Leanne Mc Cafferty – BBs (Hons) in Marketing

Name: Leanne Mc Cafferty

School: St Marys Brollagh & Mount Lourdes Grammar Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

Were you nervous about returning to education?  

Yes, absolutely, having dropped out of college before, I most certainly didn’t want that to occur again. However, this time it was different, I was selecting a course, where I had already practiced the subject first-hand through working in marketing indirectly, in a local hotel chain and I just loved it! To me it didn’t feel like work and as such, I thought a career in something where time seemed to just fly by, was a no-brainer. Half the battle is knowing what you want to study, and I think with maturity and experience you are much more capable and confident when selecting a college degree course that suits you long term. Also, having spoke to current students at the time, I knew ATU Sligo had a much better college experience than what I had already encountered, combining practical learning with theory, as opposed to the academic only approach, this was something that really appealed to me. I wanted to be fit to hit the ground running when I graduated, not just regurgitate the jargon learned and not actually be fit to practice or implement it, something I had witnessed in a previous university. There was of course the added bonus of a very appealing “social life” too, it just sounded like perfect college combination all round. 

As a mature student did you find it easy to settle into college life in ATU Sligo?  

I really did, mature students had become more of a thing when I had went back to study, I was also very lucky that I looked quite young, it wasn’t until 3rd year people actually realised I was a “Mature” student. However, being 25 or 55 in ATU Sligo really didn’t matter, the university has a very diverse collection of students making those that think they may appear as outliners in a college setting, actually very much the norm, anything goes and that’s the beauty of ATU Sligo it’s all inclusive. 

What supports helped you to settle in?  

The extremely approachable and friendly lecturers, the intimate class sizes and the moodle resource online, all meant lecture notes were always accessible, classes allowed for interaction and active participation, and if you were too shy the lecturers always facilitated and encouraged reaching out to them for support if needed.  

Would you recommend a mature student to take the leap and return to full time education with ATU Sligo?  

Absolutely! Its something you will never regret, start today if you have the inclination, just go for it, time will pass anyway, why not have it pass and get educated along the way.  

What were the main reasons you chose to apply through the CAO and come to ATU Sligo?

ATU Sligo had warmth, it was a welcoming setting with a much more relaxed energy about it and yet the results garnered from students where absolutely exceptional, churning out graduates who went on to excel in their careers and many first-hand business set ups, CEOs and Entrepreneurs. It showed me it really isn’t about the “prestige” of the educational facility it’s about what an individual can get out of that institution.  

What specifically about the course do/did you particularly enjoy:  

The lecturers, the group work, the hands on projects and tasks that involved real life businesses and opportunities to actively help assist a business achieve its goals. 

If you were speaking with a first-year or mature student about to start your course or college, what advice/information would you give them:  

What might seem overwhelming now, will be a piece of cake soon, and you yourself might be the person helping someone like you in the future. Keep going, keep believing and just always do your best, it’s all any of us have. When you do your best, even if you don’t get the result you wanted, you will never be disappointed, as you gave it everything you had. The great thing about ATU Sligo is your best is always good enough, its appreciated and rewarded and if you need fine tuning on areas, to make your best better, your lecturers will always be on hand to assist. 

Where has your career taken you to this point? 

It’s taken me through the FMCG sector where I was involved in many new product creations, market research with Board Bia, Product design and packaging, brand awareness, positioning and launch of these said new products. I wore many different hats for many various Food brands within the group, meaning a variety of marketing strategies had to be used, from high performance sports drinks to baby follow-on milk, to the marketing of branded commodity goods. Currently I am, working for the largest luxury Hotel Chain in Ireland, THE MHL Collection, for Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate. One of the most fantastic things about marketing is diversity, the same practice can be manipulated and applied to many services, and products which really broadens your business and career opportunities. 

Any long term or future goals/plans? 

I’m terrible, I don’t really plan too far ahead in my own career, and to date that has worked for me, I feel you can very much close yourself off to potential opportunities if you have a rigid plan in place. I am very good at taking an opportunity when it strikes, and I think that’s a great way to be, flexibility is much more important to me, and also in the workplace it’s something that’s attractive to an employer as well. I’m happy when I know I’m progressing but I’m not anal in the direction that that progress must be. Ultimately, I’m happy when I know my work and my efforts are making a valuable contribution to a business and I can see tangible results from my work, that’s what really instils satisfaction. 

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