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Former Rugby Star Comes Top of Class

Former Ulster star Matt McCullough proved his talents aren’t limited to the rugby pitch when he picked up the Best Overall Student Award from the University of Ulster last night.

Matt, who graduated with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the Ulster Business School last year, was presented with the accolade at a ceremony in the Jordanstown campus last night.

The Department of Management and Leadership’s Awards is a celebration of excellence paying tribute to the skills, hard work and dedication of high achieving students from Ulster’s class of 2010/2011.

Since graduating Matt has landed a top job with RBS Markets and International Department in The City, London.

“When my tenure as a professional rugby player was coming to an end after 10 years, I decided I wanted to get into business. I had done a degree and set up a couple of small businesses but I needed a high level qualification so I could open myself up to as many opportunities as possible,” explained Matt.

“The MBA has a broad base and is flexible - you can make it more specific to the areas you are interested in. I was able to choose two elective modules from the Masters in Financial Services, which works closely with the Citi Group. Therefore, I got the right qualifications for the business I’m now working in.

“There was great camaraderie on the programme and we all spurred each other on and learned from each other as we came from very different backgrounds, I think that probably helped me to win this Award. I think most people from the MBA have done well and are working in all corners of the world.”

“I recently finished my training for the RBS job and I begin full time work next week. I think securing employment in The City is proof that the MBA was the right course for me and I’m happy to say things are going really well in London.”

Matt was one of 13 Ulster Business School graduates and students recognised for their outstanding academic achievements at the awards event last night.

Head of the Department, Professor Heather Farley commended Matt and his fellow awardees - and their families for all types of support provided - on their achievements.

She said: “Your success to date is truly outstanding, you are proof of why we are so justifiably proud of our alumni, and I look forward to hearing much more from you in the future.”

Professor Farley also paid tribute to the employers, sponsors and professional bodies “who all continue to give unfailingly of their time and resources and share in our successes.”

She offered a special welcome to guest speaker, Kirsty McManus, Assistant Regional Director of the CBI Northern Ireland and an MBA graduate from the University of Ulster.

“The CBI plays an important role in seeking to influence policy in order to deliver a more competitive and sustainable business environment, incorporating businesses of every size and shape. Of particular interest to us is the employability agenda, in equipping our graduates appropriately with the right, higher level skills set to enter and add value to the workplace both from the outset but also, in the longer term,” added Professor Farley.

Sponsors of the awards included Capita, Deloitte, First Trust, Grafton Recruitment, the Institute of Directors, the Labour Relations Agency, Mivan, the Ulster Bank and the Ulster Sports Academy.

The award-winning students were:

Capita Achievement / BSc Human Resource Management

Best Honours Student Award, Judith Hannaway

Bruce Cooper Prize / BSc Human Resource Management

Best Placement Student, Fiona Gunn

Grafton Recruitment Dragons’ Den Prize / BSc Management and Leadership Development, Nicole Scobie

Labour Relations Agency Award / MSc Human Resource Management

Best Dissertation Award, Diane Weatherup

Deloitte Prize / MSc Management and Corporate Governance

Best Overall Student, Patricia Webber

Ulster Bank Prize / MSc Management and Corporate Governance, Annie McCummisky

First Trust Bank Cup / MSc Management and Corporate Governance

Best Dissertation Award, Claire Taggart

Sir Desmond Lorimer / MBA Scholars Award

Best Overall Student, Matt McCullough

Institute of Directors / MBA

Strategic Management Top Students, Joanna Dougherty and Andrew Baxter

Mivan International Strategy / MBA

Top International Strategy Student, Matt McCullough

DEL Small Business Enterprise Award, Andrew Baxter

Head of Department’s Award / MBA

Top Year 1 Student, Matt McCullough

Dean’s Award / MBA

Top Year 2 Student, Dale Finlay

Dennis J Licence Award / MBS

Outstanding Student, Emer Rodgers

Course Director’s Award / MBS

Best Management Project Student, Sara-Louise Busby

Ulster Sports Academy / MSc Sport Management

Ambassador Award, Gary Crowe

Ends

Caption: Kirsty McManus, Assistant Regional Director of the CBI Northern Ireland and an MBA graduate from the University of Ulster, Award winner Matt McCullough and the University of Ulster's Trevor Cadden.