Thought Leadership Club

On 23rd November, towards the end of our first semester, the Thought Leadership club organized its first event. We couldn’t have expected a better student organized event to start with. The club was really keen to organize the first event in the first semester itself. At the same time, with all the case studies, exams and assignments it was a really huge task.  Firstly to reach out to prospective speakers and then to organize the event and get others to attend the event. However, James Kelly (Full-time MBA) from our club actively reached out to Stephen Somers, co-founder of Marketplace SuperHeroes, an information product that teaches you how to start an international eCommerce business selling on Amazon, to share his experience as an entrepreneur with us. There was a lot of excitement in the full time MBA class, especially in the Thought Leadership Club, to organize and attend the event.
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Stephen Somers is a 30-year-old serial entrepreneur, who has developed multiple businesses in different industries. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he worked as a data processor with a government agency by day and a musician by night. However, having studied Business in college he also had an urge to start a business of his own. Therefore, when he was introduced by his aunt to Robert Rickey who owned an e-commerce business, he found a way to achieve his dream of starting a business.

With the philosophy of “The best way to start a business is to be in business” he worked in Robert’s warehouse for 9 months without pay so that he could learn and understand the nuances of an e-commerce business. This conviction, which I guess is one of the traits of a thought leader, helped him to take risks and believe in himself. Working in the warehouse he identified inefficiencies in the existing system and observed that there was a lack of well-defined process. He also observed that the products such as TV mounts that were sold by the business had a saturated market therefore a minimal growth prospect. Consequently, he removed inefficiencies, defined appropriate processes and looked for products with unsaturated demands. After working on all these improvements he decided to start online sales on e-commerce websites. Once the online sales business started doing well, he realized that a lot of other people were trying to do the same however without proper guidance they would inevitable either fail or give up. Furthermore, he noticed that numerous “How to make money online” courses in the market were scams. This motivated him to become a THOUGHT LEADER and share his knowledge of how to start a successful online sales business with other people through Marketplace Superheroes.

With Marketplace Superheroes, they teach people how to build a 5-7 figure global online selling business through eCommerce websites by selling simple, low-competition, high profit physical products without “risking it all”. Listening to Stephen, I found a practical implementation of a lot of theoretical concepts of marketing that I had learned in the class. He used direct marketing, through Facebook, for customer acquisition. Coincidentally two days prior, in our marketing class we discussed the importance of marketing channels in any business. He let us in on his secret to successfully selling on an ecommerce website which is “don’t create demand, instead fulfil the existing demand”.  Having had a business degree and having read loads of books about business he introduced us to some business concepts such as customer conversion and value proposition.

He told us how important it is to differentiate your products in an online selling business. He started selling products with a very unorthodox method i.e. by reaching out to people and selling products that did not exist. He reasoned that most businesses first put in 6 months to develop a product and then find out that there is no demand for that product, whereas he tries to identify demand and then address that demand through his products. He also stressed the importance of focusing on a limited number of products instead of too many products to keep the business simple and efficient.

Stephen Somers has demonstrated that being a thought leader in your business differentiates you from your competitors. While others in the business were just selling basic information on how to start an online business selling on e-commerce websites. Marketplace Superheroes was sharing information how to be successful at selling online on e-commerce websites, by proper market research and inventory management. Stephen Somers spoke about his journey and his business for about 50 minutes, however he took us through a very descriptive narration about how he came into business, how he struggled,  and then how he made it successful, and currently how he is utilizing his success and knowledge to help others become successful through his startup Marketplace SuperHeroes.

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At the end of the event, I realized how much these 3 months in the MBA have changed my perspective: I have developed a new way of looking at businesses. In the past 3 months I have been through numerous case studies, which have changed the way I absorb information about businesses and organizations. This change has been so significant that all through the presentation I was just relating information from Stephan Somers, about his businesses, to the concepts I had previously learned in class. Therefore, I am looking forward to finding out how the rest of the course will guide my thinking. Thank You!

