Former inter county footballer for Westmeath, and entrepreneur Paul Aherne discusses the pressures of balancing business and studying for a Masters
I understand you have a background in business?
Yes, I currently have my own company P2YP which is a mix of sports psychology and leadership and human resources development. I work with businesses and organisations to enable them to develop their leaders and organisations to perform to their potential. Prior to doing the course I had a long career in Global Leadership roles in Human Resources and Learning & Organisation Development.
What made you come and do this course?
I was always interested in sport. I played Inter-County football with Westmeath for a good number of years and then I was involved in coaching. Working with organisations I do a lot of work to develop people’s and business performance. Sport presents pretty similar challenges except you wear a tracksuit rather than a suit. Obtaining real professional knowledge and experience to be able to apply in a sports environment was the key driver was in terms of doing this course .
Did you find it tough to juggle the business life and the college life?
Well when I started I moved from working in an organisation to being self-employed so it gave me a bit more flexibility in terms of being able to manage the various demands. I was down in WIT every Monday which was fine you just plan your week around it from that point of view. At certain times of the year with exams and assignments and you have work demands, you might be burning the midnight oil a bit. However, if you’re planned and organised it’s not too bad. You’ll get times where there’s a bit of pressure on but it’s just about keeping on top of the work really.
Would you have any advice for people looking at this course?
First of all, I’d say be passionate about sport and really interested in all sports and not just the one sport that you might have played or be interested in, knowing sport and being able to relate to athletes or players is critical so learning their language and demands really helps.
The second thing is just be really passionate about people and helping people perform, because in essence that’s what its focus is and if you’ve got that mind set it helps you have the right sort of approach and interest.
I’d say thirdly there’s a lot of science behind sports psychology so really investing the time to understand the science, and then thinking about how you can translate that into workable knowledge and solutions for athletes and coaches is key. This can be hard work delving into and trying to understand the research and theories. You need to get beyond some of the “pop psychology” you might read in the newspapers. However, once you have that knowledge and ability to apply robust science and theories to you work it really helps you work robustly and with impact with athletes and players.
Interviewed by Ian Bradley at Conferring 2018