This article appeared in Finance Magazine

MBA combines distance education with face-to-face workshops
Gerry Grenham gives an overview of the Institute of Banker‚€ôs MBA programme, and three past pupils discuss how the programme played a key role in their respective careers.
The Institute of Bankers‚€ô Masters in Business Administration (MBA) programme is geared for professionals who wish to combine work and study and offers a cost-effective and flexible approach to gaining a world-class MBA. It is aimed at managers and specialists in banking, financial services and financial control, and the MBA degree is awarded jointly by The Institute of Bankers in Ireland and Manchester Business School Worldwide (MBSW), the delivery arm of Manchester Business School.

The approach to learning, which combines the best of distance education and face-to-face workshops, offers a flexible study route to the MBA award. There is not a requirement to attend lectures every week as the face-to-face tuition element of the programme is delivered via a series of three-day workshops.

The programme consists of 12 taught modules taught over five semesters (30 months) followed by a work-related project. The face-to-face tuition is delivered by means of one three-day workshop for each taught module on the programme. Typically each workshop is conducted over a Thursday/Friday/Saturday. Workshop dates for the coming academic year are shown in the table above.

All programme events, including workshops and examinations take place in the Institute‚€ôs state-of-the-art Education Centre at 1 North Wall Quay beside the IFSC.

The fact that the tuition element of the programme is delivered in block format, via the workshops, adds greatly to the flexibility of the programme. There is minimal disruption to work and home commitments, the module load can be adjusted easily if required and students anywhere in Ireland can access the programme.

At workshops students and faculty meet to put theory into practice, addressing management issues through fact-to-face contact and the exchange of ideas. To ensure that students derive the maximum benefit, the number of students in each workshop is purposely kept low, normally between 15 and 25. The dynamic nature of the learning environment has considerable advantages over conventional on-campus MBA programmes, both full and part-time, many of which are principally reliant on lectures and seminar.

Student testimonials
Damien Lee, Head of money markets Ireland, ABN.AMRO Bank N.V.

Damien holds a Bachelor of Financial Services (BFS) from UCD. He is a Chartered Secretary (ACIS) and a Certified Banker (CeB). Damien is 43 and is married to Joanne. They have three children.
‚€ėThe job/career market has changed dramatically since I started working in 1979. These days the idea of a job for life is little more than a distorted memory. Given the likelihood that a modern working career is likely to span several employers & perhaps more than one industry, you need an edge to stay ahead of the game. The MBA is a universally recognised qualification that says a lot about the holder. I wanted that edge.

The MBA programme, together with practical work experience is to my mind as well prepared as you can get to face the competitive nature of business today. The joint Institute of Bankers in Ireland/Manchester Business School MBA programme offered me the perfect way to get the edge I required.

Like many prospective mature MBA students with a working wife & 3 children, time is limited. Although it takes longer than full time or part time MBA‚€ôs to complete, the pace is manageable. Make no mistake, the pace is tough, you have to be committed to get through and expect to put in at least 15 hours a week during semesters.

Free weekends quickly dissolve into distant memories. However, and tthis for me was the crucial point, there is still flexibility to get the work done. Flexibility is what I need to juggle work and study against family commitments (especially childrens‚€ô gymnastics, Tae Kwon Do, choir, dancing schedules).‚€ô

Clare Lammas, Manager, Ulster Bank Property Finance
Clare holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and German) from UCD and a B.Sc (Management) from Dublin Institute of Technology. Her work as a Manager with Ulster Bank involves managing and developing a portfolio of property investment clients and projects.

‚€ėIn the context of my role in Ulster Bank as manager of a significant portfolio of property clients, the MBA programme is a natural progression for me. The subjects covered in the MBA complement both my work and academic experience bases. The combination of distance learning and face-to face tuition through workshops suits my work and other commitments.

The flexible structure of the programme was a significant factor in my choice of MBA course as it enables participants to continue working full time with minimum disruption both to myself and my employers. The combination of continuous assessment combined with the end of semester examinations adds to this flexibility.

I found the workshops particularly useful. They allow participants draw on their experience through discussing the case studies and debating of learning points. Workshop dates are f
Damien Lee, Head of money markets Ireland, ABN.AMRO Bank N.V.
Clare Lammas, Manager, Ulster Bank Property Finance
Marie Geraghty, Associate Vice President in Sales & Solutions, Treasury Solutions Group (TSG), Citigroup, Dublin
flagged well in advance which facilitates work and study planning.‚€ô

Marie Geraghty, Associate Vice President in Sales & Solutions, Treasury Solutions Group (TSG), Citigroup, Dublin
Marie holds a Bachelor of Commerce (International) and French from UCD. After joining Citigroup in 1996, she spent some time in London, where she completed the Management Associate Programme. Since then she has worked in a number of areas in the bank including Treasury Solutions Group (TSG), relationship management, capital structuring, and specific projects before returning to TSG in 2001. She has been in her current role since April 2002.

‚€ėThe Treasury Solutions Group where I work offers products and services including outsourced treasury services, special purpose vehicle administration, working capital finance and other treasury solutions to Citigroup customers. My role therefore involves regular liaison with the CFOs, treasurers and/or cash managers within these organisations.

I felt that in this context I could now gain from and appreciate more from a formal education programme. For me, an MBA was the idea framework to return to learning, to network and learn new perspectives, while still working full time. I felt it could also be an opportunity to develop softer skills such as time management and presentation skills, and would enhance my career opportunities in general.

The Institute of Bankers/Manchester Business School appealed to me for two main reasons: the reputation of Manchester Business School and the flexibility and structure of this MBA programme. Specifically it does not involve commitment to regular lectures, which I felt would not always be achievable given my work commitments.

I find the workshops particularly beneficial, involving class discussion and participation, regular presentations and group assignments. All of these components contribute to the softer skills development: presentation, working with people, and time management for example.

The presence of the course director in the Institute of Bankers means that any issues I may have can be raised easily and resolved quickly.‚€ô

Gerry Grenham is education executive at the Institute of Bankers.
This article appeared in the May 2004 edition of Finance Magazine.