Some might say at 65 it’s time to slow down and put your feet up, but not for Andy Boland who is about to embark on a visit to China which could help develop a new direction which could benefit Donegal golf.
Andy, originally from Sligo, who lives in Letterkenny was accepted on to the Springboard Professional Selling and International Marketing programme last September at LYIT. The course is the first of its kind in Ireland focusing on China and includes 2 months intensive exposure to businesses and potential employers based in Shanghai. It is funded by the Higher Education Authority through the Springboard initiative, with the support of the Department of Social Protection.
“I’d had a lot of experience in sales with major international companies such as Irish Distillers. I was looking for something where I could apply experience but also learn new skills. I’ve always been interested in China and when the Springboard course came up at LYIT I didn’t hesitate and was very fortunate to be accepted.”
As a keen golfer Andy is interested in how Donegal can attract more golfers from China, where there is growing interest in the sport. “I’m going with an open mind on all fronts, to listen and find out what businesses there are looking for. While in Shanghai I will be attending a major World Golf Tour Operators Expo and will hopefully build some contacts.”
Patricia Doherty, Head of Department at LYIT Business Studies adds, “This programme aims to open up new opportunities by harnessing experience in innovative ways. Previous experience of the candidates has enriched the learning for the whole class and we know that some key alliances will be made whilst in China. We wish everyone much success and look forward to hearing about their visit when they return.”
Andy says it was a little daunting to return to study but has been pleasantly surprised by his experience. “There’s a good mix in the class of age and background. Whist I found aspects of study difficult at first, especially learning Mandarin, I realised I could draw on my previous experience. I must say too that the lecturers and the support from The Curve at LYIT were second to none. Everyone who taught us was excellent and very enthusiastic, they’re genuinely interested in seeing us all succeed. The Chinese have great respect for age so I’ve a head start.”
“The cultural component is so essential, to know that it’s paramount that no one ‘lose face’ in China in any business communication. In many ways that doesn’t seem so very different to Ireland 25 years ago,” says Andy.
Jill Murphy International Education Manager LYIT who had a major input into compiling the programme and teaches Mandarin explains, “It was a key aspect to include practical insights on doing business in China whilst simultaneously learning the language. The combination of sales and marketing with an understanding of Chinese culture, language and business etiquette gives the participants a solid foundation to develop real job prospects.”
What would Andy say to people thinking of returning to education later in life? “Do something you’re interested in and go for it. Life experience is valuable whatever your background and can be used in new ways. You’re never too old to learn and contribute.”
Perhaps we could all learn something from the positive attitude the Chinese show towards the elders in the community. A well known Chinese proverb is “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back,” and grandparents play a central part in family life and their opinions are highly valued.
“I’m looking forward to going to Shanghai with a little bit of intrepidation. No matter how prepared, I know it will be a massive culture shock to be in a thriving city of 21 million people but it will be exhilarating too. I intend to embrace every minute and make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
LYIT has a strong track record in encouraging mature students and this course marks another innovative approach to retraining and harnessing potential in new ways.
Has he packed yet? “No, sure I’m a man, I won’t be doing that until the night before.”