In this month's feature we talk to a recent graduate of the part-time MBA course at Griffith College's Dublin campus.
Name: Dominic Kelly
Course: MBA in International Business
Year of Graduation: 2014
Home Town / Country: Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland
My Current Situation
I am currently Contracts Officer for the Irish Air Corps, a Head of Department role with responsibility for the leadership and management of the Air Corps’ procurement, contracts management and external supply chain development functions.
I am also responsible for the management and accountancy of the Air Corps’ budget, acting as the organisation’s financial manager. I am lucky to lead a dedicated and professional team, whose support is critical to ensuring that the function provides timely support and resources to maintenance and operations functions across the Air Corps.
I am an officer in the Defence Forces with over fourteen years’ leadership and management experience. Originally from Drogheda, I joined the Defence Forces as a Cadet in the Naval Service after completing the Leaving Certificate. After completing cadet training, I gained a range of management experience both at sea and ashore in areas such as logistics and supply chain, operations, training and education, and HR. During this period I also completed a BSc in Marine Science. I transferred from the Naval Service to the Air Corps a number of years ago, working as an Air Traffic Controller initially before moving to the Air Corps Contracts Section. I decided to undertake an MBA in order to increase my business competencies and to further my career in the longer term.
Challenges & Innovation In The Procurement & Supply Industry
Working in Supply Management is presently challenging as a result of the ongoing financial crisis. The reduction in available financial resources provides a significant challenge for supply management professionals, particularly coupled with the need to maintain or increase operational output in order to remain competitive. Such challenges should be welcomed, however. It is presently a very exciting time as the only way to achieve more with less is by continuously innovating and improving. The cutting of costs offers the fastest solution to increasing profit. However in order to be sustainable, cost reduction cannot be at the sacrifice of quality and time.
The financial crisis has also highlighted more than ever the need for robust supply chain risk management, with supply management professionals required to remain cognisant of supply chain risks, which if unaddressed could create costly supply chain failures. While the necessity to reduce inventory holding is well recognised, such strategies come with increased supply chain risks? which require active management.
For those who seek a challenging career with real organisational influence and the ability to drive change, the supply management industry offers a fantastic career choice. The evolving nature of supply management and the increasing need for a multi disciplinary approach to procurement and supply chain management also provides career entrants with skills which are very transferable to other business functions as their career progresses.
Job Opportunities In The Supply and Procurement Sector
I think there are many job opportunities in procurement and supply chain management at present, and these opportunities are only increasing. As companies rationalise their cost base, many are centralising these functions or bringing these functions back in-house. I think it is clear that opportunities exist when you look at the amount of major job creation announcements which focus on the relocation of shared services or business support functions to Ireland. Generally, a large number of these business units include procurement and supply management functions.
Applying MBA Learning To My Job
The management of resources within the current financially constrained environment, so as to deliver an effective supply chain, supporting operations such as Air Ambulances, Emergency Aero Medical Services, Maritime Patrols, troop transport, security services and a range of operations supporting other government departments and civil authorities provides many challenges. In addition to supporting these operations and the associated maintenance functions, the contracts section also supports a 24hr, 365 day airport, complete with full airfield services such as Air Traffic Control, Crash Rescue Services, Communications and IT infrastructure, support and logistics.
My current role requires a multi disciplinary approach to management, with both broad and detailed understanding of many business functions. The MBA course at Griffith College has helped me develop into a better manager by equipping me with the tools required to understand and manage the interrelationships across all business functions. The MBA course has given me the skills to update previously held knowledge with the latest thinking and learn from the experiences of classmates with similar experiences in different industries. I have been able to apply, from the start of the MBA programme and continuously to the present day, new knowledge and techniques which have helped drive efficiencies and enabled me to continuously innovate in order to do business better.
Preparing for the MBA
I entered the MBA course feeling very prepared, but I suppose there is always a level of apprehension. While the first few weeks can be a daunting experience, the most surprising aspect is how quickly and progressively the lecturers build confidence and understanding.
Balancing Work and Part-time Study
The biggest challenge associated with any MBA course is probably the workload. Undertaking an MBA part-time while balancing work and social commitments is very difficult, but I suppose like everything you get used to it. Whilst it is a long and often exhausting couple of years, the MBA is worth every minute of effort. The Defence Forces place a high importance on education and personal development and the Air Corps facilitated and supported me when I needed it the most. My advice for anyone considering undertaking an MBA part-time would be to seek the support of your employer as it makes a tough undertaking a little easier.
My Most Useful Experiences
It is difficult to single out just one experience as being the most important. I think the most crucial thing that I learnt was the ability to use multiple tools and complementary disciplines to achieve business goals through the use of multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving.
On a personal level I recognised the value of close relationships and support. Over a two year period the support of family and friends was critical to my successful completion of the MBA course. It is often easy to forget the sacrifices they make for you whilst you’re studying and it is important to always make time for them no matter how busy you are.
My MBA Dissertation
My dissertation focused on developing a framework for the introduction of devolved hedging programmes by public sector organisations using the Air Corps as a case study organisation. The dissertation sought to facilitate the possible future introduction of hedging by public sector organisations in order to provide greater financial certainty surrounding budget decisions for expenditure subject to market volatility such as foreign exchange transactions or fuel and energy costs. I chose the topic as it relates directly to my work and felt that the area could provide an improvement on the current public financial management processes.
Recommendations for the MBA in International Management at Griffith College
I couldn’t recommend the Griffith part-time MBA course highly enough; excellent lecturers, small class sizes and excellent facilities ensure that the programme and College provides a strong education which provides great value for money.
Why I Chose Griffith
Griffith College offered a broad and relevant MBA course with an important international focus; some particular subjects attracted me to the programme such as technology and business innovation, international strategy, globalisation and international finance. I also liked that the MBA lecturers are drawn from a range of industries and are current industry practitioners as well as academics.
What I Liked Most About Griffith
I must say the most enjoyable aspect of the MBA was the wide range of discussions between lecturers and students which facilitated learning between students as well as from lecturers. A significant portion of all modules were assessed by assignments or practical sessions. The use of these assessment methods not only enhanced the learning experience but was often very enjoyable.
Highlight of My Time At Griffith
The highlight of the MBA for me was when I received the award for Best Academic Achievement MBA 2014 at my graduation. It was a complete surprise and a very proud moment.
My Plans For The Future
For the moment I plan to focus on my career and spend more time with family and friends, taking a well-earned break from studying! The MBA does open many new doors academically and I intend to continue to develop and improve over the longer term. But for now it’s nice to put my feet up in the evenings and have my weekends back!
Griffith College has now introduced a new MSc in International Procurement and Supply Management to meet the specialist needs of the supply and procurement sector.
MBA at Griffith College Limerick (accredited by Edinburgh Business School, Heriot Watt University)
Blog post on the Demands of the Supply Chain and Procurement Industry: Driven By The Needs of Customers & Society
Interview by Lydia Casey