Devinder Sharma, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018

IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2017


sauyith-cueva-pic-3From the entrance of the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge in Dublin the grandeur of the venue is noticeable as soon as you set foot in the lobby. To mark the occasion of the 2017 IMAGE Businesswoman of the year awards the Clayton Ballsbridge was garnished with rich pink and purple imagery and decorations. Inside the ballroom the tables were detailed extremely tastefully with gifts for everyone in attendance. What a fitting location for such a special, meaningful and glamorous event I thought to myself as I made my way through the reception and into the bar to meet some of the inspirational women attending, some of whom were also up for nomination.

The IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards recognises all the women who have worked with passion, commitment and perseverance throughout their careers. Some of these women have come from abroad, inherited their family business, created a new company, found solutions to improve our society or developed remarkable innovations. Being able to listen to their stories on the night was truly inspiring and an evening I will never forget. It is not often that you get to sit in a room full of the most powerful businesswomen in Ireland, women so gracious, authentic and kind and also to see the human side of these outstanding women before, during and after the awards.

The key insight that really resonated with me from the incredible award winners are that you should never give up, you should keep working hard, face failure and stand back up, if you do that no one can stop you on the path to success. Be a leader, don’t be afraid to stand up. Be humble because nothing in life can be accomplished alone. Be balanced, there is no reason why you cannot be successful and have a family. “Follow your intuition”, said one of them, “you must trust yourself for others to trust you”.

This event is proof that everyone can achieve great things once the mind and body are focused on an objective. We are all different and the main lesson is that we should play to our strengths. The skills required to win each individual award were all different, the women in the room encompassing a wide spectrum of talents and socio-economic backgrounds. The amazing women have understood their strengths, capabilities and used them to great effect.

This year’s IMAGE Businesswoman of The Year Awards has been completely delightful, it was fantastic to spend it with everyone who attended from UCD, everyone at the table was extremely proud to see Orla Nugent present on the night. I will definitely be back again as I set out to not only make my mark on the MBA at Smurfit but also the Irish business world upon graduation.

I hope that new generations find inspiration from the experiences and the courage of the business women of today and that the coming years will be filled with the accomplishments of the women of tomorrow.

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Sauyith Cueva, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

A Challenging but Rewarding Journey

It feels like the MBA started yesterday, but three months have already passed, and this is the last week of semester one. What an amazing and challenging journey so far! Sometimes I ask myself if it was a good idea to bring my wife and daughter to join me on this journey, but quickly I realize that we are all growing and learning in this wonderful country.

Looking through my calendar from the last three months, I can give a quick snapshot of this journey. Beginning the 7th of November, after more than two months looking for a nice house for my family, I finally received a positive answer from Alan (our letting agent), and I could finally move with my family to a house just for us, right behind my daughter’s school. Even though Ireland quickly recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, the housing market is still suffering from the lack of houses available to rent.
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The following week, I had the privilege to visit Howth together with my team members and family. Ayush was responsible for the spicy egg sandwiches (delicious 😊, considering that it was his first time preparing them), Lucy leading us on the first part of our scary walk on the edge of the Howth cliffs (not recommended for those with a fear of heights), and Marina (my daughter) leading us on our way back (I thought we would never return!). At the end of this incredible afternoon, we stopped at a little market to warm our bodies drinking a hot chocolate and to burn our tongues eating Ayush’s spicy sandwiches. Everyone ate them except for Marina who preferred a half kilo Nutella crepe.

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Last week, a big new challenge was scaring all the teams in the class. By Sunday (26th of November) we had to submit the Performance Marketing assignment, the main project for this subject. During the whole week, we could see all the teams working late, including Saturday with all syndicate study rooms full. By 11:28pm on Sunday, after the last few Google Hangout calls with my team, Eoin pressed the send button, and we could feel again a pleasant, but temporary relief.

The next day, here we are here again in the MBA room on a Monday morning discussing the next steps for our last two assignments of this semester. As we get closer to the end of the semester, I’m starting to have mixed feelings of relief, nostalgia, and gratitude.

I’m looking forward to the next steps of this challenging and rewarding journey!

