develop a network of likeminded people from across the world who are keen to turn these challenges into opportunities to transform the world into a better place.

What advice would you offer current students considering a similar career path?

Be ambitious, stay curious and don’t be afraid to question how things are currently done. We are living in an era of huge transformation – the climate crisis coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated this wave of change. Leading organisations across the world need talented people to step-up and help their businesses in making moves to become greener, reduce inequalities and create innovative products that have a positive impact on society.