Ryan Maley studied A levels at Oldham Sixth Form College, and was advised by his teachers to go to university.  Despite getting good A level results, Ryan didn’t think that university was the right option for him at that time.  He wanted to get a business related job and get qualifications while he was in work. 

In the summer of 2012, Ryan successfully applied for a Level 3 Marketing Apprentice role at The Growth Company.  He was part of a small team within the company dealing with a wide range of marketing and communications activities, including marketing planning, design and print, campaign management, press and PR, and web design and maintenance. 

When he completed his apprenticeship, Ryan enrolled on a Foundation Degree course in Business Management run by The Skills Company, in partnership with the University of Bolton.  He completed the course in 2015, and then began the BA Honours Business Management Top Up course with The Skills Company.  The degree course is offered through a collaboration with Staffordshire University.  At about the same time, Ryan took up a position as Digital Executive at Marketing Manchester, the agency responsible for promoting Greater Manchester on the national and international stage to visitors and businesses.

Ryan graduated with first class honours in 2017, and was awarded his degree in a ceremony at Trentham Gardens in July.  Ryan said:  “It was a very proud moment to be presented with my first class honours degree.  It’s not easy to fit the studying in with a full time job, but I feel like it’s all been worthwhile.  The best thing about getting a degree this way is that I was able to relate the content of the course to my everyday work, so it made it much more relevant than if I was just studying the theory.

“My dissertation was on the subject of Chinese visitor expectations from a destination management organisation, and I was able to base it on an international campaign that we were running at Marketing Manchester.  My role here involves running digital marketing campaigns to promote Manchester on the world stage.  For the last two years, as part of my job, I’ve attended and managed the digital activity at the MIPIM conference in Cannes in the south of France.  MIPIM is the biggest property marketing event in the world, and our delegation there helps to put Manchester firmly on the world map.  It’s hard work, but it’s a great experience to be part of it.

“I feel that the route I took to get my degree, starting with an apprenticeship, then progressing through the Foundation Degree to my Honours Degree, has given me the best of both worlds.  I’ve been earning all the time, and gaining valuable experience that has helped me in my studies.  And because my employer has supported some of my study costs, I’m in a much better position financially than most new graduates.”