Marcelo Cardozo de Mello Boccuzzi, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

2017 MBA Experience Day – An Exciting Day Without A Single Dull Moment

mba-experience-day-nov-18-2017I registered for the MBA experience day long before the event as i felt it would be great opportunity for me to meet some of the professors, current students, alumni, admissions team and fellow MBA aspirants at the campus facilities. For me, the day began with a shock as the alarm didn’t go off due to weekday-only-settings and the school is an hour drive from home. I managed to rush though the morning activities and reached there almost on time – thanks to the low traffic on a Saturday morning.

The registration formalities barely took a minute and then the networking opportunity presented itself. It was a lot easier than I thought, as everyone there had the same purpose and at least one shared interest, that is doing an MBA at Smurfit.

We were guided to the huge Lecture Theatre 1 to begin the session on time. It felt good to be seated in a room that you have only seen on YouTube videos previously. Smurfit MBA Programme director, Orla Nugent started the session with a mini introduction and invited Catherine O’Brien, EMBA 2017 to give the Opening Address. Catherine did a great job of explaining why she chose to do an MBA after having nearly a decade of experience in her field. She discussed why Smurfit, what she learnt at Smurfit, the international experience gained as part of doing the course and how the MBA helped her in leaping to a higher level role at her new work. She concluded the address by suggesting that we ask ourselves ‘why’ we wanted to do the MBA rather than ‘how’ we would do it.

Orla Nugent took the session from there and provided a high level view on the specialities of Smurfit MBA, its rankings, real-world problems solved though Capstone Project and the importance of learning from peers.
Then we had the most interactive, involved, hands on Presenting4Success session with Paul Slattery. We had to stand up, sit down a few times along with shaking hands, tapping shoulders, practising tong twisters with the persons seated beside us. It had the immediate effect of allowing us to bond with people whom we had never met before. The important take away for me is that some key elements of successful presentation are not only limited to stage presentations but also applicable in
many other forms of communication, like sending an email.

Orla, Catherine and Paul handled the Q&A session before we went on Coffee Break, more Networking and Campus Tour. I had the unique chance to learn the history of the main building from one of the helpful members of the administrative team. It used to be a college for training school teachers and her grandmother graduated from the very place as a school teacher. It was a
nostalgic moment.

We were back in Lecture Theatre 1 for the second set of sessions that started with Head of Smurfit Careers, Cathy Savage explaining the career opportunities available, the services provided by careers team to prepare students for interviews and to link them with the industry. She hosted a panel discussion with Niall Twomey, CTO Fenergo, EMBA 2015 and Edel Kennedy, Head of Marketing Urban Volt, FT MBA 2015. Niall and Edel provided more insights on how in MBA world the ranking matters, learning the full spectrum of business and organizational behaviour helps and the people who do the course with you are as important as the course material.

MBA Admissions Manager, Fiona Butler walked us through the admission process, requirements, scholarships, admission interviews and important dates for 2018/2019 admissions. I found her classification of FT MBA as Career Changer and EMBA as Career Accelerator most suitable. Throughout the day she was available for any questions related to admissions and it was an extremely busy day.

Dr.Gerry Grenham provided an overview of GMAT exam accompanied with helpful tips and tactics to recognize patterns in answer choices. He also hosted a panel discussion with current MBA students Deirdre Blake(EMBA), Bob Brennan(FT MBA) and Dhananjay Bairagi(FT MBA). They all shared insights from their own experience of taking the GMAT exam and the importance of taking mock GMAT tests. After hearing about Deirdre’s observation on the size of the test cubicle and the noise levels, I decided to practise it with kids running around rather than locking myself in a quiet room.

Professor Niamh Brennan gave the closing address touching upon the importance of critical thinking, how students can learn from the different teaching styles of Smurfit Professors and the huge effort made by the school continuously to keep up its brand and ranking.

Afterwards we all went to the school restaurant, Urban Picnic to have the Networking Lunch. I met a few friendly FT MBA resident students there. They explained how intense the course was at the beginning, how they got into the rhythm after a while and how much they are looking forward to get their first semester done. All the best with your exams.

