Tell us about your career path to date
When I left school I didn’t go to university straight away and suffered the consequences, going in and out of various jobs that I didn’t really feel connected to or that I had a purpose in.
Then, when I was 32 I started a degree in sports management at UCD and that was a real turning point for me. Straight after graduating in 2008, I got a job with World Rugby as a project manager on the Rugby World Cup tournament and I’ve been here ever since.
My role has changed and grown and developed a lot over the last 12 years but I’m still involved with the Rugby World Cup and the job continues to fascinate and interest me so I’m very lucky in that regard.
What attracted you to the MSc in Business (Leadership and Management Practice)?
Rugby can be quite a male-dominated environment and although I loved my work, I felt I wasn’t progressing fast enough and thought some more education would give me that extra edge. I had always thought about doing a master’s degree but just wasn’t sure about the commitment and the timeframe involved.
I came across Smurfit’s MSc pathway and it seemed to be a very manageable way of getting a master’s. I thought that if I did one diploma and decided I couldn’t continue after a year, at least I’d have some further education and a qualification. And, if I wanted to continue, I’d be a third of the way to the master’s.
So, my mindset from the start was to just see how it goes.
What was your experience of doing the pathway?
From day one I absolutely loved it. It was so enriching and gave me that growth and development within myself that I wasn’t getting in my job at the time.
The three years ended up being very manageable in terms of working, living and studying. I finished my third diploma and my master’s last year. For me, it was a real achievement, both from an educational perspective and professionally and it’s definitely had a big impact on me.
How has it benefited you?
It has given me a different perspective and provided me with frameworks I can use within my organisation. I also feel I’m approaching things far more confidently than I did before – I know now that what I’m saying is right whereas I may have had a bit of self-doubt before.
People tend to treat me differently as well – there’s more confidence in my abilities because I have this education from such a reputable business school.
All in all, it has been a huge positive for me in my profession and my role. I have been presenting more at meetings and, as opportunities arise, I now have the confidence to go for them. And I do have a greater role within the organisation because people now view me as more of a leader.
Which three programmes do you undertake in your MSc pathway?
I started off with Advanced Management Performance, which I really enjoyed. The content is very broad and the programme gives a strong foundation and a good understanding of a few key business areas, including marketing, finance, economics and strategy.
My second diploma was High Performance Sales & Business Development Management, which I chose ahead of going to Japan for the Rugby World Cup last autumn. Every job has an element of sales, whether it’s selling yourself or an idea, and there was crossover with strategy and other areas.
My final diploma was Strategy, Development and Innovation and was the one I found most rewarding, partly because it had most relevance for me but also because of the quality of the course. It was very thorough and the lecturers and lectures were excellent. It was also the toughest of the three for me, which I quite enjoyed.
If you could single out one key takeaway that the MSc pathway delivers, what would it be?
It was so beneficial as a professional qualification and was a very manageable way of doing a master’s degree over a three years if you have time restrictions because of your role, travel commitments or family. It’s one way you could build your education around life in a very manageable way and that was a huge benefit for me.
Would you recommend the pathway to others?
Yes, and I have already recommended it.
The idea of balancing your day job and doing a master’s degree can be overwhelming. But, because you are doing the pathway in stages and getting a qualification at each step of the way, it’s very accessible.
When you’re starting out it’s much less daunting to think you’re doing a diploma that could end up in a master’s. Each of the diplomas I did comprised just six weekends over a nine-month period – that made it all very doable.