The DIT MBA Experience

 

The DIT MBA, a Career Game Changer 

In 2017, Bassey Duke became CEO & Co-Founder Prune Consulting Ltd. a Dublin HQ company with expertise in procurement, logistics and supply-chain.  Bassey completed his MBA in 2017.

Bassey Duke

 

For the past few years, I’d yearned to complete an MBA degree but had a lot of commitments which held me back. In 2016 I decided to take the plunge and started conducting research on the different MBA programs available in Dublin. I contacted a few institutions, studied the different programs and had meetings with the various members of staff. I finally decided to select DIT for the following reasons: the quality of the program especially compared to other schools, the structure of the program and the friendliness / vast knowledge of the staff. It was the best decision I made towards this venture and if I had to make the choice again, I’d still choose DIT.

The program presented many challenges and several rewards. One of the key highlights during the program was a one week trip we made to Silicon Valley where we met some startups who shared their stories, challenges and experiences. The trip was an eye opener as it challenged me to take a leap and not be afraid of the consequences. Another key part of the program was the diverse group of students I worked with. These were all full-time professionals from different backgrounds who took part in the MBA program. We worked together during the two-year duration of the program, across different groups and projects and formed friendships that would last a lifetime.

On conclusion of the MBA, I decided to create my own consultancy company and within a year I’m about to set up a second company. This would not have been possible at this stage of my career if I hadn’t taken part in the program. This achievement also spans across other members of the group where careers have taken a progressive turn for the better. Although the past 2 years were among the toughest of my life, they have also been the most rewarding. I can say with utmost certainty undergoing an MBA at DIT would be worth your time, money and resources.

Bassey Duke – DIT MBA Graduate 2017, DIT College of Business The DIT MBA is a part-time executive programme, accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and designed for motivated individuals seeking to maximise their career potential. Contact mba@dit.ie to learn more.


My MBA Experience helped me Disrupt the Global Restaurant Business

Weldon Mather set up his own company specialising in Hotel Asset, Investment Management Advisory and Tourism Consultancy in 2003. Weldon recently completed an MBA with DIT College of Business. Here he describes how his experience has made him a digital forerunner in the restaurant business.


 

I’m probably not going to tell you what you would expect to hear from an MBA graduate. In fact, my career path took a circuitous route to get me to where I am today, and I was indeed not your archetypal candidate when I began the MBA programme at DIT. Although an MBA is not for everyone, when deciding to embark on this journey, I didn’t spend too long deliberating and just decided to enrol and give it my best shot.

My reasons for doing the MBA were quite simple; to bolster my business knowledge as a management consultant, and to attain a globally recognised qualification that will benefit me long into the future.

DIT MBA winning team -National Case Competition at the MBA Association of Ireland’s Strategy Challenge 2017

Sometimes I think DIT picked me instead of the other way around. As an alumnus, I knew as a mature student I would benefit from the peer-to-peer learning that DIT offers, which is precisely what happened. I really enjoyed the collaborative and challenging academic side, but more importantly the practical aspects of the program. In particular, the study visit to San Francisco was a real eye-opener for me!

As somebody who works exclusively in hospitality and tourism, I saw first-hand how technology could transform our industry, and it was by focusing on the innovation and commercialisation of technology management, that I began to understand how technology businesses can achieve scale and proliferate.

Resy, a new innovative restaurant booking platform

This learning led me to focus my Capstone project on cost-per-acquisition in the hospitality industry, resulting in a research paper which made me a specialist in this subject area. My MBA also introduced me to a pioneering New York-based SaaS technology company, which is disrupting how the restaurant business manages bookings, in the same way, that hotel and taxi booking apps have changed how these industries operate. Resy offers the best technology to top restaurants worldwide, and in a happy coincidence, the company is also backed by Airbnb, which means I get to work out of the Airbnb offices in Dublin in a world-class technology company.

