This is a guest post by Mary-Kate Portley, she is a management consulting analyst at a global consulting firm. She is a graduate of Law & French from UCC and is currently Immediate Past President and Legal Counsel of Junior Chamber International (JCI) Cork, and Local President of JCI Fingal in Dublin. She was awarded Most Outstanding President in Ireland 2015 for her contribution to the Cork community and local businesses.

Junior Chamber International (JCI) Ireland was founded in Cork almost 60 years ago. Today, JCI Ireland is present in Cork, Dublin city centre, Dublin Southside, Dublin Fingal, Mayo, Galway, Limerick, Donegal and Monaghan.  The organisation is a network of young professionals, active citizens and community leaders who volunteer their time to make a positive impact in their local community. It is a development organsiation, where people between 18-40 come together to develop themselves, their skills, their network and their community.

There next event JCI Ireland will kick off for 2016 on January 16th and 17th in the Grand Hotel Malahide – tickets are available here.

In this post Mary-Kate explains why she is indebted to JCI for helping her with her career and why it can help you!

JCI Cork Monthly Meeting


I was standing beside one of the most influential and powerful people on the planet. I think that was the exact moment I relaised I was part of something big. I looked up, smiled, and shook the hand of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

My name is Mary-Kate Portley, I joined JCI Cork in 2014 and was elected Local President in 2015. It has been an unbelievable year, and I was delighted to have been invited to share some of my JCI highlights with Eventbrite!

100 years ago Junior Chamber International (JCI), a not-for-profit NGO, was founded in St. Louis, USA. It has grown to over 200,000 members across more than 135 countries. JCI is a voluntary organisation which provides development opportunities for young people in their 20’s and 30’s. The organisation works with all sectors of society: Businesses, local communities and Government.

As cliché as it may sound – my favourite thing about the organisation has to be the amazing people I have met on my JCI journey! Working in partnership with so many groups and organisations has created new connections and friends in countries near and far, as well as allowing me to give back to my local community. One thing’s for sure – there is no shortage of young people around Ireland eager to get involved!

I am a true believer that great things happen when the right people come together, and JCI has proved that to me time and time again – whether it is through running local awards to recognise friendly businesses and the outstanding young people in our community, or going out to the streets of the city and asking citizens what issues they would like to see solved. I know that gathering like-minded people together once a month can result in really positive changes to our communities, countries and continents.


What originally drew me to JCI was their international network. I was very happy to experience this first hand when I travelled to European Conference in Istanbul last summer to represent Ireland in the Public Speaking Championships. Istanbul hosted over 1,000 JCI members from across the continent, coming together to learn more about new cultures, share community projects and local solutions and…., let’s be honest, party!

Being part of JCI has opened many doors for me – an absolute stand out moment was meeting the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals alongside Minister Sean Sherlock and members of youth organisations across Ireland. I’ve met business people, entrepreneurs, active citizens and young leaders who shared their stories, experiences and careers with me. I studied Law at University, but after seeing the world through JCI I ultimately changed my career track to focus on international business.

I started in Accenture’s consulting group a few months ago, and moving to Dublin was made much easier by being part of JCI as I knew I would have a network of people there in JCI branches to help me settle into the Big Smoke. In fact, I know that almost anywhere in the world I travel there will be a local JCI branch I can contact!

JCI Ireland in Istanbul


They say that the richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work – JCI has allowed me to build a global network of young active citizens and leaders that counts JFK, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Kofi Annan among its past members. It has opened doors to dream jobs, new friends, international travel and unlimited possibilities for the future. Your network is indeed your net worth, and my JCI network is worth its weight in gold!


Check out to find out if there is a JCI branch in your area, or better yet – why not start one up?





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