How do I know if an MBA is the right choice for me?

Hands on a laptop next to an open book with the header 'Business'
UCD Quinn School of Business. Picture by Shane O’Neill, SON Photographic

Many prospective students who might consider an MBA are toying with a lot of questions right now. How do I know… if an MBA is the right choice for me? If it’s the right time? If I’m capable of doing an MBA?  

So here’s a few thoughts I’d like to share, based on my experience of meeting & accepting students onto our own UCD Smurfit MBA programme.

First, a bit of background info.

What is an MBA? The MBA is a Master of Business Administration. Ultimately, this is a general management degree aimed at people who have several years’ professional work experience. All MBAs will cover topics such as Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, Strategy, Leadership & Organisational Behaviour – important core management subjects.  You will get the opportunity to choose options where you can specialise in other areas and explore other topics–from Data Analytics, to Digital Transformation–and you will have opportunities to develop your consultancy skills and work with client companies on projects, including a final Capstone project. In UCD Smurfit, we also have an extensive Leadership Development Programme to develop your capabilities in this field. You can study an MBA full-time for one year or part-time over two years (weekly or monthly options).

I’m worried that I have no business experience. So What? Everyone comes to an MBA with certain knowledge: so perhaps you’re an engineer, or a marketing specialist, or a pharmacist.  You may know nothing about financial reporting, but you will learn from your classmates, some of whom will know a bit about this, and you will have opportunities to use your experience to add value for your classmates at different points throughout the programme. So, it’s checks and balances. You don’t need a business background–in fact, everyone brings something different to the table. There is not one profile we look for.

We always consider what you as a prospective candidate can bring to the classroom experience. And that’s what’s so great about an MBA: everyone is so different, from different industries, different professional experience, different nationalities. This is what will challenge you and challenge your way of thinking: not everyone thinks the same way or approaches a problem in the same way that you do!

The first and most important question I always ask someone is, WHY? For you personally, why do you want to do an MBA? What is your motivation? It’s so important that you clearly understand your own motivation – when things get tough this will get you through! Look, let’s be honest here… an MBA is a BIG time and financial commitment. Don’t rush to a decision, take your time, think it through before you commit to this. Involve your partner and family in the decision process as this will impact on them too – make sure they are supportive and understand the extra time commitment which means time spent away from them.  And don’t forget that an understanding and flexible employer makes this a lot easier for you too.  Consider how to show your employer that your MBA will benefit them too! 

Some people who join us spend a few years planning to do an MBA – others not so much! However one thing is clear: this is an investment in your future.

The most common reasons to do an MBA are as follows:

  • to pivot to a new role or industry, 
  • to develop management skills and gain a broader knowledge of management topics 
  • for career advancement reasons.
Students sitting at outdoor tables in the courtyard next to Smurfit's coffee dock

Perhaps you have a manager you admire and she has an MBA and is encouraging you to apply. This has got you thinking about your own career advancement, with your current employer or potentially elsewhere. Or perhaps you are a specialist who wants to move in a general management direction, but you don’t believe you have the skillset or perhaps the confidence to progress. An MBA can help!  

We have loads of evidence from our own MBA alumni to prove that they have achieved all of these objectives. Word of warning, however… an MBA is not a magic wand. It’s important to know why you want to do an MBA, and make sure when you get here to make the most of the experience and the opportunities here for you. That means making an effort to meet new people, e.g. your classmates and MBA alumni, to improve your networking skills.  Engage actively with the extra -curricular activities such as Clubs and other events… and be proactive! Don’t sit back and expect things to just happen. Use your initiative, make suggestions, be positive, take the opportunities that come your way.

This is a unique experience. At the end of your programme you will look back fondly at the time spent doing your MBA, the friends you made and the community you joined. In a very short space of time, you will become part of our cherished MBA alumni community, where we will continue to engage with you–and hopefully see you return to meet the next batch!

Sophie Carey, Senior Manager, MBA Programmes

People are What Really Matter

‘People are what really matter.’

This simple expression sounds like an old cliché that everyone is tired of hearing, but it is impressive how we end up forgetting its real meaning throughout our lives. I wanted to restate its value in this post, remembering what really is important during the Smurfit MBA and thanking all the awesome people who are making it happen.

