Doireann Sheelan, HR Manager at Irish Water has recently completed DCU’s two year, Executive MBA programme. As a recent graduate, Doireann provides a unique insight into what you can really expect from the programme as she reflects on the past two years and has some advice for anyone considering an MBA.

I’m writing this through the rose tinted glasses of someone whom has just managed to get through the MBA. Basking in the satisfaction of being finished, I will try to give you an objective view of the two year journey through my MBA at Dublin City University (DCU). Hopefully, it will give you a flavour of the reality of doing an MBA at DCU; not just the stuff from the brochure!

Second year will test you! There is no getting away from it. First year was a walk in the park by comparison so enjoy it. Second year is designed to test your resilience, endurance, capability and patience. It starts in September, finishes at the end of July and it is hard work. On our first night of the MBA, a recent Graduate of the course pointed this out to us, and of course I scoffed at the time. Silly me!

Good news then to find that the lecturers are actually sound. They’re not immune to the fact that the majority of the class is working full time and the deadline for an assignment can coincide with a major incident/crisis/workload increase back at the office. They are accommodating, and they are there to get you through the work, but you do need to show that you are putting in the effort.

Your gut means nothing in the MBA, so get over the thought that you are an intuitive genius for the two year period! As an MBA level student, you are expected to take the academic research and apply the learnings to your work life/experience. You have to apply it to the real world context and extract relevant meaning, and understand the implications of the research for real organisational and working life. So while you may not agree with everything that’s in the research, it is data driven and there is always something to be gained by understanding it.

Don’t get me wrong though; your personal journey through the MBA is important and there is a module dedicated entirely to your personal growth as a leader. Here, it’s all about you!! If you put the effort into your own self development through this module, you will gain real insight into your leadership behaviour and you will see real tangible improvements. This module, combined with the career skills day and the assessment centre activities you are put through are incredibly beneficial, real life interventions that will stand to you over the course of your career.

Lastly, and most importantly, remember that your classmates are not your competition. (If you are one of those that believe that life is a competition, I salute you, but this bit is not for you). You will spend 7 hours each week with your class; you’ll have a weekend away; you will have an epic international week together; you will work in groups on assignments, and you will have endless conference calls about how best to tackle them (a word of advice, don’t get too lost in the details). You’ll eventually figure out how to work best together, most efficiently and effectively, to get through each module. The diversity of the class will mean that every week you will learn something new, not just from the lecturers, but from your classmates who I have to say were a really inspiring, intelligent, professional cohort, not to mention great craic!

So, if you are sitting on the fence about committing to 2 years at DCU for an MBA I’d say do it! You will get through it and when you are out the far side you’ll look back and realise that while you’ve got a lot of time back in your life, you’re really going to miss those Thursday classes for the laughs and the learnings with the group.

PS. Thanks to my husband Gary, my family, and everyone at Irish Water for being so supportive of my MBA journey.

Doireann Sheelan, HR Manager, Irish Water

About the DCU Executive MBA

The DCU Executive MBA is a two-year part-time programme, delivered one day per week, for executives with ambitions of becoming Senior Managers/CEOs. At DCU Business School we believe that the Executive MBA should be a transformative experience at a personal level.

The DCU Executive MBA is built on four foundational pillars;
  1. Shape individuals to become effective business leaders
  2. Help transform organisations to cope with complex change
  3. Support an integrated approach to business across the enterprise
  4. Influence the sustainable and ethical approach to business within society

For more information visit The DCU Executive MBA, or download the course brochure below.

Download Brochure



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