We Are Randox | Bicycles, BBQs and Beijing: Joel’s summer in China

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We Are Randox | Bicycles, BBQs and Beijing: Joel’s summer in China

Working in a global company like Randox opens many doors for our 1400-strong workforce, one of which being the opportunity to travel.  For people who want to see the world, experience other cultures and meet new people, we have LOTS of opportunities to do so.

It’s no surprise therefore that we value ambitious and enthusiastic employees who enjoy the excitement of a new challenge, and a new adventure!

And that’s just what our Marketing Executive, Joel Woods, did this summer.  After spending his placement year with us here at Randox, and then completing his final year of studies at Ulster University in Jordanstown, Joel was offered the opportunity to complete an internship in Beijing, the capital of China.

The experiences, new perspectives, and understanding of a different culture that he acquired during his time in China are just a few of the reasons why we love to hear from well-travelled individuals like Joel.

Here’s his story.

 

Given that I work in the Testing and Toxicology division here at Randox, it’s quite ironic that while I was at school I actually wanted a career in Forensic Science, rather than in Business. I even completed my lower sixth work experience with the PSNI.

I went to Ballyclare High School and studied Business Studies, ICT, Geography and Biology for A-Level. An encouraging and interesting school teacher during my GCSEs had made Business Studies more appealing, and so I decided to take it at A-Level. When studying it in my final year my mind had completely turned from forensics toward business, so I then went on to study Marketing at Ulster University.

During my time at university I completed a placement year with Randox within their marketing team. I worked primarily on Customer Relationship Management; providing support for sales reps and other marketing teams, running reports for top level managers, developing marketing campaigns and writing blogs. It was a fantastic experience getting to work on such a wide variety of marketing activities and was a great insight into the operations of a global company.  It set me in really good stead for my final year of university because I had a point of reference in the real working world for everything that I was learning.

Come the end of my final year at Jordanstown I was presented with an opportunity to go to China on a two month internship based in Beijing. To have a funded internship by the British Council was an excellent opportunity to enhance my CV with international experience, and I had never been to Asia before so this was a chance I wasn’t going to let pass me by.

For the two months I was in China I worked in a small firm based in the western district of Beijing (Sanlitun). The firm was called PAPP’S TEA, a small tea manufacturer. My job title was Marketing Intern which involved updating their website, creating blogs, engaging audiences on social media, working closely with graphic designers about brand guidelines and supporting events for the launch of new products.  Everything I had learnt during my placement year in Randox was put to good use!

The weather in China was permanently overcast and very rarely dropped below 30 degrees. Most of the food that I tried was incredible, but portions were always small. One of the interesting things about Chinese culture is that you never order a single meal for yourself, but rather a few dishes are ordered and everyone shares. I therefore had the unfortunate experience of sampling chicken feet…not tasty at all and they were more cartilage than meat! The language was also very difficult to understand but gradually as my time went on I began picking up words – a few greetings here and there, phrases used to order food from a menu, and how to pay for the bill at restaurants.

During my weekends I was usually free which gave a great opportunity to do all the touristy things. One of my favourite memories of China was camping on the Great Wall during my second weekend there. A group of us, mostly interns from the UK, got ourselves a tour guide and camping gear, hiked to the great wall and camped overnight. We had a barbeque, a campfire and watched the sun setting and rising. It was absolutely stunning.

My other main highlight from China was seeing Shanghai. We booked a hostel in the centre of Shanghai, from which almost everything we wanted to see was within walking distance. Walking around Shanghai felt like walking around London. The whole city was completely western, and so it didn’t feel like I was in China. Nevertheless, it was still an incredible experience visiting one of the most populated cities on the planet (26 million people).

The best moment during my time in Shanghai was using the public bicycles to see the city. Three of us chose to see the city by night and so we started our journey at midnight when the city was totally empty. It was so surreal. We got to see more of the city in one night than we ever did during the rest of the weekend!

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in China and would recommend an internship with the British Council to anyone who is thinking about gaining international experience. It can only ever be a good thing to see more of the ever-advancing technological world we live in, especially if you are working in a global company like Randox.

Upon returning to Randox as a permanent member of staff I now deal with clients all around the globe, and so the experience gained from my internship has been of such great benefit.  My time there has helped me understand how business is dealt from another culture and I can’t wait for my next big adventure.

 

We’re so delighted Joel had a positive experience during his time in Beijing and has returned to Randox full of enthusiasm and exciting ideas! Welcome back to the team Joel.

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com

 


We Are Randox | Cristina Zenha in Randox Portugal celebrates 25 years with us

What makes Randox the successful, innovative and forward-thinking company it is today are the passionate, hard-working and talented staff we’re lucky enough to call our colleagues.

Our staff are our best asset and across every division our team help to save lives – whether it be designing the newest Biochip to test for Alzheimer’s disease, developing the latest software for use in hospitals and universities, making food safer for people to eat, or managing our global offices, to ensure our pioneering health technologies make their way across the world to where they are needed the most.