 

 

Sometimes you don’t know where the road ahead is going to lead you, but making a start is often the best decision – which worked for me. As Richard Branson said, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

Weldon Mather – DIT MBA Graduate 2017, DIT College of Business


DIT MBA - My First Year

DIT MBA student Mark Kettles shares his experience of the DIT MBA as he looks forward to Year 2. 

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“Learning never exhausts the mind.”- Leonardo Da Vinci

 

Something I keep telling myself. This past year has been a personal watershed, as I began the Executive MBA programme in DIT, last Sept 2016. Combining employment and part-time study is a challenge. It can be a daunting prospect to deliberately immerse yourself in a deluge of study, lectures, assignments, exams and group work, whilst juggling the pressures of a demanding job and then committing to this for two (apparently distant) years. However, Friday evening and Saturday morning lectures gave me the flexibility to manage my time so that work was not impacted and this has been well received by my organisation and given me that reassurance to manage both commitments effectively.

The course has been a hugely valuable experience in year one. The breadth of learning so far has extended from economics, marketing, data analytics, finance and leadership to organisational behaviour. It has been immensely relatable to my role and organisation and I have been able to bring back learnings such as forecasting techniques from Data Analytics to exploring more Digital Marketing opportunities in my team. However, it is much more than the theory, inviting more introspection and then practical everyday application to leadership style and personal effectiveness.

 

       

 MBA Induction Weekend – Killashee House Hotel, September 2016

As work and study ebb and flow, confluence naturally occurs at end of term deadlines and exams. Planning and preparation is everything – co-ordinating assignments and study is essential to give you the best chance of success – something that became apparent in semester one, as deadlines peppered pre-Christmas holidays. Tip: If this is a natural peak period in work, the best advice I can give is to plan for increased work demands and get the assignments done early; it will really help, especially with the boss and getting time off for those exams in January.

I was lucky enough to have a great Group to work within Semester One who helped me manage this initial workload, whether, with a weekly Skype call or simply daily WhatsApp messaging, we connected consistently so that we weren’t overwhelmed approaching end of term.  This continued into exam preparation and group study, and this brings me to the wider class.  It has been the best part of the course so far, connecting with a diverse, knowledgeable, experienced and committed group. We have had fun, I have learned from them and I know that I have made friends for life already. DIT has been very supportive, through fun, interactive classes led by encouraging, open lecturers. The MBA class has been all about shared learning and applying this to your role as a leader.

Year one is done, it has flown by and I’ve already gained so much from the course. Year two is upon us and I’m looking forward to all the new experiences it will bring. It has been tiring, pressurized and time-consuming but always worthwhile and rewarding.

For any professional looking for a new challenge, personal development, career advancement or just lifelong learning, this Exec MBA course in DIT teaches beyond the theory and makes you look at how to get the best out of you. Go for it, you won’t regret it.

“Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.     Brian Tracy

Mark Kettles – current MBA student, DIT College of Business


DIT MBAs are Pitch Perfect in San Francisco

 

DIT MBA Year 2 Student, Jane Hicks, shares an update about the groups’ International Study Visit to San Francisco (Oct 29th – Nov 3rd)

 

Despite a few delays and jumping clocks, we all made it to San Fran safe and sound albeit a little jet lagged. Luggage size ranged and Mel got the prize for the largest case, rumour has it Shane was hiding in there but he’s yet to make an appearance.

On Sunday night, we ventured out for a group dinner but it wasn’t long before people started to wilt. Naturally, some were more alive than others and managed to prop up the bar at The Last Drop!

For most, jet lag meant that 2-4am were the waking hours. Making the most of this, some hardy fools went for a dawn run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Monday morning with USMAC kicked off promptly with an introduction to Silicon Valley and its innovation culture. The groups began to develop their pitch ideas in some workshops using the business model canvas.

We spent the afternoon in TechShop, which was amazing. There were many innovations at play and we were able to see a more tangible & practical side of innovation.

That night some serious group work ensued with groups burning the midnight oil.

Later on, we tentatively presented our business canvases and our innovations, which had been in development since the start of the semester. We got our first glimpse of the “shark tank” as Steve Adelman quizzed us on our business models and ideas, and Chris Burry teed up how to create the “perfect pitch”.

