Hello, you are very welcome to my blog! This is my opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself, and how I ended up starting my own business. I’m Irish and grew up in Dublin, and apart from a stint in Spain as an au-pair back in the 1980’s, I never really imagined that I would live or work elsewhere. But life dictated otherwise, and I moved to Madrid in the early 1990’s. Madrid is an amazing place to live. It’s alive, very noisy and bustling with life. I acclimatised to very hot summers and very cold winters, with many days of uplifting bright blue skies.
During my time in Madrid, I was hired to work for the Marketing and Sales team at Rothmans Tobacco Company (now BAT). It was a super role and I learnt a lot about marketing and promotions. We worked hard and partied hard!
So far so good! Life was fun and the food was great!
In 1999 I moved again, this time I found myself in Amsterdam which was quite a contrast. I lived on a houseboat on a quiet canal in the centre of the city. Apart from the swans and ducks there was very little passing traffic! Each day I walked to work at ESOMAR, located right beside the lovely Vondel Park. My job involved travel around Europe a couple of times a year, so I discovered lots of other lovely cities during that time. Life was good!
In 2008, family circumstances steered me back home to Dublin. I arrived feeling confident that I would find a great job and a nice place to live, after all, that was what I had left behind. But this was 2008 and finding full-time employment and a decent wage as a returning emigrant was extremely difficult. Being unemployed for the first time in years brought its lows but it also brought opportunities.
I had time on my hands and decided to use it proactively by upskilling both in academic and practical terms.
I acquired a 1st Class Honours Communications degree and a key understanding of Social Media management. These are really practical skills to have under your belt today.
This all sounds great, doesn’t it? But I still had challenges. I was getting older, and although experience and expertise count for a lot, many employers pass you by, when skimming through a pile of CVs. I did some volunteering and eventually got some contract work. When my last temporary contract ended, I heard about an interesting course on Springboard. It was the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Skills course with the Innovation Academy, UCD. It sounded a bit daunting as I certainly did not consider myself an entrepreneur! I applied for the course as I was curious to see how I could change direction. By the end of the first module I had decided to start my own business and I have not looked back since! I have packaged the extensive range of office support skills I have picked up over the course of my career and I offer these services and any advice I can give, to small business owners, who don’t have the time to take care of business operations on a day to day basis. I do this remotely from home so my clients don’t have to worry about paying an additional salary or providing office space and equipment.
So that’s my story and thank goodness it has a positive ending…well not ending, after all, I am still on a journey.
Gillian B – Virtual Assistant