I started the Smurfit MBA hopeful that I would have a relatively normal year studying in Ireland, a country that presented low Covid-19 infection levels at that moment. Two weeks into the course my hopes weakened when Dublin entered in level 3 restrictions and classes went virtual. Thereafter, a series of additional restrictions and uncertainties took place, further shaking my hopes for a good normal life.

However, my hopes are stronger than before, and this is unexpected. Without the opportunities for connection we might have taken for granted in the past, my fellow students and our professors are creating new approaches for collaboration and getting to know one another:

  • Last month I read a post from an MBA Smurfit student saying that her next goal is to connect more with our classmates. 
  • Students created a coffee drop-in in the middle of the week only to chat about… well, about nothing at all. It is an attempt to replace that informal coffee-time and lunches we used to have with workmates that often was more of an obligation and now we miss it so much.  
  • A student started to invite his classmates to walk-and-talk and get to know each other better face-to-face (respecting all Covid-19 security measures). I attended yesterday, and it was amazing. My opinion is this is going to be the new trend among our MBA classmates, at least I hope so.
A smiling bearded man standing on the promenade at Dublin docklands, with the city lights and red poles in the background.
Walk and talk with a classmate

In short, it is a fact that people’s connections are harmed due to the pandemic, we are aware enough of that, but who better to deal with it than the Smurfit MBA cohort?

I realized that I have been studying every day by myself for 6 months, but never really felt alone. At first, I thought it was because of the books and the amount of learning I was getting from them. But now, I am sure it is because of all the people around me. It is because the Smurfit group also knows that people are what really matter.

So, this is a letter of thanks to the amazing people around me, students, professors, staff, executive coaching, workshop lectures and all Smurfit cohort.

Three students at a restaurant table
Pre-lockdown pizza with my first-trimester study group
  • Thanks to the professor that last week said in a Friday’s class: “ok, your faces do not look exciting after all these virtual classes, so next week we will not have online classes as usual. I will set up individual meetings with each of you to know more about yourselves, doubts, learning progress and project developments.” The meetings will still happen through Zoom, but this individualized approach changes everything.
  • Another professor stopped the class in the middle of an agitated case resolution discussion and said: “Do you really think someone is going to pay something for you for this solution?”. Of course, he was challenging the class to develop the solution further in a manner that the market would value it, which kept us attentive after two hours on Zoom.
  • Last week I was worried about my first job interview in Ireland, when I decided to ask for help from the Smurfit career manager. He was amazingly fast and there for me. We scheduled a call before my actual interview, and he showed me the points I may improve in interviews and what I should change in my approach, boosting my confidence.
  • Also last week, my executive coach convinced me that Covid-19 was one of the best things that happened to me. After that, I am sure the psychoanalysis is a powerful thing. By the way, he is also meeting in parks, in a walk-and-talk format. 
Cabinteely Park, host of the executive coaching meeting
  • In the same positive vibe, a student argued that we will burst in the Irish market because we will finish the MBA when the global economy will be recovering from the pandemic and therefore desperate for new employees.

The apex of all the processes is how our thoughts, way of thinking and beliefs are put in check by the presence of others. Every text reading, every discussion among students and professors, gives my mind something to reason about.

Our Operation Management professor said we are here to change the rules of the game. It is up to us now to change the rules for best ways to improve our personal connections.

Fernando Muller, FTMBA Class of 2021

Q&A Event: Women on the MBA

Considering an MBA, but wondering what it’s like from a student perspective? What about work/life balance? What about family care? What about funding?

Join members of GEMBA (Gender Equity on the MBA) to discuss your concerns and the many opportunities available when undertaking the Smurfit MBA.

Date and time: Wednesday, 24th February from 7.30pm – 8.30 pm

Introduction: Professor Gerardine Doyle, Director UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, will discuss gender equity initiatives at the college and opportunities for incoming students

Moderator and Panel Members: Katrina Enros (Chair, 2nd year EMBA), Chhavi Negi (full-time MBA), Caitlin McBride (full-time MBA), Sharon Maguire (2nd year EMBA), Lynda Unogu (2nd year EMBA), Kate Killeen (1st year EMBA).

Interested? You can learn more about the event here, and register to attend here.

Becoming a Better Negotiator with the Thought Leadership Society

The MBA Thought Leadership Society recently ran a very informative session on the subject of becoming a better negotiator. 

Stephen Boyle is a lecturer at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, where he delivers courses in negotiation, influence and decision making on executive development, MBA, and other postgraduate degree programmes.

