More women than ever are doing UCD’s Executive MBA

Elaine Ahern, head of student recruitment at UCD College of Business.

Share This Post

The globally ranked UCD Smurfit School MBA programmes provide an opportunity for ambitious individuals to unlock and develop their leadership potential, accelerate career advancement and build their global networks. In addition, the latest Financial Times rankings have found that graduates of the part-time Executive MBA programme enjoy earnings growth of 68 per cent within three years.

People tend to have slightly different reasons for taking the full-time and part-time MBA programmes, according to Elaine Aherne, head of Student Recruitment for UCD College of Business.

“People do the full-time course because they might want to pivot out of their current career and into a different one,” she says. “They may want to move into more of an operational role and get into the business side of the organisation. For example, we have physiotherapists and vets doing MBAs. They are really capable people at what they do but they are looking to get into the business side of healthcare or animal health. They want to progress to management and leadership roles.”

Others may want to build on particular qualifications. “They might have done an undergraduate degree in a particular area like computer science or engineering and now want to move into consultancy roles. We also have nurses with three to five years’ experience who want to get into healthcare consultancy.”

The EMBA tends to attract a slightly different cohort. “They may be quite happy in their current role but might have gone for a promotion and been disappointed,” Aherne explains. “They want to demonstrate their ambition, hone their leadership skills and deepen their business knowledge. They may not be considering moving employer, but they want to make a leap forward with their current employer. They want to be ready when a new role comes up in the organisation.”

There are also those who want to understand more about their current roles. “They may have been promoted recently and want to learn about things like financial accounts, the broader administration of a business, and so on. We have had a number of medical consultants with over 25 years’ experience. They might be on the board of the hospital and want to understand the broader business and organisational aspects of that role.”

There has been a marked change in the number of women taking the programmes in recent years. This year, for the first time there are more women than males in the year one class of the two-year Smurfit Executive MBA programme. “The total class size is 37 students and 59 per cent of them are women,” Aherne points out. “The full-time MBA is now at 42 per cent women, which is above the international average. Overall, our female intake has surpassed the male intake for the first time and stands at 51 per cent of all new MBA students.”

She explains the importance of diversity on the programmes. “The key learnings on an MBA are not just academic and what you learn from faculty. Peer to peer learning is hugely important. People from different industries, backgrounds and cultures share their experience and knowledge with each other. It’s really important for us to have that cross section of industry and experiences.”

And that includes a good gender balance. “When I joined the College of Business, I set about trying to understand why not many females were taking MBAs,” she says. “At that time were setting up the modular MBA programme which is two days a month in college with the rest self-directed learning. That increased flexibility certainly suited females. We went out to recruit more women. We targeted them through women specific webinars, and we had female alumni who explained how they did it. If you can see it, you can be it.”

Another important aspect of the Smurfit MBA is the Leadership and Employability Advancement Programme (LEAP). This is designed to support managers and senior specialists to make successful career transitions to executive roles by building their capability to lead diverse teams inclusively, and sustainably. “Leap provides a bridge between the academic and business worlds and forms an integral part of the MBA,” says Aherne.

Applications are open for next year’s programmes beginning in September. “Students require a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) first,” Aherne points out. “This is a globally recognised accreditation. Lot of consultancy companies require it before hiring people. You can apply without it and we can offer online coaching to get people through the GMAT process. It’s really important as it gives people the confidence that they will be able to complete the MBA programme. It also ensures that the other people in the class are at that level as well – that’s vitally important for the peer to peer learning element.”

To learn more about the MBA and attend the upcoming Open Evening on November 15th go to


Related articles


Leading healthcare company continues to hire and grow

“MSD was already creative when pitching ourselves as a great company to work for, and now this crisis has challenged us to be even more innovative”- Maria Cullen, Talent Acquisition lead at MSD Ireland


Discover your perfect job

Looking to take the next step in your career?
Kickstart your search with indepth profiles and 

handy career advice and find your 

perfect match today.


10 Minutes With…

Find jobs in your area

Copyright © 2022. Developed & Designed by Square1.