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/
For decades now, we had a window to the west: we looked to the US and Silicon Valley for emerging trends in global business, innovation and business development. This year’s DCU Business School Executive MBA class took a different route; taking a path less travelled, embarking on a trip to Hong Kong to examine, first-hand, the nuances of global business developments through a very different lens.
A recent piece I read cites a relevant analogy, describing China not as an emerging market, but as a sleeping Dragon; awakening from a long slumber following a hiatus from its heydays under various dynasties. To prove such an analogy true, one has to look no further than Hong Kong to see that the dragon has already had her morning coffee.
Few global cities can rival the dynamism and resilience of a city like Hong Kong; with one step in China and the other firmly seeking to grow trade with the west. An established global finance hub, Hong Kong has cemented its place as a conduit for facilitating and doing business with China. Espousing an exciting ‘open for business’ mantra, the city, which is currently ‘under new management’ serves as the new silk road between east and west.
The Executive MBA class were exposed to a wide diversity of Multinational and indigenous firms including global consultancy organisations, insurance providers, local manufacturers, creative marketing firms, executive search agencies, hoteliers and social ventures. Insights were gained on the intricacies and opportunities of doing business within the region and more specifically on tapping into the global behemoth that is China.
Among the highlights, the Executive MBA class were invited to visit the Irish Consulate based in Hong Kong and to learn about the scale of cross-border trade currently being conducted within the region. In the evenings we sampled some of the finest cuisine Asia has to offer while taking in the bright lights of this vibrant city. Among the growing expat community we heard more than once an old adage that ‘a New York minute is a Hong Kong second’. One thing remains certain; I’d happily go back for seconds.
Dr Marty Reilly, Lecturer in Management
Learn more about the DCU Business School Executive MBA here
The Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia is a triple crown Business School with which DCU Business School enjoys a close working relationship in teaching, research and school development.
Recently, participants from the University’s Executive MBA Programme enjoyed a very successful International week in Dublin. A highlight of their visit was a Masterclass on Leadership with Professor Patrick Flood which they shared with our own Executive MBA students.This provided both groups of students with the opportunity to network and share perspectives on Leadership.
Dr John McMackin, Lecturer in Human Resource Management
I completed my Executive MBA in the summer of 2015 at DCU. It was a great experience and our class comprised a spectacular bunch of people. Before I start to explain what life has been like post the MBA, I would like to acknowledge what a great experience it was. It certainly tests you on all levels – it tests your time management, it tests your productivity, it tests your ability to be part of a team, it tests your leadership – but the end result is highly rewarding.
During my MBA studies I was a Director of Research in Dublin with 16 direct reports the majority of which are PhDs. A couple of months after completing the MBA I moved to New Jersey to take on new responsibilities at our research headquarters. At that time Bell Labs (and our mother company Alcatel-Lucent) was becoming part of a new parent company (Nokia) and in that time there was a lot of flux and changes in management and structure. I was promoted up one level in the organization and I am now responsible for 50 people across 3 different research departments spanning everything from audio visual research, to photonics integration & packaging, to efficient energy transfer research.
With respect to how the DCU MBA helped me personally and in my career progression – the MBA gave me a much better sense of my strengths and areas for growth. Because I am in research I don’t get to explicitly use many of the elements thought in the MBA (for example, marketing, finance, accounting etc) but the fact that I have the fundamental leanings from the MBA program means I now have the ability to engage those skills at any moment and in any context. More importantly, and in my particular case, going through 2 years of extracurricular activity while also holding my day job, was viewed by senior management as extremely positive. They saw that I am serious about my personal growth and career progression and that I am willing to go many extra miles to be as good as I can be and use those growth experiences to help the company. I commenced the DCU Executive MBA programme for personal growth and to try and bring in business best practice into a research environment.
