Creative, print and signage company Neogen was established by DCU graduate Ciaran Clancy and his business partner Julian McDermott in 2004. In this interview, Ciaran describes how the company came to support DCU’s Access Scholarship Programme and what continues to impress him about DCU students today.
What inspired Neogen to support DCU’s Access Programme?
We are a strong believer in corporate social responsibility and how our business impacts on those around us. As a business we have always supported good causes and when we learnt of the activities of the DCU Educational Trust we decided to find out a little more. I’m glad we did.
Discovering the Access Programme has led me to think back to my own time as an undergraduate student, where some of my classmates failed to continue in their education after a summer break, and it wasn’t due to lack of exam success. It was never really discussed at the time, but looking back now, I am sure some of those students and their families had enormous financial difficulties and they simply couldn’t afford to continue their education. The support structures, like those now provided by the Access Programme, were not available at that time.
We are proud to support the Access Programme as we know that without the additional financial support, some students simply wouldn’t be able to attend university. It’s also nice to support student focused activities. When they graduate, it is a very visible and tangible symbol of the impact which our support can have.
NeoGen remains committed to being a good corporate citizen, from reducing our environmental impact to ensuring respectful workplaces. Our support for DCU’s Access Programme is an important part of that commitment.
Neogen is a longstanding supporter of DCU. Through the years, you have attended many events and met countless students supported by the Access Programme and other scholarships. How does it make you feel to know that Neogen is playing a part in the future success of these young people?
The students we have met are incredibly talented and many have overcome enormous personal challenges. The sheer energy which they have is incredible, they have such a strong desire to achieve and nothing will stand in their way. We are pleased to play a small part in helping those students achieve their ambitions.
As a DCU graduate, what does DCU mean to you today and how did a DCU education contribute to your own success?
Walking onto the campus today is very different to my time as a Business Studies student! The buildings, the infrastructure and the student facilities that exist today are all incredibly impressive. What hasn’t changed at DCU though is the sheer energy and ‘can do attitude’ that exudes from the campus – it’s infectious! I think that this attitude and the work ethos that DCU instils in its students really distinguish it from other universities.
University education, obviously, brings with it more opportunities to achieve success. I went back to DCU to complete an MBA in 2000. That provided me with the confidence to establish my own business with my business partner, Julian in 2004.
I also found wonderful friends in DCU, friendships that have lasted to this day and that have also been important networks from a business perspective, often providing guidance and counsel that has been invaluable.
DCU’s Access Programme is all about helping talented youth to fulfil their potential in life. As a successful business owner, what advice would you give to DCU students and alumni with the entrepreneurial zeal to start their own business?
There is no one solution that fits all, obviously there are some tech start-ups that begin in college dormitories but for me it worked very well to get experience elsewhere first.
I, along with Julian, had the privilege of working with my father, Bill Clancy for a number of years after I left DCU. A difficult task master, I learnt a great deal from him. He spent a long time encouraging us to set up our own business… “just do it” he would say… “it’s never a good time.” We’re sorry we didn’t listen to him earlier!