Jill Downey - Managing Partner, Livewire
Jill Downey is the Managing Partner at the sponsorship agency, Livewire. She is a board member and director of Core Media and former Deputy MD of media agency, Starcom. Her experience in the media industry included acting as strategic advisor to brands such as AIB, An Post, Musgraves, INM and Emirates. Jill talks to us about how a BSc in Cellular Physiology led to a career in advertising!
Course/subjects studied in University College Cork
I studied Biological Science (BSc) in UCC and majored in Cellular Physiology. I also did a Neuroscience & Embryology elective. All seem very strange now given I work in advertising & sponsorship.
Best memory of UCC
I have the best memories of my time in UCC. It really is the time of your life. Most of my memories revolve around my friends, both those that came with me from St Angela's and the fantastic new friends we collected in UCC. We are all very close to this day. It's hard to pick just one memory but Friday evenings in the Western Star were among the happiest days of my college years. It was always a fun release after a busy week of exam study.
How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
Although what I do now is a million miles from where I thought I'd be while at UCC, of course a degree is an ideal stepping stone to anything in life. I did a Masters in Advertising in DIT following my four years in UCC. One of the obvious entry requirements was a primary degree, but I think one of the reasons I was selected for a limited place in the Masters programme was because my primary degree was so different. Most others in my class were coming with a marketing or business qualification.
In addition I think a key element to gaining a degree qualification is to be able to motivate yourself to learn and do well. If you don't hand in that essay, no one cares, it's totally up to you. It's the greatest life lesson college teaches you, if you want something you've got to work hard to achieve it.
What is your advice to current UCC students?
Keep an open mind. I did science as a stepping stone into medicine, or at least that was my intention. I finished my degree, went into advertising and haven't looked back. The world is full of exciting possibilities. Among all that study and striving to be the next Tech superhero have some fun along the way. It's a short life!
What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
My time in UCC will always be bittersweet, while there my father was terminally ill and died a year after my graduation (thankfully he got to see me graduate and he was incredibly proud). Dr Liz Gebruers was an excellent lecturer but also showed me incredible compassion at one of the hardest times of my life. I never got a chance to truly thank her but in that moment of pure heartache in her office, her kindness had a profound impact on the rest of my time in UCC, and probably beyond.
Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
My only major regret was that while I briefly was involved in a few sports clubs I never stuck with any of them. It's probably the only thing I would change if I had my time over again.
Favourite UCC legend or superstition
Being a scientist at heart I've never been one to entertain legends or superstitions. I do believe in legends of another kind and I was lucky enough to share some Physics & Chemistry classes with a true Irish legend, Peter Stringer. Now that's the kind of legend I believe in!