A Path that Leads to Enlightenment

A wooden bridge over a shallow stream, leading to a gravel path through a grassy clearing with a backdrop of deciduous trees

Ever stop to think what a “business” really is? With a quindecennial work anniversary coming soon, and having gained a wealth of experience in the design and development of technical solutions from concept to finished product as a Chartered Engineer, the idea that a company and its business is more than my regular profession or occupation began to crystallise in me.

David Packard, an electrical engineer by profession and one of the founders of Hewlitt-Packard, once famously said, “I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being. As we investigate this, we inevitably come to the conclusion that a group of people get together and exist as an institution that we call a company so that they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately—they make a contribution to society, a phrase which sounds trite but is fundamental.”

This idea that every business contributes to society has always stood with me, and I have been intrigued by how different businesses achieve success on their respective missions to improve society. However, it was not until a coffee table conversation with my better half sometime in May 2020 that I finally decided that I needed to do an MBA to understand this. With bills to pay, I did not have the luxury of taking a year off for my pursuit.  I researched the best universities and courses in Ireland, and was glad to find the Executive MBA programme by UCD’s Smurfit School of Business, one of the top business schools in the world.

One year into the Executive MBA program, time seems to have flown by. Some of the things that I’ve learned include: how an effective Competitive Strategy is drawn up based on the business environment; the role of effective financial control in Corporate Finance; how Managerial Accounting influences behaviours; how Operations & Supply Chain Management transform a business; the importance of Leadership & Organizational Behaviour, together with Human Resources & Management in transforming the culture of a company; and much more!  

The subjects I have learned have most definitely opened my eyes to a new understanding of the business world, through the lenses of some brilliant lecturers and a class of highly experienced and talented individuals. 

The learning curve has been steep and intense, with a plethora of readings, case studies and project work that are bound to challenge even the more seasoned academic enthusiasts. Add a full-time job and a family into the mix, and you are surely in for an awakening into the world of business and the importance of time management!  However, you begin to realize that every aspect of the course is like a melting pot of ideas and experiences. The MBA makes possible a unique environment: a diverse pool of professionals from different sectors of our society: ranging from medicine to manufacturing, human resource to finance, all sharing a common passion for business.

For the two years of the MBA, you get to experience many lives in this microcosm of society, this sandbox of business scenarios and solutions, this fellowship of friends…..

I will cherish this enlightenment for years to come. I think Bill Lazier, co-author of the book Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0, explained this perfectly when he said, “You can go at life as a series of transactions, or you can go at life building relationships. Transactions can give you success, but only relationships make for a great life.” 

Tony Korah, CEng MIEI — Executive MBA Class of 2022