James Maher, Masters in Marketing (Blended)
LeisureLand based on the promenade in Salthill, Galway is known throughout Ireland as a destination for family day trips to the swimming pool and as a hub for events and concerts, holding a capacity crowd of 1,200 making it the largest venue in the city. With 35 full-time and part-time onsite staff, the operational team cater for over 5,000 weekly visitors, making it a busy environment continuously servicing customers, managing people, managing facilities and ensuring health & safety of all visitors.
James Maher has worked for 3 years as Duty Manager in LeisureLand. A Tipperary native with a keen interest in sport & fitness, James completed an undergraduate honours degree in Exercise & Health Science. Having worked for several years in the leisure industry, James was keen to progress to Operations or General Managers level but needed the relevant qualification to take that next step. James opted to enrol in the 2 year part-time online Level 8 Bachelor of Business at IT Sligo. The programme offered the opportunity to upskill in core business skills of finance, marketing and people management, whilst continuing in full-time employment.
Having used the Moodle learning platform, the transition to online learning with IT Sligo was a smooth process. However, the learning experience wasn’t just restricted to Moodle. IT Sligo deliver live online lectures in the evening time and if students can’t make the live class, recorded lectures are made available on Moodle within hours. Combined with active forums and a chat network, James was able to avail of supports from fellow students.
Visiting the IT Sligo campus for exams was a hugely positive experience. James was impressed with the sports facilities available on-campus – an on-site gym, sports arena and running track, similar in scale to other Universities throughout Ireland. The facilities prompted James to get involved in IT Sligo athletics club. By proactively reaching out to Roddy Gaynor, an IT Sligo lecturer with over 18 years’ experience in the Sports industry, James became involved in the club’s 5-person team representing IT Sligo at national road racing events.
Having successfully graduated with an honours degree in Business, the option to progress on to the Level 9 Masters in Marketing was the natural next step. The Masters programme is delivered as a blended learning experience over 1yr full-time or 2yrs part-time.
With support from his employer, the option to study full-time over 1 year was achievable. As well as weekly online lectures, students attend on-campus residentials once a month over Thursday & Fridays. This approach allows students to combine work and study commitments.
Progressing on as a full-time student is challenging, but one of the benefits is the ability to avail of grants through the SUSI system. Working closely with the Finance team in IT Sligo, James has been able to manage his monthly payments and ensure the course is affordable. When asked for advice for online students, James key recommendations are “read around the topics as much as possible and ask plenty of questions – there is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when starting out. Lecturing staff are only an email away and are quick with their responses”