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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.

Domhnaill Hernon DCU MBA

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.

This post was kindly written by Domhnaill Hernon, Director of Research & Site Lead for Research Interactions, Nokia Bell Labs, New Jersey, U.S.A. You can follow him on Linkedin and on Twitter

Final applications for the DCU Executive MBA are being accepted now. If you’re considering undertaking an MBA, get in touch with DCU Business School today. 

 

A team within the DCU Centre for Family Business was commissioned by Fingal County Council to complete this case study. The Family Business Report, Lessons in Resilience and Success: a Snapshot of Multi-generational Family Businesses in Fingal, Dublin was produced by Martina Brophy and Eric Clinton. Their study follows twelve family businesses which are all multi-generational, family-owned and head-quartered in Fingal. Through conducting interviews with these individuals they were able to distinguish needs, challenges and strengths that come with running a family business.

 

“Family businesses are a complex and highly resourceful business type. Knowledge, learnings, resources, values and traditions pass across generations of a family: often, what is found are strategic resources and capabilities that can make a family firm distinctive and competitively advantaged,” writes Dr. Eric Clinton in this study.

 

The report provides a snapshot of 12 multi-generational family businesses in Fingal with family involvement ranging from second to fourth generation. Between them they employ over 3,500 and have turnovers ranging from €1.5 million to in excess of €100m per annum.

Business & Finance, Ireland’s leading business magazine, have covered the topic in an article, Talent in Family Business. Dr. Eric Clinton, Director of the DCU Centre for Family Business, covers a variety of topics within the topic of family business from how much family should get involved to how important it is to become a cohesive team.

Families have an effect in the businesses day-to-day happenings whether it is positive or negative. Thus, through the Family Business study Clinton and Brophy come together and provide information and recommendations on how to run a successful family run business.

 

Check out what the DCU Centre for Family Business is all about:

 

 

 

 

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.

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DCU Executive MBA Team (Kalum King, Neil Curran and James Cannon)

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 mba@dcu.ie.

 

Pictured is the DCU MBA team with the MBA Association of Ireland President Alacoque McMenamin,

Picture the scene.  You’re sitting opposite your boss in the end- of-year performance review meeting.  It’s been a big year for you; you’ve worked really hard and you and your team have delivered great results, in some areas even exceeding targets despite a very difficult business climate.  Your boss looks up and smiles.  “You’ve done a great job this year Brian” she says “I am going to put you down as a 4”.  “A 4!” you cry indignantly “why not a 5? .  “Now you know that nobody really gets a five here…..”.   After further pointless argument you leave the room, determined to reduce the time and effort you put in next year.

The experience described above is not atypical; for many years an end of year appraisal — in which a numeric rating or descriptive equivalent on a scale is communicated from managers to their direct reports — has been the key event in the annual performance management calendar.  The ratings were perceived as a requirement for demonstrable compliance with employment legislation, especially if a problem arose with a particular employee.  Ratings were also perceived as providing “objective” inputs on which important remuneration and promotion decisions could be based and defended.

Once ratings were accepted as necessary, a substantial consulting industry arose to help organisations design and implement their own performance rating process.  Reports advised the adoption or change from five point scales to four and back again, and from numeric scales to descriptive equivalents – e.g., a 3 becomes “meets expectations”, a  4 “exceeds expectations” etc.   Significant resources were allocated to training and retraining managers to implement these processes.   While all of this was happening, academic research focused largely on studies of what rating systems and processes worked best, while too few studies looked at the bigger question of whether ratings should be used at all.

2015 has seen some really important changes in attitudes to performance ratings, in what may become an irresistible trend.  Most recently, HBR reports that “The move away from conventional, ratings-based performance management continues to gain momentum.  By November 2015, at least 52 large companies had shifted from the practice of once-yearly performance appraisals; estimates are that hundreds of other companies are considering following suit. A wide range of industries are represented.”

Ironically, the catalysts for this rethink have been Deloitte and Accenture, two consulting firms who would have been to the fore in the provision of advice on implementing ratings in the past.   Accenture have completely abandoned annual performance reviews for their 330,000 employees with immediate effect, confirming that “We’re going to get rid of probably 90 percent of what we did in the past”.   Deloitte announced in a HBR article in April 2015 that “we realize that our current process for evaluating the work of our people—and then training them, promoting them, and paying them accordingly—is increasingly out of step with our objectives”.  Both firms say they are adopting new processes that will involve more frequent feedback –“nimbler, real-time, and more individualized—something squarely focused on fueling performance in the future rather than assessing it in the past.”

