UL MBA alumni feature

Eileen Fitzgerald

2007 MBA graduate

Undertaking the MBA was a personal goal to solidify my career experience with a statement of globally recognised academic achievement.

I’ve been in the banking sector my entire career. It’s an environment with wonderful opportunities: to work in diverse locations across different countries and jurisdictions and achieve progression with focus and hard work. Undertaking an MBA helped solidify my career experience so that I was able to avail myself of these opportunities to the full. Not only did it provide insight from outside the banking world – but it also made a statement of academic capability.

As I progressed in my career, it became clear that many Senior leaders in my professional field held MBA qualifications. Discussions with them highlighted the breadth of learning opportunities to be gained, and the course in UL was referenced in high regard. Consequently, in 2005, I enrolled at the University of Limerick to study for an MBA.

I selected the course at UL because it ticked all the boxes. Every module delivered solid business relevance, and the learnings were transferable to benefit my career, which was vital. The sheer breadth of the course and other students’ backgrounds also meant I would absorb knowledge from beyond my immediate environment, enabling me to bring something different to the table back in my “day job”. Seeing the variety of solution approaches from a broad range of industry sectors was enriching and a true learning.

Ultimately, I was hard-working and ambitious, and I wanted to transition to C-suite roles. The course gave me the confidence to engage at that level.

One of the big advantages of the UL MBA is the calibre of alumni. Students come from a whole host of industry sectors, which provides different viewpoints and a broad perspective. As someone who had been in banking from day one of my career, that insight was a real driving benefit of the programme.

Working with students from across different sectors of the business environment was exciting, and the connections that you develop inform your experience. There is a sense of camaraderie because you are all on the same journey, with plenty of team working and relationship-building structured into the course. Consequently, you don’t just meet classmates, and you make friends for life.

I made friendships during my MBA that have lasted almost two decades, even though we are now thousands of kilometres apart. Developing this network expands your horizons and provides a resource you can draw on in future years.

Strategy modules were another big draw for me. Now, my learnings often help me take a step back, re-evaluate through a broader lens and see the wider picture

With a strategic approach, I can translate ideas into localised plans to enable teams with unified clarity of direction to achieve. It provides me with the skill set to identify the optimum course, sell the concept to colleagues, and drive the action forward in a multi-layered corporate setting with many stakeholders.

The MBA has provided me with a toolbox that appreciates the strength of self-challenge to gain the full picture, helping me positively drive change. For anyone looking to progress their career, the MBA is a focused skill kit of relevance and my advice would be to ‘Go for it’. Put in the graft and you will have an amazing experience that you won’t regret.

When I graduated from UL in 2007, I was new to owning P&L for a business division, but the MBA kept me on track and gave me the impetus to progress my ideas

The MBA gave me the confidence to step up, understand a broad range of new concepts, and ask the daft questions. The confidence to ask the daft questions is important to gain a full insight that informs gain focused but risk-evaluated decisions.

Today, I enjoy a Chief Operating Officer role across several jurisdictions for a global institution. I lead multiple teams, working across several different geographies, with many talented and inspiring colleagues reporting to me. I am very appreciative of the skills gained through the MBA programme that has supported my journey.

As such, I often find I return to the MBA leadership module. The content explored different leadership styles and looked at different cultures, which has been fundamental in my subsequent career.

Over the years, I have worked in various leadership roles in the banking industry, across different locations and within diverse cultures. Thanks to the MBA, I have a further appreciation that diversity is critical in business and should be embraced. It’s a topic I really enjoyed learning about during the MBA, not least by working with and listening to the views of people from outside my immediate industry.

The MBA helped me realise that having different skillsets around the table makes for a stronger team.

It is highly visible that people often recruit individuals with a similar mindset to their own, an unconscious bias that is inherent in human nature. However, I believe this doesn’t advance your team’s overall critical thinking skills or ability to devise creative and unique solutions. The MBA helped me to develop agile leadership skills, appreciate and hear alternative viewpoints, and to recruit a holistic skillset so we can drive forward cohesively as a success-oriented team.

Indeed, critical thinking and decision-making are essential for astute leadership. The MBA helps you identify different viewpoints and broader market forces so that you can make informed decisions, even in challenging environments.

MBA learning provides a vital strategy toolset, enabling informed client-centric decision-making and key skills for successful project implementation. Ultimately, it ensures a lateral view and the ability to proactively manage in an ever-changing economic environment with swift application.

With MBA skills I know that my learnings are transferable across all industry sectors.

Right now, I’m happy in my current role. Banking is an industry I enjoy, and the MBA has given me the tools to build an interesting and exciting career. With an MBA, however, I feel I would be equipped to take on new roles and forge a new path across different industry segments should I decide to explore an alternative career direction.

I know that I hold the key to career progression in my own hands, and I have the confidence to pursue my passion, using the MBA tools to propel my trajectory. When colleagues, friends and acquaintances ask me if they should do an MBA, I emphatically encourage them to go for it, enjoy every second and optimise every opportunity. Why wouldn’t you?

  • Current Role: Chief Operating Officer at a Global Financial institution

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