Barry O’Reilly, DIT alumni, talked to us about Lean and his San Fran experience. This was a great example for everyone of an Irish person’s experience in Silicon Valley.

Wednesday 

This morning started early for our trip to Intertrust, Palo Alto. It was far further than some of us realised and we didn’t envy the daily commuters. I was sitting next to Simon, who had us all agog with his impressive storytelling skills. Twenty-three grown adults with their noses glued to the windows, awaiting a glimpse of his fabled “Google Bus”. Which, as it turns out, is, in fact, a bus, with a G on the digital screen instead of a number! #underwhelmed. We rocked up to Intertrust ‘the biggest software company you’ve never heard of’. Their business is founded on IP, which has them fighting to stay relevant and afloat ahead of impending patent cliffs. The main themes were talent management and corporate culture, and Mark exuded enthusiasm as he spoke of his extensive experience in these areas. He described the challenges of finding & retaining in the competitive Silicon Valley hiring space where staying in the same job for more than 2 years is regarded as too cosy and comfortable. We all left Intertrust with a good insight into hiring and firing techniques as well as performance management, Valley style.

After lunch, we were back to the city to meet with Jay Onda from Orange who gave us the scoop on CVC – Commercial Venture Capitalists.  This was really interesting in light of a recent meeting we’d had with ESB – we saw how two infrastructure intensive companies are going about sourcing innovation. The views were pretty sweet too:

By the end of the day, we were ready for another night of pitch prep and unicorn hunting in RocketSpace ahead of Thursday’s run through.

Thursday 

We spent Thursday downtown with Chris getting some final pitch tips and attended a lecture on culture and its effect on doing business. According to Chris’ own research, Americans are Linear Active meaning they are decisive, cool and active planners. By contrast, we Irish are apparently a little more emotional!  The basic message was ‘ignore culture at your peril’!
Then the curtain was lifted on the engine driving SV- the money. Unfortunately, our guest speaker was unable to attend but Chris spoke about raising capital and had some eyebrow-raising tales of VC funding.

DocUSign were very good to host us and gave a product pitch and some information on their strategy:

Then followed a very candid, quirky and brilliant talk by Ali Rayl at Slack on growing a company and the role of management as you scale.

We were then joined by Sean Tsu from Tesla, who was a most brilliant whiz kid! His infectious entrepreneurial spirit, inquisitive nature and clever market research tips had people astounded and some even downright disgusted! He epitomises the notion of fail fast, fail cheap, and the importance of iteration. He really stood out as an embodiment of everything San Fran stands for. He was great!

True to form in tech land it was ‘Thirsty Thursday’ in Slack so we were all invited to stick around for music, food and drinks before heading back to do some final pitch prep with our groups. The stopwatches were out in force, with the teams putting the final touches to their slide decks ahead of meeting the investors the next morning.

Friday

The day finally arrived. The teams turned up suited and booted ahead of the clash with the investors. The morning was a run through with Chris, who didn’t hold back, delivering some strong feedback, and little time to pivot before the final pitch. The tension in the room was fever pitch (!geddit!) but we all put our shoulders to the metaphorical wheel, and the final comments from the investors were favourable across the board.

 Then it was So Long to San Fran, as some of the group headed to the airport, and others to prison.

It was an interesting experience, a fascinating glimpse into the world of innovation and investment, and certainly a steep learning curve for all!

 


DIT MBA Students Live Company Challenge

 

Problem Based Learning is an integral part of the DIT MBA programme and this April, students were given a live company challenge in collaboration vStream, a global, award-winning, experiential technology agency. Andrew Jenkinson – Co Founder of vStream, DIT College of Business key academics and MBA students were happy to share with us their experience of the process.

