Susann Sullivan

The process itself was straightforward. The support and guidance has been fantastic.

Susann Sullivan, RPL Learner at Dundalk Institute of Technology

Before coming to third-level, I was an entrepreneur. I was the Founder and Managing Director of a food manufacturing company called The Pantryist. I had scaled the company from ideation stage, which gained significant traction with some of Ireland's leading retailers. The company saw huge success and was a finalist for Best Early stage startup in the National Startup Awards in 2022. It was amazing seeing the company grow to nationwide distribution with LIDL as part of their Kickstart Supplier Programme run in conjunction with Bord Bia.

I took the decision to close the company in December 2022 and I found myself unemployed for the first time in 20 years. I knew I wanted to work in some aspect of business and although I had all the self-taught, learned experience from running my own company, I found most HR departments looked for a degree in business or a business related subject as minimum criteria. All of the experience in the world meant nothing without the degree so I decided to go back to education.

I began to research business related courses. Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) had the perfect part-time solution which was very practical. 

I found out about RPL when looking at past DkIT student testimonials online. One student had mentioned they applied through an RPL which took into account their previous experience and I thought this is perfect, finally my experience could count towards something. Although I started The Pantryist with no business qualifications I had upskilled significantly throughout the growing of the company, acquiring numerous certificates in relevant business areas.

I researched the RPL process and found lots of information on the DkIT website. I contacted the RPL office and the RPL Project Lead at DkIT came back to me straight away. He was just fantastic, he guided me through the entire application process, was extremely helpful, made introductions to the Head of Departments and checked in with me throughout the process.

Susann Sullivan RPL Learner
Susann Sullivan, RPL Learner studying a Bachelor (Hons) of Business Studies at Dundalk Institute of Technology

The RPL process itself was straightforward. Everyone has been very welcoming. We are all from different walks of life, looking for different outcomes from the course. It’s a great way to learn more about different industries and perspectives on industry related topics and a great way to network.

RPL will enable me to obtain the qualification quicker by recognising of my prior learning. I am not in a position to dedicate 3 years full-time to study. I wanted to obtain the degree as quickly as I could so I could enhance my career options.

The course has further enhanced my commercial acumen and exposed me to a wealth of industry knowledge. In semester one we studied Global Sales Strategies and within 8 weeks of commencing the course I started a new role as a Business Development Manager. The course material on developing sales pipelines and territory management matched with my previous experience in sales, customer acquisition and business development gave me the confidence to apply for the position and landed me the job.

While a fundamental principle of RPL is that the learner should not have to relearn something they already know. I would suggest looking at the learning objectives of the modules. You may feel you are proficient in a particular area, however in my experience there is a wealth of knowledge to be acquired and if developing your career is your end goal, the skills you can develop and knowledge you can enhance through partaking in the modules can be hugely beneficial. For those considering RPL, I would suggest researching the course, making sure the hours suit your schedule and lifestyle. Contact the relevant RPL Project Lead to discuss your options and just commit to it.

If it’s something you really want to do, Just go for it!