Gaining New Perspectives and Friends at MTU
by Patrick Shields - Joint Managing Director AT CLIFF Group & MTU MBA IN STRATEGY Graduate
3rd April 2023
Returning to Munster Technological University following a gap of 16 years since completing the Diploma in Business Studies, Hotel & Catering Management was at first a strange experience. It was like going back in time and, though I was there to commence the MBA in Strategy on a part time basis, I took a detour on the first night back in 2020, after the class had been dismissed, to explore some of the classrooms and corridors I had walked down while studying all those years ago before setting out on a career in Hotel Management. It was a very rewarding three years at that time, and the two-year master’s programme would prove to be just as much fun.
Since departing Bishopstown in 2004, the hotel industry has taken me to roles in the United States, Australia and to the position of General Manager at Sutton Place Hotel, Revelstoke Mountain Resort in Canada. In 2018 my wife Natalia and I decided to return home to Ireland and I have had the great privilege of managing the five-star Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, West Waterford for over four years.
Now, having completed the MBA in Strategy, I have been promoted to a Joint Managing Director role at CLIFF group. Known for stunning hotels and high-end residential properties including Cliff House, which has the Michelin starred House Restaurant, and the country retreat Cliff at Lyons in Kildare, which has the two Michelin starred Aimsir Restaurant, CLIFF Group also have luxury residential properties under the CLIFF Residence umbrella including; Cliff Beach House, Cliff Cottage, Urchin Loft, as well as cottages based at Cliff at Lyons.
Business Masters are highly desirable in our industry for senior management positions, and by graduating in November 2022, a personal ambition of mine for over twenty years was realised. There have been many positives with the Masters program that I will take with me, and though it may sound cliché, I have made amazing friends and some lovely memories. It was wonderful to work on projects with classmates from all walks of life and industries, which brought me out of my comfort zone and definitely contributed to my confidence.
In relation to the course itself, subjects such as organisational behavior helped me to realise that there was academic theory behind many of the management situations I had been dealing with over the years, which I found very encouraging. Solutions to common issues were explored and discussed and I got an awful lot from that in relation to developing business strategy in the face of operational challenges.
Course leaders were always available and the direction and support provided by knowledgeable lecturers was second to none. Much of the course content was delivered online which really suited me, as I could take classes after work while still in West Waterford without having to travel to campus.
Though I wouldn’t have thought so beforehand, I actually enjoyed the analytical elements of the course and the economic and financial modules. I gained a new perspective on these areas which I already feel will be beneficial in my new role with CLIFF. My thesis area explored retention strategies for the hotel industry in Ireland which is a hot topic post Covid. The conclusions established from the dissertation, following interviews with industry leaders, definitely align with CLIFF and our plans for the future for our very committed teams. I miss the course now very much but take fond memories with me from my time at MTU.