MBA student Marguerite Bourke

Marguerite Bourke, Manager, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) at Enterprise Ireland

DCU Executive MBA 2016 – 2018

It’s certainly not easy to juggle a demanding job, an MBA and keep the balance at home. Yet we all have commitments and manage to get through! Here’s some tips from an (almost) MBA graduate.

Give yourself a break

I think the main thing is to acknowledge that it’s impossible to fire on all cylinders all the time. For example, coming up to exam time I block out a few days in my calendar as study leave, and postpone any non critical work until after the exam. Similiarly there are hectic weeks in work where I have to be ok with not reaching all the readings for college. Striving for perfectionism is not an option, there have been lots of days where I’ve had to be ok with ‘good enough’ when juggling everything.

Keep it in perspective

Be organised, keep a detailed calendar capturing all home, work and college priorities. Don’t get overwhelmed, tackle one deadline at a time. I found it better to power through one assignment at a time, take a break and then tackle the next one fresh.

Chill out

I tried to keep week day evenings free for any MBA work, but always took Friday evenings off and enjoy a nice dinner, glass of wine and mindless tv, anything that helps slow the mind down! I always give myself one full day off at the weekend. A complete break from work and college, and time to spend doing things I enjoy. It’s really important to get a mental break as the cycle of work and study can be intense at times!

Lean on your comrades

Having a supportive network – both at home and at work is essential. A partner or boss that can understand when you are stressed, a team that can jump in to share the workload when required makes all the difference.

I’ve learnt to rely on my classmates more and more as we’ve gone through this journey. Noone else really understands those moments of panic when it feels like everything is coming at you at once! Each week my group divided the reading list so we had summaries to refer to before class. Around exam time we split the topics which really helped ease the prep (and fear!). Taking the time to socialise and get to know your classmates is invaluable. You build relationships that really get you over the hump in stressful times. The week we spent together in Hong Kong as a group, away from the demands of home and work, really solidified lasting friendships. Facing back into assignments and presentations off a 12 hour flight was not an appealing prospect, but we all got through it together – helping prep each other and through encouraging messages on our whatsapp ‘support group’. The sense that ‘We’re all in this together’ really got us through. At the end of day, I’m coming out of this with an MBA but just as important 31 new peers, friends and allies.

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. If you are considering undertaking the programme, please contact Ruth Finnegan at


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