Lux et Veritas – The Light and Truth of our GNAM Trip to Yale University

When I first signed up for the MBA, I was aware that Smurfit is part of a global network of business schools but it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to travel and visit Yale School of Management that I fully understood the global reach and impact of this network. The Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) connects 29 leading business schools from diverse regions, countries, cultures, and economies in different phases of development.

Students from the various schools within this network can travel to and experience a week-long module in another school. This June, some of my classmates stayed in Dublin to learn more about the food industry in Ireland and play host to the visiting students; another classmate travelled to Berkley University. Along with 7 of my classmates, I visited Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut to live out our Rory Gilmore life!

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In truth, I debated whether or not to sign up for this trip. The module was not for credit and it would take place when we would be in the middle of our biggest challenge – the Capstone project. However, I could not escape the thought that this was such a marvellous opportunity – this was Ivy League! So off I went to Yale to learn all about the Behavioural Science of Management. Cut to me sipping cocktails with my classmates on a rooftop bar on *quick* pitstop in Manhattan en route, and I knew I had made the right decision and the next week really exceeded all our expectations.

The people we met were absolutely fantastic; over 70 MBA students from around the globe in one classroom sparked lively debates! Outside the classroom, we formed fast friendships and built our network with people in similar and different careers. The group WhatsApp still goes off in the middle of the night with updates from our friends in China or Mexico. Even during my final Capstone project in the last month, I bounced ideas and emails off to new friends to get fresh thoughts from a different perspective. The value of the network was immediately obvious.

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In the classroom it was fascinating to hear first-hand from academics who are often published in the Harvard Business Review or whose studies are referenced in articles or books. Each lecturer was so high energy and polished, it was like we were sitting through a sequence of riveting TedTalks!

The bat and the ball problem (A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs one dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? Try Google to check your answer!) had us rethink our immediate assumptions on how we think. Shane Frederick explained to us the two ways the mind works. System 1 is our immediate intuitive way of thinking which is very difficult to override and System 2 is that slow thinking that requires more reflection. This is important to address in customer engagement, in order to capture which way they are thinking at the point of sale. (Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow goes into this in detail if anyone is interested!)

Another important lesson we learned was from Zoë Chance, whose lecture on Influence and Persuasion had us leaving the room ready to make our mark! Her one overriding message was to “just ask”. Often in life we think we are asking for something, when in reality we may not be putting it as directly as we could be – and it’s often simple enough to do!

With a variety of other interesting lectures, company visits and a campus tour, the week flew by in the most enjoyable way, totally exceeding my expectations. We are incredibly lucky that Smurfit is part of this fantastic network to get this opportunity which really was a key highlight of my MBA experience.

Ruth McEvoy, Executive MBA 2015-2017