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Meet your hosts

 A six-week virtual festival of live streamed events, interactive content and online resources.

Meet your hosts

Who better to guide you through Gradfest2021 than students who understand exactly what challenges you are facing?

Our student hosts will be putting your questions directly to the employers on your behalf.

Here are some of the friendly faces who will be popping up on our Instagram feed. Follow us @QUBCAREERS to join in our live streams.

Maddie Warren

Meet Maddie Warren, a Queen’s History and English graduate and one of the inspiring Queen’s alumni taking over our Instagram feed for a series of personal stories to mark Graduation Week. Having worked with students and young people in various areas, including working with young women in the US and working in India with college men to prevent violence against women, Maddie is now a secondary school teacher.

Maddie works with young people in an economically deprived area of Sussex and finds her job extremely rewarding. Her experience at Queen’s, including her work with the Widening Participation Unit at Queen’s helped to shape her career path and build her interpersonal skills.

Maddie’s biggest piece of advice is to get as much varied experience as you can to help you decide what you want - and more importantly what you don’t want - from your career.

Date: Monday 19 July, 12pm.

Details on Maddie's Instagram Livestream

Francesca Morelli

Meet International Business with French graduate Francesca Morelli.  Founder of VAVA Influence, a social media marketing agency, she is one of the inspiring Queen’s alumni taking over our Instagram feed for a series of personal stories to mark Graduation Week.

As well as running her own successful start-up, Francesca works at Enterprise SU helping other budding entrepreneurs make their dream happen.

“I sort of fell into the whole start-up ecosystem because I studied International Business with French at Queen’s and I did a placement in France. I found myself in a start-up studio in Paris.

It was great experience. I think cause it's a start-up environment you don't necessarily just work on accounts or business development or sales. You get an insight into everything because there might only be three of you on the team. So, we had to pull together and just do what needs done. I really saw the impact of my actions and I loved being surrounded by such passionate people.”

Francesca will be taking over our Instagram to her story as part of Gradfest2021.

Date: Tuesday 20 July, 12pm

Details on Francesca's Instagram Livestream

Natasha Sayee

Queen’s Law graduate Natasha Sayee is Head of External Communications for SONI Ltd. She pivoted from Law into broadcast journalism and then into business. She says of her current role: 

“It’s a blend of everything I’m good at and interested in, people, current affairs and with a focus on climate change. I have come full circle with my love for the environment and sustainability.” 

She has this advice to graduates: “Harness that passion, hook it into your career. Keep moving until it feels right and you will succeed.” 

After sharing her story at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair 2020, we are giving you another chance to watch Natasha’s inspiring talk. We will be streaming it on our IGTV as part of GradFest2021. 

Date: Wednesday 21 July, 12pm 

Details on Natasha's Instagram Livestream

Kristen Guy

Queen’s graduate Kristen Guy, a transgender woman who specialises in the development of training solutions for Deloitte in Belfast.

Not long after graduating from Queen’s University in 2013 with a BSc in Psychology, Kristen gained the confidence to become her authentic self and commenced her gender transition while simultaneously commencing her employment with Deloitte.

Kristen will be taking over our Instagram to tell her story as part of Gradfest2021.

Date: Thursday 22 July, 12pm

Details on Kristen's Instagram Livestream

Marc McCormack

Meet Mark McCormack, Head of Technology at Aflac and one of the inspiring Queen’s alumni taking over our Instagram feed for a series of personal stories to mark Graduation Week.

After graduating from Queen’s in 1998 with a Zoology degree, Mark pivoted into a career as a tech leader via a graduate training programme and hasn’t looked back.

He says: “Problem-solving is one of the most important skills you can develop for any career. It’s what separates us from the computers; that and empathy – and the craic. “I might work with computers but it’s the people that make the work interesting and fun.

“You learn that the things that make you successful in one part of your career are not necessarily the things that make you successful later on. You have to learn and adapt. If you are not learning, then you are probably not enjoying yourself.”

“At Aflac, we look for three things: adaptability, resilience and reinvention.

“Stay flexible, keep learning and find some good people to work with and you can’t go wrong.” Mark will be taking over our Instagram to his story as part of Gradfest2021.

