Alex Hamilton15 March 2021
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Ballsbridge, literally across the road from St. Conleth’s., when it was very much smaller than today. My family had moved there from Monkstown in the mid 1980s, and I arrived on the scene in 1988. My earliest memories are of playing in Herbert Park with my brothers, Nicholas and Ollie, who also went to Conleth’s.
How did you come to be at St. Conleth’s?
Alas, I should admit that Conleth’s was not my first love, for I went to Mount Anville, when it was mixed!. I spent five very happy years there, but it was girls only from 3rd Form onwards, so I joined Conleth’s in a class of only four in 1996. We were such a small class that we were combined with 4th Form and taught by Mr Carey, but we did have some specific 3rd Form classes in a very small room in Mr & Mrs Kelleher’s house on the top floor.
Favourite or least favourite subject in school.
My favourites subjects were probably French and Latin. I loved languages, understanding how they worked, and being able to speak French during much later years in Haiti was a source of pride. I’m grateful to Ann Sheppard and Françoise Brotelande for instilling in me a love of the language. I’ll never forget Peter Gallagher’s Latin classes in 1st Year; I have unfortunately forgotten the 1st Declension (mensa mensa…?) but it infused in me a curiosity about Roman history and culture, and I went on to study Latin at Leaving Cert level.
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s.
Perhaps it’s a cliché, but I have many happy memories of Conleth’s. I am particularly fond of 6th Form with Pat Murphy. He was a disciplinarian, but he gave so much to his teaching, and even then as young boys we were able to appreciate that. Every class with Peter Gallagher was like a performance, and always engaging; “This is not Butlins by the sea”. I remember the various plays, school trips to Rome, castle competitions in 1st Year, and the debates and school concerts in later years. I also loved 5th Form and later Leaving Cert English with Mr Latvis, where vigorous debates about American foreign policy were interspersed with studying On The Waterfront and A View from the Bridge.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field?
Well, I am not sure that I have a chosen field yet, being 32 and still not knowing what I really want to do in life but somehow I’ve found myself in business over the past 10 years. I remember a time when all I wanted to do was to have my own company but I am not sure where this bug comes from; perhaps it’s about independence and wanting control over my work and time.
At what age did you know you wanted to work in your chosen field?
In Transition Year, I did a mini company with my two friends, Mark Ennis and Mark Doherty, and we made a small fortune selling footballs. We would buy them from O’Neill’s wholesale for €5, and then sell them for double or triple, going door-to-door in our local areas. I think that gave me the bug for wanting to do my own thing.
Tell us about your education/career path.
I studied Business & Economics in Trinity College, and I also spent on year studying at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I enjoyed my time at university but I am certainly not an academic. After university, I did charity work in Kenya for half a year, and then joined a start-up in Dublin, which went on to become Web Summit. I then moved to the Caribbean to live in Haiti for a few years, working for the telecoms company Digicel. I worked there a few years after the devastating earthquake in 2010, and it was a very humbling experience. Later, I came back to Europe where I started an online training company with a friend. I am currently living in London, but almost always contemplating coming back to Ireland.
Proudest achievement to date.
I am proud of my work in Kenya, which I’ve continued over the past 10 years. I am also glad that I have spent time living in quite a few different countries since leaving school, as I always wanted to see the world, and experience different cultures. The challenge of building and managing a company from scratch was huge, and I am glad that I decided to do it.
Aspirations for the future.
I have recently taken a break from work, having sold my company last year, and I have no idea what I’ll do next. I have no commitments, and while I always thought that I would relish this, I am somewhat daunted by the extent of the “freedom” I now experience. I’m trying to work out what is important to me, as I look ahead to the future. Of course, one day I’d like to have a family, and I think I’d like to live close to home.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/general advice.
I find this the hardest question, as I don’t feel that I am old enough to be giving out any wise advice but I’ll give it a try.
The few regrets I have are mainly from not doing things, or not having the courage to take a risk. It’s the oldest cliché but life is too short, and there’s no point worrying about what others think of your choices, as long as you’re sure of what you’re doing.
I also think that life can be so busy these days, so it’s important to have a simple practice of quiet, be it meditation, a retreat, or hobbies.