Graduate success story: Paul Watson

Name: Paul Watson

Course: BA (Hons) Leisure Management

Year of Graduation: 2008

From electrician to semi-professional footballer and a lengthy career in leisure services, Paul Watson has now fulfilled a lifelong ambition by successfully completing a degree.

Paul was a mature student when he completed his BA (Hons) in Leisure Management at the University’s School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure in 2008. His advice to those considering going back to University is: “Just go for it, it is the best thing I have ever done. The freedom of learning was far better than at college.”

Paul first entered the leisure industry in 1984 when he joined Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council as a Recreation Assistant. Throughout his career Paul has held a variety of positions including Manager of Wombourne Leisure Centre at South Staffordshire Council, and Leisure Development Officer at Lichfield District Council. He has progressed to a double role at Lichfield, which comprises General Manager of Burntwood Leisure Centre and the district’s Sports Development Manager.

He admits he was nervous about taking on a University course. But his time at Wolverhampton ensured he had a great experience of higher education. He says: “At first I was apprehensive of tackling a degree, but the relaxed atmosphere and experienced staff made my time very enjoyable.”

Paul says that his degree has definitely had a positive impact on his career. “Today, my remit is much wider and I am now part of the senior management team.” He adds that his time at the Walsall Campus was very positive, describing it as “absolutely brilliant, the students were delightful and lecturers very helpful”.

Paul believes the London Olympic Games in 2012 will have a major impact on the leisure industry. He says: “The sport and leisure industry is growing. In the run-up to 2012 there appears to be a picture emerging that more people are taking an interest in sport, and in particular embracing the opportunity to improve their personal well-being which will contribute towards a healthier nation.

“There is a great synergy between sports, leisure and health. With this merge of interest, the future of the leisure industry is set to grow even bigger.”

He recommends the University of Wolverhampton due to its modern facilities and knowledgeable staff. And although Paul is currently very happy at Lichfield District Council, he relishes the challenge of one day becoming Head of Leisure Services.