How to win the IMAGE/Smurfit MBA Scholarship worth up to €34,500

Want to give your career a major boost? Then the IMAGE/Smurfit MBA scholarship may just be the ticket. Read on to find out how you can win a scholarship for an MBA at UCD Smurfit School …

For the last 13 years IMAGE Media has been proud to partner with UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School to offer one female candidate a 100% scholarship to join the full-time MBA or part-time Executive MBA in September 2020.

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School MBA Programme is the only Irish programme to hold the “triple crown” of EQUIS (The EFMD Quality Improvement System), AMBA (the Association of MBAs) and AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation. The full-time MBA is highly regarded worldwide and has been in the Financial Times rankings of the world’s top 100 for 20 years, the School also sits amongst the top 1% of elite global business schools.  As well as being Ireland’s leading business school, the Executive MBA is ranked 66th in the world by the Financial Times.



Here Grace Milton, Head of Corporate Communications and Government Relations at Tesco Ireland and former winner of the IMAGE/Smurfit MBA Scholarship, talks about how the programme transformed her career and changed her life.

I applied for the scholarship inspired by my interest in corporate purpose. I wanted to get involved in the significant role of business in tackling some of the biggest global issues - a principle at the core of the MBA. When I applied for the scholarship, I was at a point where I was reflecting on that idea of purpose further, as more conversations were happening in that space. Not only that, but I was starting to think more about what we can each do at an individual level, making change in our own lives, and influencing in our communities in a meaningful way.

Having researched the MBA programme at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School – the faculty, alumni, teaching programme – I had a real sense the programme would allow me to delve into these topics further, enhance my knowledge and broaden my perspective. Complementary to that, the IMAGE – Smurfit School partnership, as a platform to support women in their professional and personal progression was a really attractive prospect. Not just in terms of the practical and financial support, but in terms of what it stands for – enhancing female representation, equality, and leadership across the board. I was just really pleased to have been chosen as the recipient.

I’d encourage anybody who is interested in doing so, to apply. The MBA experience at Smurfit Business School is thoroughly enjoyable and is worth every – very busy, but very rewarding – minute.

The Executive MBA is cleverly designed to help you balance ‘real life’ and the programme itself. While there’s a lot to cover, participants receive a real grounding in each topic. The Smurfit MBA has a really varied curriculum and the faculty was excellent. We covered everything from business fundamentals such as corporate finance, management accounting, corporate strategy, supply chain, HR and corporate governance, to broader topics like organisational behaviour, leadership, ethics, decision-making and negotiation.

It requires commitment, with numerous projects and presentations, as well as the final Capstone project involving business consulting and strategy development, but it’s manageable. My employer at the time, was particularly supportive and I’d say to applicants who have commitments – work, family or other – not to be daunted. There are lots of supports available.


There’s a real focus on collaboration, and on creating an environment where ideas can spark in-depth conversations. The team environment on the programme was great, and really beneficial – with diversity of thought, different personalities, different approaches – that has really stood to me, I think. I was also keen to expand my commercial acumen and experience of business fundamentals further. That’s been particularly important throughout my career – understanding the building-blocks of an organisation and working to marry those with the external environment.

The MBA programme was so varied and the experience so rich, I’m still learning from it. Going back over topics covered with an evolving perspective, thinking back on little ‘nuggets’ of insight – and that will probably always be the case. At the time, I felt that it provided a springboard to the next phase of my career, opening up new paths and opportunities, and I think a lot of the participants would agree. For example, some of my classmates have pivoted to totally different industries, set up businesses, or completely changed career. My sense is that it’s not just the programme, but participants’ personal development as a result – greater confidence, new connections, exposure to differing perspectives – that creates real opportunity.

The UCD Smurfit Business School is a really inclusive community. The collaborative learning approach that I mentioned, is a deliberate way of helping students to build connections from the start, and it’s really effective. Five years later, we have numerous WhatsApp groups and it’s great how, every so often, when somebody pops in a question or is seeking advice, there’s a host of people ready and willing to assist. It sounds clichéd, but having all experienced the programme together, there’s a great bond as a result.

I think the MBA experience is something that stands to participants throughout their career. With every new personal and professional milestone, there’s an opportunity to reflect and continually apply learning. As we all work to respond to what is a continually changing environment, I think there’s huge value in that.

Today, I’m responsible for sharing the story of Tesco Ireland with our external stakeholders, our role and our impact in Irish society and the economy, as a retail company at the heart of communities all around Ireland. We are doing a lot of work as a business on big issues such as climate change and sustainability, health and wellbeing, supporting Irish agrifood and SMEs, and other areas, and in my role, I help to reflect what we are doing, and where we can assist. As you can imagine, it’s been a particularly busy time right across the retail sector in recent months, and our colleagues and those in retail all around Ireland, have been working hard to serve shoppers and follow public health guidance in stores and online, at this time.

How to apply

To apply for the 2020 Image MBA Scholarship click here. The closing date is July 5, 2020.


For information on the Smurfit MBA programmes click here.

More on the Smurfit MBA

The UCD Smurfit School MBA provides exposure to leaders on global issues, delivered by an international faculty. Candidates will be challenged and stimulated by an outstanding academic curriculum, including global case studies, action-learning via global collaboration and international study trips and exchanges. A Smurfit MBA offers a leadership development programme that focuses on building the necessary skills to communicate effectively, understand yourself better and lead diverse teams and organisations anywhere in the world.

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