Alumni Spotlight

Tomás and Julie O’Leary - TOLD & Co / Redzone Recruitment

26 Mar
Tomás and Julie O’Leary

As RTE’s 'Dancing with the Stars' comes to an end we chat to one of its earlier contestants, former rugby international Tomás O’Leary and his wife, Julie. Love blossomed for the couple while they were both students at UCC and the stylish pair are now partners in the premium watch brand, TOLD & Co, which offers luxury watches at attainable prices (www.toldandco.com). They also manage to find time for another business interest, Redzone Recruitment, a UK based Recruitment Company specialising in the energies sector. We talk to Tomás and Julie about their memories of UCC!

Course/Subjects studied at University College Cork
Julie: Tomás studied a BA in English & Geography. I studied a BSc in General Nursing in 2003. I subsequently completed a conversion course in Management and Marketing in 2007. As soon as I began the course, I knew it was the right choice for me. Tomás was offered a professional contract with Munster rugby while studying for his degree and was grateful for the support he gained from lecturers to be able to juggle both.

Best memory of UCC
Julie: Friday night barbeques down in the 'Western Star' in April/May!
Tomás: The nursing ball where I made a fantastic impression on all of Julie’s friends!!

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
Julie: My time at UCC has been invaluable to me. I met many of my closest friends there and it is where our courtship began! I have so many happy memories there. My experience in UCC gave me the first taste of setting up our own business. One of my favourite subjects was Small Business Ventures, it's a fantastic practical course as you have to put a business plan together and pitch it in a Dragon's Den style interview, it was great! 

We lived in France last year, while Tomas played rugby with Montpellier, so we are looking into doing a part-time course in French in UCC and try to keep up the language! We are lucky to have UCC on our doorstep and plan to continue taking advantage of the great courses that are on offer. Tomás is looking at the new IMI courses to help with the businesses. 

Tomás: UCC has also helped build an invaluable network of friends & associates which will help in all aspects of business, sport & social life.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
Julie: My advice to current students would be if you aren't happy in your current course, work hard and try your best to finish it. At least once you have your degree you can always go back and do a post-graduate course into something that you are really interested in but in the current competitive landscape you need to have a foundation to work off. At the same time, savour every minute of your UCC experience, it goes by way too quickly. Make the most of the opportunity and push your boundaries. Take part in activities, go on J1 visas, travel and make the most out of your college experience. 

Tomás: Enjoy the college experience. Join a society or a club and try and get some real life work experience. It will help you stand out from the crowd and also give you some extra pocket money to enjoy life.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
Julie: Laurence Dooley was fantastic and had such a positive influence on my career. 

Tomás: My English lecturer Andrew King inspired me to enjoy my Elizabethan drama & also helped me develop a deep appreciation for Frank Sinatra’s music......long story.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
Julie: I was Class Rep for Masters and Management Course. I tried out the tennis club and the trampolining club along the way!

Tomás: I was playing rugby full time with Munster while combining my study so I was unable to commit to any club or society. This was the part of the UCC experience I missed but the sacrifice was worthwhile!

Favourite UCC legend or superstition
Julie: Don't walk on the UCC crest by the West Wing. Tomás walked on it loads!

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