Archive for February, 2012
The UCD Smurfit Rugby Football Club has grown into one of the most successful business school rugby football clubs in the world. It has won the national championship title 9 times since 2000 and is the current reigning champ. Spring semester classes were in full swing with plenty of readings and assignments, yet I found myself attending the first rugby practice of the year. How did I end up there having never played, trying to make a championship team you might ask? I blame the MBA for convincing me too well that I am a capable, equipped leader who basks in the unknown! The goal is to make the team and participate in the 2012 World Rugby Tournament in Durham, NC from April 13-15 2012. Read my humble beginnings on this journey below.
“Where did rugby come from?” Our rugby Coach barked the question directly to me as the team huddled together after our first drill. As an American having never played rugby before I had no clue, so I quickly responded “the Irish”- but this unfortunately proved to be incorrect. I soon learned from our rugby Coach the correct answer, “It all started with William Webb Ellis who picked up the ball and ran with it in 1823 as a student at Rugby School of Warwickshire, England…” I shifted my running shoes in the wet grass as he continued the story while I frantically tried to memorize the facts for any future pop quizzes.
On the dimly lit field during this cold night of practice, my new found MBA confidence was certainly getting a healthy challenge. Starting with being the only guy not wearing cleats, then struggling to put on the practice jersey only to discover that it was actually torn all contributed to the initial experience.
For approximately an hour and a half I ran, caught, passed, and slipped my way through my first rugby practice like a deer in headlights. What I lacked in natural skills during practice, I tried to make up with social skills by asking each player to make an official introduction to the team. I started with “I’m Justin and you may not believe it but I am new to this sport.” This managed to get some good laughs and end the practice on a positive note. This would begin the dream.
I am currently raising support along with my UCD classmates to raise enough financial support to travel abroad and represent the college in the MBA World tournament in April. You may view my website at rugbyjustin.snappages.com and the official team website at www.smurfitrugby.ie. I welcome your encouragements! If you can’t support us financially please support us online by Tweeting #justinsrugydream as we seek to make a lasting legacy for the 2012 UCD Smurfit Rugby team!
Rugby Player in-Training,
- Justin Thomas, Full-time MBA 2011/12
Before the global recession and housing bubble burst, I used to enjoy watching a programme called “Flip that House”. The premise of the show was to follow people through the purchase, renovation and subsequent resale of properties, hopefully at outrageous profits. My strongest impression in this show was that most projects went way over their budgets.
At this point in the semester, that’s how I feel with my time. Something that I anticipated costing me 2 or 3 productivity hours is actually costing 5 or 6, multiplied exponentially as I have over committed and over extended to the nth degree. I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off – or as they more succinctly say here in Ireland, like a headless chicken – between Strategic Negotiations with one group, required courses and another group, Portuguese classes in preparation of our Emerging Markets trip, fundraising for Rugby Club, and the list goes on…
‘How did I convince myself I would have time for this? I wonder in my constant scattered distraction from one million things racing through my head at a time. I didn’t think it would take this long is the real answer. I am way over budget on time. Just as in “Flip That House”, though, going over budget often is what made the house really impressive. It’s hard to say if I will make use of everything and return on my investment, but I’m glad I went for the marble countertop and parquet flooring equivalent for the brain.
Now I guess what it all comes down to, just as in the real estate market, is ‘location, location, location’. Having been based in developing markets for years, I had decided that a change for more developed markets would do me some good and an MBA from one of the top global programmes would be just the platform from which to make that change. Now that I’m here in the over-saturated job market, it seems that the flexibility and language skills that brought me to live in some of the remotest corners of the planet in the past may remain my competitive advantage as companies look for flexible employees whom they can send wherever they are needed. Luckily enough for me, unlike in the real estate market, I can pick up my investments and move them to a neighborhood where people value quality craftsmanship if need be.
It’s hard to believe that we are entering into week 5 of semester two already. After the initial burst of excitement and adrenalin last term, I think we are all beginning to find a rhythm. As a part-time MBA student, lectures two evenings a week seems like the norm and I can hardly remember what I did on those days before starting the programme.
The semester has brought us new teams, new subjects, new challenges and new opportunities. One of the most interesting things I have got from the MBA so far, is learning from the group work and team dynamics. I think most of the groups felt at the end of Semester 1 that they had become a strong team and had gelled well together. So it was with a little trepidation that we all found our new teammates at the start of Semester 2 but I’m glad to say that it’s working out really well. It’s amazing how the prospect of assignments and work focuses the mind and facilitates real teamwork!
This semester we are studying Management Accounting, Information Systems, Competitive Strategy and Financial Management and it’s fascinating to see how they all interlink. I think that’s one of the great benefits of the MBA – getting a holistic view of business issues and being able to examine them from a variety of different functional perspectives.
The first class of Financial Management involved heated discussions about the property market. It was interesting to discuss the factors that led to the boom and bust in recent years. I think the property market is something we can all identify with and I hope to come away from the module with some useful lessons should there be another boom in the future!
For those considering an MBA, it is a wonderful opportunity to broaden your skill set, knowledge base and contacts and there is no better place in Ireland to do it than Smurfit Business School which is triple accredited and internationally recognised. If you are considering an MBA, don’t forget to take a look at the Irish Times/Smurfit Business School MBA scholarship which is open for another couple of days – see www.smurfitschool.ie/irishtimes – you never know, you might just win it!
- Conor O’Donovan, EMBA
On Friday 17th February 2012, Mr.Tony Spollen (Guest Speaker) and Professor Pat Gibbons (Chair) kicked off the Inaugural MBA Thought Leaders Club (TLC) Speaker Series to sustained applause, in Lecture Theatre 1. Following a warm welcome to mark the official launch of the TLC Speaker Series, Pat Gibbons turned proceedings over to Tony Spollen, who delivered a thought provoking talk entitled “Lessons from Life”. I am sure it will stay with many of us for years to come. We were treated to a breadth of insights, experiences and stories; the distillation of a lifetime’s wisdom, encouraging us to live life to our full potential, to cherish our health, to focus wholeheartedly on the present- and to remember, above all else, the bigger Balance Sheet in life. Chatham House style rules apply at these events, so only those in attendance will truly appreciate what was shared with us that night, and will have a sense of the character, courage, and leadership required to so generously share so much, with so many, in such a meaningful way. A palpable silence pulsed throughout the talk- the likes of which I have never experienced- and the prolonged applause spoke for itself. This is the first in a series of talks which I hope will leave a lasting impression on us during our experiences on the MBA, and will create the space to have a different kind of discourse- about life, inspiration and realising potential.
They say that a rocket takes 90% of its energy just to get off the ground and only 10% of its energy to travel the remaining distance. On the basis of this 90/10 rule, I’d especially like to thank Tony Spollen- not only for the special message he shared with us on Friday, but for his invaluable guidance leading up to the event, to Professor Pat Gibbons for his immediate support of the initiative, to my classmates – Denis Shikunov (full-time Russian/part-time TLC photographer), Linh Thi Bao Nguyen and Justin Thomas (the Vietnamese/American SWAT Team of poster campaigns) – and to the MBA Programme Office and Services Team for their facilitation and forbearance of my ongoing efforts to turn their respective offices into TLC HQ!
The next speaker in the series is Mark Pollock on “The Art of Making it Happen”, chaired by Dean O’hOgartaigh, on Friday, 2nd March 2012 at 11-12pm, in the Lawrence Crowley Boardroom, Smurfit Business School. The rocket is now launched; may the inspiration continue.
Davinia Anderson, FT MBA 2012 and Founder of the MBA Thought Leaders Club
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