Since moving to the U.S I have been asked to lead many large projects and I have been given much broader responsibility beyond the 3 departments I am directly responsible for. I think there are a few reasons for this but for sure the things I learned during my MBA, especially in the team aspects, have stood me in good stead. I am now also responsible for driving new site initiatives at our research head quarters in New Jersey and part of this role is to help build the Bell Labs brand by collaborating with external partners. One example of this work is shown below where we engaged in activities called Experiments in Arts and Technology (E.A.T). This is a gathering where technologists interact and collaborate with artists to help develop more advanced technology by pushing the limits of how we view the world and how our technology can be used to help humanity.
My MBA journey: “It’s about horsepower not brain power and I think that anyone who doubts their ability to do it, my advice would be to go for it”
Taking on two years of part-time study, whilst working in a full time job and raising a young family is no small task, but as Barry Gavigan (40) found out, it can be very rewarding and can also lead to greater things, career wise.
Gavigan has a degree in engineering from the University of Limerick and works for British Telecom. With years of management experience under his belt, he decided to go for a new job but wasn’t even shortlisted for interview. He began to ask the question, why?
The feedback he was given showed he was pigeonholed into engineering. He decided to take back control and have his management experience formally recognised in the form of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Dublin City University in 2013.
It wasn’t all plain sailing and he encountered many “peaks and troughs” along the way, but ultimately the hard work paid off.
“It’s a significant investment, both financially and of personal time. The family have to be brought in to it. I had a 4 year old, 2 year old and a newborn in the middle of it and I also changed jobs internally. It does involve a lot of personal sacrifice but it’s not one of these excruciating scenarios, and there are peaks and troughs, like your work life. The real ability is to cope with the workload and stay on top of it. It did mean sacrificing nights out and getting up early to study before the kids got up. It was a trade-off but good support from home was vital.”
As an MBA is usually paid for, or part paid for by the employer, it’s vital that they give full support. “My employer was extremely supportive. The MBA required a half day on Thursdays and other times outside of that, so the employer needs to be very committed towards it as well. British Telecom was very accommodating and flexible. It’s a two-way street, my commitment to them was that my work wouldn’t suffer and they got flexibility out of me in other ways.”
Gavigan says the MBA has broadened his mind and made him understand the value of carrying out a task in a certain way. “You recognise why best practice is used,” he says.
It has also got him a new job in another sector, something he says the MBA gave him the confidence to go for.
Peer learning is another key element of the course and he says the insight into other industries is invaluable. “People frankly and honestly share their experiences and rationale behind why a business has taken a certain line.”
He says he would advise anyone considering the masters to “stop procrastinating” and get on with applying.
“It’s about horsepower not brain power and I think that for anyone who doubts their ability to do it, my advice would be to go for it. Everyone who did it had busy lives and busy jobs but they all juggled it and managed it.”
This article was originally published in conversation with the Irish Times.
To learn more about how the DCU Executive MBA fits with your career goals, download our brochure here.
Congratulations to Doireann Sheelan, a DCU Executive MBA student, who received a Special Award for her individual contribution at the recent MBA Association of Ireland Strategy Challenge competition, held recently at Waterford Institute of Technology.
Doireann was part of team, with fellow Executive MBA Students Kalum King, Neil Curran and James Cannon, who presented on the case study “Turkish Airlines – Widen Your World”. While they did not win the competition (the prize went to WIT) they acquitted themselves admirably receiving great praise from the judges for the depth of their analysis.
This annual competition, hosted by the MBA Association of Ireland (MBAAI), attracts entrants from all the universities and institutes of technology in Ireland that run MBA programmes. Peter McNamara, Professor of Management & Head of School at NUI Maynooth, and Chairperson of the competition, commented: “All four of the teams did a very good job of analysing the case and making recommendations, especially under considerable time pressure.”
The DCU Executive MBA is now recruiting ambitious participants for September 2016.