Our headquarters are in Northern Ireland, but we have teams based all over the world, including in Portugal, where Cristina Zenha works as part of the Portuguese Finance Team.

2017 is a special year for Cristina.  It marks 25 years since she began her job with Randox.

We sat down with Cristina to ask her about her time with us, to find out how she thinks the company has changed during that time, and of course to congratulate her on her exciting milestone!

Here’s Cristina’s story.

 

My name is Cristina Zenha and I work in the Finance team in Randox Portugal in Oporto.

 For those of you who don’t know the area, the weather is very good here in Oporto. It’s not very cold in winter, nor is it very hot in summer. It’s just right!  During the summer I love going to the Algarve for my holidays. There are beautiful beaches and the weather is excellent, so it’s a very popular holiday destination for both the Portuguese and for tourists.

In Portugal, Randox is based in Oporto City, which as one of the oldest tourist destinations in Europe, has a wonderful artistic heritage. The Port Wine, the vast spaces dedicated to leisure and culture, and the relaxed way of life are just some of the reasons I would recommend visiting the city!

We also have excellent cuisine here in Portugal.  Seafood is very popular and we have several famous cod recipes.  In Oporto specifically, we have a very famous dish called Francesinha, which is a Portuguese sandwich made with bread, ham, fresh sausage and steak, covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce, and served with french fries.

Before I moved into the world of full-time work I worked in my parents’ grocery store, which sparked my interest in business.  Then I began my first serious job in Randox Portugal when I was only 19 years old, and studied part-time Business Management in Oporto Lusiada University.  I took my university classes in the evening to work around my job with Randox.

When I had my interview I had a really good feeling about Randox.  I could tell that this company, which was only just beginning to establish itself in Portugal, was going to go far.  I could see myself developing both personally and professionally in what was evidently a globally successful organisation. I knew I would learn a lot.

When I started my job with Randox in Oporto I was involved in processing orders, documenting stock, and organising customer invoices and receipts.  However in the 25 years I’ve worked here, my job, and the office itself have evolved and changed.  My current responsibilities have progressed to additionally include office finances and accounts, and I also manage the logistics of our site.

How we work in the team has also changed drastically.  I remember when I first started in 1992 there were no computers so everything was done manually. I had a typewriter to make invoices, receipts and letters. We created manual maps for everything and we updated everything manually.

The team itself has more than doubled in size, in spite of a number of economic crises in Portugal during that period.  The infrastructure in Randox, and its offering of highly innovative diagnostics has meant that demand for our products has continued to increase. We have a fantastically passionate team in place who all want to see the business succeed and everyone works together to bring next-generation healthcare to hospitals and laboratories across Portugal.

I think that’s one of the reasons I love my job so much.  Each member of the team here has an important role to play and we each contribute to Randox’s vision of saving lives.  It’s fast-paced and challenging, but that’s what I love. I like the structure in place and I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with resolving issues and contributing to increased sales and overall business success. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Randox. I know that the company will continue to grow and succeed and I feel privileged to be involved in its journey.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone with whom I have worked during my 25 years here at Randox.  I love everyone I work with and you are such a big part of why I have loved my time here so much.  I want to say a big thank you in particular to Bob Allan in Finance, who was one of the first people I met in Randox.  He has always been on hand to support the work we do in the Portuguese office, and the way in which he made me feel so welcome and supported will always be one of my favourite memories of my first 25 years working in Randox.

Here’s to the next 25!

Cristina

 

Congratulations Cristina on your 25 year milestone with us here at Randox. You are a real asset to our global healthcare company and we are delighted to have you as part of our team!

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com


We Are Randox | Randox Apprentice Grace Catney graduates with First Class Foundation Degree

Did you know that in partnership with Southern Regional College, Randox offers an industrial apprenticeship scheme?

This month our first group of Randox apprentices completed this Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Science, and we’re delighted to announce that Grace Catney, an apprenticeship from our Quality Control division, has graduated with a first class degree!

We sat down for a chat with Grace to find out how she has found the apprenticeship experience, and what she wants to let students know about what it’s like to do an apprenticeship with Randox.

 

This is what Grace had to say:

After completing one year of my A-levels I applied for a BTEC National Diploma in Applied Science, having realised that doing A-levels wasn’t the path I wanted to take.  For young students I think it’s so important to let them know that there is no one correct path to your dream job.  Going directly into university isn’t for everyone, and completing the National Diploma was the best decision I made for my own education, as I gathered the hands on experience in the laboratory that I wouldn’t have had if I was to finish my A levels. During my National Diploma which lasted 2 years, I worked in my family’s chip shop and in Starbucks, which was also so fundamental in teaching me how to balance work, education and leisure.  

