Sponsored content is premium paid-for content produced by the Irish Times Content Studio on behalf of commercial clients. The Irish Times newsroom or other editorial departments are not involved in the production of sponsored content.

UCD Smurfit MBA aims to develop next cadre of business leaders

MBA programme delivered by an international faculty with close to 90 per cent of full-time participants coming from overseas

The UCD Smurfit MBA aims to develop the next cadre of business leaders by providing participants with the anticipatory capabilities, decision-making skills, and interpersonal capacity to hit the ground running in their careers.

“At its core, leadership is the ability to chart a path through the haze of uncertainty; to have the courage of one’s convictions to pursue new paths; and to communicate and influence in ways that aligns others around your vision,” says Dr Ciaran Heavey, academic director of MBA programmes at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

“The MBA Leadership Development Programme bestows on participants the full suite of leadership, communication, and interpersonal competencies necessary to maximise their impact as future leaders. Participants learn to communicate and present with impact. But most of all, the programme aims to develop participants’ capacity for self-reflection and continuous development. It instils a growth rather than a fixed mindset of personal development.”

The MBA qualification was originally designed to provide a general management perspective for specialists who want to enhance and deepen knowledge, challenge their thinking and future-proof their career impact, Heavey explains. “That still applies. Students aspire to gain a broader and more holistic view of their organisations with a view to enhancing their personal contribution to strategy. The Smurfit MBA facilitates this aspiration by providing a comprehensive grounding in the core disciplines and functional specialisations of business.”


The programme also seeks to address some of the core challenges facing business leaders today. “For example, participants take classes examining the complex fabric of the relationship between business, economics, and society,” he points out. “In recent years, the curriculum has evolved to include coverage of digital transformation to enhance our participants’ understanding of the implications and commercial opportunities afforded by new technologies such as big data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cyber physical systems. The programme also includes a focus on entrepreneurship, providing a structured framework to assist participants who seek to commercialise innovations, or solve wicked social problems.”

The international dimension is also very important with the MBA programme being delivered by an international faculty and close to 90 per cent of full-time participants coming from overseas, including Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia.

“Since its very beginnings, the Smurfit MBA has emphasised a global outlook and the development of a global mindset among our participants,” says Heavey. “The course modules are designed to be truly international in their approach, including the use of international case studies and international study tours. This global perspective contributes to a rich and stimulating learning environment.”

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School’s membership of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) offers MBA students the opportunity to travel to one of 32 leading business schools in the world including Harvard, Yale and Oxford to experience action learning through global collaboration, exposure to thought leaders on global issues, and problem-solving in international settings. Students participate in modules delivered by leading experts while the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School also welcomes students as part of this exchange network.

The MBA International study tour takes place over one week in March and is part of the Doing Business in International Markets module. The study tour combines high-level company visits, presentations and panel discussions with leading executives, government officials and entrepreneurs. Previous destinations have included Scandinavia, Vietnam, Japan, China, India and Germany.

One unique element is that students are required to complete a business consultancy project in an international location. “This requires that they not only wrestle with the problems facing a firm, but they also familiarise themselves with local economic and cultural variations, including the macroeconomic and political climate, the business ecosystem, cultural norms and expectations, administrative regimes and regulation, and so on,” says Heavey. “This helps develop what Harvard Business School Professor Tarun Khanna refers to as contextual intelligence — the ability to understand the limits of our knowledge and to adapt that knowledge to an environment different from the one in which it was developed.”

The importance of that international aspect cannot be overstated. “Our participants are internationally diverse, and the firms they aspire to work in are global,” Heavey explains. “An imperative for any MBA graduate is the ability to transition effectively and hit the ground running in a foreign location. Leadership today requires an understanding of both the benefits and risks of internationalisation. Empirical evidence tells us that many firms struggle to realise their international ambitions — even companies as successful as Wal-Mart have struggled with their international operations. The MBA seeks to develop an appreciation that although the world is certainly not flat, by circumnavigating cultural and other differences, you can create immense value.”

Those interested in learning more about the Smurfit MBA can register for one of its upcoming MBA information events at smurfitschool.ie/events/ or go to Smurfitschool.ie.