Over the course of the session Stephen touched on a range of topics to make one a better negotiator, from the benefits of viewing the process as a collaborative one over competitive, to always having a BANTA (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement) whenever engaging in negotiation oneself. He further focused attendees’ minds on identifying their interest or purpose in engaging in any negotiation, their targets (with a reminder to be ambitious) and priorities. As an extension, he helped participants view compromise in negotiations as trade off between various packages and discussed the value in putting yourself in the other side’s shoes when identifying compromises that would work for both, thus leading to greater value for both parties and developing more positive relationships. Finally, he noted the importance of the people factor in any negotiations, and advised students that while generating a positive relationship is vital, to not put it above your own long term interests.

After Stephen’s presentation he spent significant time answering students’ questions, indicative of the great level of interest his talk provoked. Questions ranged from topics such as “the difference between persuasion and negotiation” to “the proper level of information sharing at the beginning of negotiations”. The questions themselves went on for as long as the presentation itself, and would have likely continued if allowed. 

The presentation was clearly an event enjoyed by all and we of the Thought Leadership Society look forward to our next speaker session.

Paul Kilroy-Glynn, FTMBA Class of 2021

The Obstacle on the Path Becomes the Path

Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude. 

Viktor Frankl

For many, the past 12 months have felt like a bit of a whirlwind. We went from what we thought was a 2-week lockdown, through copious amounts of zoom calls, to what people are now calling COVID fatigue. Like many others I have gone through substantial change this year. Wherever possible I have tried to embrace it with open arms, even when it didn’t come naturally: such as when I faced the maths section of the executive assessment exam.  

The past 7 years and a big chunk of my professional career were spent working in the Middle East, where I had worked hard to build a reputation as a person who delivered results in sales & business development. In July of 2020, five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world stood still for a moment. I received an email to say my role was impacted by the global headcount reduction at my company. If anyone has ever been impacted by redundancies before, you will know it is not the most pleasant experience to go through. There is still stigma around the word and many do not like to talk about it. Many self-critical thoughts raced through my mind: Could I have done more? Am I good enough? Did they not like me? It was a very strange and isolating time. I was reminded by a friend recently that redundancy doesn’t mean you are redundant but more importantly its the role that is redundant. 

Four smiling people in front of a wood wall featuring the LinkedIn logo in lights
Working with one of our growing customers in Dubai. 

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

Randy Pausch

After letting the dust settle for a few days, I thought to myself, ‘how can I turn this event into an opportunity to grow?’ I narrowed it down to four areas: apply for a new role? travel the world? (Hard to do with a ban on most travel.) Set up my own business? or do an MBA? I’ve wanted to do an MBA for a long time. In my Microsoft Internship, I remember sitting with a colleague who was mid-way through their MBA and being positively impacted by their energy and excitement for the MBA course. The way they articulated and understood the bigger picture intrigued me. Following that conversation, I firmly placed the desire to do an MBA onto my things I would like to do in the future list. 

A young bearded man in a business suit speaks, holding a microphone, on a platform in a hotel ballroom.
Board member of the Irish Business Network Dubai presenting to members 

If I am being very honest, I was a little naïve to the process of getting into an MBA programme.  So, when I realized I not only had to do an entrance exam but there was also a section heavily weighted on maths, I was a little concerned. It had been so long since I had encountered any of these types of math. With six weeks to prepare for the executive assessment, I had a small moment of doubt. Had I left it too late to get up-to-speed and achieve the standard required in such a short time?

If I didn’t pass the entry exams, I knew that the decision to return home could be the wrong decision and the year I had set-aside to complete the MBA could be an ambiguous time. I also knew that to wait another year before joining the MBA class was not a realistic option.

Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.

William Shakespeare

So, with no time to lose, I began receiving Math tutoring 3 times a week for 3 weeks until I returned to Ireland. During this same period, I was preparing to leave Dubai. Rental agreements needed to be closed, belongings that could not be re-patriated needed to be disposed of and banking and visa requirements all needed attention. Most importantly, I needed to say goodbye to friends and colleagues. These 3 weeks were hectic and challenging on many fronts.

Having arrived back in Ireland, I still was not feeling fully confident in the math section of the executive assessment. I tried the mock online and I knew I needed to find more help. I secured lessons with a professor: 2 hours of teaching per day, for 5 days, every morning, right up to the exam. 

