Tourism degree gives Leon perfect foundation

Former North West Regional College Foundation Degree Student Leon Rooney pictured at the Waterfoot Hotel in his new role as the hotel's Operations Manager.

Former North West Regional College Foundation Degree Student Leon Rooney pictured at the Waterfoot Hotel in his new role as the hotel's Operations Manager.

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From collecting glasses to overseeing the work of 70 people, it certainly has been a whirlwind few years for Leon Rooney, the new Operations Manager at Derry’s Waterfoot Hotel.

His rise to the top is due in no small part to his efforts on the North West Regional College’s Foundation Degree in Hospitality and Tourism course.

Leon’s meteoric rise began 12 years ago when he held various bar attendant positions and it was during these initial pulling pints and collecting glasses duties that he developed an ambition to forge a career in the industry.

However, he quickly realised that, in order to separate himself from the competition, he would need to combine his employment experience with an industry recognised qualification, one which would not only develop his practical skills, but also provide him with the knowledge and expertise pertaining to hospitality standards, practices and procedures.

NWRC’s foundation degree programme was the perfect fit and, as a result, he has not looked back since.

Leon explains: “I started out working locally in a hotel and, coincidentally, met one of the organisers from the College who co-ordinated the Foundation Degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management.

“A few months later I found myself enrolled onto the course. I always had ambitions of making my way up the corporate ladder and the Foundation Degree allowed me to apply for and attain the position I now find myself in.”

30 year-old Leon undertook his course on a part-time basis over two years and this enabled him to combine his studies with some part-time employment.

He says: “Some of the modules are so relevant to modern industry practices - Finance and Marketing being just two. The work placement opportunities are fantastic and allow you to experience first-hand the industry. 

If you wish to follow in Leon’s footsteps, especially if you are currently employed in the hospitality industry and, perhaps, you want to get a foothold on the career ladder with 2013 City of Culture just around the corner, then NWRC’s Foundation Degree in Hospitality & Tourism course could be for you.

The course is available on full-time or part-time basis and course applications are currently being accepted.

For full details on the course, email luane.quigley@nwrc.ac.uk or Tel: 028 7127 6103.