Staff Spotlight: Derv Heaney

Mentor and Communications Director at Corkscrew
A designer/maker from Ireland, Derv has been working in startups for 10 years alongside her education in art and design. She has helped launch new inventions, developed new materials and successfully launched her own startup venture after completing the Corkscrew Program as a participant in 2014. In March this year, she came on board as a mentor and communications director.

What position do you hold at Corkscrew StartUp School? What has been your career path so far?

A women standing in front of a wall

I'm a mentor on the UK program and I look after our communications and marketing. I studied design in London at Goldsmiths and the
Royal College of Art. During that time, I worked for lots of small art and design companies alongside my studies which gave me a great insight into startup life.

I realised that working in large organisations wasn't for me, and that the challenge of being part of small creative teams was much more exciting. I've worked in startups all over the U.K and Ireland since then in different roles- from experimenting with new materials, to journalism, to illustration and animation.

In 2014, I came to Corkscrew with an idea. I learned more in four weeks with Neil and Tom than I had in the last 12 months of my formal education! Armed with new knowledge and excitement, I launched my startup in Dublin afterwards. It was the most thrilling adventure of my professional life.

Did YOU intern abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Yes! I interned in the USA and The Netherlands. I've always been interested in broadening my horizons and wanted to experience working life in other countries. My most memorable internship was in Amsterdam with a design hero of mine. I was inspired by his work and his disregard for the rules!

A group of young students gathered together in front of a tree

At the time I was unsure of which direction I wanted to go in after my studies, and this guy seemed to have made his own way in life, so I thought he'd be a good person to learn from. I'm so glad I did it, as it turned out to be 6 months of fun, hard work, creativity, chaos and laughter.

I was lucky to have a great mentor who gave me interesting work that challenged me, I came back with lots of new skills. I learned so much about myself and met some incredible people. This is one of the reasons I love working at Corkscrew - we offer that same great experience to the current generation of interns.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

When I came to Corkscrew as a program participant, I realised that Neil and Tom had identified an really unique approach to learning and self-development through business startup. Without having experience in business, it was possible to take a small idea and turn it into a viable, real-life startup proposition in 4 weeks.

A group of people posing for a picture

More importantly, that process enhanced creativity, problem solving skills, confidence, and for me, my outlook on my professional life completely changed. I had been in formal education for years before that, and had never had such an intense period of learning and fun at the same time.

Now as a member of the team, I am more aware than ever how much importance we place on real learning and development during our internships - the Hybrid Internship is a perfect example of that. Corkscrew are solving the age-old problem of the over-worked, under-valued intern, which is a brilliant thing to be part of.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the Corkscrew StartUp School team.

All the time! My job is awesome - full of memorable and meaningful experiences. One moment that always stands out for me is towards the end of the program- the run up to pitch night.

I can see how far the participants have come on their journeys - whether its a notable difference in confidence, or a new found presentation skill, or the enthusiasm with which they talk about their idea. We all rally together for the final few hours and the energy levels are high - it's infectious!

A group of people posing together for a picture

That evening, we see the participants present their startup idea to the public and other business professionals. This is always a proud moment - it takes courage and perhaps it's extra special for me because I've been in their shoes. I also know how incredible it feels afterwards, so the afterparty is another big highlight!