Then when I gained a Triple Merit in my BTEC, my tutor from Southern Regional College made me aware of the apprenticeship with Randox, and so I went along to an interview which lasted around 20-30 minutes. Four people were chosen to take part in the apprenticeship programme, with three out of the four people having been on the BTEC course with me. The other apprenticeship came from a previous job and already had a masters degree.  The apprenticeship programme is open to people from all walks of life.

The apprenticeship itself is a 2 year programme made up of one day a week in the Southern Regional College in Portadown, and four days a week working in Randox. At college I studied a range of modules including Biochemistry, Genetics, Professional Practice, Laboratory Procedures, Physiology, Cell Biology, Chemistry and Mathematical Statistics, and at Randox I completed 3 rotations working within Production, Biochip Quality Control and R&D Quality Control.

Carrying out the apprenticeship has helped me improve so much in many areas. Working and completing the Foundation Degree is very intense, as you are simultaneously studying for exams and learning new work skills within your department. But the benefit is that you can apply what you are being taught to your work as soon as you learn it, which makes understanding the concepts so much easier.

The most enjoyable part of the apprenticeship was the rotation through different departments.   This helped me to learn a lot about the work that goes on – from the initial production of a Reagent, to Microbiology, Quality Control, Quality Assurance and then shipping to customers. Being in multiple departments has allowed me to see different stages along the production life of a product, while getting to know many incredibly talented employees throughout the company.

Working for such a globally successful company has given me the opportunity to see how science is changing the world, and to be a part of it, and it has also given me an advantage over full-time university students, because I already have 2 years’ experience in the science industry and a job secured. Education is important, but in the science industry experience is essential, and that’s what I am thankful to Randox for.

I have been treated as an employee, and not just a student.  The responsibilities with which my managers have entrusted me with have given me a real insight into the role of an analyst, and the different rotations helped me to determine what area of science I would prefer to work in.

When I came into Randox all I knew is that I wanted a hands-on, practical job that would help make a difference in the world of healthcare. When I completed my final rotation in R&D Quality Control, I knew that it was the department I could see myself in permanently, and so I was delighted when I was offered a full time job. 

Knowing that my work over the past few months in Quality Control has been to a level high enough to be offered a permanent job is a very good feeling. Many students come out of university with a degree but cannot find a job. I’ve done the opposite of that in some ways – I secured a job first before moving on to the next stage of my degree!  The only condition of the job was that we had to pass the foundation course, and so luckily I got a first overall.

I feel a mixture of nerves and excitement knowing that I’m going to be completing my final two years of a BioMed degree while working at Randox.  I think the distance learning will be an easier transition than maybe I had previously thought, given that during the apprenticeship we only had one day in class and had a lot of online classes throughout the week. I’ve never wanted to go to university as a full time student and so I’m am glad that this is available to me to complete while continuing my career with Randox. I have read a lot about the Biomedical Degree and the modules and am quite eager to begin the course. 

It’s also reassuring knowing that over the past 2 years I have significantly developed my ability to prioritise work, and to balance my job and studies. This will set me in good stead for my BioMed degree. Having a full time job and completing coursework and studying for exams is very hard and can be stressful – but the end result is worth it.

It can be challenging, but that’s what I love about science – there are so many new reactions, materials, procedures, regulations etc. to learn. There can be a big workload at times, but that’s always going to happen when you’re part of such a fast-paced company, and at Randox we’re very lucky that the support is always there if needs be. Luckily, I enjoy the rush and challenge of my job, and knowing your employer is trusting you to work on their world-class products is an amazing feeling.

Although the apprenticeship is challenging, if you have the right mind-set and motivation, you will gain so much from it. I highly recommend the Randox Higher Level Apprenticeship Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Science.  

Grace

 

We wish Grace and her fellow Randox apprentices the best of luck on whatever path they have chosen to progress to the next stage of their careers.  

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com


Staff Newsletter July / August 2017 Edition

Staff Newsletter July / August 2017 Edition

We are delighted to be able to share with you the July / August 2017 edition of our We Are Randox staff newsletter!

Click on the image for a range of company and staff news from the past two months – including our annual Sales Conference, AACC, Randox Fest 2017, and of course plenty of exciting staff weddings and engagements!

** Please note that image links work most efficiently in your Google Chrome browser**


We Are Randox | A year in the life of placement student Jenna Ireland

This week marks the end of the 2016/17 academic year for our Randox Placement Students. As we say goodbye and wish them luck for the future, we reflect on the year they have spent with us.

Jenna Ireland, a Business Management student from Ulster University, finishes her year-long placement tomorrow, Friday 11th August, before embarking on her final year of studies.

We sat down for a chat with Jenna to find out how she has found the placement experience, and what she wants to let students know about what it’s like to do a placement year with Randox.

 

This is what Jenna had to say:

I found out about the Randox Placement programme through our University Career Centre, as Randox has very close links with Ulster University.

I liked the sound of a company with such vast experience and a truly global presence.  The company has a fantastic reputation across Northern Ireland as a leading business and employer so I thought, where better to spend my placement year?

