Who said being the head of a leading department stops you from pursuing your dreams. Head of HE Media and Makeup at the University Centre, Richard Keys has done just that and has recently achieved his Master’s in International Tourism and Hospitality Management.
To add a cherry on top, Richard was also honoured with a prize for Academic Achievement. We caught up with him to talk about his Master’s journey and whether a PhD is on the cards next.
What prompted you to take on a Master’s in International Tourism and Hospitality Management?
I feel it is extremely important to keep learning (you’re never too old!), so I undertook the Masters programme to improve my overall knowledge and help prepare students for entering the industry.
What were some of the challenges and lessons you learned during the course and how has it prepared you for your next step?
The main challenge was simply having enough time to carry out all the work that is involved in completing a Master’s programme alongside working full time as a Head of Department. It has helped to further teach me the value of prioritising tasks – making sure that everything gets done within the deadlines set.
What was the feeling when you found out that you had won the Academic Achievement Award?
A little embarrassed to be honest! I don’t really feel that I did anything particularly special, but it is nice when somebody recognises the hard work that’s been put in.
What made you go into teaching and was there anything else you wanted to pursue before that?
I first went into teaching as I found that when you’re in industry, the aspect I enjoyed the most was training and helping of other staff – this then led me into a teaching career. Prior to that, I quite fancied being a footballer – but not really helped by the fact that I’m rubbish!
What is the USP of our tourism provision that makes your job worth it?
The aspect that I actually enjoy the most is when students gain employment within the industry. The whole focus of the Tourism provision we offer is to make students employable so when students gain a position it makes all the hard work worth it!
What have some of your greatest highlights been as an educator?
It sounds a bit corny but the highlight has to be the graduation day when you also get to meet the family and friends of the students to celebrate their success.
What would you say to someone who wants to pursue a career in Tourism and Hospitality and what are the overall benefits?
Do it! A career within the industry is unlike many other sectors and if you enjoy dealing with and communicating with people then this may be the industry for you. There are a wide variety of career paths you can take from working within Aviation at the airport or in the air to business travel and hotels and restaurants. It is rare to have two days that are ever the same!
Who are some of your greatest inspirations and how have they shaped who you are today (both personally and professionally)?
Some of the greatest people that have inspired me actually came from when I was completing my teaching qualification. One of my mentors, Karen Robson, was great. When I watched her teach, I was in complete awe! I remember thinking to myself that I want to be able to teach with the same amount of dedication and sense of humour!
What is next on the cards, any plans to do a PhD in the future?
Ha Ha! Easy tiger, I’ve only just finished my Masters!