Our second semester for the Year 1 EMBA, kicked off on Friday 14th January with a half day session on Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) facilitated by Barry Delaney of PWC. To prepare, we had all been asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire which probed our motivations in different scenarios especially when under pressure. Understanding your motivation and that of others is a key skill in team working. Modifying your behaviour to achieve a successful outcome especially in situations of conflict is a sign of an effective team.
The session gave us direct feedback about ourselves and an opportunity to reflect on this. I had the benefit of working with SDI 18 months previously, so I was up to speed with the main concepts and I was particularly interested in seeing if my own motivations have changed. Of course they haven’t!
The objective of the session was to think about our Semester 1 Study Teams in these terms and to apply the lessons learned to the formation of our Semester 2 Study Teams which was done through a series of exercises. There were a few funny moments when the “assertive-directives” disagreed with the “altruistic-nurturing” group over some ethical points but at least they listened.
There is no doubt that the most important unit in the MBA is your work group or Study Team. I already valued SDI as a useful tool and this enjoyable and well run session has reinforced it. What I have taken away is some specific and practical help to work with my group members in such a way that we get the best out of each other. As we roll into the long semester ahead we will certainly by relying on each other!
The Financial Times ranking of the top 100 global full-time MBA programmes was published today. The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School MBA has jumped 20 places in the global MBA rankings. We are now ranked as 78th in the world and among the top 25 MBAs in Europe. We are among less than 50 schools worldwide that have been consistently ranked in the top 100 over the last twelve years.
We are the only Irish MBA programme that appears in the ranking and are pleased given these difficult economic times that we have improved our standing.
So what’s behind this? We believe it’s a combination of continuous improvement; a collegiate leaning environment coupled with small class sizes, dedicated programme and academic teams and outstanding alumni.
For example we are currently undergoing an academic review of our curriculum, the objective being to enhance student learning. We have streamlined our Personal and Professional Development Programme, which includes team development and individual business coaching with experienced professional business coaches. Finally our MBA Careers Service continues to work on a one to one basis with our MBA students providing them with the skills to accelerate their career.
So here we all are back at Smurfit School after a well-earned break. The time off for Christmas and New Year has recharged everyone’s enthusiasm, so much so that most people didn’t mind coming back. But when we were back, we were back. There was no allowance for easing ourselves back into the routine – we were straight into assignments, readings, presentations and more readings and more assignments. The time off we enjoyed seems like a distant memory now.
One slight difference I have noticed this term has been the increase in mutterings about jobs and applications and “what are you going doing next year?” Surely it’s much too early for that I thought (and hoped).
However in reality it’s not too early. At the end of this term, it will be March and we will be going on our International Trip. Before we know it, April will be upon us and then the panic will set in! And if we are to be honest with ourselves, it is the reason we signed up in the first place. Whether it was to get a leg-up in our chosen profession or for a change in job, it was all about the career at the end of the day.
So onwards and upwards as we commence our search for gainful employment in earnest! I had better make my way to the Careers Office.
Last Saturday, as a kick off to semester 2, I went to the Careers Detection workshop which is part of our PPD programme. It was everyone’s first day back in Smurfit after the Xmas and analysing your career at 9am on a cold January Saturday morning was a bit of a jolt back to reality for most of us. I’ve been to lots of these types of events over the years. I know my Myers-Briggs, interview technique, CV structure as well as the next person. So I guess my expectations that I’d learn something new were not too high. But as I’m job hunting at the moment I thought why not, I might get something out of it.
I‘m glad to say it was well worth it. There was lots of very practical and honest advice on the current job market – it’s tough (knew that), most roles are contract (yes I’m hearing that a lot) and the successful candidates are putting 20 – 30 hours into prepping for each interview (wow best get at it so). There were also some very useful tools. The Richmond Career driver’s section was good and sparked a debate about money being a driver or is it just a hygiene factor? Our Celtic Tiger mortgages need paying; kids need to be fed and so on.
At the end of Semester 1 we all had to choose optional/elective courses for Semester 2. The choice was quite big. For me there were two possible directions, either to learn something related to my background (banking), or vice versa learn something totally new.
However before making this decision you should answer a much bigger question behind it. That question is what are you going to do after the graduation? We all come to do an MBA with an ultimate goal of having better lives – more exciting job, higher income, interesting people around, more opportunities and perspectives, etc.
The MBA Career Service at Smurfit was trying to help us to answer that big question from the first week of our study. They provide a range of trainings and session starting from very practical such as writing your CV to individual interviews with professional coaches, who help you to understand your real motivations and goals. The main thing Career Service and all the trainers repeat all the time is that MBA is your chance to think about a job that you would be willing to do for the rest of your life, something that makes you happy and excited!
In order to maximise a Smurfit MBA’s student experience, we designed a Personal and Professional Development (PPD) programme which runs in parallel to the academic curriculum. It starts during the Foundation Programme and continues right up until the end of the MBA. Most of our MBA students participate actively and we believe it may prove to be perhaps the most valuable learning experience and will stand in good stead to graduates years after they complete the MBA.
The purpose of PPD is to broaden each student’s set of soft skills to give them the edge in becoming the most effective leaders they can be.
These are some of latest events we have run.
On 8th Jan, we held the kick-off event for Semester 2. It was a PPD one day workshop held before the academic term began called Career Detection. Brian McIvor, the esteemed careers guru, facilitated this for us.
On the weekend of 14th and 15th January, Barry Delaney from PWC facilitated a workshop on SDI – Strength Deployment Inventory. This PPD workshop forms part of a theme that is based around Teams enabling a deeper understanding of how they function to thereby increasing the MBA student’s skillset in leading teams. For an overview click here
You will be able to read more about the students’ perspective in these blog posts.
“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.
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!