For more information, visit postgrad.dcu.ie/mba or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured is the DCU MBA team with the MBA Association of Ireland President Alacoque McMenamin,
In this blog, Kalum King (MBA1) shares his experience of year 1 of the DCU Executive MBA programme:
With the first year of the MBA at DCU now drawing to a close, it feels like the perfect time to reflect on the journey I have been through since the course commenced in September 2015. Like many, I was intrigued by the prospect of what the MBA program at DCU could offer me in terms of knowledge and experience.
My MBA journey commenced with an ‘Induction’ in early September. After the initial meeting with the rest of the class it was clear to me that this was going to be a unique opportunity for us all and would provide an excellent opportunity to learn from each other in a very comfortable but challenging learning environment.
I had often heard that the MBA experience is not just about the lectures, the assignments and exams, but that a key aspect of the experience is the interaction and knowledge sharing with your fellow students. The mix of personalities and calibre of my fellow students was impressive and they had experience within a wide range of industries from the armed forces to pharmaceuticals. The ‘Induction’ was a great way for everyone to transition onto the course and a great opportunity to get to know the group you would be spending the next two years with.
With the ‘Induction’ now over and everyone now comfortable (ish!) with referencing, so began the Semester 1 modules of Marketing, Organisational Behaviour & Change and Accounting for Decision Making. Marketing was a very enjoyable and interesting module, and probably the one I learnt the most from in terms of practical application to the business I work for. A key aspect of this module was a group presentation to be delivered to the lecturer and the rest of the class. My group found ourselves tackling the subject of ‘Digital Technology in the Luxury Goods Market’ and for which we scored relatively well on. Not bad I thought for a group that consisted of people from a range of industries that included public sector, pharmaceuticals and building materials! Straight away the class found themselves being challenged in a healthy way that would ultimately enhance our knowledge base of the subject.
Organisational Behaviour & Change was next up covering key business concepts such as, organisational culture, transformational leadership and (everybody’s favourite!) power. The delivery of this topic by the lecturer was a key highlight for the class. The lecturer’s friendly and natural teaching style really brought the course to life for us all and was very enjoyable indeed.
As a Chartered Accountant myself and having completed many years of study on the subject I must admit I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of the Accounting for Decision Making module. However, I was impressed by the lecturer’s ability to break down difficult accounting concepts into bite-size chunks for the class and I felt the class responded very well to this approach. I think everyone made it through the class okay!
A couple of exams in January 2016 brought Semester 1 to a close and after a short break Semester 2 commenced.
The topics in Semester 2 included Business Economics, Business Strategy and Managing People & Organisations. Business Economics was an extremely interesting module but highly challenging as well, as we all tried to get our heads round the intricacies of the Irish and Global economy (and this was before ‘Brexit’ !!).
Within the Business Strategy module the class encountered what must be considered as one of the most unique and effective learning tools, known as the ‘Airline Simulation’. This simulation exercise consisted of the groups competing against each other by setting up an airline company (and strategy) and trying to effectively deliver on the company’s strategy within the simulation itself. It really is a brilliant experience and gave opportunity for some groups to obtain ‘bragging rights’ (all in good humour of course!) which I felt added to the overall learning experience.
The final module was Managing People & Organisations which I felt really developed my understanding and thinking process in relation to the topic. By the end of the module I had definitely become a firm supporter of the emerging ‘Evidence Based’ approach to the subject.
I must also mention the fantastic ‘Residency Weekend’ as part of the Enterprise Engagement module. In February 2016 we visited a number of companies in Cork which was a great experience. The companies we visited included Dairygold, Wisetek and Voxpro who kindly facilitated a tour and visit from the class which was a great opportunity for us all and very much appreciated.
Overall, I would describe my experience of the MBA program at DCU as unique, challenging and thoroughly enjoyable. Throughout my first year I have been hugely impressed by the high quality of the program and the overall learning experience from the lecturers to the interaction with my fellow students.
Finally, I would encourage anyone intrigued by what an MBA program can offer to attend one of the ‘taster’ courses held in the DCU Business School. I expect you will be as impressed as I was and I look forward to seeing you next year.