There seems little doubt that few will shed a tear if the types of meetings described in the introduction become a thing of the past.  As researchers, we can’t but be excited about finding ways to make the performance management process more relevant to today’s business needs.  Of course, there is always a danger that those who embrace these trends without due consideration may be in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  It’s worth remembering  that there is substantial research evidence to support retaining key aspects of the performance management process such as goal setting, where research clearly shows that employees who are working to achieve specific, challenging but achievable goals will be on average 16% more productive than others doing the same work, in the same conditions but without such goals.

Watch this space.

Dr John McMackin is a lecturer in our Human Resource Management and Organisational Psychology group in DCU Business School. He holds an MBA from Columbia University, New York and a PhD from the University of Oregon. His area of research is around change management, leadership development and strategic innovation.

For more details about the DCU Executive MBA, currently accepting applications, please visit the DCU Executive MBA course page.

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The greatest tragedy in life is that we only understand it backwards yet we must live it forwards – Kierkegaard

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A metaphor commonly used to represent organisations is that of an iceberg. The part of the iceberg we can see,  that piece above the water line, represents the formal aspects of organisations – its rules, procedures, practices, reward system, protocols etc.  These are regarded as the rational aspects of an organisation. The piece below the waterline is made up of those elements which are less objective in nature, more open to interpretation and considered as the informal side of organisational life.  These include cultural norms, patterns of behaviour and the attitudes, values and emotions of employees.

Manfred Kets de Vries, the Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organisational Change at INSEAD, and rated by The Financial Times, Le Capital, Wirtschaftswoche, and The Economist among the world’s top 50 leading management thinkers has long been an advocate of exploring organisations ‘below the waterline’. He regards the more common approaches to understanding organisations as often inadequate oversimplifications and proposes that we ignore other elements at our peril [1]. The danger, he suggests, lies in perpetuating patterns of dysfunctional and problematic behaviour because their roots lie below many executives’ level of conscious awareness and may ultimately cost the organisation its livelihood. Many other experts agree that these are among the  casual factors behind many corporate failures including the downfall of Enron, Parmalat and Long Term Capital Management [2].

To address this issue and avoid such outcomes, Kets de Vries applies a clinical paradigm in his 30+ year career of working with blue-chip multinational organisations and their leaders.  This means he pays attention to three issues.  Firstly, he considers the critical role of a leader’s ‘inner theatre’ as the starting point of many of their actions and decisions. This ‘inner theatre’ constitutes the script by which we understand ourselves and which acts as a guide to our interaction with others.  Evolving through early interactions with parents, caregivers, teachers, and other influential people, it constitutes the foundation of an individual’s personality and sets us up to engage in certain ways with the world.  The problem is that many leaders are oblivious to this ‘script’ which has shaped them as it commonly operates below their level of conscious awareness.  They fail to recognize that patterns of behaviour acquired in the past, which may have been functional then, are dysfunctional now but continue to strongly influence present and future behaviour.

Secondly, he encourages us to recognize that there is rationality behind every act of irrationality.  Somewhere, somehow, seemingly irrational behaviour makes sense for the individual. The job of leaders is to identify the source of their irrational behaviours, interrogate them deeply and use the insight gained as a starting point for developing more functional approaches to the world.

Thirdly, he emphasizes the role of unconscious drivers of behaviour. This psychodynamic approach to organisations (enacted professionally by members of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations, of which Kets de Vries was a founding member in 1983) acknowledges that people are complex and contradictory and that their behaviour is a function of multiple, often contradictory, influences. It recognizes that workers are subject to unconscious, unresolved conflicts that they carry with them which then play out in the relations and interactions workers have with each other, often with problematic consequences.  Modern neuroscience has confirmed the role of the unconscious in our behavior with studies illustrating that decisions originate in the unconscious [3]. As the human brain can only consciously process 40 of the 11,000,000 pieces of data it is bombarded with every second, a question remains concerning the impact of data below our level of conscious awareness [4]. Thus the psychodynamic view rejects the purely rational and economic view of work and encourages us to acknowledge that statistical analysis of big data does not tell us everything we need to know about the behaviour of people in organisations.