Date: Friday 23 July, 12pm

Details on Mark's Instagram Livestream

Lauren Watt

Gradfest2021 host Lauren is a third year Film Studies student at Queen’s.

When she is not performing hosting duties, she is working on a documentary for her end of year project and participating in the Cinemagic Creative and Digital Technologies Academy (2021).

Mike Stevenson

Mike is one of Europe’s most exciting and persuasive speakers.

His journey from rough sleeper to multi award-winning entrepreneur is a real tour-de-force and how he turns that learning into life-changing messages makes him a truly compelling speaker.

He is founder of Thinktastic, an innovations agency, voted Scottish Small Company of Year and acclaimed for its unique approaches to stretching people and organisations beyond the ‘apparently’ possible.

Claire Mulligan

Claire Mulligan is a final year Film Studies & Production student at Queen's. She enjoys watching films, painting and reading.

After graduation, she will be returning to Queen's to do a Master’s in Marketing and she’s excited to learn a new subject.

While she doesn't know for certain where she will be after my Master’s, her dream role would be something to do with film directing, producing, or a marketer for a production company.

Róise Pelan

Law student Róise is part of our Film Industry Uncovered programme and organised a recent industry panel on broadcast journalism.

In her chosen career path, getting to grips with workplace tech is essential so she’ll be grilling the employers on how you can prove you are tech-savvy. 

Pallavi Parab

Pallavi Parab is an MBA student from India. She likes to visit different places, interact with people from different cultures, read, dance and listen to music to lighten her mood.

She wants to make a positive impact in society as a leader and is passionate about sustainable business.

Edward Ferrin

Edward Ferrin is 19 and studies History and Politics at Queen’s.

He likes walking, hiking, reading and trainspotting and is a fan of Liverpool FC and TV comedies. He is interested in pursuing a career in journalism.

Rebecca Dillon

Rebecca Dillon is a 21-year-old Drama student and budding entrepreneur.

Through the global philanthropic network The Ireland Funds she is developing mental wellbeing software for universities. She’s a gym goer, film extra and theatre buff and hopes to find a career that will fuel her inner creativity, such as a Branding Manager or Marketing Assistant.

John Maguire

John is the North West Talent Partner at regtech firm FinTrU.

He works closely with new joiners to the business, helping to guide them as they take their first steps on their career journey. He has this advice for graduates: “It is okay not to know exactly where you want to be in your career. The career landscape is ever-changing. The most important thing is to be able to recognise a great opportunity when it comes your way!”

He adds: Everybody you meet will have something that they can teach you. Nobody is the best and brightest at everything! Always be willing to learn from your colleagues. And don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone. You will learn so much just by being able to converse with and listen to others.”

Viktorija Mikalauskaite

Viktorija is a Senior Associate in the Legal Department at regtech firm FinTrU where she leads a team of six.

She is a Law graduate from Queen’s with vast experience in the field of contract management, having worked with highly demanding clients ranging from consulting firms to investment managers and banks since graduating.

She joined FinTrU in October 2020, embracing the challenge of working in a financial firm with a strong commercial sense. She has this advice for graduates: “Never be afraid to challenge yourself, to go out of your comfort zone and to seek opportunities that help your career development and personal growth.”

Declan Lupari

Declan is a VR/AR Developer within the Digital Construction Team at GRAHAM

He recently completed a KTP Project with Queen's University Belfast and GRAHAM which has propelled him into his current role. He is passionate about immersive technologies and believes they have amazing potential, not only in the construction sector but everywhere.

He has this advice for graduates: “Communicating with all members involved in a project allows for everyone to be on the same page regarding the progress of work. It also allows for sticking points to be addressed and resolved before they can escalate into bigger problems.”

He adds: “You may not get your dream job straight away, but instead find roles that lead you in the right direction and equip you with the knowledge and capabilities to further your career.”

Rebecca Sinclair

Rebecca is a Student Talent Advisor at EY based in London. Her role involves offering students and their key influencers insight into the EY student programmes, as well as providing support with the application process. Rebecca joined EY as a Financial Services Technology Consultant on a Scholarship Programme in 2014 while still a student, graduating with a First Class Honours Degree in Economics. Rebecca has this advice for graduates: “Be open-minded to opportunities that come your way and keep an eye out for opportunities that you may find interesting or learn from.”

