Nottingham University graduate James McAllister had been working in investment banking for a number of years before he made the decision to change careers.
James chose the MSc Sport Business and Innovation programme to expand his knowledge of sport business and widen his skill set to achieve his career goals.
What were you doing before you joined Loughborough?
I had recently left investment banking after 16 years and was looking to retrain to help a career change into the sport industry
Why did you choose to study at Loughborough University London?
Primarily the attraction was the Loughborough reputation, both as an institution as a whole but also its repute in the sporting wold. I live in London with my family so not uprooting them was also a consideration. I was delighted to find that Loughborough was opening the new campus in the Olympic Park as it allowed me to study at a world class institution in my home city.
Loughborough University is undoubtedly the country’s top institution for sport research and teaching. Because I live in London, the option of studying with Loughborough University had previously been unavailable to me. As soon as Loughborough University came to London, I knew it was the only choice for me, particularly given my aim to move into the sport business sector. Other universities and sport organisations offer Master’s and executive programmes in sport business, but Loughborough University London’s Sport Business Innovation programme can offer me the knowledge and skills I am looking to gain, and the University’s reputation is a big selling point.
What aspects of the programme interested you most?
I was quite intrigued by the entrepreneurial aspects of the programme. It was interesting to learn about the sports market and discover the different industries I could enter following the completion of my master’s degree. I really think having knowledge on innovation in sport is important to ensure I am ahead of the game and prepared for the unique, ever-changing situations that a career in sport can present.
How has Loughborough University London inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?
Having Loughborough and the masters course on my CV has opened up career opportunities for me. The university’s reputation in the world of sport is second to none. The masters’ course conveyed the message to potential employers that I was serious and dedicated to my career change and that I had developed knowledge of the industry that was missing from my banking background.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
Do the Leadership Models in Practice module! We got to go to some fascinating places and to see how different organisations approach leadership. We met some really interesting people who gave insight into the lessons they had learned through their experience. Many of these lessons resonated with what I had learned in my profession and made me wish I had done the course at the start of my career.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
My wife and I had a baby boy early on in Semester 1 which limited my free time. However, I tried to attend as much as I could in terms of guest lectures and events. One particular one was a sports leadership workshop where we got to network with many household names such as Josh Lewsey (Rugby Union World Cup winner) and Peter Moores (former England Cricket coach). I would say that the more you engage with the activities that the university has to offer, the more you will get out of your studies.
Are there any hidden gems on the campus or in London that you would recommend to future students?
Gosh this is a difficult question. London is so vast and has so much to offer. I would say don’t be afraid to explore the city and travel to wider areas. Head to all corners as each part is different. One nice way to see the city is to walk the South Bank from Borough Market (London Bridge) all the way down to Westminster.
Describe what it is like to be a postgraduate, and how this differs from undergraduate studies.
As an undergraduate we learned by being taught. As a post graduate one is expected to do more self-study and more critical thinking i.e. to discuss and evidence your arguments and not just recite facts and models. Be prepared to think about and question the issues that are presented to you.
Can you tell us more about the company/organisation you are working for currently?
The Golf Foundation is a charity which is committed to giving all children and young people the opportunity to experience the playing and personal benefits of golf. The Foundation runs a number of different initiatives. Core to these programmes is the Skills for Life concept. Children and young people can develop personal skills such as honesty, respect, co-operation, perseverance, concentration and self-motivation through the medium of golf. We have a fantastic website that details the foundation’s activities and progammes http://www.golf-foundation.org/
Can you tell us about your career journey so far?
I spent 16 years in investment banking in one firm. I trained as a management accountant and worked in the Finance division of the bank across a variety of different businesses and roles before finishing my banking career as a senior deal structurer for its Commodities business. I learnt a lot from the bank and it was an interesting time to be in the industry but I have now changed into the Sport industry which is closer to my personal interests and hobbies.
What do you love the most about your job?
It is fantastic to see the tangible nature of our work. To see how kids and enjoying and engaging with our programmes.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Making the decision to change career and join an organisation aligned to my personal interests. It was a big step to leave my old career but one that I believe will benefit me in the long-run.
What does the future hold for you?
I’ve only recently joined the Foundation so my future is here, helping more young people enjoy the benefits of the game.