Growing up in Kilkenny working on his uncle's farm during the school holidays allowed Shane O’Neill witness the rapid development of the agriculture and food sector
Bord Bia, through its Talent Academy, is now accepting applications for its 2023 postgraduate programme with up to 20 fully-funded places on offer.
The programme includes a fully funded masters at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, a bursary and a guaranteed work placement through the agency’s domestic and global network.
The Bord Bia Talent Academy was established to help identify and develop future executive talent for Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture industry, as it looks to grow and diversify into new markets. Export market diversification has been ranked by the industry as its second-biggest focus as companies actively seek to expand into new markets in response to Brexit.
Growing up in Kilkenny working on his uncle's farm during the school holidays allowed Shane O’Neill witness the rapid development of the agriculture and food sector. This sparked Shane’s interest in agriculture and influenced his decision to study Agricultural Science.
Shane joined the Bord Bia Marketing Fellowship in 2021 and is currently based in Dubai in the UAE. Upon graduating from Agricultural Science in WIT he decided to transfer to UCD to study Food and Agricultural Business Management. Since graduating in 2017 he completed a graduate visa in New York and worked for the agri-food sector as a Sales and Marketing Executive and as a Key account Executive.
Speaking about his experience Mr O’Neill said: “Based in Dubai I am currently involved in a variety of different functions on behalf of my clients which span across the retail and food service sectors. I have received great exposure to many of the Middle East Markets that my clients have a presence in, particularly in Bahrain and Jordan, where I have been given additional responsibility to manage sales accounts in both countries.
"My main tasks include identification of suitable net new prospects and distribution partners, as well as the development of prospects already identified to grow my clients’ cooked meat ingredients business with foodservice operators in the Middle East. For my third client I have been given a Bord Bia seafood project. My main priority is to promote Irish seafood in the UAE by building relationships with local buyers, finding out their sourcing requirements and building relationships with Irish seafood suppliers.
"The fellowship requires you to leave your comfort zone, face challenges head-on, use your own initiative all whilst gaining invaluable experience with Irish food and beverage companies in a foreign market. The fellowship is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate a career in the Irish food and beverage industry whilst gaining invaluable experience in a foreign market.”
According to Michael Murphy, Organisation and Industry Talent Director, Bord Bia, the potential opportunities for graduates in the industry are immense.
“Last year Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports reached a record €13.5 billion. Bord Bia is actively seeking to recruit and retain top class talent for this dynamic and growing sector, with the Talent Academy acting as an incubator for individuals seeking to supercharge their careers. Over 80% of the alumni of the Marketing Fellowship, for example, are retained in relevant food industry roles upon graduating from the 18-month programme, reflecting the demand and opportunities that exist for employment at home and abroad.”
Speaking about the programme, Conor Heavey, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, said: “The Bord Bia Talent Academy programmes at UCD Smurfit Executive Development are a unique career development opportunity. The programmes combine in-class learning from the world’s leading food business experts with overseas food business experience. Action learning assignments are blended with academic and business education and training modules. Participants benefit from the strong emphasis on professional and career development. Most are now in excellent roles in the Irish food sector.”
The Talent Academy programmes, some of which have been running for over 10 years, attract a wide range of graduates across many disciplines and third-level colleges across the country. “While our Marketing Fellowship is for graduates with a few years’ experience, overall, the range of programmes on offer ensures – and welcomes – participants with wide and diverse backgrounds, from hospitality to healthcare, event management to economics, agriculture to finance,” said Mr Murphy.
Successful applications will be placed within a leading international food and drink company. Mars, McDonalds, Nestlé, Tesco and Unilever are some of the international companies that offer placements for Bord Bia’s Talent Academy. Countries can include New York, Amsterdam, Madrid, Dubai, Singapore and many more.
“Fellows on the Marketing Fellowship will combine this dynamic, hands-on experience, with a fully-funded master’s qualification from UCD Smurfit School, with access to some of the world’s best food industry educators from business schools including Harvard, IMD, NYU Stern and UCD Smurfit School,” said Mr Murphy.
“At Bord Bia, we know the right people in the right places make all the difference. That’s why we strongly encourage anyone with a passion for Irish food and drink and who is seeking a dynamic opportunity to apply – no matter your academic background or where you are in your career.”
How to Apply
The Marketing Fellowship runs in partnership with the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and is intended for graduates with a few years’ work experience. Applications are now open for the Marketing Fellowship and can be made at: www.smurfitschool.ie/executivedevelopment/programmesforindividuals/mscinternationalmarketingpractice/.
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