“Who am I? What are my strengths? Where do I want to go?”
These are all very existential questions, which for a thirty-year-old person to be pondering may seem a littlebelated! However, in the context of career path planning, they are fundamental to an MBA’s post-academic professional life. The importance of addressing these questions is underlined by the fact that our full time MBA class spend up to 20% of each week’s lecture time on personal and professional development.
Often we know what we are good at, what are our values and strengths, and how we interact with others, but it can be very difficult to articulate these succinctly and to tie it all into a package which aligns with a specific future career path. In my opinion, this is the most important output of my MBA experience: clarifying my future career wants.
Just to give some background on myself so you know where I’m coming from….
I’m 33 years old and have worked as an engineer in the construction industry here in Ireland for ten years. I studied civil engineering in UCC in Cork and graduated in 2000. That’s more than 10 years ago now and makes me feel very old.
As you may be aware, the construction industry here in Ireland has collapsed in the last two years, so I was faced with a choice; either travel outside the country to find work or else take a year off. What better way to take a year off than to do an MBA; you don’t feel as if you’re completely wasting your time and hey I might even learn a thing or two along the way.
My name is Nargiza and I am from Kyrgyzstan. You may not have heard of it but it is a beautiful country in Central Asia. In fact, the flight from the capital Bishkek to Dublin takes eleven hours so you can imagine how far these two countries from each other, both in geographical and cultural sense. As far as I know, I am the first person from Kyrgyzstan studying at UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School. So, whenever I meet someone in Ireland first question they ask is why someone from Kyrgyzstan would decide to do MBA in Ireland?
“It’s all about the knowledge economy, the tech industry, -no the food industry, – sorry I disagree, it will be the pharma industry”. These are the statements we hear as we look for a glimmer of hope in the current economic climate. Who are the Entrepreneurs who will offer the spark for the future? This is the $64 million question (or should that be €85 billion). At the Smurfit School the MBA Class has started the Entrepreneurship Club to allow students both to bring ideas to the table or just for the interested spectator to hear where their future might lie.
At the inaugural meeting of the 2010/2011 Entrepreneurship Club, a number of enthusiastic students from both the Full-time and Executive MBA classes came together to design an outline for the year. There was common consensus to try and move it away from a lecture style modus operandi to more practical implementation (the mere mention of lecture had some quaking as they feared the 75 books they would need to prepare in a week for the next lecture).
A common theme was developed for the year based on the process of bringing a company to success or as the brand has become known ‘ Conception To Fruition’. Nights of trading ideas and more recently lunch time (hunger seems to bring a keenness to people’s mind), visits to UCD Nova to see the latest offerings for the future, and exchanges with recent Entrepreneurs has shown the potential that exists. Unfortunately the weather got the better of us (what a surprise in Ireland) so the Entrepreneurship Club has had to postpone its recent big event ‘How To Finance Your Business’ (and no, this was not because we needed clearance by the IMF). We will be following up this blog with regular slots keeping everyone posted on the progress of the Club.
Walking into a class full of 47 people and walking in a week late (thanks to the Visa process!), I was excited and nervous at the same time. More than anything else, I was curious to know if my class was as diverse as the school claimed! As I entered the class, a positive vibe welcomed me into the room full of smiling faces. Looking around and after talking to a few people, I was so enthralled by the range of nationalities and experiences we had in a batch of 47. From Irish engineers to American sales managers, from Vietnamese bankers to a Canadian telecommunications expert, there was so many to learn from in the coming year.
Over the holiday period, you may be able to give more time to the thought of doing an MBA.
Dave Lawton is a Process and Chemical Engineer from Cork. He has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for seven years, prior to starting his full-time MBA in UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business. In writing this blog, he thought he would answer the more common questions out there about an MBA.
What is an MBA all about?
I was in this situation six months ago, and despite some extreme environmental conditions the exit from full time employment and entry back into education has been and continues to be a rewarding decision (hmm, something tells me the transition may not be so smooth – but more of than anon). So what would I have liked to have known prior to starting out? These are the top five questions.
My name is Patrick Hillis but all of my new classmates here at the Smurfit MBA have taken to calling me, “Paddy” (affectionately, I think). I come from the Pacific Northwest region of the United States — home of the space needle, Starbucks and fine folks like my good friend Billy Gates (not exactly, but I did come within a mile of his house on a boat once).
This week saw the MBA Conferring for the classes that completed this summer.
Conferrings are always a huge event for us and for the Smurfit School in general as they mark the culmination of so much work and effort for everyone involved, it’s a chance to celebrate a tremendous personal achievement with graduates, their families and the academic staff. This years ceremony was added too by the festive atmosphere provided by the approach of Christmas and the truly impressive Christmas tree which dominated the top to the O’Reilly Hall and which became a favoured backdrop for post conferral class and family pictures. MBA graduates were joined by two other classes, the Master in Accounting and the MSc Finance stream and this made of a busy and vibrant event.
One thing which is always commented upon at MBA conferrals is the large number of small children who attend, a testament to just how good many of our participants are at juggling both academic and personal lives. Throw in work for the EMBA classes and you can see what an amazing accomplishment the obtaining of an MBA degree really is.
This particular conferring ceremony was unusual in that it was actually our second of the year. The previous one -for the classes finishing in Summer 2009- was in March and was the last of the March conferrings since the University decided last year to move conferral up to December.
Congratulations again to the Smurfit MBA Classes of 2010 !
Walking into a room to meet a complete stranger, I was unsure what to expect and how much to reveal myself. I was greeted with a noisy door but a very warm “Good morning”. It was my scheduled meeting with my coach at the MBA program at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. The coaching sessions are designed to help the students chalk out a plan for their future, under expert guidance from trained coaches. Armed with experience, the coaches help you identify your strengths, prioritize your goals and guide you in the best possible manner.
My coach was a wonderful lady (thankfully!). She made me comfortable so I could share my aspirations, future plans, as well as, apprehensions with her. She was a very considerate listener. She gave me time to settle down before she asked me what my future plans were. It helped to share with another lady as she could fully understand me. I told her how the course was shaping, how I was getting along in the course and how demanding and draining it was, both physically and mentally. She asked me about where I wanted to see myself in the future and what I am doing in the course towards achieving that dream. She then asked me what my long term and short term goals were, and we discussed how I could work on myself to become fully equipped to achieve them.
One thing that really impressed me was that there were no strings attached to the session. I could openly discuss anything, professional, as well as, personal. This helped me discuss all parameters that will help form the perfect equation of life for me. My coach, because of her experience and knowledge, could relate to a lot of things I mentioned and advised me accordingly. She helped me envision my future more clearly as she had examples to share from her own life and from the lives of the people she knew. I learnt from her experience. Real life examples helped me gauge the pros on cons of all my plans.
All in all, I think the coaching is a very useful part of the MBA program at Smurfit. It really gives you an insight into what you “really” want in life and what is best suited to your strengths. I expected my first session to be another one of those add-on features that Business schools talk about in their advertisements but I am glad they proved me wrong. The invaluable guidance I received has made me more focussed on my end goal. I am already looking forward to meeting my coach again next month!