UL MBA Insider

Life After the MBA: Moving from Public to Private Sector

For many MBA candidates, the reason for their pursuing such a programme is a strong desire to progress their careers.  For UL MBA graduate Francis O'Donnell, undertaking the MBA programme enabled him to gain the clarity he needed to complete a significant career change. Francis explains how he found himself discovering a need to transition from public to private sector while studying the MBA.

Recognising my own dissatisfaction

I graduated from the U.L. MBA in 2010. For the previous 15 years I had worked in a number of positions in the public service. However I had become disillusioned with my current career path. The lack of opportunities was taking its toll.

Unearthing the root of my career frustration

After embarking on my MBA while still working in the public service, I soon realised why the public service system had frustrated me so much. I uncovered the missing ingredients in my current role - my day-to-day role was lacking any real leadership or strategic thinking.  The stimulating environment of academic research and group discussion that the UL MBA offered enabled me to finally unearth the root of my career frustration. Ultimately I realised that I was in a transition phase from public to private sector without actually knowing.

Transitioning to the private sector

Post graduation, I had the confidence to leave my comfortable, pensionable civil service position to join a private Fisheries Organisation as its CEO. This was an extremely challenging move, as any wrong decision in my new role could put my professional reputation on the line. More importantly, any mistakes resulted in financial implications for my employers. I was in at the deep end, but I was thriving.

Reaping the personal rewards

Though the first two years in this role were stressful, they also brought equally amazing rewards. These came in many forms; from being allowed to think strategically, to executing innovative ideas, to evaluating and learning from the mistakes (and yes there were many!), to networking with motivating people, and learning from other leaders. Most of all, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to meet fantastic like-minded people. People not afraid to take a chance, or say exactly what they think.

Further expanding my horizons

Since I obtained my MBA, I have been fortunate enough to write a book, publish a paper and become a guest lecturer in the area of CSR and stakeholder  engagement, all while working in my current role. Simultaneously, I’ve been developing a business plan for a new SME that I hope to launch in 2016.

Without undertaking the UL MBA, I would never have had the skills and confidence to make the move from public to private sector. The MBA programme completely changed the way I thought about the external business environment. Even more importantly, it changed the way that I looked at myself and my own goals for the future.

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