Why am I telling you all this you might be wondering? 

The executive assessment exam for me was an early lesson in overcoming my limiting beliefs. I had to keep an open mind, tackle my weaknesses front-on, know when to ask for help, and map out a clear process to enable me to succeed. These same skills continued to help me throughout the first semester of the MBA, which, thanks to the complications of COVID-19, was not the easiest start. I have thoroughly settled into and am  enjoying the course. I have  been able to build relationships with my fellow students and lecturers and hope to strengthen these even further as time goes on. 

Funnily enough, and to my surprise, some of the subjects I have found the most interesting are maths-based: management accounting, financial statement analysis, and economics. Overcoming my limiting beliefs allowed me to go into subjects with an open mind, ask questions, and remain curious. 

Back home in ireland – for weekly Sunday swims at the 40Ft

As I reflect over the past few months I remember an article that I wrote back in April, one month into the pandemic. I had just started watching Game of Thrones. In this scene, one of the characters (Ygritte) is sharpening and fine-tuning her bow & arrows amid a great storm. Her friend Tormund looks to her and says, ‘we could be here for a while; there is no need to rush with making arrows, come for a drink.’ Her response: “Good, the longer we wait, the more arrows I’ll have.” This is what stood out to me in Game of Thrones and this is what I hope the pandemic (our own storm) is for me. I hope to take what I learned in conquering the maths section of the GMAT and,  at the end of my MBA, come back out to the market with my skills sharpened. 

Career success is not about being employed but being employable. Change is the only constant in life and does not have to define us. A true test of character is how we react when it does.  

Conor Hyland, FTMBA Class of 2021

New MBA Offering + New Scholarship = This May be Your Year

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re curious about doing an MBA at UCD Smurfit School. You may even have signed up for the MBA Open Event on 30 January at 9:30 a.m. Irish time. And you may be very pleased to know that 2021 will see the first intake class of UCD Smurfit’s Modular EMBA. With only two days’ attendance required each month, the new modular Executive MBA from UCD Smurfit School is the flexible choice for those with busy professional and personal schedules.

We are also pleased to partner with to offer a full-tuition scholarship to the Modular EMBA. You can learn more about the scholarship, as well as hear from an alumna of the Midweek EMBA, in the article and podcast linked here.

New Year’s Resolutions… 2021!

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” Earl Nightingale

Resolutions are overrated, and we all know it. Even if you enjoy making lofty goals for the new year, simply declaring a resolution is not the same as making a plan to get there. But you know what? You don’t have to do that, either. This year, make a resolution that is small and simple.

The view over a roof gable of a snow-covered suburban street under a grey sky
The view from self-isolation

After the year of 2020, we still do not know what 2021 will bring. Over our Christmas break, I took a lot of time to reflect. This time last year I was in Fiji, sunning myself and not a care in the world. Fast forward a year, I am 1/3 through my MBA, life as we know it consists of endless amounts of Zoom calls, social distance walks and standing out in the cold drinking coffee. If you had said that to me last January, in the sunny Islands of Fiji, I would have laughed. I am certainly not laughing now. I have grown accustomed to staying connected with friends while keeping my distance. 

In line with my attempts to be healthy, be more motivated to do those home workouts and not roll my eyes at another Zoom session, my new years resolution is to be more connected. With a new MBA trimester, I have new teammates in my study group to get to know, and I am curious to work with different individuals and to learn from them and establish new connections. Yes to networking with new people, as MBA students, new people are encouraged and recommended; but also yes to being more connected with those around me. 

Having isolated due to COVID for a daunting 14 days over the Christmas, I do admit the time passes. Days are all one, and as I finish isolation I honestly am surprised how fast it went. Not saying you’ll get your life accomplishments completed, nor will you learn a language. But the quarantine gave me time to reconnect with myself, friends, family and some of my MBA colleagues.

I was so grateful and overwhelmed by the calls, texts and kind gestures of food dropped off to my house. The kindness, generosity from old friends, new friends (MBA colleagues) and family members was incredible. This year I aim to make time to call those I love, make more of an effort to get to know my MBA colleagues (coffee zooms!) and be more present with the people in my life. 

A rainbow through a blue sky over a suburban street with yellow houses, green lawns and hedges
A brighter, warmer perspective

I’m leaving my personal isolation for a society-wide one: everything is closed and we should be restricting our movements for the better of everyone, particularly our healthcare staff. What can we do?

