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`Our success is our graduates’ success’

UCD Smurfit MBA programme has a proven record of helping people significantly advance their careers

With growing numbers of people reassessing their life and career objectives in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has probably never been a better time to do the UCD Smurfit School MBA programme.

According to academic director Ciaran Heavey, the MBA opens up new opportunities for people seeking to advance their careers, change direction by moving to a new sector, or who have an entrepreneurial idea they want to develop.

“The UCD MBA goes back to 1964,” he notes. “The MBA qualification was originally designed to provide a general management perspective for engineers and other specialists who want to move up in their organisations towards the corporate centre and chief executive level.

“That still applies. People want to gain a broader and more holistic view of their organisations. The Smurfit MBA gives them that by covering all the functional areas including accounting and finance, HR, sales and marketing and so on.”


It is also highly relevant for people who want to change their career path.

“There are those who want to turbocharge their careers in a new direction. They might want to move to a new industry or a new company. They want to move out of a narrow specialism and are searching for new opportunities. The pandemic forced a lot of people to reassess their priorities.

“The MBA programme helps people become more self-aware and gives them the ability to identify the strengths they can build on. It gives them the confidence and skills to develop their careers in new directions.”

Leadership development is another key element of the programme. The innovative and highly interactive Leadership Development Programme helps participants to communicate more effectively, better understand their motivations and behaviour, develop personal strengths and lead others through persuasion and influence.

The Smurfit MBA can also support entrepreneurs on their journey starting up their own enterprises, either in the commercial or social space.

“There is a growing third cohort of MBA programme participants who have ambitions to tackle those wicked problems in society and who take an entrepreneurial approach to it,” says Heavey.

He cites the example of recent Smurfit MBA graduate Micaela Connery who has established The Kelsey, a San Francisco-based enterprise which focuses on providing housing for people with disabilities regardless of their income. The organisation now has 240 homes in its pipeline and is aiming to develop a model that could be replicated globally.

“She was able to develop the business model during her MBA and then developed her business plan for her capstone project,” Heavey adds.

“All three cohorts are ambitious and want to use the Smurfit MBA as a launch pad to accelerate their careers.”

The global outlook of the programme is a vitally important feature.

“From the very beginning, the UCD MBA has been internationally-oriented. On average, 65 per cent of the MBA class is international and the programme is delivered by an international faculty.”

The Smurfit School is also a member of Global Network of Advanced Management (GNAM), a network of 29 business schools including Yale, INSEAD and LSE.

Participants gain a global perspective through international study trips and exchanges, action learning via global collaboration, exposure to thought leaders on global issues and problem-solving in international settings.

There is a strong practical element to the programme.

“For their capstone projects, students engage with companies with a problem to solve or which have identified a market opportunity to address,” Heavey explains. “Last year, one project involved a major hardware retail chain and its response to a new competitor on the market.”

Participants also learn how to deal with uncertainty.

“The programme prepares graduates to live with ambiguity and gives them the ability to chart a course through the fog of uncertainty. It enables them to get comfortable with ambiguity. You can’t wait for 100 per cent of the information to make a decision.

“According to Jeff Bezos, you’ve got to be able to do it with 70 per cent. We use the Harvard Case Method which puts people in the shoes of people who have to make decisions without having all the information. We get different views from people in the class and that becomes a marketplace for ideas. I compare it to alchemy – you end up with a solution that no one individual would get to on their own.”

And the results speak for themselves in terms of employability and salary growth with 90 per cent employed within three months and graduates experiencing average earnings growth of 132 per cent after three years.

“Our success is our graduates’ success,” Heavey concludes.

Applications for the UCD Smurfit School MBA are open at present. Smurfitschool.ie