Sunday 23 October 2016

How would top executives do in the Leaving Cert?

Published 14/06/2015 | 02:30

Ruth Curran
Ruth Curran

The Leaving Certificate business exam took place last Thursday. A teacher at Dublin grind school the Institute of Education told the Irish Independent that the exam provided a "great choice" of "fair and well-balanced" questions.

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We wondered if Irish business people would see it that way, so we asked two questions. How would they have done? And was the paper good training for the business leaders of tomorrow?

Gary Ryan

Managing director, Energia Retail

Even 30 years after my Leaving Cert, the words State Examination Commission still fill me with dread. I think that I would have done okay though.

There were a few tricky questions, especially around definitions of terms like "storming" and "norming" and I found it hard to resist the temptation to reach for Google.

Writing everything down in three hours would be a real challenge for my handwriting skills. In the digital world, the written word seems more like an art form.

I was impressed at how practical the exam was, given how many current business challenges it covers. It's great to see the strong focus on entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. These will be key skillsets for the Irish workforce if we're to achieve our ambitions of developing more indigenous export-led business. I'd be hoping I'd get top marks on the questions about dealing with EU regulations and operating in an environmentally conscious way. This is really important in the energy sector in which we operate and it's great to see the next generation learning to understanding its importance for all our futures.

It was great to see the 'Business in Action' sections challenging students on their understanding of commercialising their ideas into longer term revenue and profit streams - important considerations in inspiring the creation of more long-term value and job creation in Ireland.

Ruth Curran

Managing partner, MERC Partners

A read of this year's Leaving Certificate Higher Level Business brought back flashes (both good and bad) from my own Leaving Cert days in St Paul's Oughterard, Co Galway.

On a positive note, I was impressed by the breadth of topics covered by the paper. The Applied Business question was a good case study of an indigenous footwear manufacturer in Co Monaghan adapting to competition from Eastern Europe by developing a range of Irish dancing shoes. The People in Business/Environment and Enterprise sections were broadly based and covered a lot of ground in testing for candidates understanding of business issues.

If I had a criticism, it would be that there was very little in the paper which reflected the huge technological changes that business has undergone in recent years. I would have liked to have seen an opportunity to test students' knowledge on the impact of mobile technology, online purchasing or how businesses use data analytics.

I also felt that students who wanted to avoid figures/accountancy type questions could avoid them. Ultimately, figures are important for every business and I would have liked to have seen a compulsory question with a numerical/ profit and loss/balance sheet theme.

Thomas Hunter McGowan

Chief executive, Intertrade Ireland

The paper requires a broad understanding of business knowledge and the factors influencing enterprise in modern Ireland and covers areas such as marketing, human resources and entrepreneurship which is good.

It does appear to be more weighted towards demonstrating your understanding of an issue or concept over analysing a specific approach. The balance of the paper could be weighted more towards the application of the student's knowledge. The paper comes across as being quite traditional in its view of business as a process of inputs and outputs and more emphasis could be placed on an understanding of changes in communications and technology.

However, the paper reflects a good understanding of business operations and provides a sound basis for a career in business. If I were to make syllabus changes it would be to include a section on innovation, in particular the concept of open innovation and the effects of disruptive technology. The case study could be expanded to provide for greater analysis, which would allow students to demonstrate that they can apply their knowledge. I think I would have got an A1.

Sunday Indo Business

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