The Smurfit MBA Experience Day was 5 exciting hours(08:30 – 13:30) for  the attendees but I could tell you might have spent several days, if not weeks of planning, organizing and executing it very efficiently so that we could get the most out of it, and we certainly did. Thank you!

Ramson Tutte, 2017 MBA Experience Day Participant 

The Journey So Far…

It all started in August 2017. I cannot believe that 3 months of this MBA journey have past already, and the first semester is about to end. I can honestly say that so far it has already been an amazing journey. It started with foundation week, which was a small trailer of the big picture waiting for us. The first day of foundation week was our introduction. However, it was the second day which was the main highlight, when Fintan Ryan made us do some outdoor team building activities. We not only had fun doing those activities but also got to know each other very well. The whole class participated with enthusiasm and were able to successfully complete the Jedi run. It gave us a glimpse of how we would be expected to work together in the coming months.

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After foundation week, our course started with the Financial Reporting module, taught by Prof. Niamh. She started off the lecture by telling us that her name is pronounced as “Neeve” …which was the first Irish culture shock for me. She is one of the best professors I have ever come across. She is enthusiastic in her approach to teaching, which I really like. Niamh, if you are reading this, please don’t let this affect my grades ( :D :D).

Within a week, we got 2-3 assignments and got the first flavor of this intense course. Although we are busy all the time, whenever we get time we all hang out together. The best thing about our class is that we have only 33 students and everyone knows each other. With such a small group, it’s easy to hang out. Our main hang out point or ‘adda’ as we call it in India is the ‘Three Tun Tavern’. Whenever we get time out of our busy schedule we all chill out there.

Before coming here I had stage fright but the Presenting4Success sessions from Paul Slattery came to my rescue. The sessions helped me a lot to boost my confidence. Almost every module in our course had 1-2 presentations for each group. I applied the knowledge gained from Paul’s session in these presentations and now I am more confident and less nervous while giving presentations. Life in the MBA is challenging with a lot of reality checks, but I’m loving these challenges. This is what I am here for and I’m getting it. Everything that I do, as  part of this curriculum, is helping me improve personally and professionally. It was hard at the start to face these challenges, but now I have adapted myself to it.

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The main highlight of the  last 3 months was the Global Networking for Advanced Management (GNAM) week. It was the most amazing experience of the MBA so far. It came as a breather for all of us as we were so busy attending lectures and doing assignments. We needed a break from our studies and we got one. Although, we had a Financial Reporting exam the following week after GNAM, no one restricted himself/herself from enjoying the week to fullest.

During GNAM week, all the participating schools sent students in groups of 3 or 4 to other participating schools. I attended GNAM week in Smurfit itself. In the GNAM week, Smurfit had students from some of the best B-schools such as Yale, IE Spain, ESMT Berlin, IIM Bangalore, Sauder, Fudan and many others from around the world.

I had lot of fun during this week and made some new friends from many different business schools and expanded my network. During this week, we had lot of  guest speakers from different industries. For example, we had a speaker from LinkedIn, who is the head of all HR related operations for the EMEA region.

On the fun side of this week, the main highlights were; a visit to Johnny Foxes Pub, taking part in Dublin’s Literary Pub crawl, and a visit to the Guinness Storehouse.

On one evening, we went to Johnny Foxes, one of Ireland’s highest and oldest pubs. I really enjoyed the time spent here. It was the first time I saw a live performance of Irish music and dance. The music and dance performances were fantastic. The evening was awesome, and we also got to do some dancing.

The next evening, we went on Dublin’s literary pub crawl. The pub crawl was hosted by two talented and famous Irish theatre artists. They showed us some of Dublin’s oldest pubs and narrated some of Dublin’s history during the pub crawl. It was an amazing evening for me as it was my first experience watching a live theatre performer.

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During the GNAM week all the students mingled with each other really well and had a lot of fun. No cultural and regional barriers stopped us from having fun with each other.

As the GNAM week ended, I switched to study mode because the toughest exam of the semester, Financial Reporting, was approaching. For 3 days, I cut myself off from the whole world and studied for the exam. In the end, it went well. Now it all depends on Niamh to know how well it really went.