The international network at Randox was truly apparent as soon as I began to work here.  My colleagues in the team in which I was placed, which is the Sales Team for a number of specific regions including India, were so welcoming and supportive in spite of the extremely high-level careers they are in.  They made time for me and went out of their way to help me to settle into my role and life at Randox even though they are so busy managing the sales for so many countries!

I began my time at Randox with a full two weeks of training to ease me into what has been my first full-time job.  This gave me an overview of the company, the products and services I would be selling, the Randox ethos, the responsibilities of my job role, and the format of the placement programme.

I have also received training throughout the year on newly launched products to ensure total understanding of the technologies with which we are working.  I wanted to gain a really in-depth knowledge of our Randox products so I also took it upon myself to complete online training modules.

The role itself that I have had during my time here at Randox is Sales Support Executive. This has involved assisting our team with research tasks as well as introducing new mechanisms to be used by our team after I leave.  I have had the opportunity to really make my mark on the sales systems in place, by working on important projects including our organisational charts and our sales report, which is presented to Senior Management. I’ve also been involved in distributor relationship management, to make sure we always have the best partners in place for Randox.

I really feel like I’ve learnt a lot during my time here. I know that for some students in other organisations, during their placements they are unfortunately encumbered with the boring administrative tasks that more senior members of the team try to avoid, but it hasn’t been like that for me at all.  The responsibilities with which my manager Rebekah has entrusted me have given me a real insight into the role of a salesperson in a very dynamic and fast-paced environment.  I’ve loved meeting and interacting with members of our global team, as well as our distributors and customers. 

My favourite moments during my time here have definitely been attending our Global Sales and Distributor Conferences.  Spending time with a wealth of Randox salespeople from around the world meant that I could lean on their advice and experience to learn what it means to be a good sales person.  I was able to talk to them about how to manage staff, about their tactics for increasing sales, and generally just get an overview of their roles and responsibilities.  It’s great to hear from our global sales staff about their country, their culture, their language.  There are such fantastic opportunities to travel at Randox which makes a sales job here so exciting.

Throughout my year at Randox I have had to submit two four-month reports to university, the first in October and the second in March, to assess and evaluate my placement.  My tutor also came out to Randox to have a face-to-face meeting with my manager and me to discuss how I have been getting on, and my Randox mentor met with me regularly throughout the year to make sure I had all the support I required.

At the end of my placement I then submitted a placement portfolio including a 5000-word report on my time at Randox. I had to explain everything that I had learnt here and how I put into practice the skills and knowledge I had gained from university.

University is a fantastic stepping-stone into the working world, but you truly start to learn what it means to have a career when you experience the industry you want to work in for yourself.  My final report for university was really useful because it enabled me to look back on my time here and reflect on what a fantastic experience it has been.

Not only have I grown in confidence, in my abilities and in my vocational development (simple things like writing professional emails and answering the phone in a polite and engaging way!) but I have also made some great friends. 

Randox is such a friendly place and the team I have working beside me has been part of the reason I have enjoyed my time here so immensely.  We get on really well together and quite often we go out together for lunch on a Friday as an end-of-week treat.

As I finish up my time here (I can’t believe it’s been a year already!) I really want to take the opportunity to thank everyone at Randox for all their support over the year, and of course to thank my sales team for teaching me so much.

To my Line Manager Rebekah Tougher and to my Global Manager Paul Turnbull in particular I want to say a massive thank you for being such fantastic role models and for truly taking me under your wing and helping me flourish.

The first step in my Business Management career has been amazing and it’s thanks to the amazing team at Randox.

Now time to get my head back into the books for my final year of uni! Wish me luck!

Jenna

 

We wish Jenna and her fellow placement students all the best as they head back to university.  We might even see them return in the future as Randox graduates!

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com


We Are Randox | Secrets of a Graphic Design Team

Ever wondered what it’s like to be part of the Graphic Design team here at Randox? Well who better to ask than one of our Heads of Design, Caoimhin Magee!

From navigating Illustrator to finding inspiration, collaborating on projects to taking part in creative sessions, and following proofing systems to encouraging professional development, Caoimhin shares all the secrets of one of the most creative departments in our global healthcare company.

Here’s Caiomhin’s story.

 

When I’m telling people the story of how I came to be Head of Design for such a prestigious company as the sponsor of the Randox Health Grand National, I like to start by saying that there is no one way to become a Graphic Designer.

My background is actually in architecture, which I studied at Queen’s University in Belfast for four years.  But I realised that it just wasn’t for me.  Although there was a certain element of creativity in my architecture degree, there was also a very heavy focus on maths and physics, and it just wasn’t what I pictured myself doing.  I started thinking about changing to a fine arts degree to give me a bit more freedom creatively, but instead of rushing in to making a decision, I took some time out to go travelling across Australia and some of South East Asia.

