Paul Routledge graduated from the DCU Executive MBA in 2018. Formerly Director of Operations at Keelings, Paul has since gone on to establish True North Consultants, providing strategy management consulting services to startups and established players. Here he recalls some of his time on the MBA.
What inspired you to do an MBA?
I was at a point where I had vast experience but wanted to validate this, grow my knowledge of areas outside of my specific experience, the MBA ticked all of these boxes for me.
Why did you choose DCU?
I came in a few times to open evenings, meeting current students and alumni and every one of them exuded enthusiasm along with the realities of how difficult it can be.
I was impressed with the learning spaces and facilities and also the technology to enable remote access to library and learning materials was helpful. On meeting the Programme Director I got a real sense that the program at DCU was much more real world orientated instead of academic alone which also appealed greatly.
How did the MBA change the way you work?
Dramatically, I find myself approaching challenges in a much different space, thinking much more critically and seeking out evidence and research to inform my decisions. I used to sometimes approach certain tasks or challenges with an element of fear of the unknown but working outside of your comfort zone as frequently as you do in the MBA and in a safe space makes you approach these once scary issues with confidence and methods to work it out and show up informed and prepared. There are so many elements I could add but I doubt you’d want to hear them all !
How do you apply the MBA in your role now?
Since completing the MBA I made the leap to go it alone as a freelance Management Consultant. I still read and research the issues and challenges I’m solving for my clients with many of the tools and approaches I learned during the MBA, coupled with my experience I’m finding I’m able to offer ideas and solutions from very different and more objective and creative angles than managers and leaders from within those businesses.
Any advice for someone considering an MBA?
I am married, and have 5 young children so taking on the MBA and needing to study for 20/30 hours a week was tough, I couldn’t have done that without the support of my other half, it’s crucial that they are fully aware of how challenging this can be for them as your away with your head in the study ! You need a good, understanding boss also because the more you can tie your assignments to real work challenges than the better for you and them. I had that engagement from my boss, and they benefited greatly from me working on business challenges throughout. What you put in you will get out but make sure you look after yourself – you need time out, time to exercise and switch off so build that into your schedule. Finally make time to get to know your classmates you can learn so much and make some great friends and advisors that I’m still close to today.
To explore the DCU Executive MBA please visit https://business.dcu.ie/course/executive-mba/
[pullquote]“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. (Mark Twain)[/pullquote]
Wow! It’s hard to believe that we’ve managed to find our way through semester one of year one of our Executive MBA in DCU Business School.
Three months ago the thoughts of returning to college on a part-time basis was a quite daunting prospect, not only from a work-life balance perspective, which was among the predominant concerns of my fellow MBA classmates, but from an academic point of view, where the very thoughts of “Harvard referencing” sent a shiver down my spine.
Despite the significant consideration that went into applying to commence the programme, the reality is that nothing can prepare you for that first term, when work and college commitments collide, forcing you in the early hours of a Monday evening to question the very reasons you took on the challenge.
A colleague on the course tells a story about how, when he was considering applying, everyone he spoke to including past graduates, spoke in glowing terms about the Executive MBA and recommended without hesitation that he sign-up to the class.
Once enrolled however, the tune changed, where those very same advocates of the course told him that he was beginning a process that may well prove to be the toughest two years of his life!
On both fronts, arguably his advisors got it right. For sure the last 12 weeks of lectures and assignments have tested the staying power, and the Christmas break was like the proverbial calm before the storm, as the January exam schedule loomed large on the horizon and DCU library became almost like a second home for close on three weeks.
But the flip side of these stresses and strains, and quiet clearly why any past graduate would recommend an Executive MBA, has its foundations in the relevance of the modules that we completed during our first semester.
Week on week the professionalism and depth of expert lecturing meant that the theory presented every Thursday evening was almost immediately transferable to the work place first thing Friday morning.
Working in financial services the Accounting for Decision-Making module offered the most relevance from a practical point of view, and provided me with a significant amount of detail on hot topics in business lending and financial ratios. This led to an early morning training session with one of the business teams in North Dublin.
In conjunction with this a number of the assignments were based on delving into past events or assessing current work practices and forced us, both individually and within groups, to apply our learning in the most practical sense. The Organisational Behaviour module opened my eyes to the fact that great leaders aren’t born, but are effectively a continual work in progress who strive to get the best from their people, a simple concept perhaps, but clearly one that is extremely difficult to nail down.
The satisfaction from these submissions (though the process was daunting) lies in the fact that by stretching ourselves to understand a particular event or practice we are in fact responding to what is essentially the underlying current of the Executive MBA; personal development.
So with one semester down and three to go we can approach our second semester in DCU Business School with a little less fear and perhaps a mild sense of calm!
This post was written by Coman Goggins, a first year Executive MBA participant. To download the MBA brochure, fill in your details below:[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]