The lab was established with philanthropic support from Digicel, to honour business leader and DCU alumnus Colm Delves who made a long lasting contribution to the university through support for the DCU Access Programme and the establishment of the Digicel Summer Internship Programme.
The creative learning space is the first of its kind in Ireland and will offer over 2,000 DCU Business School students an opportunity to learn and develop leadership skills each year by using cutting edge virtual reality and telepresence technologies. Over 1,000 post-primary school students will also benefit through an outreach programme.
Wearing advanced VR headsets and hand controllers, students will be immersed in VR-enabled simulations to help them better understand concepts by actually living them out. Students will apply theory to practice in areas such as interview preparation, public speaking, leadership communication skills and diverse and inclusive decision making. Students can also participate remotely in workshops using telepresence robots.
Professors will be able to develop customised experiences for their students, such as bringing students to places in the developing world so they can become more globally aware leaders by understanding challenges associated with business development in unfamiliar countries, or allowing students practice ethical decision-making and experience outcomes based on the decisions they choose to make.
The lab has been established as part of The Colm Delves Leadership Fund which will also support an annual memorial scholarship in honour of Colm to support exceptional students who need financial support to pursue postgraduate study in DCU Business School. Colm was passionate about helping others develop and grow and the scholarship is a testament to this commitment to support people to reach their full potential.
Speaking at the launch, Professor Daire Keogh, DCU President, said:
“At DCU, we were honoured to count an outstanding leader like Colm Delves amongst our alumni community. As a highly respected and successful business leader, he was the ultimate example of the excellence, integrity and leadership skills which we seek to instill in our students.
As a proud DCU graduate, Colm remained a true friend to the university throughout his life and we hope to honour his memory today with these initiatives which will contribute to DCU Business School’s ongoing efforts to develop graduates who are equipped to bring sustainable value to their organisations and to society at large, to confidently manage and lead in environments that are not predictable, and who are prepared for diverse, dynamic career paths over their lifetimes.”
Digicel Chairman and founder, Denis O’Brien, said;
“As a proud DCU alumnus, Colm Delves went on to forge a highly successful business career at a very senior level culminating in his leadership of Digicel Group as our group Chief Executive.
Through his vision and drive, he helped to expand Digicel to 32 markets across the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific.
As driven and focused as Colm was as a business leader, what marked him out in particular as an exceptional individual was his equal passion for giving back, particularly in poorer countries, and for identifying and nurturing young talent..
We think of Colm every day and he is missed by all of us who held him dear. This leadership lab stands as a proud testament to everything he achieved and everything he stood for.”
Speaking about the Colm Delves Leadership Lab and how it will impact students, Professor Colm O’Gorman, Executive Dean of the DCU Business School, said:
“DCU Business school has long supported the value of experiential learning as a way to engage students and help them better understand certain concepts by actually living them out and providing opportunities to apply theory to practice.
Virtual reality technology is being increasingly used by leading schools across the globe to aid in student learning development and DCU Business School is proud to be leading the charge in Ireland. The initiative demonstrates our commitment to nurturing future leaders, providing students and graduates with the skills they need for the future and enhancing their employability.”
Recipient of the Colm Delves Memorial Scholarship 2021
The event also celebrated Anas Ouadina as recipient of the inaugural Colm Delves Memorial Scholarship, personally selected by Professor Colm O’Gorman.
Originally from Morocco, Anas moved to Dublin with his family when he was six months old and recently graduated from DCU having studied Economics, Politics and Law, demonstrating academic excellence, drive and ability throughout. This scholarship will support Anas as he continues with a Masters in Finance at DCU this year.