Dr. Claire McBride, lecturer at DIT College of Business states that the ”MBA programmes navigate the space between application to practice and theoretical rigour on a near-constant basis. The opportunity to work with live case-studies enables our students to blend theory and practice in a way that deeply embeds learning. Underpinned by the curriculum, our MBAs apply their professional expertise and their domain knowledge to meeting challenges in different industries to their own. Live case studies present the opportunity to research problems in given context and to make, and defend, recommendations to a panel of company founders and senior executives. Problem-Based-Learning represents a win-win for our MBAs and for executives in our sponsor companies.”

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand”.

Laura Cuddihy, Lecturer explains ”This oft-used proverb is a simplified way of supporting the use of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) on the DIT MBA programme in two of the final semester modules, Innovation and Technology Management and Strategic Customer Management.

PBL has its roots in 1960s Canadian medical education where it was designed to help medical students develop their clinical reasoning skills, providing solutions to patients’ problems. It has now spread across the globe and across many disciplines where there is a shift from the teaching paradigm to the learning paradigm. In our case, the students are presented from the first day with a real problem that a company is currently facing. By their nature these problems are ill-structured, open-ended real-life engaging problems. Each module has very clearly defined learning outcomes  In small groups the students work over a twelve week period, scaffolded by academic support through group facilitation by the lecturers, a virtual learning system, and guest speaker input, to produce solutions which are presented to the company at the end of the semester.”

 

 

Andrew Jenkinson – Co-Founder, vStream brought us through his experience- ”Working with the DIT MBA Groups was an incredibly beneficial exercise for vStream. While all business owners are busy, and time is a currency in short supply, there was such a small input of the founders time for such a wealth of output, I would encourage any business owner/leader to engage with DIT on this initiative. The insights from these experienced and diverse students, all of whom have many years of industry experience, provided vStream with a number of different perspectives on how to address the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. The standard of presentation was exceptional, and the data we left with invaluable. A wonderful experience, and highly recommended.”

Mark Kettles, 2nd Year Student on the DIT MBA Programme shared with us his insight- ”Using Problem Based Learning in Strategic Customer Management has brought to life the challenge of working with vStream in understanding their business, gaining insight and developing new business proposals. Working as a group, through key learning outcomes has been a different method of teaching, with the lecturer offering guidance and prompting but not directing our approach. Self-directed learning has been a valuable experience for the group and has focused us on the outcome of delivering strategic customer management proposals to vStream in our final presentation.

This was a very worthwhile experience, concentrating our research, then applying our learnings to the client organisation. Our group really enjoyed the significant task of theoretical learning and then developing meaningful propositions that vStream might use in developing their business. Working with a dynamic customer, in an exciting technical, digital space was really interesting and we all appreciated this opportunity. vStream were very open, helpful and provided good insight into the challenges of navigating their world, allowing us to peer in and learn from their experiences.”


MY DIT MBA Journey

Paul Surgenor with some classmates, San Francisco, Oct 2016

 

I didn’t plan to do an MBA. I worked in the charity sector and didn’t want to start my own business, so why would I? But I did recognise that I’d reached a point where I needed new skills if I wanted to get to the next stage of my career. I was looking at leadership courses when the details of the MBA caught my eye. I went along to the open evening, listened to some alumni and chatted to the lecturers. As my wife said at the time, if you’re going to do a course then you should do the best. So I did.

I’m not going to say it was easy and that everyone should do it. There were times I wondered what I was doing (usually the night before an accounting assignment was due) but at no time did I regret the decision. I was always challenged and, more importantly, always supported – by the staff and especially by my classmates. I was initially concerned that my academic and public sector background would put me at a disadvantage, but my skill set just brought a different perspective to our diverse student group.

One of the main reasons I chose DIT was the Silicon Valley Immersion Programme – a week of intense classes with a range of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. It was easily the best learning experience of my life. I learned so much in that one week and from the work we did around it.

This time two years ago I started to think about the MBA. Two years later, I now have the skills, language and the confidence to take my career to the next level, and I’m writing this on my way to work in Washington DC. I can honestly say that I would not have got this job without the DIT MBA. The MBA won’t be for everyone, but if you want to take your career to the next level, and are willing to get stuck into a challenging but rewarding learning experience, then this is for you.