Why UCD?

‘Experiential. Transformational. International.’ Those were the first words that stood out to me when I looked up the official Smurfit MBA website a year ago, looking to see if the school fit into my plans, and I with it. I can never forget those words. 

If you are reading this, it means that just like I was, you are considering doing the UCD Smurfit MBA program. And you are probably wondering, ‘is this the one?’ Well, a thousand times, ‘Yes!’ And I hope to show you why through my experiences.

A wood-paneled hallway with a student walking through and flags from a multitude of nations suspended from the ceiling
My favourite part of school for the first few weeks: the ‘Hall of Flags’, as I call it

To take up studies at the UCD Smurfit MBA program, I embarked on a life-changing journey: leaving my home in Nigeria to come to Ireland. I was airborne for 2 days, arrived on Sunday evening, and started classes the following day. I do not recommend this type of travel itinerary–I promise it is not fun when it comes down to it. But I was too excited to feel the exhaustion that no doubt coursed through my body. 

Hey! I made it, I’m here now (me, dancing on the inside). In my head, as I stared at the red brick walls of the Smurfit building on day one, I said to myself, ‘Shall we begin?’

An Asian man and a Black woman in business casual dress, smiling inside the cutout of a cardboard photo booth frame, in front of the red brick UCD Smurfit main building
Study Partner Linh & I on Picture Day

A typical day at the MBA involves two classes, at most 3. Almost always, there are classes every day of the week (it’s the downer, I know. Wipes imaginary tears). The modules themselves are fascinating. What is most compelling to me, however, is that, with each module, you are not just reading books to pass an exam, you have the opportunity to take the knowledge and apply it to real-world problems.

In Leadership & Organisational Behaviour, for example, my module partner Linh and I took a real problem at a real organization and we diagnosed the cause of the massive attrition rates the organization was experiencing. The results were far beyond what we expected and we felt very proud of what we accomplished together. It felt very empowering for me. Needless to say, we scored an A on the project (again, dancing with joy on the inside).

Or take the project that my study team took up for the Marketing management module. We wrote a paper on a very real digital camera company and were able to diagnose the weaknesses in its marketing mix and its value proposition. We came up with some solid recommendations for the company at the end of the paper. I felt proud to be able to produce a value of such magnitude and feel like the Smurfit MBA has unlocked hidden potential in me.

Five smiling students around a computer keyboard on campus
With my study team, putting an assignment together

Right now, I am preparing for a pitching session that to me is the equivalent of the dragon’s den, for the entrepreneurship module. It is hard work, as much as it is exciting. But I am confident that the program is preparing me for the career I intend to pursue after the MBA.

Seven smiling students in a wood-paneled hallway in front of a huge, brightly-lit Christmas tree
Some classmates & I just around Christmastime

The Smurfit MBA is structured such that you work in teams for a large percentage of the time. This helps you increase your network, and ensures that you benefit from the strengths of your classmates as they benefit from yours. In my class of about 30, I get to work with engineers, medical professionals, salespeople, architects, creative designers, and much more. So do not worry if you do not have an accounting or business background. Working with a diverse and international cohort from a variety of backgrounds, you will learn valuable skills that will help you come out on top in your career, whatever it may be.

So why UCD? Tell me, why not UCD?

Blessing Ehinomen Ebare, Full Time MBA Class of 2023