Dominic McCanny is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and Psychometric Testing Expert at Testing Talent in Belfast. Here, he reveals his journey from the insurance industry to occupational psychology, and reveals his greatest challenges as well as his enthusiasm for keeping chickens.

What inspired you to train in your field and set up your practice?

I had previously worked in insurance for 21 years and decided to embark on a career that would allow me to work with people in a professional manner.  I studied Psychology at Queens University Belfast qualifying with a 2:1 in Psychology with Honours and realized that I had a passion for people in work.  I continued my studies gaining my Masters in Occupational Psychology.  I then embarked on a further period of study (3 years part-time) to become qualified.  I now am in a unique field of assessing individuals in the workplace as well as assisting people develop and manage their careers.

What makes your you/your work special and where are you based?

Although we are based in Northern Ireland, with modern computer systems we can quite literally assess people anywhere in the world and have clients as far away as Australia.  The days of paper and pencil testing are almost over.  When you work as a psychologist for some reason people think that you can somehow read their mind.  I can’t figure that out, as that is simply not possible.  What I do is to assess people with the use of scientifically reliable and valid assessments.  I then must decide as to whether they will be suitable for a job role.  In many cases I have to say that they do not have the skills required at this time.  On other occasions, I can identify hidden abilities for individuals and guide them often into new careers; which is particularly rewarding.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?

“If it’s going to be a failure – make it a fast failure.”  In other words, don’t be afraid to try new ideas but if they are not working out don’t waste any time on them.

What has been your greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge was to sell a very successful insurance business with two young children and decide to go to university with no idea where the journey was going to take me.  At an age of 38, the first semester in university was to say the least daunting.  I did well in my psychology examinations and from that point on, psychology has been a passion of mine.  Now working in the area as a Chartered Psychologist, even my children state that I am a much changed and better individual.  Education does broaden the mind but being motivated to continually learn is something we can all do.

How do you switch off?

I have very little trouble in being able to switch off, even when I work 50 or 60 hours per week.  I now live in the countryside having been a ‘townie’ for 43 years.  I am pretty good vegetable gardener and this year am growing potatoes, onions, radishes, lettuce, carrots, parsnips, spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, courgettis, cucumbers, Mamade tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, blueberries, redberries, blackcurrants and last year started to develop an orchard.  In addition, I also have six hens and a rooster.  I also bake around 8 Christmas cakes for close friends and Christmas puddings.  So, I have no difficulty diverting myself away from work.

Where do you go on holiday?

I like Spain so my last two holidays were to Spain.  This year though closer to home – Wexford in the Republic of Ireland.  It’s about 30 years since I was last there so looking forward to it.

What lesson do you wish you had learnt at school?

As in teaching lesson that would be Spanish.  A lovely language.  As in the generic sense, my grandmother always said, “Education is easy carried”.  Wise words.  So, I wish I had not wasted my time in school.  But, I have no regrets.

What app/website/twitter account (other than your own!) would you recommend?

Tinytake which is free software.  I have only just come across this and it allows you to capture a video of your computer screen so it will be great to be able to include videos on the types of assessments that I carry out.  It also looks professional and I will be able to share my videos across all the social platforms.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

It is one of my ambitions to work for 50 years.  In five years’ time, I will have completed 49 years.  So, in 6 years’ time I may be thinking of taking it a little easier.  But, maybe only a 4-day week to start off with!  A bad day for me would be lying in hospital with tubes coming out of me – so I’m really delighted to be fit and healthy and to cope with the demands that being self-employed brings.