Pictured: Ruth Baldwin, Business & Finance Awards UCD Smurfit School MBA Scholarship recipient 2022
Ruth Baldwin is the recipient of the Business & Finance Awards UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School 2022. This is the second year of the award which launched in 2021.
Launched in 2021, the Business & Finance Awards UCD Smurfit School MBA Scholarship supports one high-calibre applicant with a 100% scholarship to attend the prestigious UCD Smurfit Business School.
The scholarship provides a unique opportunity for an individual to advance their professional goals through an MBA qualification from Ireland’s leading business school, while gaining access to some of Ireland’s most successful businesses leaders through the Business & Finance network.
Former Dublin GAA star Eamonn Fennell received the inaugural award in 2021. This year’s recipient, Ruth Baldwin, spoke to Business & Finance Magazine about what she expects from the programme and what it means to receive the honour.
What prompted you to apply for the scholarship?
I had identified UCD Smurfit School as my number one choice for the MBA programme for two reasons. First, the Smurfit MBA is regarded as “best in class” in Ireland with strong international recognition. Also, as an alumna of the UCD School of Civil Engineering, I already have a strong affiliation with UCD.
There is a considerable financial sacrifice to make when enrolling in such a programme and receiving financial support allowed me to complete the MBA programme without added financial pressure. This provides flexibility in making the most of the opportunities that arise during and after the course.
The stature of the scholarship was also a huge motivator for me in applying for the scholarship and it’s a fantastic inclusion on my CV which I am very proud of.
What does it mean to be the recipient?
It’s an absolute honour to be awarded the B&F Awards UCD Smurfit School MBA Scholarship. Discovering that I was this year’s recipient is most certainly my proudest achievement of recent times, particularly as I come from quite a niche area.
The financial support takes many pressures off and I feel incredibly lucky to be awarded this prestigious scholarship. The icing on the cake, of course, is the support from Ian and the Business & Finance team who have been so generous with their time in involving me in their huge portfolio of events.
The exposure to a wide range of professionals excelling in their area of expertise is really eye opening for me and is truly an opportunity I would not have without this scholarship.
How will you balance study and work over the next two years?
It has certainly been a challenge so far! The Smurfit MBA is definitely not achieved without hard work, but the class interaction, independent study and assignments have all been extremely interesting and practical. It goes without saying that personal time has been temporarily reduced but I can say, hand on heart, that it is worth it and that I am really enjoying the course and the challenge.
I am very lucky to have the support from my employer, Iarnród Éireann, in allowing me to take the time to attend class and participate in course activities. My colleagues have also been very generous with their time, sharing their specialist knowledge and experience with me and allowing me to relate the course content to the business at Iarnród Éireann. At times, this means that work and study are intertwined as assignments often require carrying out a piece of work within your or another organisation. This approach allows the class to learn about other industries and organisations.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to maintain an interesting, diverse and challenging career. Life is short, so I’d like to make the most of the opportunities that find me while having the right balance.
How will the MBA help you realise your ambitions?
The Smurfit MBA speaks for itself, being the most highly regarded MBA programme in Ireland. The Smurfit MBA attracted me primarily because of the expertise and experience of the UCD Smurfit School Team, but also because of its national and international recognition.
My class is comprised of incredibly impressive professionals with diverse experiences. The rail industry in Ireland is relatively small, so this course offers exposure to industries which I wouldn’t normally have had the opportunity to explore.
My network has expanded significantly even though I’m only a few weeks into the MBA at this point.
The UCD Career Network at Blackrock offers tremendous support to students in shaping their career path, so I am looking forward to engaging with them.
I have no doubt that the MBA will help me to develop business savvy and well-roundedness to confidently engage with challenges faced in organisations of all sizes.
What has your experience been of the course so far?
The course is certainly demanding, even over the first few weeks, with numerous assignments and extensive class preparatory work. I expect the first semester to be the most challenging as I learn to balance work, studies and “outside” life. (I have been assured of this by some of my Year 2 colleagues!) Outside of the module timetable, there are a huge variety of events to participate in if you so choose.
As I’ve mentioned previously, my class is fantastic – there are people who are starting their own businesses, changing careers and lots of mums and dads who are very impressively juggling family life with career progression.
It’s amazing to be able to say that this year’s class is made up of almost 50% women. The team at UCD Smurfit School are working hard to ensure a diverse student cohort.
What is your favourite module?
I have a particular interest in the Organisational Behaviour and Leadership module – people are key to every organisation and gaining an enhanced understanding of how and why we interact and behave the way we do, and the impact that has on our organisations’ success is fascinating.
At Iarnród Éireann, there are approximately 4,000 people from different backgrounds. with a huge variety of expertise. The demographics and working environments of staff vastly differ– from office based staff working 9-5 hours, to infrastructure workers who carry out essential work in often challenging and changing conditions, to drivers operating shift patterns, to those whose working environments and hours are a hybrid of day and night, office and site, and many other categories in between!
How will you combine the learnings of the MBA with your previous academic experience moving forward?
My background is in operational and engineering safety, specifically in the rail industry. I moved to Iarnród Eireann approximately two years ago and was formerly an Inspector with the Commission for Railway Regulation. Prior to commencing the MBA, I studied a BSc and ME in Structural Engineering with Architecture, an MSc in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration and a Diploma in Regulation Law and Practice. These qualifications have aided me in developing analytical thinking and having a systems-based approach. The MBA will build on this and help me to be in a position to apply these skills to general business management.
Professor Gerardine Doyle, Director of UCD Smurfit School and Associate Dean of UCD College of Business explained why the UCD MBA Admissions Committee chose Ruth:
“Ruth is an exceptional candidate with a track record of professional excellence and leadership which she has demonstrated over 10 years of progressive growth in the engineering industry. Through her experience and application, she displayed a capacity to understand emerging business trends, solve problems and inspire others through her actions.”
“Part of the mission of the UCD College of Business is to actively inspire and co-create a better future for our community, and for business and society in Ireland and the world. Ruth expressed a passion for ESG which aligns with our School strategy and indicated her willingness to lead our MBA ESG Club – a student-led initiative to drive ESG activities at a local level,” she added.
Professor Doyle also spoke about the prestigious nature of the scholarship:
“UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School has an unwavering commitment to excellence in business education and this scholarship, run in partnership with the Business & Finance Awards, will offer a unique experience to the scholar which will encompass opportunities to engage and network with senior business leaders, receive mentoring outside of the classroom and refine their learnings in order to thrive in an ever-changing business environment.”