UCD Students’ Union Events & Marketing Manager Paul Kilgallon has left his role after nearly ten years of association with the Union. Kilgallon came to UCD in 2005 to study Economics and History and says that the “vibrant and buzzing” nature of the college led him to get involved with the SU and events management and logistics.
Speaking of his undergraduate years, Kilgallon says “it was a different time back then, the student bar was very much the hub of social activity in south Dublin. It was amazing.”
“I started DJing when I was in fourth year in school, and when I came to college I knew I wanted to DJ and play at the social events. I worked really hard to achieve that and when I was in second year, the Entertainments Officer Holly Irvine gave me the opportunity to DJ for Ents and that’s where it started, and I never looked back.”
“The first gig I ever worked on was Aslan in the student bar and it just manifested itself from there.”
“My first role within the union was part of the Ents crew and I was hooked from then.” Kilgallon says. “Obviously I was working on UCD Balls and stuff like that, I was just a general volunteer first and foremost, but my first job with the Union was in September 2010. I was hired as Events and Logistics Coordinator, and that role was basically to support the Ents Officer.”
Kilgallon is credited as being the driving force behind large and popular events in UCD, having hosted acts such as Diplo, Deadmau5, Calvin Harris, and Gavin James at UCD and student events. However, Kilgallon describes the UCDSU staff as being the “unsung heroes” of the Union.
“The sabbatical officers work flat out, and I’d never question their work ethic. They’re brilliant, but the staff do a really great job and it’s the team that complements each other that makes this place so great.”
Kilgallon plans to continue working on The Ball in the years to come, and has also accepted a position with an events marketing company in Dublin, who will help him develop his own business ideas around “what I do best: student events and marketing.”
When asked about the 2012 audit report, the subsequent severe debt problems of the Students’ Union, and whether sabbatical officers or Union team members suspected financial mismanagement, Kilgallon replied “Yes.”
“Everyone internally knew that it wasn’t being managed properly. Stuff happened that shouldn’t have happened in a professional organization. That was the problem, it wasn’t a professional organization.”
“It was a combination of friends working towards the same goal rather than anything official. And the problem was that the person in charge wasn’t involved enough on a day-to-day basis down here and was overly concerned about finances, but wasn’t managing the finances properly.”
In response to the financial difficulties, the union imposed severe cutbacks. “People in the commercial sector were suffering.” Kilgallon explains. “We had to close the photo-copy bureau… two people lost their jobs… We had to close the bar, and countless people lost their jobs.”
However, the veteran Union member stated that “the Union is much stronger for it now and I think it’s very much learned from its mistakes.” He expressed full confidence in the new Chief Operating Officer, Fiona Hammond. “She’ll steer it in the right way.”
Referring to the recent widely-covered referendum on the impeachment of former-UCDSU President Katie Ascough, Kilgallon states that there has been “one political scandal too many.”
“I would do this job forever, [but] when you add the politics that the University environment brings, it makes the job very difficult. It makes any job in here very difficult, and to be [employed by the Union] for seven years, putting up with that politics has aged me dramatically. Maybe not physically, but mentally.”
“Everyone has an agenda… Unfortunately I just had to draw a line in the sand.”
Kilgallon says that it was a tough decision to leave the SU as he has spent “seven years building the brand… I inherited it and there’s an awful lot of history behind it.”
“I set a certain standard that I took very much from my predecessors, and I hope that standard would continue. We have a history of getting some amazing acts through the doors of UCD and that’s very much through hard work.”
Paul Kilgallon left UCDSU on Friday, October 27th.