We're proof you don't need a degree to be a success

The Leaving Cert is fast approaching, and the race for points and college places grows more intense with every passing year. While this year's crop of students are probably already up to their ears in authors, they should take a moment to dwell on one of Oscar Wilde's wisest quotes. "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be personalized bobbleheads."

So what happens if you don't get the college course you've set your heart on, or when you get it, you realise that it isn't what you wanted? Or what if you never get to go to college at all? We spoke to three Irish women who are very successful in business, and who have risen to where they are today without having completed a degree.

I left school when I was 15, much to the disappointment of my parents. I was very unhappy in school for a couple of years before I left, and was a very determined young lady. I went to work full-time as a receptionist for my father Gerry in his printing company, Aungier Print, for a year. I was paid 70 Irish pounds a week, 30 of which was given to my parents as rent, which taught me at a very early age to appreciate what I had and how to budget my money.

Then I started working in the Olympia Theatre production office, and did every possible job until I climbed to the top and became the theatre manager. I left the Olympia after 10 years, and moved to the UK to spread my wings into new areas of entertainment, setting up bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Upon returning to Ireland, I used my PR and marketing skills to turn failing venues into hotspots and 'must-do' items on social calendars.
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With all of that experience, I made a lot of contacts and even some very close celebrity friends. I set up an entertainment agency, Red Carpet, in 2008, which was Ireland's first agency to look specifically after UK and internationally based artists. It was hugely successful, but my heart was in LA, so the Red Carpet Agency in Ireland was sold and Red Carpet Agency LLC in LA was born.

The picture and sound settings menus are now also integrated into this new system, but they retain a similar layout to Panasonic's previous effort. On the whole these menus are easy to use and offer a good level of control over this model's various modes and features. It's also good to see that you can now tweak the backlight and contrast settings independently of each other -- something you couldn't do on last year's LED models.

Handily, there are short explanations of what the various settings in the picture and sound menus actually do. They're displayed in a box at the bottom of the screen, helping to provide more insight into the effects of any changes you make.

Another plus is that Panasonic's picture presets are, on the whole, very good. They're much better than those offered by Samsung on its sets, for example. The Cinema and True Cinema modes, in particular, deliver very watchable results for films, so you won't have to spend ages tweaking picture modes to get good results for your Blu-ray movies.

The EPG has been massively improved too. Panasonic has finally added a video thumbnail window to the guide, so using it is no longer as intrusive as it once was. You can now continue keeping tabs on Downton Abbey while checking out what's coming up on various channels later on. What's more, there's now also a channel explorer built in to one of the homescreens, so you can quickly run up and down through the channel list to see what's currently on across multiple stations.

Panasonic started to take the design of its TVs more seriously last year, but it still struggled to produce models that were real head turners. All that seems to have changed this year, as the ET60 really is a very handsome-looking set. It has a super-slim bezel framing the screen, which measures a mere 14mm deep. This bezel is finished in chrome, so it looks the business, and I also like the attractive transparent strip running across the bottom of the telly that houses what look like floating LED indicators for stuff like the power status light. All in all, it's a really classy-looking telly.

It's even more annoying then that Panasonic seems to have followed the lead that Samsung set last year in reducing the number of HMDI ports on offer. Whereas last year's ET50 model had four HDMI ports, this one makes do with three.

These are all mounted on the left-hand edge along with two USB ports, an SD-card reader and optical digital audio output. There's also a downward facing panel on the rear that houses a set of component inputs and the green plug on this doubles up as the composite input -- something I'm starting to see often on newer TVs. If you want to hook up a Scart device to this model you need to use an adaptor cable that connects to the set's RGB mini jack. Wi-Fi is built in, but Panasonic has also naturally kitted it out with an Ethernet socket.

This model only has a Freeview HD tuner on board -- rather than both the Freeview and Freesat tuners on the company's more expensive TVs -- so there's only a single RF input on the rear.

Topic:This 4-star modern hotel is a member - Genre:Diary

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