Jack McKeown

Jack is a Senior associate in Assurance in EY. He joined EY in September 2018, after graduating with an accounting degree from Queen’s. He has this advice for graduates: “Life is not a race. You don’t have to do everything all at once, the days fly by, and you may burn out. So slow down, make plans and set goals, but don’t be in a rush and enjoy the journey. The biggest lesson I have learned in my career is to manage your workload and to not take on more than you can handle - don’t try do it all on your own. There is a team there to support you and share the workload. This can be beneficial for your own work-life balance and the team’s success.”
He adds: “The skill that has benefitted me most in my career has been my organisation and communication skills. This has allowed me to keep a check on progress within jobs and manage projects effectively to meet deadlines.”

Courtney Ward

Courtney’s role within Randox is Quality Team Leader. The purpose of the Quality team is to ensure testing being carried out at Randox is of the highest standard and in line with all government and UKAS regulations. Courtney liaises with staff and managers to help with continuous process improvement and compliance. Her previous roles in Randox included Assay Design and PCR testing and training as part of the COVID-19 response. Courtney’s background is in structural biology and biochemistry. She completed her Undergraduate, Master’s and PhD at Imperial College London, which included placements at GlaxoSmithKline and Cancer Research UK. The experience she gained throughout her degree and various placements has given her insights and relevant skills across various aspects of scientific research, development and diagnostics which has been central to her career development. Courtney’s advice is always to get involved in different projects and experiences where you can as you never know what key skills you may pick up that will help you later in your career.

Chloe McKee

Chloe is currently employed with Randox Laboratories Ltd as a COVID-19 Laboratory Testing Manager. Her main role is to ensure the testing labs are running efficiently whilst enforcing quality and integrity. She is a driven and determined individual and this has helped her get to where she is today. Chloe’s main goal in her career is to be successful and strive to do the best job she can, no matter what the job may be. Chloe is a recent graduate herself and wants to show all new graduates that anything is possible if you put your mind to it!


Dermot Murray

Dermot is a Senior QA Engineer at Version 1, an Irish-owned tech company whose clients include the NHS, Facebook, Three mobile and Vodafone. Dermot specialises in Test Automation solutions. Having worked in the software quality assurance industry for over four years, he has worked on multitude of projects for a range of global clients. Dermot is currently working with a client in the public sector, leading performance / non-functional testing on their systems hosted on the cloud.

Leona McGirr

Leona has been supporting the fight against Covid-19 through her work with the company Fusion Antibodies. Leona joined Fusion Antibodies as a KTP Associate from Queen’s and was offered a permanent position at the end of the project. She has since been promoted to Team leader within the company.

Leona says: “The skill that has benefitted me most in my career is being able to solve problems and remain optimistic.”

She has this advice for graduates interested in research: “You don’t need to have everything figured out, your skills are transferrable and you will be able to work on loads of different research projects.”

Graham Ryan

Graham is UK&I Strategic Resourcing Manager at Version 1, he is an experienced Strategic Resourcing Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. He is skilled in Banking, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Technical Recruiting, Interpersonal Skills, and Management.

Conor Houston

Meet Queen’s Law Graduate Conor Houston, Director at Houston Solutions Ltd. He delivers an innovative “Brexit Advisory Service” to leading companies across the UK and Ireland.

He also acts as Head of Engagement for Digital DNA – the largest tech & digital conference in Northern Ireland – and is Governor of The Irish Times Trust. He is the current Chair of The Ireland Fund Young Leaders Belfast and Director of ShoutOut an LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination charity.

A former solicitor, Conor was part of the official NI delegation to the White House in March 2017 to promote economic and cultural relations between the island of Ireland and the United States. In October 2017, he joined two Nobel Peace Prize winners on stage to address the One Young World Summit in Bogota, Colombia on the theme: “It’s all about relationships.”

Conor says: “Queen’s is a passport to access opportunities. I’m extremely proud of the many hats and roles I’ve had in my career.

“The biggest challenge for this generation is how we engage with the people we disagree with. When you are passionate about change and you encounter the resistance to that. The challenge for all of us is -what can we do to engage people that we disagree with? We don’t have to agree but being disagreeable is a choice.”

Join Conor 23 July at 3pm on @QUBCareers Instagram.