June 7th - Mary Jennings (BA European Business and French, 1999)
As we build up to the launch of the 2021 edition of the DCU Voices Magazine this summer, we are taking a look back at some of the wonderful alumni profiles from the 2020 magazine.
For the week of June 7th, we are delighted to feature Mary Jennings as our Alumni Profile of the Week. Mary is a graduate of the BA in European Business and the founder of Forget The Gym, a coaching company which supports runners of all levels to enjoy running, avoid injury and achieve their goals.
What’s your favourite memory of your time as a DCU student?
"There was incredible camaraderie within our DCU class group. We were the first year of the European Business programme and our experience was a little different to others. As a small class of 16 students, after 2 years of preparation and fun in DCU, we spent our 3rd and 4th years in France. Our final exams and thesis were written in French, which is a memory, as well as a challenge, most of us won’t forget. But the bond created remains strong to this day and many of us are still in regular contact 21 years on."
What is your current role?
"I am the founder of ForgetTheGym.ie, a coaching company which supports runners of all levels to enjoy running, avoid injury and achieve their goals. I teach midweek classes and lead running workshops for runners of all levels. I write a fortnightly column in The Irish Times on running and my book Get Running was published last year. My role involves everything from leading running groups to facilitating running workshops, holidays and retreats, writing newspaper articles and delivering corporate presentations. Most people think I just run all day but when it is your own business there is always the daily administration to take care of – from digital marketing to managing emails, taxes and enquiries. So there is as much time in front of a computer as out on the paths."
Provide a brief summary of your career since graduating?
"After graduation, I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers(PwC) on their Management Consulting Graduate programme. Thrown in at the deep end, I was immersed in coding, testing, training and designing IT systems. It was a wonderful opportunity to travel, learn and see how others worked right throughout my twenties. But I started to realise that the path of a consultant didn’t really match where I hoped to be long term. I wanted a little more freedom over my schedule and workload. I got the opportunity of a career break in 2006 and haven’t looked back since. I gradually transitioned away from consultancy and retrained as a personal trainer and since 2007 I have been developing ForgetTheGym.ie."
Career highlights or achievements you would like to share?
"I loved my time as a consultant and the constant learning, new environments and challenges that working in such a large company with multiple clients brought. But actually, having the career break in 2007 was one of the big highlights as that gave me an opportunity to take a step back and take more control over my own career and future. Being able to become self employed and combine some consultancy work on a contract basis while experimenting with running coaching allowed me to dip my toe into a new world of work without having to make any big decisions overnight."
What are the key skills you learned at DCU that have influenced your career?
"When we graduated and were looking for our first job, the dual-degree aspect of our European Business programme really appealed to employers. The life experience of moving to another country, studying in a foreign language and working abroad really made the difference in job interviews. Both the academic skills we acquired from DCU as well as these important life skills of adapting to change and being comfortable in new environments helped me, and many of my classmates, get the graduate jobs we longed for. That job in PwC was the first and most important stepping stone on my career path."
What advice would you give to current DCU students?
"No one would have imagined I would be in my current role based on the very ‘non-sporty’ person I was when I graduated from DCU. Each of the 16 students in our class ended up on completely different paths. Who knows where you might end up! Define your own path by always learning, working hard but also remaining open to change once you enter the working world. Finally, keep in touch with your university friends, they are the people that know you best and will be your top supporters as you all navigate the working world together."