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Finance Jobs in Ireland: banking on a career with corporates Back
As a senior relationship partner, and head of AIB Corporate Banking Ireland's international financial services sector, Diarmuid O'Neill has worked with corporates in a variety of sectors such as telecoms, medical device, software, food & beverage and Asia Pacific. Key to success in such a role is continuous professional development, says O'Neill, who has just graduated from the Harvard Business School Program for Leadership Development.
What is your educational background? I was educated in Presentation Brothers College in Cork and afterwards studied Accounting in UCC. Thereafter I went to work in BDO Simpson Xavier where I qualified as a Chartered Accountant. I recently graduated from Harvard Business School Program for Leadership Development.
Diarmuid O'Neill

What has been your career path to date? I came up to Dublin in 1997 and joined BDO Simpson Xavier working in their business assurance and advisory division. BDO was a great learning ground and I worked with some high growth owner managed / PLC companies, where I was given exposure to real business issues and opportunities. I had the pleasure in working on a number of fund raising ventures and in their corporate recovery division.

After BDO I joined AIB Corporate Banking Ireland in 2001, and I’m currently working in International Corporate Banking (ICB) as a senior relationship partner and head of the financial services portfolio. ICB is a dedicated unit focused on the banking requirements for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies in Ireland. We operate through a relationship model where all the banking requirement of our customers comes through a single point of contact.

During my time in AIB I have worked on the various portfolios such as telecoms, medical device, software, food & beverage and Asia Pacific, working with some of the world’s leading corporates.

Are your peers from similar backgrounds? It is fair to say that all of my peers would be professionally qualified and are seen as industry experts within their individual sectors.

Have you worked abroad? I never worked abroad but I travel extensively on the job in USA, Europe and Asia meeting with the parent companies of the Irish subsidiary.

How would you compare career prospects internationally to those in Ireland? Ireland is regarded as one of the best geographical areas to invest as a financial services company, and consequently many of the global leaders in financial services have invested in the IFSC. I fully expect FDI to continue to increase driven in no small part to the ongoing significant efforts of the IDA and the Governments pro investment attitude.

When speaking with my clients I find that one of the reasons they choose Ireland is the skill level of the workforce across all disciplines. The influx of FDI companies and also the innovative tax structures that are being created within financial services gives you great opportunity to be at the leading edge of international finance.

Have you undertaken any additional professional training since assuming your current role? AIB Corporate Banking Ireland has a strong focus on training and development with each staff member preparing personal development plans which entails attending internal and external courses.

I recently completed the Harvard Business School Program for Leadership Development which was a seven month intense course, with four weeks on the Harvard campus. The course really addressed all the challenges and opportunities you face on a daily basis in leading / managing teams, building a strategy, marketing, competitor analysis and finance. One of the best aspects of the course was that it was practical based with the structures / models thought through real life cases that had occurred in some of the world’s leading corporates.

What skills/aptitudes would you identify as being key/beneficial to a career in your sector? The key skills required to succeed in my sector are:
• Relationship Building - the ability to talk and learn from your clients.
• Problem Solving - being able to analyse a situation and provide viable alternatives
• Credit Analysis - an understand credit proposals and risk
• Team Focus - committed team player
• Innovation - being flexible to improve performance

What aspects of the job do you like most? One of the most rewarding aspects of the job is the interaction on a daily basis with your team and clients. Our relationship model allows me to interact very closely with my clients and it is from this interaction that you build the relationship and really understand what is happening in the industry.

Another aspect is AIB Corporate Banking Ireland’s focus on FDI. It is very rewarding to travel overseas to meet with existing clients and also to meet with potential clients and outline at this meeting how AIB will partner with that company in providing a tailored banking solution for their new Irish operation.

What advice would you give to others who might like a career in your sector? It is essential to maintain and enhance your industry knowledge, so continuous professional development should always be part of your career.
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