Wednesday 23 October 2019

Working together to create talent

There is no shortage of talent at Waterford based Sun Life Financial. The global financial services company’s productive partnership with the Waterford Institute of Technology provides a path to employment for students and a route to career development for Sun Life employees.

The IT skills shortage is not an issue for Waterford based company, Sun Life Financial.

The company, which is the leading IT employer in the South East, has forged a productive partnership with the Waterford Institute of Technology which provides their IT team with access to work class training and ongoing professional development.


The Waterford based business provides technology solutions for Sun Life's US employee benefits business and technical solutions for its global workforce. Having started in 1997, the addition of high calibre IT professionals has allowed the Ireland team to evolve and become a technology cornerstone servicing Sun Life's clients.

"The growth and evolution of the Sun Life office in Waterford is primarily down to one thing - our ability to attract, grow and retain talented IT professionals. Therefore, over the years, we have developed a strategic relationship with Waterford Institute of Technology to help us on this journey - and they have been a fantastic partner," explained Karen Burns, General Manager of Sun Life Ireland and AVP of Human Resources.

"Not only do WIT produce world class IT graduates every year but we have collaborated with them to develop two Masters programs and a Higher Diploma in BSA to afford our existing team the opportunity to upskill in the rapidly changing world of technology. So these awards are just a small way that we can give something back to WIT and their students" Burns added.

Sun Life established two Bursary awards five years ago to encourage and recognise innovation and commercial awareness among the final year IT students in WIT. The most impressive projects are short-listed, evaluated by a cross functional team of leaders from Sun Life before awarding the Innovation award and the Enterprise award to the two most deserving.

One of the finalists from the 2015 SLF Bursary Award is now working as a Security Analyst in Sun Life after completing his degree in the specialised area of Computer Forensics.

Daniel says “When choosing to study Computer Forensics and Security Systems in the W.I.T, I had accepted the fact that finding an applicable or relevant job in such a niche area of study would not be found locally. Sun Life and their close connection with the W.I.T changed that.”

“The Sun Life Enterprise and Innovation award was the first stepping stone in my transition from college life into the work environment. Through entering, students are given the opportunity to develop and adapt their skills that they’ve learned in College to identify and address real world problems that businesses face.

“During this time not only did I discover that Sun Life offers a range of exciting roles for graduating students in such innovative and emerging areas, but that I was working towards securing that very job within the Sun Life organization.”

In addition to these awards, Sun Life has a long standing relationship with the institute with 60% of the workforce having studied on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at some point in their career.

Fiona Doran, Service Desk Project Delivery Manager describes her experience as a WIT graduate and commencing her career in Sun Life;

"As a progressive company Sun Life work closely with WIT to source suitably qualified employees, this provides WIT students with the opportunity to seek employment locally in a growing company if they wish to do so. Having completed a BBS (Hons) French, our lecturer informed us of job opportunities with Sun Life. I was employed as a Bilingual Service Desk Agent in 2011."

“Since then I completed further education and developed many new skills that enabled me to progress quickly through the company. I was promoted to team lead and more recently progressed to the role of Project Delivery Manager. My journey is ongoing with a continued focus on learning and development. I am soon attending the PRINCE2 Project Management course in support of my recent promotion and continued success in my career here at Sun Life."

In 2011, Sun Life identified there was a need to provide more learning and development opportunities to their IT professionals in support of career development specifically to support the transformative changing industry of IT. WIT were extremely responsive to this need and worked quickly with SLF to develop a Masters programme and secure appropriate funding.

When the first enrolment of the MSc in Enterprise Software Systems opened it was made available to both Sun Life and external applicants. Waterford Chambers skillnet provides 15% of the funding and SLF subsidises 75% for their employees as part of their Part Time Study Assistance benefit.

Stuart McMahon, Associate Director, IT Project Management describes his experience as one of the first MSc graduates in 2014, says; "The support I received from Sun Life was invaluable. It made this Masters an attainable and affordable opportunity for me. The MSc was a challenging but rewarding experience. It allowed me to combine taught knowledge to my existing experience. It often made me think differently about how I work; I brought a lot of what I learned back to the workplace. It gave me a fresh perspective."

Karen Burns, General Manager of Sun Life Ireland and AVP of Human Resources, concludes;

“It’s an exciting place to work and our relationship with the WIT has given us the edge when it comes to developing our team. We are always looking for dynamic graduates and people interested in working in the South East who are keen to flourish in a fast paced and constantly changing work environment”

See Jobs with Sun Life Ireland here

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