Use the time as it passes. Make that coffee date on zoom, get our your calendars and book it in. Thinking of making a phone call, pick up the phone and make the call. Even a text message can make a huge difference to the person receiving it.Be it a dream, a catch up, a networking meeting or a check in. The time will pass by and hopefully we will be out of lock down soon, so do it now. The time will pass, as will restrictions and lockdowns, and hopefully in a few months we will be able to have a physical coffee chat in the warmth!

Catriona Brady, FTMBA Class of 2021

MBA Open Event: 30 January

Four images in block, clockwise from Top Left: MBA Open Event/January 30th; Photo of UCD Smurfit main building; UCD Smurfit School Logo; Photo of young people in Common Room.

The globally-ranked Smurfit MBA provides an unequalled opportunity to unlock and develop your leadership potential, accelerate your career and build your global network. On Saturday 30th January 2021,  UCD Smurfit School will host a unique virtual event for prospective MBA participants. The MBA Open Event is an opportunity for you to gain a real insight into the UCD Smurfit MBA. 

  • Date:  Saturday 30th January 2021
  • Time:  9.30am – 12pm (local Irish Time)

Attendees will have the chance to learn about our MBA Programme options including the new Modular Executive MBA, attend an MBA taste lecture and join an MBA Thought Leadership Session. Our Admissions team will give guidance on how to complete your application and outline the range of MBA Scholarships available. If you are considering an MBA, then this is an opportunity not to be missed. 

See a schedule, meet the speakers, and register here: 

The Importance of MBA Triage: Lessons from a Healthcare Perspective

“You can do anything, but not everything” (David Allen) was a quote I used to see regularly when working in Toronto hospitals. It was meant to inspire serenity and perspective. The ENTJ in me thought  differently. If I could do anything, then surely I could do everything?  Full disclosure here, I subscribe to the Ernest Gallo  philosophy of “we don’t want most of the business, we want all of it”.  

“You can do anything, but not everything.” The key words missing at the end of that sentence, for me, are: “at once”.

The author at work.

As I built my surgical career, my various roles often had me working 140 hours per week (including overnight calls). My pagers and phones rang incessantly with jobs to be done. Every department’s request was urgent. Everyone higher up in the organisation bestowed advice about the dangers of slipping up. Something had to give: I had to learn how to triage. 

The word triage itself derives from the French word “trier”, and was originally applied to a  process of sorting, probably around 1792, by Baron Dominique Jean Larrey, Surgeon  in Chief to Napoleon’s Imperial Guard. The original triage systems were based on prioritizing mass-casualty patients in battlefield settings into immediate, urgent, and non-urgent.  With the development of organised medical systems in the western world, the late 19th/early  20th century witnessed the emergence of triage within overcrowded emergency departments in  the US, UK, and Europe. Triage at this time consisted of a brief clinical assessment that determined the time and sequence in which the  patient should be seen, using their limited resources. Modern emergency departments must juggle the issues of increasing demand, increasing  financial pressures, staff limitations, burnout, technological and medical advancement, and an  ability to save the lives of patients who previously would not have survived. Emergency services now use  a modified traffic light system, adaptable to different patient cohorts  (children; elderly; surgical; cancer; psychiatric), for triage:  

Green: Low risk. Non-urgent 
Amber: Moderate risk. Semi-urgent 
Red: High risk. Urgent/Critical 
Black: Nothing can be done. Comfort measures only

As I progressed through my surgical career, I quickly adapted to triaging each job I was given. Those jobs that could wait–even for a  couple of hours–would do so. You live in your very own Maslow’s hierarchy, but the needs are external, not internal. Getting two calls for critical tasks such as an urgent call to theatre, and to the emergency department at the same time? Nightmare.

I found quickly that good quality communication, and the development of a strong professional network whom I could call on in a crisis worked well. I did my homework on not just the medical staff, but nursing, administrative staff, porters, office staff, cleaners, telephone operators, and even canteen staff. You take the time to get to know people, and let them get to know you, and suddenly, everything seems a little more cohesive, more efficient, and more tolerable. Also no harm in having your favourite panini and coffee pre-made while you whizz past the canteen on yet another important job. When it comes to urgent tasks, you will invariably fail on some. But how you make people around you feel? That stuff sticks. People. Matter. 

