Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
My name is Colin O’Riordan and I currently work as Social Media Strategist with Brandwidth, an innovation agency with offices in London and New York. Prior to joining Brandwidth, I worked with its sister agency Text100 in NYC. I’m originally from Killarney, a town on the west coast of Ireland.
What exactly does your company do?
Brandwidth is a fully integrated agency, with innovation at its core. The agency provides a range of services including branding, marketing and digital. We have over 100 employees across London, New York, and San Francisco. Brandwidth actually reinvests more than 10% of turnover into innovation, so we are constantly developing and innovating. It’s definitely a creative place to work!
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Following my Masters, I accepted a position in a fast-growing Irish company. While I was enjoying the job and progressing quite quickly, I had a major urge to experience work life in NYC. So many people said I was crazy but I decided to quit my job and make the big move. Looking back, it was definitely a bold decision. I didn’t even have a job lined up, but the challenge excited me! When I arrived and started job hunting, I realized pretty quickly just how competitive the city is. I took a very strategic approach to job hunting and focused on building new relationships. One of the great things about NYC is that it’s full of networking opportunities. You really can’t beat meeting someone in person. The human connection works wonders and is much more powerful than an email. I don’t think I applied for a single advertised job! All of my opportunities came about from meeting people in person and it worked out pretty well for me in the end!
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
Don’t feel you need to have it all figured out right after you graduate. Take a moment to see what kind of work excites you. I spent time working in supply chain management and tech sales before I discovered my love for social media marketing. Having previously worked in those two areas, I now truly recognize that I’m in the right field. I love that professional development is no longer linear and we have opportunities to make career pivots. If you ask me, it’s actually a positive thing and makes you a well-rounded professional.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
It might be a predictable answer, but I have always admired Bill Gates. I actually just watched his Netflix documentary last week and he’s a fascinating individual. Not only has he been hugely successful with building Microsoft, but he constantly fights to make a positive impact on the world with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He hasn’t let the success go to his head like many other entrepreneurs and I appreciate that. Of course, I also have to mention my family, who have helped shape my life (and continue to do so!).
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are?
Absolutely! I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Aedhmar Hynes. She’s a highly respected leader in the technology and marketing communications industry and the person who gave me my first job in NYC. I remember meeting her for a coffee when I first moved to the city. I knew in advance that her communications agency wasn’t hiring at that time, so I was just looking for some job hunting advice. But she saw something in me and after several interviews, I actually accepted a position on their social and content team! As I said, it’s all about relationship building.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
It’s funny, but I don’t think I have ever been asked this question before…and it really makes you think! The obvious answer would be to highlight something in my career, but for me, I think my greatest success came before all of that. You wouldn’t think it now, but growing up I was always very anxious and worried about everything! Overcoming that would have to be my greatest success because it leads me to where I am today.
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