An MBA degree is internationally recognised as a passport to career success. Fewer women than men pursue an MBA, so we asked some of our alumnae to share their experiences, to encourage more women to trust their abilities and invest in their future.
Edel Murphy, Director of Finance PMO EMEA at Oath, and Fiona Claridge, Commercial Lead for cut-e Ireland, took time from their very busy schedules to tell us about their MBA experiences at National College of Ireland.
Why did you decide to do an MBA?
“I knew I needed deeper insight into the broader aspects of business to engage credibly with leaders and to be seen as a high potential for future leadership to organisations”, says Fiona. “The MBA offered me the opportunity to learn an incredible amount in a relatively short space of time.
“The challenge of stepping out of my comfort zone to complete a variety of business-critical subjects which I felt I knew little about was the deciding factor for me. It turned out that I excelled at the subjects I felt I had the least experience in, for example finance, because I approached them with a fresh and different lens and viewpoint.”
Edel had been thinking of going back to study for a number of years. “I looked at a number of programmes before deciding to attend a “taster evening” for the MBA programme in NCI. I got to meet with a senior lecturer and the course coordinator and had the chance to ask questions. Taste of an MBA was a great opportunity to see if it was the right course for me”
What most daunted you about undertaking an MBA?
“It was both exciting and scary embarking on the 2 year part-time course”, says Edel. “The most daunting part of it was wondering if I would be able to manage and balance the college workload on top of a busy career and personal commitments. Also, it had been a long time since I had undertaken a professional academic course so it’s natural to have doubts about whether you will be able for the modules and assignments, exams and presentations, and the thesis. But you do manage: everyone in the class did. We helped each other through it and had good craic along the away.
“The thesis is also a bit terrifying at the start, but what resonated with me was that you could pick a topic of personal interest (course-/work-related or not). This made the research really absorbing and kept the motivation up!"
“Yes”, agrees Fiona, “most daunting was the time input required to do a good job. I was conscious that if I was making this investment in myself I wanted to do it to the best of my ability.
“At the time I was working full time, travelling frequently for my role, was responsible for significant growth targets in my organisation, and had been out of formal education for ten years. However it became clear very quickly that completing an MBA is a different learning experience to what I was used to. The practical application and self-directed research made the assignments feel less and less like study and more about feeding my natural curiosity.”
What has been the greatest benefit of doing an MBA at NCI?
“The increase in my self-confidence, comfort with ambiguity and the awakening of an entrepreneurial spirit I never knew I had”, says Fiona.
Edel adds: “After now successfully coming out the other side, I would fully encourage women thinking of going back to college to do an MBA (or other course), to go for it. It is tough and the 2 years are full-on, but it is absolutely manageable. The company I work for was very supportive.
“In addition to the all-round senior management learning and tools we were equipped with to be a better leader, without a doubt the best thing about the course was getting to know my fellow students. There were 24 of us, 3 women, a really diverse group, working in a variety of different roles and industries.
“We learned so much from each other and really supported each other through the course. We all remain connected and continue to meet and socialise together.”