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Ciaran Harvey

National Diploma in Electronic Engineering  

Thanks to its close working relationships with locally based multinational companies such as Pramerica, LYIT is leading the way in developing industry friendly courses in fields such as IT and accountancy. That means courses which keep pace with the latest developments in the work place, superb job opportunities for LYIT graduates and a highly skilled work pool for the companies.

CiaranCiaran Harvey is the Senior Managing Director of Pramerica, whose parent company is the US-based global insurance giant Prudential. An LYIT graduate himself - he completed a Diploma in Electronic Engineering at the college - he says the presence of LYIT was a primary reason Pramerica came to Letterkenny in 2000.

“We’ve had a fantastic relationship with LYIT since the day we opened for business here,” he says. “At that stage we were cementing relationships with several third level institutions across the North West, of which LYIT remains the most important.”

As a rapidly expanding company, Pramerica has roles for graduates in an increasing number of financial services technology fields, one of which is accountancy. At the outset, the company flew in senior financial executives from the US to meet the head of the LYIT School of Business. Both parties believed the relationship would lead to a very high quality accountancy graduate. Many LYIT graduates from the business and finance courses are involved in running investment management portfolios for Pramerica’s Financial Services department too. “That has come directly from Heads of Schools at LYIT meeting our US executives,” Ciaran says.

Currently Pramerica is working on 11 different programmes with LYIT. “Every year we get together as a group and review the course content,” Ciaran says. “We look at the current trends in the industry and see how we can evolve those courses, whether it’s IT or financial services, software development or others.”

So successful has Pramerica’s partnership been with LYIT that the same formula, working alongside a third level educational institution to develop the right skills sets for industry, has now been successfully repeated back in the US.

“In a sense the pipeline of skills we’ve been developing with LYIT over the last 16 years has been a prototype,” says Ciaran, who spent the last three years in El Paso, Texas developing a similar formula for another company within the Prudential umbrella. “Our partnership with LYIT was the template, except that in this case we used military veterans as our partner.”

Being able to adapt and evolve is at the heart of what makes Pramerica tick, Ciaran believes, and is part of the reason the relationship with LYIT is so successful. “We don’t just offer a job to graduates, we offer a career. People come in here and move up the different levels to different types of career. Along the way they pick up a wide variety of skills, often returning to LYIT to
advance those skills academically, for which we provide the financial assistance. There are so many examples of LYIT graduates coming to us and evolving in this way.”

Ciaran’s own progress has been along similar lines. Following his Diploma at LYIT he took a Degree in Electrical Systems at the University of Ulster and, several years later an MBA at Queen’s University. Meanwhile his progress through Pramerica saw him move from being Software Development Manager to heading up the call centre and then the professional services operation. “These days,” Ciaran says, “a graduate has to be multi-disciplinary and that’s where we work most closely with LYIT. Probably about half the work force here has changed their job at least once.”

For this reason, Ciaran sees the relationship with LYIT growing even more closely in the future as the company continues to develop. For instance, they are now evolving into legal services. Following meetings between Pramerica’s chief legal compliance officer in the US and academic staff from LYIT’s Department of Law and Humanities, courses in legal compliance were developed. As a result many of Pramerica’s legal team in Letterkenny are LYIT graduates. Data analytics is another rapidly growing field in which college and company will be collaborating. It’s a relationship which Ciaran sees as benefitting the industry in general and not just Pramerica. “We have over 300 staff members who have come directly from LYIT at the moment,” he says, “that’s far more than from any other college. But it’s not just about us. If you’re graduating from LYIT in these courses you have a great chance of employment wherever you go because you have the skills set that industry needs.”