A third generation graduate, John Concannon (’94 BComm) followed in his grandfather’s, and father’s footsteps when he picked NUI Galway as his college of choice in 1991. His grandad, Michael Concannon, graduated in 1935 with a BA degree and both his mum and dad, who met in college, graduated in 1964 (BSc) and 1965 (BE) respectively.

The Sligo native fell in love with his wife Mary Concannon (nee Frawley) (Environmental Science ’96) whilst in college. He also fell in love with his college course.

“It was funny. I thought I’d end up doing law and accountancy but I became fascinated with marketing and quite taken by the psychology of it all. Right after I graduated with the BComm in 1994, I carried on to do the Masters in Business Studies (MBS). This was a real eye opener. I came out of the BComm knowing it all and came out of the MBS knowing I still had so much to learn!”

John carried on to do the Higher Diploma in Marketing practice (DMP). A work placement in Ballinasloe with Dubarry was a real eye opener. The MBS at college, loosely modelled on Harvard Business School, was all about case studies. At Dubarry, there were 207 people working on the factory floor. The focus was on making money; they needed real revenues to pay their staff.

“I got to experience the reality of running a business, and experience the challenges a company faces on a day to day basis in the West of Ireland.”

Although John stayed with Dubarry for a year or so, it was not long before he got a phone call from Unilever, the consumer goods company, and in 1997 he accepted a job as a traditional brand manager.

But he and Mary were ready for a change. They had started a family and had an urge to get out of Dublin. The West was calling. At that time, Ireland West were looking for a CEO, so John applied and was offered the job.

“This was a fascinating experience. I went from working at Unilever, where budgets and bank accounts were big and healthy, to Ireland West, which was not heavily funded at all. We had to do everything on a shoestring budget. This was a welcome challenge.”

Shortly after that, Fáilte Ireland appointed John as a Regional Development Officer, and not too long after that he was appointed Marketing Director.

Although John has worked on several big projects like The Gathering, he claims success has many fathers. Most recently he was appointed as the Director of the 1916 Centenary Programme, and has been seconded out of Fáilte Ireland until the end of 2016.

Recognising what a huge privilege it is to work on a project that allows our nation recall the details of such a pivotal period of our history, John is enjoying his current role.

“This project is gathering great traction. Reflecting and remembering the past, reviewing our last 100 years as a republic, acknowledging the sacrifices our parents’ generation made for us, and now, excitedly looking forward to the future.”

Shortly after John started on the Centenary project, he met with President Jim Browne to discuss the University’s role as a key partner in the project.

“I can’t emphasise enough the importance of the leadership Dr. Browne has brought to this project. He grasped immediately that this is a pivotal moment in history and that the opportunity presented was something so much bigger. There is a whole series of events organised by the academics, seminars, and one huge overarching event for all third levels in the state that will take place next year on this campus.”

Although John is kept busy with work, and three kids who all attend Coláiste Iognáid Jesuit school in Galway city, he still makes plenty of time to volunteer.

Currently John holds the title of Chairman for the President’s Award, Gaisce. This award, in its 30th year, is a personal development programme for young people.

John is also Chairman of COPE, which operates a homeless shelter in Galway. COPE’s main focus has been the development of a women and children’s centre for those who suffer from domestic violence in the home. Right now, they are housed in a building near the courthouse, but last year, they had a fire so plans are underway for a new location.

Although this would seem like his plate is full. But not one to rest on his laurels, John also volunteers his time with his cousin, Paul O’Hara (another BComm grad from NUI Galway) who recently launched a company called ChangeX, where John is Director. The idea is that ChangeX will become a one-stop online location for people to visit if they are ready to develop positive change in their community. So, if you are ready to start a Coderdojo group for kids, or a Men’s Shed for your neighbourhood, ChangeX.org should be your first port of call.

With so much going on in John’s life, one has to wonder what is next for this Galway grad!