Student Story: Tony Doherty – MSc in Leadership, Innovation and Technology

Tony Doherty - Blacknight - MSc in Leadership, Innovation and Technology

We spoke with Tony Doherty, Technical Manager with Blacknight, about his experience of completing the MSc in Leadership, Innovation and Technology – a 2-year part-time masters delivered in collaboration with the College of Business at Technological University Dublin.

Why I signed up for the MSc in Leadership, Innovation and Technology

My primary intention was to get a degree. I did not have the opportunity to go to college when I left school and I wanted to redress that. I had started that educational journey a couple of years previously and had just completed a diploma in Business Management in SETU. I was looking to progress to a degree level when I saw this course advertised. I did not have a primary degree so I applied under RPL and was delighted to be offered a place on the course.

My two children were both in college at the time so I would not have been able to afford undertaking a degree course myself. The fact that this course was subsidised by Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet made it easier to approach my employer about part funding the fees, which they were happy to do given the subject matter and degree level.

Beginning the learning journey

At the start I felt a bit intimidated because many of the other cohorts were in senior management positions in multinationals and they were highly educated. In the beginning I tended to listen rather than speak during the fully online tutorials but gradually I found my voice as I realised everyone was in the same boat and everyone had something to contribute.

As I started getting through the assignments the feedback was positive so my confidence grew and I began to believe I was capable of succeeding in that initial aim of achieving a master’s degree.

What to expect on the course

The module content is quite condensed and is designed to introduce the topics at this level, but each module is very applicable to shaping modern management thought. The lectures give foundational knowledge on areas such as innovation and technology management, strategy, decision making and critical thinking, change management and leadership. I particularly liked the strategy and competitive positioning module and the innovation management module, both of which re-framed how I thought about my own role in an SME, whilst the personality module was a fascinating reflective look at my own personal management style. The modules are interesting but tough, and while the assignments might seem difficult when doing them, it is evident after the fact that they were designed to prepare you for the thesis work in second year.

Keeping to a routine is essential. This is especially true in second year when undertaking the systematic literature review for your thesis. You have to be very disciplined and organised in your approach from the start. It seems like a huge commitment at the outset but the time flies by and before you know it you are donning the cap and gown proudly.

Learning from my peers

There was a very diverse mix of students on the course from industries as varied as pharma, high tech, semi-state, finance and hospitality. That wealth of knowledge and diversity of experiences came out in the many discussions we had in break out rooms or during the group projects.

The group projects helped to break the ice with other students and get to know them better. I would strongly advise having someone to bounce ideas off of, as there will be times when you will feel quite isolated and unsure of whether you are approaching the work correctly. My only negative about the course is that there were not enough face to face meetings with the class to help develop that collegiate atmosphere of learning and engagement in year one (which was early post-covid).

I was lucky to find a colleague to share ideas and thoughts with in the thesis year and we were able to support each other in getting to the finish line. Being on this programme also presented opportunities to engage with growth-hub events in TU Dublin which were a fantastic learning experience. I took part in a collaborative design-thinking exercise to raise money for the Simon community, and thus felt I was able to give something back to the community.

What it has meant to me

On a personal level I set out to get a degree at 55 years of age having not had the opportunity when I was younger but I got a lot more out of the course. It reframed my thinking and personal self-confidence. It reaffirmed to me that my management style and approach was very much in line with current thinking which increased my confidence when dealing with my employers especially when discussing strategy and the holistic nature of innovation.

Where previously I felt somewhat threatened by the unrelenting pace of digital change and well-educated younger staff with vastly superior technical knowledge, I now had the tools to help direct and manage that change. That knowledge has strengthened my voice in the company and negated any feelings about being left behind.

Whilst achieving the degree was never about promotion or moving to another company it has ensured my skills remain current and my employability is valuable should I ever need to move on. Undertaking the applied thesis meant I had to confront the issues I faced and move beyond my comfort zone. The Masters in Leadership, Technology and Innovation programme gave me the tools to do that.

About the MSc in Leadership, Innovation and Technology

This part-time Level 9 masters, delivered in collaboration with the College of Business at Technological University Dublin, offers an integrated view of leadership, innovation and technology strategy and is grounded in the integration of personal, professional and organisational development. This programme is delivered via a blended learning approach over two years. Lectures are a mixture of online classes and in-person classes, which take place at the Technology University Dublin Aungier Street campus. This programme is intended for professionals working in technology roles or technology industries that are seeking to develop as technology and innovation leaders in their organisation. The candidates applying should be experienced and either in leadership roles or planning on moving into such positions.

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