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News > News from Past Pupils > Past Pupils Q&A - Updated with new ones every couple of days

Past Pupils Q&A - Updated with new ones every couple of days

Brian O'Driscoll (1997), Ronan Dunne (1981), Garry Ringrose (2013), Craig Doyle (1989),
Brian O'Driscoll (1997), Ronan Dunne (1981), Garry Ringrose (2013), Craig Doyle (1989),

Brian O'Driscoll

Final Year at Blackrock 1997
Occupation Consultant, media pundit
Residence Dublin

How are you and your family managing the current lockdown situation?
A bit like everybody else, you have good days and bad. I think in situations like this, you have to make the most of the circumstances you find yourselves in.
When else would you get to spend this amount of quality time with your family? Our kids will look back and see this as a time where Mum and Dad were around for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we have to see that as a great thing in their eyes.

How have you adjusted to continue providing services to your clients and business partners?
As someone who works largely in the event business, work has obviously been massively curtailed, however, I continue to work closely with business partners and clients in areas I can still add value.
We have to take this opportunity of more downtime to keep ourselves upskilled so when the market returns, we’ve got a more equipped skillset.

What routines have become most important for you in remaining positive and maintaining a routine in recent weeks?
What’s been really important is having structure throughout the day. I still like to get up early, exercise and get the endorphins flowing, and begin my day with a sense of positivity. That and a good quality cup of coffee.
I realise, it’s also important to give both of my children quality time individually and collectively throughout the course of the day.

What will the post-Covid19 world look like and how will it impact your business and industry?
It’s still hard to know how my own personal business will be impacted but whatever losses there may be there will undoubtedly also be opportunities. For now, it’s about dealing with the moment and in time we’ll be better equipped for what comes down the line.

END

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Ronan Dunne

Final Year at Blackrock 1981
Occupation Executive Vice-President and Group CEO, Verizon Consumer Group
Residence New York


How are you and your family managing the current lockdown situation?
My wife and I are now in week 5 of lockdown in our New Jersey home, with our daughter in London (having returned from a secondment in Seattle just before the lockdown there). Our big concern has been my 91 year old parents but they are safe and well in Dublin and now (somewhat) proficient in FaceTime!
The biggest change, apart from not going out every day, has been the use of video conferencing platforms (Zoom and HouseParty) for keeping in touch with friends and family. Virtual cocktails, virtual birthday parties and family quiz night are the new normal.

How has your business adjusted to continue providing services to its customers?
As the leader of a telecoms business, we were perhaps better prepared from a technology and connectivity point of view than most. Within 2 weeks we had successfully migrated > 100,000 employees (c.80% of workforce) worldwide to home assignments, including retraining retail staff to support phone and web customer service.

This has allowed us to show up for our customers, managing a massive spike in network (fixed and mobile) traffic without disruption. To put it in perspective, we are delivering more texts (8 billion) per day than on New Year’s Eve and more calls per day (800 million) than on Mother’s Day, the normal peak. Gaming traffic is up > 100%, video conferencing likewise. We already offer unlimited data on both mobile and home broadband so customers have all the data they need.

We have launched extra programs to support education from home, campaigns to raise funds for local small business and are feeding 22,000 frontline healthcare workers in NYC every day. On top we have committed to Keep America Connected so no one loses connectivity through financial hardship caused by Coronavirus

What routines have become most important for you in remaining positive and maintaining a routine in recent weeks?
I think health and wellbeing routines are critical – of course staying safe from Covid19 – but general wellbeing. Elaine and I are exercising every day and ensuring we keep structure to our day. My other recommendation is to keep planning, make a note of those things you wanted to do but can’t so you can actively plan for post lockdown. This is critical to wellness in my view.

I have also taken time to reach out to people, just to check in, say hello and that I’m thinking of them – I’m trying to reach 5 different people every day, outside of my regular contacts. It’s a real win-win!

What will the post-Covid19 world look like and how will it impact your business and industry?
I am very positive about the opportunity for positive change, whether it be better work life balance, more effective collaboration tools that can allow more flexibility in work format and location or the potential for a lesser impact on the environment from economic activity. At the heart of this will be reliable high speed connectivity for all, digital literacy in all age groups and new social norms for contact and participation.

In the short term we all need to support the community and the greater good. Today it’s those on the frontline but quickly we will need to address the social impact of a recession and financial hardship. I know it’s easy to say “were in this together” but if we all pull our weight we can recover faster and make for a better future. I’m in!

