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How an MBA can bring career success

  • Date: Thu, Mar 11, 2021

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MBAs can help graduates from multiple disciplines progress and thrive in management positions that require strategic thinking, leadership and management skills.

By developing a student’s networks, confidence and relationship, leadership and management skills, an MBA can help candidates stand out – or give them the know-how and self-belief to start their own business. And while there’s no guarantee of a raise, a promotion, or business success, evidence shows they have a very positive impact on career paths.

What they wanted

Paediatric urologist Dr Fardod O’Kelly, meanwhile, isn’t the most obvious candidate for an MBA, who traditionally are expected to come from a more business-oriented background.

“I’d spent so long focusing on sharpening my clinical research skills, and I realised I’d had no exposure to business in medical school or during my postgraduate courses,” he says. “I decided to do it because, first and foremost, I was breaking new ground in Ireland as a paediatric urologist and, essentially, setting up a business and unit. Issues between clinical staff and hospital management occur because we have different focuses and speak different languages. I needed business acumen. And I’m a glutton for punishment.”

O’Kelly wanted a Dublin location, and UCD’s Smurfit School unique triple accreditation sealed the deal for him. He chose a general MBA rather than a healthcare MBA because he wanted a class of students from different backgrounds.

Read the full article here.

What was the best thing the MBA had to offer you?

Catherine O’Brien, University College Dublin, 2017, Accenture: “The best thing about it, from my perspective, was the international element. For instance, I took part in a global strategy competition for business schools and that was a hugely enriching experience. Another opportunity was the trip to Yale. I did an executive education week in behavioural, science and management at Yale University with colleagues from the MBA.

That allowed us to network with peer MBA students from all over the world and exposed us to some of the leading thinking in Yale University as well. We also embarked on a module in business and international markets, and we travelled to Japan and South Korea with our class as part of that.

The trips were eye-opening in terms of being exposed to international perspectives and international business agendas but the development of your own personal network with your class contacts was a huge opportunity gained through the international trips.

Also gaining an international network with MBA experience, and to still have the benefits of those networks and being able to tap into colleagues in different parts of the world; we’ve kept in touch in the intervening years, and that’s been an outstanding benefit of the international experience.”

Read the full article here.

What skills do MBA students have?

Laura Walshe, a career expert at, says that MBAs do help develop skillsets such as managing, marketing and finance but, more so, they help people to develop a wider confidence.

But it is perhaps the softer skills that are more appealing, with MBA students learning how to solve real-world business problems

“Sometimes it is someone making a career change from outside the corporate world and the MBA can help bridge the gap,” she says. “Other MBAs might be more targeted at people in team leader or management roles, to take on more responsibilities and higher salaries and pay rates.”

Students on any MBA can expect a similar mix of modules, with corporate finance, strategic marketing, human resources, negotiations, enterprise and accounting among the subjects. Data analytics is also increasingly a key part of an MBA education, and most students will complete a project too.

But it is perhaps the softer skills that are more appealing, with MBA students learning how to solve real-world business problems and bringing a focused mindset to their workplaces. MBA graduates can expect to come out with improved communication, leadership, teamwork, research and listening skills. They will be better strategic thinkers with stronger networking skills.

Because they have worked with classmates and other businesses, they should have a better understanding of different perspectives in the workplace. And because MBAs are a fairly intense experience – where students have to manage work, study and family skills – perhaps the most valuable key skill will be time management.

Both articles first appeared as part of The Irish Times Special Feature on Postgraduate Education, March 9, 2021.

How an MBA can bring career success by Peter Maguire

What was the best thing the MBA had to offer you? By Shauna Bowers

Further articles as part of the Special Feature by The Irish Times are:

A to Z guide to negotiating MBA process by Peter Maguire

Spotlight on courses around the country by Nora-Ide McAuliffe

MBA:How to choose right programme by Peter Maguire

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