After the exam, during the first week of November, the whole class planned to go to Loftus Hall, Ireland’s most haunted place, and Glendalough. The day was very well spent. It was our first proper outing together, although we always hang out every now and then. During this outing, I got the opportunity to see some of Ireland’s beautiful countryside. Loftus Hall was a scary place, but none of us apart from Nadisha got scared. It was hilarious to see Nadisha so scared and running away as fast as she could ( :D :D).

On the night of Halloween, Thom and Nicole threw a party for us. A big thank you to both of them for being such lovely hosts. I had a great time.

This MBA is turning out to be the time of my life. I am learning so many new things, facing challenges and getting reality checks. I am eagerly waiting our study trips to Santiago, Lima, and Iceland next semester. While it is already an amazing journey so far I am waiting in anticipation for more fantastic moments to come.

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Manish Mosalpuri, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018 

Nearing Half Time

ruary-martin-pic-1Having only had time to take a week off after finishing work any delusions I had of easing myself back into full time education were shattered within the first few minutes of MBA Foundation week with our first Performance Driven Marketing lecture. To be honest there has been little let up over the last two and half months.

We have had the same group for assignments for the first semester and had our final group presentation recently. The five of us led the rest of the class in a discussion around the difficulties of adaptive leadership within an organisation. Any fear I may have had of presenting has long since disappeared thanks to the sheer volume of presentations we have made. It’s difficult to overstate how our group (2 Indians, 1 Filipino and 2 Irish) have bonded over the last 12 weeks as we spent what seemed like weeks in the syndicate rooms completing seemingly never ending assignments. A brief move to the library ended when we realised there was no eating or drinking allowed. We have now returned to the MBA suite for assignment preparation where we can safely sample exotic pastries in the name of broadening our international experience.  Sadly, we’re still waiting on that Indian beer.

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Although it sometimes feels like I have been at Smurfit for years it’s still hard to believe next week is the end of lectures for the first semester. This week we had our last lectures in both Performance Driven Marketing and Leadership & Organisational Behaviour and have our last Competitive Strategy case to prepare. The background reading for the case includes an interesting you tube video on “the Lego Story” which my 10-year-old son very much enjoyed, although he was less impressed with the standard of their board game offering. “It’s just Ludo Dad”. Perhaps I should have sought his insight on previous case studies !

One of the most attractive elements of the Smurfit MBA for me was the emphasis on personal development and as part of this we have been editing, re editing (and re editing again) our CV’s for the upcoming Class of 2018 MBA CV book. Enormous credit must go to Conor for the remarkable perseverance and patience he showed in pushing this over the line.

As I look back and reflect on the last few months it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to date. The widely differing cultural and professional backgrounds within the full-time MBA class have certainly broadened all our outlooks on life. Now just the small matter of three exams to get out of the way before we enjoy the Christmas and get to briefly re charge the batteries before we enter the second semester.

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Ruary Martin, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018

An MBA Halloween Treat

On Monday the 30th of October over half of the MBA class decided to get out of Blackrock to see what life beyond the Pale had to offer. Loftus Hall located in the southern most point of County Wexford also known as the model county is a long way from Blackrock, so we decided to make the most of the trip and stop off at a few choice locations along the way, namely Glendalough and the Irish National Heritage Park. We got very lucky on the day as there were clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine, as anyone in Ireland knows so much of the good things we have to offer in this country is weather dependant. (Aside: Wexford is called the model county as we have a disproportionate number of models, supermodels and in generally beautiful people compared to the rest of the country).

The first stop on our extensive itinerary was Glendalough a beautiful monastic site set in a glaciated valley in County Wicklow.  Wicklow is the most mountainous county we have on the east coast of Ireland, I relayed this information to my travel companions for the day who scoffed before bursting into laughter. Without naming names the offenders come from Venezuela and Greece, however shortly after our arrival in Glendalough they soon came around to the majesty of this ancient site. We took it easy compared to some of the groups who climbed the Spink. All that sightseeing, walking and hiking was hungry work so most of us took full advantage of the chipper vans on site, with the nutrition obtained from the Quarter Pounders and Garlic Cheese Chips setting us up for the rest of the day.

