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Thinking about an MBA? UCD Smurfit graduates on what you need to know

  • Date: Mon, Feb 4, 2019

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Originally published in the Irish Times 

Thinking about an MBA? UCD Smurfit graduates on what you need to know.

Globally ranked, internationally connected and with an active engaged alumni, Ireland’s top MBA promises career rewards.

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School MBA Programme is the only Irish MBA to hold the “triple crown” of EQUIS (The EFMD Quality Improvement System), AMBA (the Association of MBAs) and AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation.

These many accreditations mean that the Smurfit MBA is globally recognised and the School sits amongst the top 1 per cent of global business schools  to hold this triple accreditation. Alumni also have the opportunity, through UCD’s membership of the Global Network of Advanced Management (GNAM), to be part of a network of 29 business schools that includes Yale, INSEAD and LSE; ensuring students on the programme are in prestigious environments with good company.

The full-time MBA has been highly regarded worldwide and, according to Financial Times rankings, is in the world’s top 100, and Europe’s top 25. As well as being Ireland’s leading global business school, their Executive MBA is 68th in the world.

What does a Smurfit MBA involve? 
The UCD Smurfit MBA provides exposure to leaders on global issues, delivered in a classroom setting, by an international faculty in a beautiful campus in Dublin.
Candidates will be challenged and stimulated by an outstanding academic curriculum, including global case studies, action-learning via global collaboration and international study trips and exchanges.
A Smurfit MBA offers a leadership development programme that focuses on building the necessary skills to communicate effectively, understand yourself better and lead diverse teams and organisations anywhere in the world.

But what will it do for me?
In short: enable well-paid employment, progression and career support.
90 per cent of participants are employed within three months of graduating. Those already working enjoy average earnings growth of 63 per cent after three years.
A UCD Smurfit MBA has the power to fast-track careers. It will also expand a candidate’s horizons thanks to a dedicated careers service and an active, engaged network of 3,800 alumni worldwide.
A unique advantage to this MBA is the chance for students from overseas to gain a two-year post-graduate work visa to stay in Ireland, home to the operations of many of the world’s best known companies.

Does the curriculum keep pace with the fast changing business environment?
The MBA acutely understands the capricious nature of the business environment, and has been built with this in mind; in particular with a focus on real-world applications that allow students to learn by doing, in conjunction with industry partners seeking solutions to real world challenges.

It is why, to give just one example, that the programme features a focus on numbers with modules on accouting, financial statements and financial reporting as they provide MBA students with a high degree of skills in what has rapidly become a major weapon in the elite manager’s arsenal; particularly in areas such as attracting investment and managing operational risk. 

What makes UCD Smurfit School stand out?
“The amount of learning opportunities offered by the school is impressive,” says Sauyith Cueva, a recent MBA graduate and now regional manager Dublin at Hilti Group. “UCD is also very attractive in terms of international experiences. Given that the school is part of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM), it gave us the opportunity to link up with students from other top business schools. We had the option of travelling to one of the MBA schools for a week of learning and networking or of hosting fellow students here in Ireland.

“Furthermore, being a GNAM school, we were invited to participate in the Yale Integrated Leadership Case Study Competition. I was part of the UCD Smurfit’s team last year and I consider this one of my most rewarding experiences because of the business and personal skills I developed during the training and the competition itself, it went far beyond my expectations.

Why did you choose this school?
The fact that the course has this international recognition was an important factor in my decision. I chose UCD MBA because it has three accreditations as well as a world ranking in the top hundred MBA by the Financial Times.

Plus the Leadership Development Programme, taught throughout the year, focuses on improving self-awareness, emotional intelligence and interpersonal relationships, which was important to my decision. As managers we are responsible for knowing the technicalities of the job but more importantly, for fostering a good working environment that considers employees wellbeing and development plans. This can only happen with a good leadership style.

What kind of networking opportunities exist?
“Both internal and external ones,” says Fintan McGovern, UCD Smurfit MBA class of 2012.
“The internal is the fellow MBA classmates that you meet as you go through the programme. In my MBA class we were from all different backgrounds and we had really different careers prior to the MBA. You learn a lot from the people and you can also get an insight into their networks and contacts. The external opportunities are the wider UCD Business school contacts, people who have completed an MBA and can be accessed through the careers office in UCD Smurfit.”

Are the students all from business backgrounds?
“MBA students come from all different backgrounds and industries, including business,” says Prof Cal B Muckley, UCD Professor of Operational Risk in Banking  and Finance and MBA Academic Director. “It is certainly not a requirement to have a business background. Currently there are over 12 industries represented on our MBA. Having a class with a range of backgrounds helps our MBA students learn and develop key skills.”

Why did you decide to do an MBA?
“I initially wanted to do a Masters in Engineering following on from my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering,” says James Kelly, UCD Smurfit MBA class of 2018. “I did my research, saw the quality of the Smurfit MBA programme, and realised the potential it had to catapult my career and differentiate me.”

"The Smurfit School’s faculty and staff is the true distinguishing factor which sets it apart as Ireland’s leading MBA programme." 

Does the programme have an international focus?
“Definitely,” says Kelly. “It is evident in the diverse make up of the class, the faculty, and the international modules we took. During my time in Smurfit I took a week-long module in both Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru. I competed in an IBM Digital Strategy Case Competition in Georgetown Washington DC, completed an international consultancy project in Reykjavik, Iceland, and I also had the opportunity to go to Istanbul to study at Koc, a GNAM partner school.”

How was your Smurfit MBA experience?
“The MBA at Smurfit School allowed me to develop a new mindset,” says Bob Brennan, a medical doctor by training. “Coming from the public sector, I had no experience of what it was to be in business. The MBA afforded me an opportunity to grasp, at a high level, the various aspects of what it takes to be a manager and a leader.”

What did you enjoy most?
“The people,” says Brennan. “The insights afforded by being part of such a diverse, energetic and international cohort cannot be underestimated. The Smurfit School’s staff is the true distinguishing factor which sets it apart as Ireland’s leading MBA programme.”

Where are you working now?
“I have joined a leading professional services firm in Dublin where I am a member of a team providing strategy and project management advice to the public sector,” says Brennan. “I joined both as an experienced hire and in a leadership role, a position I wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the lessons learned on the MBA.”

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