Our Experience in the Room series continues with Niamh Flaherty, Operations – Pricing and Static Data Manager at GAM Fund Management Ltd and a past participant of the Henley MBA. She highlights her personal development through this programme at IMI.
What is your career background?
I studied Maths and Statistics at UCD and from there went into financial services, specifically the fund industry. I’ve spent the last 9 years working in GAM Fund Management Ltd, working across a number of functions, managing and developing teams. I’m currently managing the pricing division.
Why did you choose the Henley MBA?
As I progressed through my career I realised how much I enjoy managing and leading teams. When I reached management level I knew I wanted to progress further and create more options for myself. I decided to further my education. The managing director suggested an MBA, he had completed the Henley one himself and highly recommended it. I looked at various options but to be honest it was an easy decision to go with Henley. I liked the flexibility it had to offer with weekend workshops instead of evenings. The programme content and the practical element was also very appealing. I wasn’t looking for a qualification for the sake of it, I really wanted to be able to apply everything I was learning. Henley MBA at IMI offered that.
Finally Henley’s reputation was a significant factor, with its triple accreditation. I felt that if my career was to take me abroad this would be the best option given its ranking compared to the Irish Universities.
What were the highlights?
There were lots of highlights throughout the 3 years.
The 3 day starter workshop over in Henley with the German and Hong Kong cohorts was excellent, a great introduction to the programme. Right from the start I learnt so much from both the tutors and other students. In fact I always looked forward to all the workshops as you gained so much from each one.
The management challenge (final research piece) really pushed me to consolidate what I had learnt throughout the Henley MBA and gave me the opportunity to delve deep into a topic I had great interest in, knowledge management. As a result of this I was invited to join the team in Henley for the annual Organisational Learning and Knowledge Strategies conference. This was a fantastic experience.
Finally there was a strong team spirit, everyone was very helpful and supportive throughout. We had regular social occasions which gave us a chance to celebrate things like exam results or more recently the completion of the programme!!
What were the challenges?
I found switching off from the programme a challenge, particularly at the start. There was always an article you could be reading. However, I learnt to manage this better as time went on.
Life goes on, 3 years is a significant length of time so juggling things that came my way as well as assignments was tough, at times. An example of this was during my second year when my role changed and I took on a larger area. I just remained focused and got there in the end.
What impact has the MBA had on your career?
It has given me a much broader understanding of business as the Henley MBA at IMI covers so much. Within GAM I was able to apply what I was learning in the workshops and assignments directly. I’m more involved in strategic decision making now and do a lot of cross functional work.
The personal development aspect of the programme has really helped me with career planning. It has opened doors to new possibilities outside of my current sector. I’ve only just finished, however I know I will continue to use knowledge gained from the programme throughout my career, I’m glad I took it on at a relatively early stage.
What impact has the MBA had on your organisation?
Since starting the Henley MBA at IMI I have taken on additional teams, larger projects and continuously implemented ideas I’d developed through assignments or exams. I started a strategic initiative to manage knowledge within the organisation, something I am very passionate about. Overall, I understand the wider context of the organisation better and so that’s had a very positive impact on my role.
What is your advice to people planning further study?
Only take on further study if you really want to. Working and studying for something like an MBA is a real challenge and requires great self-discipline and motivation.
Set out your goals and stick with them, there will be really tough times when you feel like giving up. It is during these times you need to remind yourself why you took it on in the first place! That will help you see it through.
Finally make sure you have the support of family and friends, it really does help.
Our Experience in the Room series continues with Niamh Flaherty, Operations – Pricing and Static Data Manager at GAM Fund Management Ltd and a past participant of the Henley MBA.
She shares her story of how instrumental the Henley MBA was to her career and her organisation.