You will note that I haven’t mentioned the importance of trying to juggle a family life as well. My wife spent much of those years in a role akin to a single parent, holding down her own job and studies. My life could be summed up using a modified version of Porter’s Five Forces

Developing a system of triage, good communication skills, and (to borrow a phrase from Norma  O’Callaghan) a personal “board of directors”, saved me from failure and burnout. 

Thus it is with  the MBA. It is an intensive program by  any standard, and having prior exposure to covered topics does not grant immunity. With assignments, and reading, and presentations, and exams, and potentially even day jobs, the  concept of triage is as relevant to this endeavour as it is to any branch of medicine/surgery. 

Our direct resources in this case are limited, and include time, freshness, vigour, communication, and  motivation. One needs to apply these as required, and to risk-stratify assignments and tasks.

Here we move from the Napoleonic wars at the start of the blog to Comrade Napoleon in the George Orwell novel Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than  others”. There are only so many hours in the day, only so many brain cells available at one time, only so far your “favour network” can stretch.

Do I take bloods on the imminent surgical patient, or the strictly timed bloods on the transplant ward at the other end of the hospital? Sounds easy, get the patient to theatre, and get a telling off from the transplant consultant. What about leaving the operating theatre mid-operation to deal with an emergency that no-one else can deal with? What do you say to each family? You may consider this to be a systems issue, and perhaps it is, but the important thing is to be able to live in the grey. To quickly make decisions that need to be made, and accept the consequences.   

Some things can and must wait, and indeed sometimes there’s nothing that can be done.  You must control the controlables, accept that there are things  that you cannot control, and develop communication networks to help to try to bridge the gulf  between the two. Remember: You can do anything, but not everything at once.

Fardod O’Kelly, EMBA Class of 2022

Outside the Comfort Zone

If you told me two years ago that I would be a full-time MBA student at Smurfit, I would have said you were crazy. Sure, I’d been tinkering with the idea of an MBA for some time, but I have also thought about who I would mention in my thank you speech should I ever win an Oscar. There is a big difference between thinking and doing.

This time last year, I was approaching a decade of working in journalism: a decade of demanding work, difficult stories, rotating shift work and tight deadlines. Like all milestones, the end of that decade prompted some introspection. I was forced to ask myself some tough questions–which I knew would have complicated answers. I was confident in my work, but also, I realised, I was comfortable. And comfort is the enemy of progress.

Over the locked-down summer, I wrapped up seven years of my day job at, and fully immersed myself in the business school application process. To my absolute joy, I received a generous scholarship given to one female candidate across the Full-Time and Executive MBAs. It remains one of the proudest achievements in my life and gave me a vote of confidence that perhaps I had yet to find in myself–a sign that I was doing the right thing.

By September, I was officially a student again. The last time I was a student, I was 21 finishing a Master’s in International Journalism. Things look different this time around: I’m older; I’m wiser; I’m a remote student. Before Level 4 and 5 restrictions forced universities to implement a virtual delivery, we were given two precious weeks of time on the Smurfit campus. It was the closest thing to normal I have experienced all year.

As my colleagues have attested in their earlier blogs, those first two weeks of in-person classes were priceless. It laid the foundation for friendships, allowed a more nuanced understanding of lecturers, gave us time to navigate the campus, and we also got a free hoodie.

I’ll be honest: anyone who says Zoom is just as good as the real thing is lying to you. But if there is anything this year has taught us, it is that there are so many things beyond our control, and this is just one of them. This year has been a life lesson in letting go of the unimportant things and focusing on the big picture. And for me, having an MBA plays a starring role in that picture.

In September, my world suddenly became much bigger. Within weeks of matriculating, I was connecting to IE Business School in Madrid as part of the GNAM programme for a week-long crash course focusing on Europe’s economic recovery after Covid. Instead of debating and celebrating after lectures with tapas and Rioja in the Spanish capital, I was joining from my home office/box room. This semester, I’m working in a study group in which one classmate is still at home in India. I have developed friendships with people whom I haven’t seen in person for more than two months. My world has opened up more than ever before and it’s all happening from a small room in my small house.

Now that I’m nearly three months into the MBA, I realise I have never once been comfortable. Every day, I am challenged – by the curriculum, by lecturers, by my classmates, by coronavirus (!) – and that perpetual cycle of learning and development is one I had always been chasing before now. Can I pick just one highlight so far? No. But I can say that this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Caitlin McBride, FTMBA Class of 2021