UWTSD Tourism alumni return to the university to inspire students


Students studying Tourism & Events programmes at UWTSD welcomed back alumni who came to talk about life after graduation and inspire them to achieve their potential.

Students studying Tourism & Events programmes at UWTSD welcomed back alumni who came to talk about life after graduation and inspire them to achieve their potential.

A series of interactive online talks and discussions were held as part of Industry week to give students at UWTSD’s Institute of Management & Health an insight into industries related to their course.

Guest speakers included: Damian Jenkins, President of the Management Trust, California, Shanna McFadden Drivenes, founder of Dirty Girls Events in Norway, Craig Jarret, Senior Global Manager at Royal Caribbean International Charters, Richard Abbott, Resort Manager at Mark Warner and Ewan Rees, owner of VIP Wales. All graduated from UWTSD and were able to share their expertise and experiences with current students.

UWTSD’s Jacqui Jones said: "Made for Industry Week was inspirational for students from across the Tourism and Events industry, with an exciting range of presentations from Wales across to Norway, California, the Greek Islands and finishing up on a cruise ship in Miami Florida.

"It was an incredibly busy week with a wide range of high-profile graduates and industry leaders from across the industry engaging with the students and sharing their career stories. The sessions were highly motivational and reminded students that despite the impacts of covid why they are studying within such a dynamic industry sector and gave them a taster of the exciting future career opportunities.

"It was particularly special to welcome back so many successful graduates especially some of the Class of 2020, who despite the impacts of the pandemic are already embarking on new management careers within Tourism and Events here in Wales. All the speakers’ passion for the industry was contagious, along with their confidence in the demand the pandemic has developed for Tourism and Events. This along with discussions about industry skills shortages reassured all the students that despite the current situation exciting opportunities await them when Travel, Tourism and Events take off."

Damian Jenkins said: “I am beyond grateful and I tribute my amazing career and life experiences as well as successes to Jacqui Jones and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Thanks to the tremendous programmes and work placement opportunities it created many turning points for me in my life and career. I never imagined that growing up in St. David’s that I would first of all, move to Swansea to attend University, followed by once in a lifetime work placement opportunity at Walt Disney World, then The Ritz-Carlton Hotel company.

“My career with The Ritz-Carlton afforded me the opportunities to grow with the company, open five hotels and work in several properties around Colorado, Doha-Qatar in the Middle East and California. The journey with The Ritz-Carlton really assisted my growth personally and professionally, giving me an opportunity to become President of The Management Trust – a 100% employee owned company managing Country Club Operations and Homeowner Associations across the Coachella Valley and Inland Empire in California.

“It was an honour and a pleasure to meet with the students at the Industry Week presentation. Such a great group of students who are very engaged, passionate, upbeat and positive with a great outlook to the future for amazing opportunities despite being in a pandemic and they asked me some very thoughtful questions. I cannot wait to join them again on the next Industry Week catch up session.”

Richard said: “As an HND WAAM and BA LM graduate from UWTSD, I was kindly asked by Jacqui Jones to contribute to the UWTSD Made for Industry Week.  It was an honour to be asked and I was delighted to share my experiences of work placements and my career post-graduation with the students.

“I found the two courses that I studied during my four years to be consummately interesting and extremely rewarding.  The vocational nature of the course combined classroom-based study with both practical work in the outdoors and two work placements overseas.  This balance proved to be the perfect format and allowed me to thrive both at the University and in the workplace.

“By their nature, workplaces can be competitive environments.  Starting out in your professional life can be a challenging and at times, daunting experience.  I felt that the support I received from the University and its Lecturers stood me in the best possible stead to go out and achieve great things.  Being taught first-hand by individuals who had 'been there and done that' was a major plus point.  Advice received was genuine and taken from first-hand experience.

“Fast forward nineteen years and I am now managing a large sports resort in Rhodes, Greece.  We have approximately 100 staff and a capacity for 550 guests.  I use the skills learnt on the HND and BA courses on a daily basis.  To be in a job where I am able to use my degree each day is extremely satisfying.

“My work has taken me all over the world.  From the early days teaching sailing with PGL in France and Spain, through the incredible life experiences of working for Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island, BVI and crewing £75m Super Yachts to my current role as a Resort Manager for Mark Warner.  It has been the most incredible journey that at times has felt a privilege rather than a vocation.

“Being a student at UWTSD provided me with the head start I needed to get my foot into the door of the Leisure & Tourism industry.  Something that I will always be immensely grateful for.”

Shanna said: “I was never really one for school but when I started university I came into my own as UWTSD really spring-boarded me into the career I have today. I loved all of our lecturers and made some of the best memories of my life there. During my time at UWTSD, I took part in a 12-month placement at Bachelor Gulf Ritz Carlton where I learned about service on another level, something I have taken forward into all of my jobs and into the opening of my own business.

“I always wanted to be an Event Manager and started Dirty Girls Events in Norway in 2016 and without the foundation I had from the degree, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.

“I am still in contact with my lecturers and can still ask advice. I would recommend anyone to pick UWTSD, Tourism & Events in Swansea as you get access to some of the best work placements worldwide.”

Professor Wendy Dearing, Dean of the Institute of Management and Health said: “We were delighted with the events that took place during Industry Week and would like to thank our amazing alumni for giving up their time to inspire and encourage current students. We have received excellent feedback from the students who attended. These are challenging times for organisations in the events, tourism and hospitality sectors.  International recovery will involve investment, skilled management and a workforce that is able to problem solve and adapt quickly to innovation. 

“Our mission is to inspire and educate the events, tourism and hospitality leaders of tomorrow so they can make a positive difference in the world.”

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Mobile: 07384 467071

Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk