Name: Abaigeal Heally
Class Year: 2011
Title: Communication & Change Management Consultant
Organization Name: Willis Towers Watson
In one sentence, what does your job entail?
I develop and implement communication strategies and employee engagement tools to help large organizations enhance their total employee experience.
What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross?
Several extra-curricular activities connected me to the communications industry and the business world, including:
- Pre-Business club and its accompanying networking events – this is how I learned about EMC, which was my first job after Holy Cross; I spoke up during a Q&A session and afterward an alumni and employee of EMC encouraged me to apply to their Marketing Development Program
- Summer Internship Program (SIP) – I had two fantastic internships where I worked alongside Holy Cross alumni, one of them who was the CEO of the company at the time
- Communications and Advertising Club (now called the Agency, I believe)
- Alumni panel where I explored fields I might be interested in
- Holy Cross sponsored Career Fairs
What were you involved in when you were on campus?
Besides some of the career-focused activities, I noted above, I studied abroad for a year in Ireland. This was a unique opportunity that provided me with fresh perspectives – it set me apart from other candidates when applying for jobs who studied for just a semester or so. I have been able to apply my experiences from my year abroad to every job I have had since graduating. Having, since worked at three global companies, I find this continues to be an important part of my career – working at a company that’s involved in international projects and seeks to understand global perspectives.
I was also involved with the Jesuit community at Holy Cross, having served as a Eucharistic minister.
What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?
I was a Psychology major and Studio Art Minor. I knew I enjoyed studying people, especially, emotional intelligence. I wanted to mix my interest in Psychology with my passion for design. That naturally led me to explore marketing and branding. What I learned after several internships was that writing was a way to influence people, and if you do it right, you can change behaviors. This was exciting to me! I wanted to be able to use my degree and what I knew about cognitive processes and apply that to the real world – to the everyday working person, employees.
That’s when I learned more about Communications and all the different hats that Communications people wear at corporations. Communications is a job where you use words and visuals to reach and inform the everyday consumer – the employee (you and me) on all sorts of topics from announcements like leadership changes to new benefit programs. As a consultant, I help companies all over the world do this. It’s always changing and I get to learn about lots of news, workplaces and cultures!
What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?
The obvious ones are time management, project management and writing skills. The more philosophical one that Holy Cross encouraged me to develop was my ability to question. Challenging the status quo is the approach I take to solve everyday business problems.
What advice do you have for students on campus today?
I recently went to the Massachusetts Women’s Conference and saw Elizabeth Gilbert speak, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, and she said the one thing we all need to do more of is RELAX. I thought this was such a simple bit of advice, but so profound. She said, the next time you are in a meeting, look around an observe everyone. The most powerful person in the room is the most relaxed. As students and as alumni, we all are working so hard, and we should continue to push ourselves to our fullest, but if you feel like you can’t do it all that day, just take a breath, and know it’s all going to be alright! Make sure you have a strong support system and you take the time to prioritize those people. Wellbeing is becoming an ever more important part of work/life culture, if you don’t have your health physically and mentally, we can’t be our best selves. So during your next moment of stress or anxiety, remember… just RELAX! It’s all going to be alright.