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Next up was a guided tour around the Irish National Heritage Park which is located just outside Wexford town upon the banks of the imperious river Slaney. Upon arrival we were treated to a video which depicted life in medieval Ireland. The tour kicked off in prehistoric Ireland circa 7000 BC (Mesolithic era), through the Stone age, Bronze age and into the Iron age (coincidentally where we left off in Glendalough).  On the tour we learned about pagan Ireland and how our ancestors worshipped multiple gods, how to cook a nice piece of ham in a fulacht fia, farming practices, Irish Kings, and how St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland and chased out the snakes from the country while he was at it. At the end of the tour we found a playground for Spilios which he took full advantage of as our photgraphic evidence proves. All that learning, walking and playing proved to be thirsty work so we headed to one of Wexford’s finest pubs The Sky and the Ground to become suitably refreshed and also (*not for the designated drivers) to calm the nerves in anticipation of what lay ahead of us in Loftus Hall.

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Loftus Hall, the main event, located down on the Hook Peninsula in the South of Wexford. Loftus Hall has a long and troubled history dating back to 1172. For those who don’t know the story the Charles Tottenham took over the mansion in 1666 with his second wife and daughter Anne from his first marriage. One night during a storm a ship unexpectedly arrived at the Hook Peninsula and seeking refuge from the storm a mysterious handsome young man arrived at Loftus Hall. Anne became smitten with the man and one night when playing cards Anne searching for a card bent down and looked on the floor only to see her mystery man had a cloven foot as per Lucifer himself. At that point the man shot through the ceiling leaving a hole there that could never be repaired. Poor Anne was very disturbed by this and became mentally ill. Anne died in 1675 and her ghost has said to have made frequent visits to Loftus Hall ever since. We got the chance to experience a live recreation of this event where I personally got the chance to play the role of Anne’s step mother and use my most feminine voice to address the crowd of 40 people which was very liberating I must admit. On the way out, we were chased by some very scary looking individuals with chainsaws towards the giftshop. I must say thank you to some of my braver classmates who held my hand when things got too scary, without you I don’t think I would be here writing this blog right now and could quite possibly have become another part of the Loftus Hall legacy.

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To conclude I must give a big shout out to Laura Cunningham for initiating and organising the trip down to Loftus Hall for what was an unforgettable Halloween experience in Ireland’s most haunted house. The drivers Ian Ahern, Eoin Carroll and Laura for their efforts because I know for various reasons between, socialising, running marathons and coursework you all had a lot going on! Finally, thanks to everyone who made it down to Loftus Hall, it was great to spend time with you all outside the college and show off a bit of my county. For the rest of the class we hope to see you at our next outing!

James Kelly, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018

A Home Away from Home

This year’s Smurfit MBA Class are a diverse cohort from different parts of the world. Although it has only been two and a half months it already feels like we’ve known each other for a long time! It is amazing how a group, made up of such varied cultures have learned and found a way to work together so coherently . Each and every one has something unique to offer and I can’t believe I’m saying this so early in the programme but it has become my safe place to explore and try something new each day.

After an intense GNAM week at different universities, we had an even more difficult week with our first exam on Financial Reporting. Immersed in balance sheets and income statements the week went by and we completed our first module in the MBA! As such, we deserved to unwind and celebrate, and what better way than celebrating Halloween together! Thom and Nicole were kind enough to host us all at their place. It was a fun-filled evening with music, dancing, food, and wine, and can only be described as a truly wonderful experience.

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The Smurfit MBA is an intensive experience but at the same time extremely rewarding. One of my reasons for pursuing an MBA was for personal development and it has been an absolutely incredible journey so far. With lots more left to experience and learn, I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us.

Anita Louis, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

 

Incredible Hospitality That Will Be Remembered for Life

After receiving the schedule of the GNAM week (Global Network for Advanced Management), hosted by UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, and exchanging a couple of letters with the Module Manager Elaine Aherne, I realised we, the MBA students had two PDF documents; each approximately 60 pages, plus a Harvard business school case to read before class started. With nervousness and anxiety, I could not imagine the week-to-come was going to be the one of the highlights of my MBA program.

