Emer McPolin

Year Graduated; 1999

Emer McPolin is a senior designer UX&D for the BBC Academy, as well as a creative facilitator for the BBC. She has worked on many notable projects and websites including the College of Production site, the College of Journalism site and across all BBC online training courses. Previous to the BBC Emer worked in Tokyo as a creative manager.



When I was doing my Leaving Cert, I often imagined where I would be 15 years from that point. This served two purposes. It allowed me to briefly escape the then stress of an exam situation but also, maybe without my realising it, solidified an ambition in my mind. Back then, standing outside the exam hall with nothing but a Bic biro and a Hail Mary, I could never have imagined that 15 years later I would be in London working as a Senior Designer for the BBC.

My role here is varied, covering many areas from branding and user experience to e-learning design with the added advantage of getting to see first-hand how the BBC creates the world renowned content for which it is known.

My journey started of course after the Leaving Cert whereupon I undertook a PLC in Ballyfermot SC or ‘Ballier!’ as it was affectionately known. It was there that I assembled a portfolio, entered the CAO/CAS machine and was awarded a place in Athlone IT.

Dublin to Athlone is a bit of a pace change for any student but as it turned out it was maybe the best move I ever decided to make. My three years in Athlone on the Diploma in Design (Communications) course was, without a doubt, the hardest I ever worked, and I absolutely stand by that.

At the time it seemed that everyday had a deadline and every penny I had was spent on Spray Mount, however in hindsight I realise how utterly lucky I was to have been on this course with the classmates I was with, being taught by the tutors I had who never once allowed standards to drop and always pushed me to reach my full potential.

The course in Athlone IT gave me the skills necessary to then apply and complete my undergraduate degree at the University of Ulster in Graphic Product & Interactive Design from which I graduated with first class honours. Due to this I was awarded ESF funding to undertake an MSc in Informatics (Computing & Design) which was another year of very hard but enjoyable work.

Upon completion of this, I made the decision to move to Tokyo and establish a design career there. If ever there was a pace change, that was it, however my experience from Athlone IT and UU equipped me with the necessary skills and qualifications to make this move a natural next step. I was also able to bring something fresh and new to the Tokyo design community.

I think my education and the focus it gave me along with my experience of working and living in Japan made the move back to Europe to further my career closer to home a comfortable challenge.

I successfully applied for a Graphic Designer position at the BBC, beating 380 other applicants to the punch and I have been here since with an upward step to Senior Designer in 2010.

I’ve had an interesting, varied career which would not have been possible without the foundation of my training at Athlone IT.


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