However, few organisations welcome attention to such matters. They prefer to regard themselves as rational and objective rather than consider these murkier domains as explanations for performance and effectiveness. But this paradigm has illuminated accounts of what may appear irrational behaviour  amongst some of the world’s most successful business leaders including Henry Ford, Samuel Goldwyn, Jack Welch, Michael Eisner, Conrad Black and Martha Stewart [5].

Kets de Vries encourages us to acknowledge that organisations cannot perform successfully if the quirks and irrational processes that are part and parcel of the leader’s ‘shadow side’ are ignored. In his work with global corporations, he encourages leaders to act as sleuths in making sense out of their behaviour and actions and to build a greater understand the critical dimensions that make up their inner script.  He advocates an approach to leadership that encourages reflection and leads to insight which can help them avoid getting stuck in vicious circles and becoming prisoners of their own past. Wise leaders, he says, realize the extent to which unconscious, irrational processes affect their behaviour. Those leaders who fail to take their irrational side into account, however, are like ships’ captains proceeding into icebergs where the greatest danger lurks below the surface.

On the DCU Business School Executive MBA programme, we hone the skills for practice that enable today’s leaders to inspire action through a two-year leadership and career development programme. Action-based projects, workshops, team and facilitator feedback, and self-reflection develop self-awareness of our participants’ leadership style. This process deepens emotional intelligence, enhances leader behaviours, and untimately leads to both personal and organisational success.

Find out more about the DCU Executive MBA here or email mba@dcu.ie

Dr Melrona Kirrane is an Organisational Psychologist and lectures predominantly in the areas of Organisational Psychology, including Selection and Assessment, Leadership & Decision-Making, Employee Well-Being and Change Management on our MBA programe. She maintains an active research agenda and is currently carrying out work in the areas of personality at work, successful change management changing and work-family conflict.



[1]Kets de Vries, M. (2001). The Leadership Mystique. Prentice Hall
[2] Long, S. (2007). The Perverse Organisation and its Deadly Sins.  Karnac, London
[3] Damasio, A. (2006). Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. Random House
[4] Wilson, T.D. (2009. Know Thyself. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 4, 384-389
[5] Maccoby, M. (2003). The productive narcissist: The promise and peril of visionary leadership. Broadway.

On May, 28th 2015 DCU Business School hosted the first of three ‘Employee Engagement Roundtables’ which will be spread out over the course of a year.

The roundtable was organized and led by academic experts in the field of HR and engagement, Professor Kathy Monks, Dr Edel Conway, Dr Yseult Freeney and Dr Janine Bosak (all DCU Business School staff members). It brought 17 HR directors and managers from a range of non-competitive organizations together in order to explore the concept of employee engagement and the various definitions that are being used by practitioners, discuss best practices in assessing engagement and jointly tackle issues of employee engagement using an evidence-based approach.

The first roundtable was a great success; the second part of this exclusive event will be held on September, 17th 2015 in DCU Business School with over 20 HR directors and managers expressing interest already.

You can find out more about research in HR and Organisational Behaviour at DCU Business School here.

Details of our part-time executive Masters in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour can be found here.

DCU Business School will be hosting an Information Evening about the new part-time executive Masters in Aviation Leadership on the 25th June 2015 at 6.00pm. If you are interested in learning more about the programme, you can register here.

About the Programme:

The MSc in Management (Aviation Leadership) is the first programme of its kind in Ireland. Commencing in September 2015, it will be a two year part-time executive masters with elements of the programme delivered both in Dublin Airport, in its capacity as a live laboratory, and in Castlemoate House, daa International’s academy facility, adjacent to Dublin Airport.

Subject Areas:

  • Aviation Leadership
  • Aviation Governance
  • Aerodrome Operations Management
  • Leadership and Change
  • Delivering Performance Excellence [Operational, People and Financial Performance]
  • Strategy, Organization and Innovation
  • Research Methods
  • Aviation Industry based research project

Aims and Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the management complexity required to operate the various compnents of Airport Operations
  • Identify the important leadership and management competencies required to plan and execute future aviation industry strategies
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the characteristics, requirements and legal responsibilties of aviation organisations
  • Identify the concepts and skills necessary for conducting business analysis and strategic thinking
  • Develop the ability to lead and initiate professional and/or research activity independently or as part of an aviation management team;
  • Enhance your opportunities to take a leading role in the future development of the aviation industry

Details of the Open Evening:

When: 25th June at 6.00pm

Where: 3rd Floor of DCU Business School, DCU, Collins Avenue, Dublin 9 [Map here]

Register online here

Why attend?