 Day 1: Not so stormy, but sluggish day

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                                          Photo source: Wikipedia

On Sunday, we found out that school had to be cancelled because hurricane Ophelia, the biggest hurricane to hit Ireland in 50 years and whose name I would always remember, was about to hit the island on Monday. As a result, other than quickly hitting the market to stock up on groceries, the rest of Monday was sluggish with awkward naps induced by time zone differences. The “storm” surprisingly had a very  mild impact on Dublin. There was very little rain and the strong wind only lasted for few hours. So after all the waiting, our program finally started early on Tuesday morning!

Day 2: Professor Damien and the Happy Pear

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Our first speaker of the week, Professor Damien, came to talk to us about the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish food industry. While being anxious about cold-calling during the lecture, we learned that agriculture was an important underlying component of the Irish economy. The lecture was engaging and involved critical thinking about corporate strategy, competitive advantage, and evolution/growth of a company with its competitive advantage. Then came the Happy Pear, whose presentation was voted the most popular presentation of the week. Not only did we get to understand the importance of living and breathing values and mission when growing a new venture, we were also fed with delicious treats. Dining at the Church Road café in Greystones and touring around the factory made us realise again how tough it is to grow an idea into a business. It’s a long journey but the Pear did it!

Day 3: Council for competitiveness, Qualtrics, Draper Investment, and LinkedIn

Ireland is one of the few countries with a governmental division dedicated to competitiveness. From Professor Peter Clinch, the chair of National Competitive Council, we learned that only through an increase in productivity and efficiency, can the country  sustain its competitiveness and continue growing.

Qualtrics and LinkedIn are both data-driven companies. On the surface, they might seem to have little to do with data; however, it is only with the data they are able to collect, store, process, and analyse, they are able to provide clients with powerful insights about the market. This will be the trend in the up-coming century.

In the lecture entitled “The importance of innovation” Mr. Brian Caulfield, Managing Partner at Draper Esprit, thought us that innovation is not equivalent to invention. Innovation is changing the conventional practices in meaningful ways.

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                    Johnny Foxes – The Highest and Happiest Pub in Ireland

We were so fortunate to have had the chance to visit the highest pub (altitude-wise) in Ireland, Johnny Foxes. At first, the dining area seemed crowded and loud, but once the ensemble started to play, Irish dancers started to perform, and people had plenty to drink, the Irish energy filled the entire room. On the other side of the room was a group of elderly visitors. The UCD GNAM crew were so energetic that by the end of show, even they joined us in the party and stood up to move around with the groove.

Day 4: Irish Economy and Intel in Ireland

On Thursday, Professor Jim Power took us through macroeconomic factors influencing the Irish economy, including politics, growing trend of protectionism, BREXIT, etc. We learned that the imbalance of wealth between big corporations and workers might soon create tension and it is the corporations’ responsibility to take actions and tame the sense of the anti-corporations (for example, pay more taxes). After Professor Power’s lecture, Mr. Eamonn Sinnott, the GM of Intel Ireland came to talk to us about Intel’s strategic location in Ireland, its unceasing leadership in microprocessor manufacturing, and its strategic bets (ie. AI, Automated Driving/ADAS, 5G, and Virtual & Merged Reality).

Literary Pub Crawl

As we gathered in the oldest pubs in Ireland, the two actors took us back in time with their superior acting skills. In the old pubs, under The Campanile of Trinity College, and in front of the Saint Andrews Church, we immersed ourselves with Irish literature and of course, beer and Irish pub food. The day was long and the road was wet, but nothing could beat the warmth inside the pubs from other pub-goers and from the UCD GNAM team.

