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The course ‘surpassed all my expectations; it’s a high-quality programme’

UCD Smurfit Executive Development Diploma in Organisational Change & Transformation provides the tools and techniques to initiate, design and lead change

Change management skills have never been as much in demand or so highly prized. The already rapid pace at which organisations across all sectors are changing has been accelerated by the impact of the pandemic. Not only have workforce models changed but companies have been forced to rethink their entire business models and the way they interact with their customers and supply chains.

This is driving increased interest in and demand for the UCD Smurfit Executive Development Diploma in Organisational Change and Transformation. “The diploma typically attracts executives who are charged with the responsibility of executing strategy in their organisations,” says programme director Prof Patrick Gibbons.

“Once you have developed a strategy, you have the issue of how you change the organisation, how you transform the organisation and how you get execution of the strategy in the organisation,” he says.

“The Diploma in Organisation Change and Transformation really addresses those core concepts. For instance, how do I manage change, how do I diagnose the organisation, how do I assess the organisation’s readiness for change? And what are some interventions that are at my disposal in terms of team level interventions, organisation-wide level interventions and individual level interventions to affect change in the organisation?”


Recent graduate Gesine Halligan says the programme has already helped her in her role as field enablement EMEA senior director with DocuSign. “Part of my job is helping people change their behaviour and do things differently,” she explains. “I am fascinated by how often people try to adopt new ways of doing things and it doesn’t work out. I want to be a change agent and help people go through change and to navigate it. The social psychology part of the diploma programme has been very helpful in that regard.”

The course exceeded her expectations. “I thought it was going to be about getting a professional qualification to further my career and maybe open up new career prospects. But it surpassed all my expectations. It’s a high-quality programme. I got to meet interesting people from different backgrounds and have built up a phenomenal network.

“With the pandemic, we couldn’t have in-person lectures apart from the very last module, but it was so well managed over Zoom that we still got to meet and work with everybody. I can pick up the phone to classmates for advice and so on.”

First step

Linda Burke chose the UCD Diploma in Organisational Change and Transformation programme as her first step on the pathway towards the MSc Business (Leadership and Management Practice).

“The masters is my goal,” she says. “I have the other two programmes picked out already. The Executive and Business Coaching Diploma aligns quite closely with my role as HR manager at DPS Group Global. The other is the Leadership Development Diploma as I want to develop my own leadership capability as well as support leaders in the business. I haven’t signed up for them yet. I want to give myself a breather having just finished the first programme.”

She found the practical aspect of the course very important. “The modules were so relevant to what I am working on,” she says.

“We were given so many frameworks and tools and disruption models and we were asked to apply the ‘learnings’ to real life situations in our own companies. I have refined my thinking as a result of what I learned. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.”


Among the most important things she learned was the critical importance of preparation to the success of any change initiative. “The programme opened my eyes to the massive level of groundwork that needs to be done. It’s not a case of just saying here’s a new thing we are rolling out. It can take months or even years to build up to it. Preparation is key.”

Among the standout modules for Burke was the one covering individual level interventions. “That dealt with the importance of emotional intelligence for leadership and influencing, and how important it is for people in leadership roles. It is a source of power and influence. It made you reflect on your own emotional intelligence. Having good emotional intelligence means that when you are trying to introduce change and improvement, you are able to read the room. You know when it’s right to press on or pull back. With any change, a lot of it comes down to the importance of people. If you are trying to introduce a new system or technology, it’s all about people in the end.”

Both have no hesitation in recommending the programme to others. “I would absolutely 100 per cent recommend the programme to anyone considering it,” says Halligan.

“Having completed the course, I now have tools and techniques to more effectively initiate, design and lead change,” Burke adds. “It’s a lot of hard work but it was really great. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.”