Eoin Mulhall - Economics
Recently we caught up with UCD Economics alumnus Eoin Mulhall, who graduated in 2011.
What first sparked your interest in Economics?
Economics was one of my favourite subjects in school. I always enjoyed problem solving with numbers, but it was their application to real world problems that drew me in. I particularly enjoyed the visualisation of these problems through graphs/charts/tables, and even now in my current role, data visualisation is still something I love! So, my decision to study Economics was based primarily on doing something I enjoyed and was good at, because I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my career at that stage.
In terms of why I chose UCD (on almost all available CAO slots...) - after visiting a number of Ireland's universities and colleges, it was the size, the top class facilities, the apparent diversity and global vibe, and importantly, the focus on health and sport, that really drew me in. I had my mind made up by the end of that Open Day.
Highlights from your time in UCD
Academic & Social: For me, I found that UCD offered the perfect balance of academic focus alongside social opportunities. I was never short of learning experiences, such as the various out-of-class tutor services I used, the enormous library, or the brilliant, random, and sometimes crazy, night-time guest lectures, usually held in the infamous Theatre L (Dr. Cox from Scrubs being a highlight). In the same vein, I also never found myself on a weeknight wanting of a student event to go to on campus. There was always something going on. I also was lucky enough to live on campus for my 3 years - an unforgettable experience, for better or for worse!
Community Culture: I was heavily involved in the UCD Athletics Club, and was lucky enough to get a sports scholarship for athletics, so the support I got from UCD, and exposure I got to the sporting community in general, was amazing - I made life long friends from that environment. And that was just the community I chose - there is something in UCD for everyone.
One thing that always stuck with me about the culture in UCD, was a time when I had set up camp in the basement of the main restaurant building for the day, to get a bit of study done, before later realising I had crashed a LGBTQ social event that was taking place! This was only 10 years ago or so, however it was before we had the warmth and acceptance of the LGTBQ community in Ireland that we have today, and years before same-sex marriage was made legal, for example. That always stuck with me, and says a lot about the cultural environment in UCD. Everyone is accepted.
What career path have you taken since graduating from UCD?
I graduated in 2011, and decided to pursue a career in athletics for about a year following, and (still with no real idea of what I wanted to do as a career) towards the end of that, I took a role in the Athletics Association of Ireland, doing their online marketing (social media, ads, email etc), and it was there that, for the first time, I could start to see a potential career forging out of my ability and education in using data/numbers to make things better. I decided to go back to university as a Postgrad - this time DCU - to do a MSc. in Digital Marketing & Management. Following graduation from the Masters, I began work in Carat, a global media agency, as a Digital Planner, and not long after, I was approached by Google. Almost 5 years later in Google, and I'm now a Global Program Manager in Google Cloud, where I lead the Customer Experience program globally. My primary focus is to improve our customers' experiences with our support network across the world, and I heavily rely on analysing our data to derive actionable insights in order to do that.
How has your degree helped you along the way?
Economics helped me to see how I can use numbers/data to figure out real world problems, how to make information visually easy to consume, and to understand the knock-on affects that small changes can make on the bigger picture. But, there was an added benefit from my time in UCD, outside of Economics, that I wouldn't realise until I started working in Google. As part of the Horizon programme in UCD (electives), I had completed a number of Computer Science modules, including Java programming. You typically need to learn a programming language for reading data called SQL, in order to be a data analyst. It's often a blocker for people who want to convert to an analyst role, but because I had studied Java in UCD for a year, I found it relatively easy to pick up, and did so in a short amount of time, and as a result, I was able to move into a full-time analyst position. I never thought that during the time I was actually in UCD studying Computer Science as an elective, that it would one day help me move into the role I most wanted.
What advice would you offer prospective students considering Economics / similar career path?
Don’t panic if right now you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life. With any of the social sciences, you are learning about how people work, how society works, how the world works, and that is valuable in any career path. You will have loads of options, and loads of time, during university, and after you graduate, to make these choices, and to change your mind, multiple times probably. That's normal - don't sweat it.
Finally, enjoy your time in University, because you'll be wishing you were back there when you're "enjoying" your first summer in the working world through the windows of an office!!