ADAPTING Castlebar businesswoman Anne Conlon found her part-time college course invaluable during the pandemic. Pic: Olga Klofac
Anne Conlon could scarcely have picked a better course to be in the middle of when the Covid-19 pandemic hit these shores.
The well-known Castlebar businesswoman, who runs the sales consultancy business All About Sales, is currently studying a part-time two-year Masters in Digital Media and Marketing at GMIT Castlebar.
A firm advocate of lifelong learning, she picked the course with a view to the future but its relevance was very much in the here and now when the country went into lockdown in March 2020.
“I was two and a half months in college when the first lockdown was announced and I was able to transfer what I learned very quickly, so the course is very practical and relevant,” she told The Mayo News.
“I was really lucky I had just started the digital media course, it gave me a great head start.
“How it worked out for me is I did little enough work for the month of April to allow the transition to online and then I was up and running in May,” added Anne.
The Louth native is 25 years in Castlebar this year, having arrived for one month’s work in the local cash and carry and stayed ever since.
Anne Conlon is heavily involved with various organisations in Mayo, serving as President of Network Ireland, Mayo in 2018 and 2019, as well as being involved with charities and Castlebar Chamber of Commerce.
Her business provides sales training, marketing consultations and business development for a wide range of businesses and all of her work before March 2020 had been face to face.
That all changed in a heartbeat as Anne and her clients became well versed in the world of Zoom and Microsoft Teams and while Anne found numerous advantages to online, she admits building a rapport and networking is not quite as easy when it is not face to face.
But, as against that, the world has become a very small place, as Anne can testify.
One recent evening, she gave a talk at an online event run by the Donegal Businesswomen’s Network. She logged off that and then turned around one hour later and plugged in for a two hour presentation to Network Ireland Cork.
So in one evening she travelled virtually from Malin Head to Mizen Head, all after a full day’s work.
She has given presentations in London and New York recently too, all from the comfort of her own office.
It underscores how travel need not be essential for meetings and has opened new doors for the Louth native.
“I’m global now, I used to be local. There’s no way I would have been able to speak at those conferences if it wasn’t for online. My profile has risen as well,” she stated.
All the while the Masters in Digital Media and Marketing has been continuing. While other courses might have been difficult to transition to online, this course, by its very nature had a head start.
Lectures online were built into the course pre Covid while there is two full days in college every month, which have also moved online.
“The lecturers have been fantastic. They have been totally contactable throughout. We were really lucky that it is a digital course and teaching us how to communicate online.
“The announcement was made on a Thursday and the following day they had all our lectures set up online so they moved very quickly,” she said.
Her course had aided her work greatly too with much more demand for selling and marketing online this past year while she has witnessed at close quarters the fluctuating mood of the business community.
“You could see the mood and confidence among businesses was low at the outset and the challenge was coming up with ideas for people who were selling and how to change things. So we would have worked on virtual shopping and getting websites up and running or improved.
“Business went down and then up and each time the restrictions changed, the mood of the attendants was hugely affected by all the uncertainty,” she added.