– Kalum King, MBA1
Interested in learning more about our Executive MBA programme? Download our brochure here
The DCU Executive MBA is a two-year part-time programme that is widely recognised as the degree of choice for rising executives with ambitions to be Senior Managers/CEOs, whatever their specialist backgrounds. Here are ten reasons why it may be the programme for you:
DCU’s Executive MBA is accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), which assesses the quality of MBA programmes worldwide. You will graduate with an internationally recognised and accredited qualification. DCU Business School is also one of only two schools in Ireland with AACSB accreditation – placing it in the top 5% worldwide.
MBA participants, along with other assignments, will conduct a strategic consultancy project, which integrates the knowledge, skills and values of the programme and provides an opportunity for to deliver real value to your organisation.
MBA participants pursue a programme of action-based projects and workshops over 2 years. Self-assessments, and team and facilitator feedback develop self-awareness of own leadership competencies, facilitates targeting development opportunities, deepens emotional intelligence and enhances competence to think and act as a leader and people manager.
The DCU Executive MBA programme embodies the key values of the University’s strategy in its emphasis on enterprise and translation of knowledge into practice. The Enterprise Engagement module includes visits to a number of companies with strong growth strategies. The visits are supported by lectures and our Executive Speaker Series on issues relating to globalisation, sustainability and strategic growth.
MBA participants will broaden their perspective and focus upon global organisations on the International Study Week. In recent years, participants have attended lectures on leadership, global strategy and innovation at Harvard, Boston University and Stanford University. Visits to San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Boston included meetings with start-ups, incubators and multinational organisations focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy and new technologies.
We believe that an interactive and participative learning environment is best achieved in small classes
The MBA teaching faculty are leaders in their field, with many publishing in leading international journals and presenting at international conferences. DCU Business School research priorities emphasise equally the creation of new knowledge (discipline-based scholarship) and the application, transfer and interpretation of knowledge to improve management practice and teaching (contributions to practice).
We adopt three approaches to learning:
- A focus on knowledge, where participants engage in class-based lectures and workshops
- A focus on leadership skills, working in a hands-on team-based environment and assess and develop their own leadership competencies
- A focus on action, engaging in projects applying lessons learnt back into practice
When you join the DCU Executive MBA programme, you will join a global network of almost DCU 16,000 DCU Business School graduates, including 1,000 MBA’s. The DCU Business School Alumni group is a vibrant and active community with many of the graduates participating in events and activities throughout the year. These include:
- Business Breakfast Briefings
- Alumni Networking Evenings and Social Events
- Alumni Careers Day
DCU Business School values its Alumni and appreciates the contribution that they make to the life of the School by their involvement with various initiatives. We also want to be a life-long resource and partner to our Alumni throughout their careers.
DCU Executive MBA graduates are highly sought after in the jobs market, with many going on to pursue senior management roles in organisations both at home and abroad. Recent graduates are now working in roles such as Client Manager, Construction Director, Enterprise Architect, Financial Controller, Managing Director, Product Manager Sales Director, Senior Software Engineer, and Technical Programme Manager.
Interested in learning more about our Executive MBA programme? Download our brochure here
The DCU Executive MBA programme exposes participants to top-performing experienced professionals from international and national business who share their insights on such themes as strategy, leadership, digital technology, entrepreneurship and innovation.
On Thursday 14th April 2016 we had our final MBA Executive Speaker Series for the academic year. Rob O’Toole, Head of HR Shared Services for the Irish Civil Service joined us to share his experiences of Talent Management across the public and private sectors.
The DCU Executive MBA is a two-year part-time programme that is widely recognised as the degree of choice for rising executives with ambitions to be Senior Managers/CEOs, whatever their specialist backgrounds.
DCU is Ireland’s University of Enterprise, which influences and drives our industry engagement strategy and MBA programme design. Our MBA participants learn from academic experts with a high level of industry relevant experience and translational research. This ensures graduates have the most up-to-date knowledge of theory and practice.