  • Learn first hand about the programme and how it will help to advance your career
  • Speak to members of faculty directly, who can answer any questions you may have
  • Network with members of the aviation industry

Informal Enquiries:

Informal enquiries about the programme can be made via email to pj.byrne@dcu.ie

Register:

You can register to attend online here.

[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:

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DCU Business School has performed strongly in the latest global business masters rankings.

It features in the Top 100 in the world for three of its Masters programmes – E-Commerce, Strategic Procurement and Finance.

The School’s MSc in eCommerce was ranked 14th in the world, and first in Ireland, by the Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking which evaluates the best business Masters and MBA programmes internationally.

Amonth the top-100 ranked programmes at DCU were: MSc E-Commerce – ranked 14th globally and the MSc Finance – ranked 68th globally.

The Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking classifies Masters and MBA programmes which develop and graduate the best new professionals in the global labour market by evaluating employer attitudes, employment prospects on graduation and student satisfaction. It measures the academic excellence and quality of 4,000 programmes in 30 fields of study across 1 000 academic institutions in 154 countries, with final rankings determined through a survey of 5,000 international recruiters and 800 000 students.

Dr Anne Sinnott, Executive Dean of DCU Business School said: “These rankings are a very welcome endorsement, by employers and graduates, of both the academic excellence of the Business School’s postgraduate programmes and the quality of student experience delivered. Our international ranking is improving year on year and I am particularly pleased to note the continuing improvement in the rankings of the MSc in Electronic Commerce and the MSc in Emergency Management, both of which are placed first in Ireland.”

My name is Fintan Cleary, I’m 21 and am from Templeogue. I am currently in my final year of my Bachelor of Business Studies. I completed my INTRA year in McNally Business Services Limited, a small accounting firm based in Dundrum Business Park. My role was of a marketing and administration intern.

I chose DCU based on it’s reputation particularly in the field of Business. I had heard great things from DCU graduates about both the degrees they studied and the college as a whole. I chose Business Studies as I was torn between studying accounting and other business fields that interested me such as consulting and HR. I was aware that the course offered a work placement year through INTRA which swayed my decision as I knew this would offer me valuable experience for entering the working world on completion of my degree.

[pullquote]Having a years work experience to my name has given me greater confidence with regards to obtaining a graduate role on completion of my degree[/pullquote]

From the beginning, I was conducting tasks for both the accounting team and senior management. My tasks included processing data in the accounting software,creating/updating spreadsheets which was crucial to the decision making of fellow staff members such as reports from Revenue and CORE, filing forms related to company formation and company annual returns, ensuring all AML related documentation for our clients were up to date as was required by law and following protocol for the various tasks related to a new client set up in a time efficient manner.

My favourite part of my INTRA placement was the exposure to how a set of financial statements were produced.For certain clients, I was responsible for collecting raw data from them and processing it in an efficient and accurate manner for a member of the accounting team. As time went on, I was given further responsibilities such as querying various aspects with clients, and inputting the final data into the financial statements to be sent to the client and the CRO.

[pullquote]I chose DCU based on it’s reputation particularly in the field of Business. I had heard great things from DCU graduates about both the degrees they studied and the college as a whole[/pullquote]

My biggest achievement was incorporating a new CRM software for the firm. I was given this task approximately half way through my placement and the project lasted right up to the final week. At first this was quite daunting, but with the help of a member of senior management, I was able to split the project into manageable segments that I carried out according to set deadlines. Examples of these segments include: finding the most cost efficient/suitable software on the market, queries with the CRM company in question, ensuring suitability with our IT advisor, transfer in data into the system and training of staff members on the system.

The INTRA experience has unquestionably helped me choose my career path. Having gained great exposure to an accounting firm and the various tasks carried out by an accountant, I feel that it is the career for me. Having a years work experience to my name has given me greater confidence with regards to obtaining a graduate role on completion of my degree.

With regards to me final year, it has greatly increased my confidence and boosted a variety of skills such as time management and communication. It has also helped me focus more on relating modules currently studied to a workplace environment.

My advice for current leaving cert students looking at their CAO options now would be to look to a career that both excites and challenges you in equal measures.The transition from school to college can seem daunting but with a little preparation and thought you will be fine. Also, never leave something off your CAO form because you feel that you won’t obtain the points, set your standards high!