When I returned home I worked for some time in a printing business in Lurgan, designing and printing a range of stationery for local businesses, and menus for local bars and restaurants.

Then I heard about a Graphic Design course at Shillington College, a design school run by a guy called Andy Shillington.  He has schools in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, London, Manchester and New York, and so I made my way over to the Manchester school to begin training to be a Graphic Designer.

Basically, it was the same as an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design…

…but squeezed into an intense three months.  Everyone studying there had come from different backgrounds and career disciplines but we all started at the same point, learning everything you needed to know to work in the Graphic Design industry – perfecting different design techniques and getting to grips with a range of design software.

Then at the end we were each awarded a Certificate of Education, which is recognised by major design organisations, like Adobe.  We all graduated and showcased our work at a Graduate Show in Shillington, which was attended by some really big names in the design community.  London might be the most obvious city choice for a design career in the UK, but Manchester is very quickly catching up.  There’s a real creative hub there and so on the night of my graduation there some really prestigious designers flicking through my portfolio.  I was lucky enough to secure some great freelance work in Manchester and Liverpool after I graduated.

But then I heard about a design job with Randox and it allowed me the opportunity to move back home and to secure a fulltime job.

What’s so great about working here is that you go in, and effectively you’re just given your own brand to make as exciting as you can.  You’re immediately given the responsibility and trust that you would only get after working in an agency for several years.  Whether you work on the design for Randox Reagents, or Randox Biosciences, or Randox Toxicology, you can go in and put your own stamp on that division.

I always make sure therefore, when talking to designers who are considering coming to work for us, to highlight that there are no Junior Designers in Randox. Everyone works on an equal pegging and we all support each other.

When I moved up to Head of Design here in Randox there were a few new policies that I introduced to improve this sense of collaboration. Even though we each work on our own unique and independent Randox product division, I requested a redesign of the marketing and design office space, so that our designers were each paired off with each other. 

Each designer therefore sits beside another designer and we can all keep track of each other’s work and projects, so that we keep a certain level of consistency under the parent brand of Randox. Working in this way also allows us to take inspiration from each other and help complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

For example, our Motion Graphics Designer Anthony obviously has a very particular skillset, so he’s helping me improve my talents in that area. In turn I’m helping him develop his abilities in our Illustrator software because that’s where my own strengths lie.

I’ve also introduced a Design Studio where the work of our designers is showcased for everyone to see.  Not only does it instil a sense of pride in our work by using it to decorate the office, and showing it to our colleagues, but again it helps us keep track of what other designers are currently working on and makes sure we’re each using the correct typefaces and established colour schemes.  It’s the final stage of the proofing system when we finally see the finished piece of artwork up on the wall for everyone to see.

In the Design Studio you can really see the eclectic mix of projects on which we get to work.  It ranges from virtual reality video, to app design, to brochures for global events like AACC, the American Association of Clinical Chemistry. There is such variety in what we do and there’s always a new challenge to put your hand to. Randox is the perfect place to be if you want to grow your skillset.

Working here also provides us with the opportunity to develop key business skills in the design market.  Relationship building with printers for example, is key, and we do that pretty much every day here.  I honestly can’t think of anywhere else that offers the same level of professional development as Randox. 

I’m very proud of the team we now have in place here. We all work really well together and are making such good progress in our own capabilities and confidence.  We even have a Summer Placement Student, Katie, currently working with us, who is really impressing everybody with her ability and enthusiasm.

I’m sure that the Graphic Design team at Randox will continue to grow and develop, and I can’t wait to see where the coming months and years will take us.

 

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com

Pictured above: The Randox Graphic Design Team

Front row left to right: Anne Smith, Katie McLernon, Melissa Hull

Middle row left to right: Elizabeth Moran, Amy Fekkes, Anthony Heaney

Back row left to right: Niall McCafferty, Maxwell Brown, Colm Douglas, Caoimhin Magee


We Are Randox | Sarah Cunningham, winner of Miss Promotional Model 2017 at the Miss Northern Ireland Awards

One of the best things about our We Are Randox series of staff stories is that we get to find out all sorts of interesting things about our colleagues.  We love getting to hear about what they get up to outside of work, to find out what really makes them tick and to be able to celebrate their special talents and skills!

So you’ll not be surprised to hear that we were really excited to find out that our Finance Placement Student, Sarah Cunningham, was recently in the Miss Northern Ireland competition 2017, after having won her heat in Cookstown.

We sat down with Sarah to find out a bit more about what really goes on behind the scenes of Miss Northern Ireland, and about how the competition helped her develop her self-confidence.

Here’s Sarah’s story.

I really stumbled upon the Miss Northern Ireland competition by chance, as I was looking for a new challenge and my friend simply said “Why not give that a shot?”

I didn’t necessarily know what I was getting myself into other than that it looked quite fun and my friends were really supportive so I just wanted to give it a chance and see how it went.