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Photo Credit: Tushar Gandhi from IIMB, India

Day 5: Innovation in the Performance Art Industry and Use of Body Language as Communications

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At the Abbey theatre, we got to go on the main stage. The stage had been designed by the arts director for the play that was on-going, Ulysses (A live trailer can be found here). Because the stage is considered as the intellectual property of the artists, we were not allowed to take pictures of the stage. However, the mere experience of walking on the stage was once-a-life-time experience on its own. The coach led the UCD GNAM team through a series of exercises and games which actors would frequently play during routine practices. By the end of the two-hour session, the UCD GNAM team was more aware of the messages we can convey to people around us by body languages, including the way we vocalise, walk, hold a posture, etc. The team then went on to learn more about the history of Abbey theatre and how innovations had changed the theatre industry in Ireland. We learned about how immersive theatre was started and how nowadays, the performers asked for more than just the audience sitting in front of the stage, shifting from passive participation to taking part in the story and furthermore, playing a role in the story. After a well-balanced mix of hands-on experience and intellectual insights into the theatre arts, we were fed with delicious lunch at the theatre before moving on to our next, and last stop, the Guinness Storehouse.

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      Photo Credit: Benjamin Benhamou, from Sauder School of Business, Canada

The Guinness Storehouse is one of the most highly rated sites to visit in Ireland and it is not over-rated at all. The team broke into smaller groups and toured around the Storehouse. After a long week, of meeting new friends, learning, immersing ourselves in the Irish culture, nothing can be more perfect as an ending than a pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar, the rooftop bar of Guinness Storehouse with a panoramic view of city of Dublin.

Closing Remarks

The week, even though shortened by hurricane Ophelia, was full of valuable learning, be it through lectures, site visits, or theatre performance. Professor Patrick Gibbons and Module Manager Elaine Aherne put a lot of thought into designing the program and making sure that all of us from different parts of the world felt welcomed and returned to where we come from with new insights about Ireland. All of us from the UCD GNAM team would like to thank Professor Gibbons and Elaine dearly for the memories we have from the program.

Yvonne Li, MBA Candidate 2018, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia

iMadrid – The Global Perspective

Two weeks on from GNAM and we are back into daily challenges of the MBA. During semester one midterm, three fabulous students and I travelled to the world class IE Business School for a week long GNAM course titled “Europe at a Crossroads: Complications, Implications, and the Way Forward”. Ian Rafferty has eloquently captured the course content and adventures, so I will focus on a theme of a global future. The learning from this week was to take a step out of your routine to look at the world and what lies ahead.

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Two topics stood out to me from this week – the first was Brexit and Catalonian independence and the second was modern transport in Madrid. There is a strong link between these topics which may not be obvious . . . bear with me!

The European union and the Euro has provided stability and opportunity to millions of people in lower GDP countries while opening a vast new labour force and export market to higher GDP areas. In my opinion, this is unquestionably a win-win relationship and has raised the GDP of all countries in the union.

The push for independence from the UK and Catalonia could be classed as a rise against globalisation. The UK is a net contributor to the EU and Catalonia is a net contributor to Spain meaning they pay more tax than the funds they receive. These areas feel that they would be able to progress and prosper by themselves however this is a narrow outlook. Working together is the only way that Europe can stay relevant on the global stage.

The Dublin transport system could learn a lot from Madrid and as an engineer, Madrid was fascinating to travel around. We witnessed electric busses, vans and the highest concentration of electric cars that I have ever seen. One of those electric cars was being driven autonomously in a trial by a government organisation. There is an electric bike rental system that made commuting and sightseeing a pleasure in the Autumn sun. Lastly, my highlight of the trip was using Uber to have a Tesla smoothly and silently glide us home.

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Madrid is ahead of many cities with these initiatives, but others will follow. We will witness huge environmental benefits but also social impacts as millions of skilled drivers are dislodged from the workforce. This transport transition is the tip of the iceberg with the rise of machine learning. We could see more resistance to technology and globalisation which in turn would cause further separation and unrest. Europe and indeed the world are at a perpetual crossroads and the only option is to work together to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

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“REFUGEES WELCOME”, a sign of Madrid’s commitment to global progress. With that, back to the books – the world will still be in a state of flux next year.

Eoin Carroll, Full Time MBA 2017-2018