END

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Garry Ringrose

Final Year at Blackrock 2013
Occupation Professional rugby player
Residence Dublin


How are you and your family managing the current lockdown situation?
Good so far thankfully. My parents and siblings are all very happy and healthy. Unfortunately my granny, Bernice Ringrose, is in St Vincent’s Hospital at the moment and we can’t see her so all of our thoughts are with her.

How have you adjusted your training since the lockdown started?
Leinster have sent us all individualised training programmes based on the gym equipment available to us. Thankfully the school is within my 2km so I have been doing my running sessions there for old times’ sake! The coaches at Leinster have been great at keeping in constant contact.

What habits have become most important for you in remaining positive and maintaining a routine in recent weeks?
The most beneficial habit I’ve found is getting to bed early. Waking up rested allows me to be relatively productive, between training sessions and college work.

What will the post-Covid19 world look like and how do you think it will impact your own life and career?
In the immediate future I wouldn’t be surprised if we will be playing matches behind closed doors. I’m hopeful the current season will be finished out over the summer and we’ll get a chance to continue our good form.

END
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Craig Doyle

Final Year at Blackrock 1989
Occupation TV presenter and producer
Residence Wicklow


How are you and your family managing the current lockdown situation?
For the most part I would say very well. The difference between our Generation X and Generation Z became apparent very quickly. The kids are digital natives - Zoom calls, social media interaction is so natural to them, whereas chatting into a screen all day everyday has taken a while for me to get used to. They miss the routine of school, even though they dare not admit it. My wife has become a schoolmistress on top of her many other roles in the home. Mums really are the CEOs of the house during this testing time.

I am lucky to do a job that takes me to sporting arenas full of passion and excitement week in week out, not having that has been tough. BT Sport are my main employers. We have no live sport to show therefore we have less work to do. We are still making programmes using video conferencing technology, and that has been really interesting. Our production company 3 Rock Productions, had just started shooting a new documentary that I have spent many, many months setting it up – pressing the pause button on that was difficult, as momentum is so important when making these feature length documentaries. Shoulder to Shoulder was well over a year’s work.

How have you adjusted to continue providing services to your clients and business partners?
I have a home studio for voice overs, so being able to react immediately to the lockdown in the UK was very helpful. There is no filming taking place across any media so re-hashing old shows and matches with new voice over has kept me busy. We have a system called VMix which allows us make a weekly Rugby magazine show for TV. However, with so many producers on furlough, you have to be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ - it is much busier then pre-lockdown. Our production company, (which I own with a ‘young’ Blackrock former student Brian O’Driscoll and an ancient one in my brother Keith) has been working on a broadcast solution for a large sporting body in the UK.

We have found that providing solutions whilst there are so many problems in our industry has been a real driver for business. The ability to be flexible and to react quickly has been important, this is such new ground for our industry, like so much of life right now, there is no guidebook for this.

What habits have become most important for you in remaining positive and maintaining a routine in recent weeks?
The weekly magazine show, Rugby Today, has given me routine and focus. Losing routine is so hard for everybody, adults and kids, I am sure you all feel the same. One of the quirks is we have to record it before 9am because when kids get online here and across the water, the signal gets dodgy and not as good for TV!

Starting and planning a new project (our live OB solution) has been hugely important for us. It is about the future so we don’t spend our day worrying about the present, we have no control of that in a business sense. It feels good to talk about what we might be doing in a year or two. Setting goals and weekly deadlines as you would do in an office environment keeps up momentum.

I started an online diploma course which starts at 9am a few days a week – it gets me into the office early and switched on, I find I am more productive after that. On days I don’t do it I find myself trimming hedges or making soup by 9:30 am! Exercise is hugely important, TRX and a wooden box have kept me sane.

What will the post-Covid19 world look like and how will it impact the television industry?
How many TV shows have you watched in the last few weeks with presenters, pundits and guests sitting looking into a laptop with bad lighting and dodgy sound? Quite a few I would imagine, from BT Sport Football and Rugby, to Match of the Day, to Ant and Decs Saturday night take-away - and as viewers we have accepted it, and still enjoyed it. The idea of NOT using a huge and expensive studio set up for big TV slots seemed absurd a few weeks ago, now it is seemingly ok. I think we will all look at this and start to trim things back a bit, if the content and stories are good enough maybe we don’t need huge production costs.

The lockdown has proved just how important live sport is to people, I believe it strengthens its position in the industry. In saying that, and I may well be wrong here, but I would expect huge rights deals to be a thing of the past…the money is simply not going to be there for billions to be spent on a three year Premier league package for broadcasters. In Rugby, the reset button will be pressed – from players wages, to buying in overseas players to rights deals.

END

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