So I actually entered for the first time last year, and although I’m from Ballyclare I entered a heat in Enniskillen because I was advised to enter a heat in a small area where there’s fewer applicants.  Then you have more of a chance of progressing!

So I went to the heats in Enniskillen and what I was most surprised to find is that the Miss Northern Ireland pageant is so heavily focused on your personality. Every girl that enters is really glamorous, with beautiful hair, makeup and clothes, so everyone is on a level pegging in that regard.  But they want more than just a girl who’s into her looks. What really sets you apart is making sure to get your personality across. 

When last year’s competition ended I knew that I wasn’t ready for the excitement of the experience to be over just yet, so I chose to do it again in 2017.

In my heat in Cookstown this year the judging panel was made up of a mix of sponsors including Donnelly Group and Insanity Tan, and then when I moved up to the finals, last year’s Miss Northern Ireland was also on the judging panel. 

In the final there’s 2 winners from each heat.  So from Cookstown there was myself – I was Miss Cookstown – and there was also Miss Sense (a nightclub in Cookstown which sponsored the other winner and also hosted our heat).  There were 12 heats in total so there were 24 girls in the final, held in the Europa Hotel in Belfast.

Between the time of the heats and the final itself there were a few promo opportunities which we got the opportunity to attend, like photo shoots and also a boot camp.

The boot camp was really intense – one day was just a really full-on session of training on what was expected of us, so from 9-5 we sat listening to and absorbing a lot of information – quite a lot of which was new to so many of us. 

The final, which was in May of this year, began on a Saturday morning, even though the event wasn’t until the Monday night!  We stayed in the Europa Hotel during that time and had 10-12 hours of rehearsals each day leading up to the event. 

That’s what I like to get across when I’m telling people about this experience.  It’s not just standing up there and looking pretty.  It’s really intense and the event organisers like to use the rehearsal time to see who puts the hard work in and who really wants it the most.  It’s easy to identify those who can’t really be bothered, and those who want it so much that they’re pushing on in spite of their sheer exhaustion.  At the finals the event starts off with a big opening dance so much of our rehearsal time was spent learning and perfecting that routine.

On the Monday afternoon you also have an interview with 12 different judges and I can genuinely say it was the most daunting thing I have ever experienced!  They really do grill you!  I think I can say with confidence that this is the stage when the judges actually make their decision – even before the event itself – because it’s when they really get to know you properly and find out lots about you. 

I think that’s actually a good thing because by the time the event comes around that night then you’re not really worried or stressed anymore.  You know that the judges have already made their decision and the evening won’t change that, so you might as well relax and have a really fun and enjoyable night.

I suppose they might have their top three in mind and then whoever shines on the night will be their eventual winner but it certainly does lift a certain amount of the pressure knowing that the interview – the scariest part – is over.

After the dance routine there’s a number of different rounds to display different aspects of the competition.  There’s a runway section for example, a fashion show and then we put on some really beautiful ballgowns.

Following that then the presenters introduce each individual to the audience based on the answers you gave during your interview earlier on in the day.  This year it was Q Radio and Zoe Salmon who presented on the night of the final. When introducing me for example they would say; “This is Sarah Cunningham. She studies Business Studies and is currently on a placement with Randox Laboratories.” 

After that the judges then cut down the entries to their Top 10, and each girl within the Top 10 has to fit in to a particular category.  So for example they’ll choose “Miss Sport,” or “Miss Talent” or “Miss Social Media.” The talent category is optional – I think about 10 out of the 24 girls this year chose to perform a particular talent of theirs.  Those 10 girls performed for the judges on the Sunday morning and the winner performed at the final on the Monday night.

I got “Miss Promotional Model.”  It sounds silly but it basically means that based on my personality they saw that I would be good at going out and chatting to people so I must come across as quite persuasive.  I might make a good salesperson!

Then at this stage there’s more questions for the girls who make it in to the Top 10 – focused on what you would do if you won at the Miss World finals, which are being held in China later on this year.  They asked me a lot about what I would bring to China and how I would showcase Northern Ireland to the rest of the world.

It was Miss Anchor (a bar in Portstewart) who won this year’s Miss Northern Ireland – a girl called Anna Henry who has just finished graduated with an engineering degree and is currently on a gap year before she starts work.

Her new role as Miss Northern Ireland 2017 involves a lot of appearances because many of the well-known businesses organisations in Northern Ireland like having her involved in their events throughout the year.  At the end of this year she will go to China for an entire month for Miss World, and when she returns, the process to find Miss Northern Ireland 2018 will begin.  Anna will sit on the judging panel for the 2018 heats, which will go on for about 8 weeks.

I think I have one more go at Miss Northern Ireland in me, but I’m going to wait one or two years before I have another go.  I have until I’m 24 to enter, so I think I’ll take a few years out to focus on my work and university degree.

