Eleanor Meritt is a Senior Vice President at Oracle in Silicon Valley. She completed her undergraduate degree in Computer Applications at DCU in 1990 and began working with Oracle as a Software Developer in the same year. In 2021, America’s National Diversity Council recognised Eleanor as one of America’s Most Powerful Women in Technology. She shares why supporting DCU is important to her.
I was in Computer Applications from 1986 to 1990. The college was very small when I joined, I think there were only 2,000 people studying here. DCU actually became a university while I was there. I remember we had a great party that night!
We used to chat at the restaurant outside the Henry Grattan for hours, and even the computer labs were as much a social activity as they were work. We had the Freshers Balls too; those were so much fun. I was either Secretary or Treasurer of the Computing Society, I was just reminiscing about that with my husband and kids. And the Debate Society was just stand-up comedy, I used to love going to their events and watching these incredibly witty and intelligent people, like Ardal O’Hanlan.
“Those were some of the best years of my life, and I met some great people. Even then, DCU really pioneered this technological university idea. It got students ready for the real world and prepared us for jobs.
I’ve been at Oracle in Silicon Valley since 1995. I’m Senior Vice President and I have a team of 1,600 people spread across the world. I hold responsibility for Identity Management product development, customer support in database and middleware, and site reliability engineering in middleware.
I have worked in Oracle since I first graduated from DCU. Oracle were setting up in Ireland at the time, so I made sure to apply – but for whatever reason they sent me to Germany. I worked in Software Development there for five years, and I had to learn how to advocate for myself in a new environment with a different language. That experience set me up to be open-minded and a bit of an explorer. After five years in Germany, I wanted to go to Silicon Valley, and I found great opportunities here.
There was always this sense of ambition and a forward-looking attitude about DCU. We’re looking forward to what’s going to be important in the future and preparing our graduates for that. Computer Applications was not as popular as it is today when I was at DCU, but even at the time our lecturers made it clear that this technology would be pivotal. They taught us not just how to be good software developers, but how to see the bigger picture. Our course covered not just computing but also areas of business such as management, marketing, and how to motivate and work with people. Everything I learned in Computer Applications has stayed with me over my career.
I went to a few alumni reunions in San Francisco, and I got to know people there. I heard about all these great things that were happening in DCU, and I saw how the university had expanded and was taking the lead in education. DCU is becoming a world-class university, and it’s on the path to continue to be very sought after.
“I’ve always had a strong feeling of belonging with DCU. Whatever contribution I can make to help students who may not be in the same position as me, or to fund projects that make a difference, I want to do that.
I’ve built a good career now, and I’m doing well. I think it’s important to give back when you can, and I feel a bond with the university. DCU is growing and has all this potential, so I’m happy to give back. I really want to get back and see DCU again – I haven’t been on campus since my sister was there in the early nineties.
You’re going to a great university, so you’ve already got a great start. Enjoy your time there. It’s a time for learning, both on the academic and the social side. When you go out to get a job, you will have a great foundation, because a background at DCU positions you very well. Seize opportunities, keep your eyes open, and sign up for the things that other people don’t want to do.