St. Mary’s Secondary School wins the AIB Build A Bank Challenge

St Mary’s Secondary School, Mallow, students Katie O’Callaghan, Jessica Creedon and Caoimhe O’Reilly pictured taking part in the final of the AIB Build a Bank Challenge which was held online this year. At the end of the event, St Mary’s was named national winner, beating 69 other schools.

Six students from St. Mary’s Secondary School, Mallow, Cork have been awarded first place in the 18th ‘AIB Build A Bank Challenge’, one of the longest-running schools programmes for Transition and 5th Year students across Ireland. Over 70 schools from across Ireland took part in the virtual final which was held through video confe-rencing, with each team presenting their project to a panel of judges. St Mary’s ‘Buzzy Bank’ was run by Manager Emily Murphy, Chief Operating Officer Jessica Creedon, Financial Controller Katie O’Callaghan, Marketing Manager Louise O’Riordan, Human Relations Manager Caoimhe O’Reilly, and Digital Officer Ellen Burke. On Friday last, Caoimhe, Katie and Jessica represented their team on a digital stage and presented in front of a panel of expert judges followed by a very challenging Q&A session. The dedication and consistent hard work of the girls throughout the year well and truly paid off as they were announced first place winners. Prizes included €5,000 for their school and €250 vouchers for each student. Congratulation to the girls, and their teacher and mentor Ms. Aine Cotter for her leadership of the Buzzy Bank team on such a magnificent achievement.
The ‘Buzzy Bank’ got off to a very successful start in January with a fun-filled launch day of song and dance in the Aemilian Theatre. The hype continued throughout the year as the girls discovered fresh and exciting ways to encourage their customers to ‘save their money as bees save their honey’. The girls were kept very busy, opening and running their bank every Wednesday at lunchtime, accompanied by Leanne Noonan, Student Officer, AIB Mallow. They came up with many ways to support members of their community such as running an ‘Internet Banking Workshop’ at the weekly Silver Surfers programme, and organising a pilates class for senior citizens. Fitting with their theme, the students chose ‘BUMBLEance’ as their charity and ran a number of successful fundraisers within the school to raise money for them.
The AIB Build a Bank Challenge is a year-long programme for Transition and 5th Year students, giving them the opportunity to set up and run an operational bank within their school while exploring innovation, creativity and business management. The programme also encourages students to give back to their school and community, with participating teams engaging with their local communities and a variety of charities.
Normally, the year-long programme culminates at a National Final in Dublin where students present their projects to the judging panel before the winners are announced at a prizegiving ceremony. Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, it was not possible this year, so AIB transformed the physical event into a web-based experience, allowing the students to present their Build A Bank projects through video confe-rencing.
Mark Doyle, Chief Marketing Officer, AIB said, “Since the AIB Build A Bank Challenge was introduced in 2002, it has continued to steadily grow and evolve as a programme which engages with thousands of students across Ireland. We are of course disappointed that we couldn’t host the annual final in Dublin this year. However, we were delighted to progress with digital presentations and judging, and still recognise the incredible amount of work that has gone in to each project. Every year we are amazed by the creativity and hard work demonstrated by all the students, and this year has been no exception.”
The AIB Build A Bank Challenge runs throughout the full curriculum year and enables its participants to develop business manag-ement tools, using their creativity and innovation in establishing their bank.  An extremely popular programme with both teachers and students, over 18,000 students have taken part in the AIB Build A Bank Challenge since it started in 2002. For more details, please visit