I think beauty pageants sometimes get a bad rep for being “a bad example” for younger girls but I totally disagree with that premise.  All of us who were involved in Miss Northern Ireland 2017 are now such good friends and we got on so well during the whole process.  We really were like one big family and if anybody was to make a negative or demeaning comment about somebody the rest of us would stand up and put a stop to it.  That’s not what we were there for – we were there to support each other and we all understood that only one person would ultimately win so we might as well enjoy it and have a good laugh together as friends.

I made life-long friendships and I really enjoyed the whole networking aspect of the event – meeting new people and making new contacts. I’ve also learnt that I really enjoy modelling and although I won’t be pursuing it full-time because I’m studying Business Studies, I think it will be a really fun hobby for me and I’ll definitely do some jobs here and there if they come up.

And the whole process has really helped me develop my self-confidence.  A year ago I wouldn’t even have been able to give this interview because I was so timid and shy but the experience has really brought me out of my shell.

I was involved in a STEM challenge event with Randox a few weeks ago in which I hosted a Mathematics challenge for students from Victoria College and the Girls’ Model Belfast and I don’t think I would have been able to do it if it weren’t for Miss Northern Ireland.  It’s a great experience and I truly believe it helps girls with their self-confidence.  I have nothing but admiration for the whole process and I look forward to seeing who will win next year.

 

For more We Are Randox stories make sure to follow #WeAreRandox on our social media channels.

If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out the Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.

Photographs courtesy of Brendan Gallagher Photography.


Staff Newsletter May / June 2017 Edition

Staff Newsletter May / June 2017 Edition

We are delighted to be able to share with you the May / June 2017 edition of our We Are Randox staff newsletter!

Click on the image for a range of company and staff news from the past two months – including The Great Randox Bake Off, our Placement Students of the Year 2017, and a bunch of exciting staff weddings and engagements!

** Please note that image links work most efficiently in your Google Chrome browser**


We Are Randox | Natalia Cutolo: A tale of four countries

Not all interesting stories have to be about somebody’s hidden talents, extra-curricular achievements or claims to fame.

Some of the most inspiring tales can just be about overcoming adversity; about pushing on to find a better life for yourself; about strength of spirit.

It takes a lot of courage and faith to be able to start your life over, but that’s just what our Business Development Executive, Natalia Cútolo did.

And not just once, but three times.  From Argentina to Italy, Italy to Scotland, and finally Scotland to Northern Ireland, Natalia has finally found a country to call home.

Here’s her story.

My story isn’t about art.  It’s not about music.  It’s not about sport or any other interesting hobby.

It’s about life change and determination.

I’m originally from Argentina but I was becoming increasingly unhappy with my life there.  I was unhappy with my career, (I have a degree in International Commerce but I had been working as an IT admin for 6 years), and with how the economy was deteriorating in my country.  Based on my knowledge of the economy I knew it was only going to get worse.

I no longer felt like Argentina was my home, as my mother had passed away from cancer. 

As an only child it was very difficult to cope with, so I decided to take a holiday to Italy, as that’s where my family is originally from.  I think I was searching for some sort of connection to my roots – that feeling of belonging.  When I went to Italy I felt like I was back home.

Therefore last year I made the huge decision to sell everything and move abroad with my dog and cat (because I think that when you make a commitment, you should fulfil that commitment no matter what your choices are).

Not expecting the crisis to be worse than Argentina, I found myself struggling to get a job in Italy.  Even though I loved the country and my experience there was fascinating, I was running out of savings. My life in Italy was not meant to be.

So towards the end of last year I got an au pair opportunity in Scotland where I was able to bring my pets with me, and we moved again. Unfortunately I was unable to afford the flight tickets for my pets, so I decided to drive the 2200km from Italy to Scotland.

I met some incredible people in Scotland and the au pair experience was so unique.  I love working with children and I knew I was doing something really worthwhile.  I felt productive and useful.

The au pair experience however was only a 2 month contract and so had to come to an end. At that point I thought, why not give Northern Ireland a try?  By then I had a boyfriend living in Northern Ireland so I decided I may as well move closer to him.

I moved here in February 2017 but it took me 3 months to get proper job offers in the areas in which I wanted to work. When I first moved over I was just doing some casual work in a bar and one of my colleagues in that bar told me about a job fair in the City Hall. When I found Randox at that job fair I started to research the company. I was fascinated by the statements made by Dr. FitzGerald that I had read in several different interviews and I felt that I 100% identified with his vision for global healthcare. Finding a company that cares about people’s wellbeing is just so unique, and I knew I had to be part of it.

I honestly didn’t think I would be selected. It was too good to be true.

I remember so vividly the day I was contacted to arrange an interview. I almost ended up cancelling because my previous misfortune had meant I had had to sell my car.

But so far I had seized every opportunity I had been given, and that wasn’t going to change. I wasn’t going to give up on this one.

I had my interview, and basically, I was amazed by the fact that I had an opportunity with a company that had such an inspiring aim to change the world.

Better still, this amazing company was interested in ME!

