‘Developing your Commercial DNA’ workshop

By Joanne O’Leary

Friday, 23rd March 2018 saw Maria Coakley take to the Blackstone Launch Pad stage to deliver an outstanding performance on “Developing your commercial DNA”. A Commerce Lecturer and Founder of Coakley Project Services, Maria captured the attention of students and budding entrepreneurs in her interactive and  relaxed style of presenting.

The morning began  at 8:30 with twelve students enjoying a light breakfast followed by an icebreaker challenge. The students in attendance included both undergraduate and postgraduate students from varying disciplines. Many attendees had start-up businesses whilst others simply wanted to update their skills and knowledge of the workplace.

The workshop was broken down into four sections throughout the day and covered some important topics. These included negotiation, building rapport, active listening and the power of asking questions. Within these topics, a proactive style was taken. Maria used several videos as well as role play among students throughout each session. They found this to be memorable and beneficial.

Maria stressed the importance of active listening and asking questions as being key skills in both a commercial and personal environment. She demonstrated the importance of these traits through varying tasks undertaken by the students through the day. Examples included interview questions, pitching new products and services to industry as well as more simplistic ideas like guessing what objects lay under a sheet.

Blackstone Launch Pad was delighted to welcome students from outside Ireland to the workshop also. These included individuals from France and Germany who wished to further their skills on understanding the modern workplace.

After lunch followed two new sections of Maria’s workshop. These included the importance of negotiation in both personal and professional life. The students learned that compromise is key in negotiating with fellow co-workers and managers. As well as this, Maria shared how to deal with objection. Students shared their experiences with this through past occupations and Maria explained how showing empathy, asking questions and gaining feedback reduces objection and allows for a more positive and productive workplace environment.

The final section that Maria discussed was rapport in business. This took into account the importance of a good reputation as well as the use of networking using platforms such as LinkedIn. Moreover, Maria confirmed how authenticity and managing expectations is key in managing both employees and employers reputations in business. Once again, the importance of active listening and clearly communicating ideas to fellow colleagues was highlighted by Maria.

As mentioned already, this workshop featured students from diverse disciplines. From telecommunications to social science, this event provided students with the necessary skills required when entering the workforce for the first time or returning to it again. A Law student commented on how she was “going into a new role” and complimented this workshop for updating her skills and knowledge of the workplace.

Finally, all students agreed that this workshop was an extremely worthwhile experience and allowed them to develop both personally and professionally using the invaluable skills taught by Maria. Blackstone Launch Pad recommends that all students sign up for this workshop as it will set you aside from all other employees in the workplace.