Why I did an MBA:
Before the MBA I was working as IT consultant on multi-million European-wide deals. When we were finalising these deals, I found myself in a room with the EMEA heads of HR, finance, marketing etc. I was representing the EMEA lead for consulting. I was keeping up with these high-power conversations, but only just. I had hit a career ceiling and to progress my career further, I needed to break out of my consulting zone and get on the same level as these domain specialists.
The Smurfit MBA was how I did this.
What my head knew but my heart denied:
The content of an MBA isn’t difficult; it’s the breadth and depth of knowledge that you have to consume in a compressed time that’s the challenge.
What everyone says, but I didn’t believe until I got there:
You learn quite a lot from your classmates, and yes – you get out what you put in. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and you will be rewarded.
What I learned most:
Over the years, I had already worked out many of the concepts from the MBA in my own head, from first principles. The MBA put structure and a formal nomenclature on the fuzziness, allowing me again to work with other domain leaders.
What shocked me about the MBA:
In the last 5-10 years before the MBA I had gotten used to being the “smartest guy in the room”. In the first couple of weeks in Smurfit, I realised I was in the lower 50-percentile of the class. This was quite a shock to the ego.
My favourite moment on the MBA:
We had a presentation from the conductor of a concert orchestra. I didn’t engage initially – I wasn’t going to apply for the job. But he slowly explained his role: to coordinate 80 primadonnas, all who believe they are better at their job than he is at his. All who think they could work better without him, all who wanted to give their own 90 second opinion, some of whom were just passengers, and somehow his role was to add value so the whole was significantly better than the sum of the parts.
EUREKA! I realised these were the same challenges that I faced in my role as a programme manager, and therefore certain knowledge and skills are fungible.
It was these insights that were the highlights of the MBA.
What I did with my MBA
I was hired by a major IT organisation to improve their “Value Engineering:” to create business propositions for large deals, especially where the CIO was convinced. The CFO & CEO needed to see some financials, albeit based on the technology, and with real numbers before getting on board.
The job offer was routed through the Smurfit MBA Careers Office and the mandatory requirements for the position included an “MBA from a top European business school.”
Full-time MBA 2009
Senior Director | Industry Strategy & Insight, Oracle