After the interview the Randox Human Resources team called me to say I got the job and I was so shocked. I couldn’t believe that after the year I had I was finally being offered not just a job, but my dream job!

My perseverance and resilience had all been worth it.

I started in May 2017 as a Business Development Executive for Latin America; a role which makes me still feel really close to my culture.  It’s the perfect balance because the country of Northern Ireland is just so perfect for me, but I also have the opportunity to bring health back to Argentina.

I’ve been in the country for five months now and I feel happier than ever because not only am I doing what I love but I have finally been able to settle down and make a life for myself in this beautiful country, surrounded by the lovely and welcoming people of Northern Ireland. 

 

 

For more We Are Randox stories make sure to follow #WeAreRandox on our social media channels.

If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out the Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.


We Are Randox | Randox’s very own Secret Footballer, Corey McMullan

Follow football? Then you won’t want to miss our exclusive interview with Glentoran player Corey McMullan.

Mathematics placement student Corey recently signed a two year contract with the prestigious Belfast football team and took some time out during the off season to talk to us about his football journey to date.

Read Corey’s story below.

“I’ve always been into sports. When I was younger I played football, tennis, badminton…I had a go at everything really but football has always been my main passion. Some of my best memories are of the Milk Cup which is held up in the north coast. I was captain of the Derry/Londonderry team and we played against some of the biggest teams in the world including CSKA Moscow and the Corinthians from Brazil. The following year I represented Northern Ireland in the Under 18s Centenary Shield. I think getting to play for your nation is a great honour and what it made it even more sweet was the fact that we beat the Republic in Sligo on St Patrick’s Day by scoring a last minute winner.

The first team that I played for was Limivady United and then when I was nineteen I moved to Ballyclare Comrades. I’m originally from Coleraine but I knew that the Ballyclare team had a good reputation and were good at giving young players a chance on the field. I decided to go and play for them – even though it took me an hour to get to training every week.

I played with them for one year and won ‘Player of the Month’ for the NIFL championship in January before I moved to Glentoran. We had just finished playing the Institute FC in a play-off game in a home and away over two legs and I scored the winner. It was after that game that the manager from Glentoran, Gary Haveron, got in touch. He had been watching the play-off and invited me down to The Oval where I signed my two year contract.

My family were buzzing when I told them I had been signed; they take a big interest in my football and my dad has never missed a match. I feel like I’m ready for it now. I’ve been playing since I was 16 and playing for Glentoran is a great opportunity for me.

We haven’t been told who the first fixture is against but I have already played my debut in Detroit.  It was for the fiftieth anniversary of the Detroit Cougars, when Glentoran, representing NI, went to America to raise the profile of football there. The Glentoran squad exceeded everyone’s expectations as they were the only semi-professional football team that were brought over at that time and they did really well. Going as part of this team in 2017 was a great experience and it was the first time that I met all the boys on the squad. I started the game which drew in a crowd of 5 thousand people. It was such a big crowd which I didn’t expect. It was a bit surreal.

While we were in the US we went to Third Man Records, a famous records store in Detroit. Usually part of the initiation process when joining a new club involves an embarrassing sing along. So while we were in the record store I sang a rendition of ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams for all the lads. Personally I’m more of a shower singer but it was a bit of craic and a few other guys got up after me. We also got to meet Scott Benson, a Detroit city councilman, and we went on a tour of the city.

Although I’ve always been a keen football player I’m also lucky to be decent at maths and I have tutored for friends and family. You never know where football can take you so in the meantime I’m currently doing my placement year at Randox, working in the Pricing and Tenders department.

I found the opportunity through the university careers portal and at the time I didn’t know that maths could take you into these areas but I’m finding out that a good maths degree can open a lot of doors. I had heard of Randox before as my uncle had previously worked for them and was involved in the early developments of the Randox Science Park. I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to pursue at university, I had been interested in languages and science but maths was probably my best subject. It sounds simple but that’s honestly the way it was!

It’s been a great experience – I get along with my team very well and I am enjoying the work. I’ve had real hands-on experience during my placement year and I have found that the further I get into my degree the more options are becoming available. I was thinking of doing a masters in maths and also considering doing a PGCE in maths, but I haven’t quite made my mind up about that one yet.

It can be tough trying to balance work and football but I do manage it fit it all in. This past year I’ve been up from 6.30am to get to work and I usually stay on late because I have training after work in Belfast or Crumlin until 8.30pm. After training, I do my own training and practice my shooting to improve my game.

I support Man United as a team but the players whose careers I’d like to emulate would be Pogba and Steven Gerrard. They both play centre mid field and have a similar game to me. Gerrard is a good athlete – there are a lot of guys who can attack and defend but Gerrard is an all-rounded mid fielder. Currently it’s the off season but the pre-season is fast approaching and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and seeing where my football career will take me.”

For more We Are Randox stories make sure to follow #WeAreRandox on our social media channels.

If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out the Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.


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