Irish Aid Seminar in Limerick

These days, Dublin is in spring time with beautiful flowers blossoming everywhere and sun is out until 9PM. I have also finished most of my classes at school and been working for company project. My school is recruiting for MBA 2012. It is also the time when Irish Aid gathers all fellows, who receive scholarship from Irish Aid, at the headquarter of Irish Aid in Limerick.

Though I have been in Ireland for 8 months, this is my first time to visit the office of Irish Aid, my sponsor. At 7AM, I was ready at the office of ICOS (Irish Council for International Students) from which our bus headed to Limerick. It took us 3 hours by bus to travel from Dublin to Limerick.

Irish Aid Department of Foreign Affairs Riverstone House is located at 24 Henry Street in the centre area of Limerick. This is the second year that Irish Aid holds this event and it hopefully will become an annual event for fellows to meet up with each other and with Irish Aid staffs.

This seminar was to discuss key issues in the 9 partner countries (in white) and the areas Irish Aid is working on: Poverty and Hunger; HIV/AIDS and Health; Development; Environment; and Education. These focuses are delivered by three main programmes: Fellowship, IDEAS (Irish Development Experience Sharing) and Strategic Cooperation.

We are explained three reasons that Ireland gives aid to developing countries are Moral Obligation, Self-interest and International Commitment. Irish children are educated these values from primary schools. At the moment, the budget for Official Development Assistance is made up 0.53% GNP of Ireland. 15% of the budget for Vietnam goes into capacity building in IDEAS programme which aims to share lessons of Ireland’s economic and social development with Vietnam. Programme commenced in 2009.  Irish Aid does not directly train fellows, but they have partnership with UCD Smurfit Business School.

Continue reading Irish Aid Seminar in Limerick

Doing the in-company project in India – a gateway to opportunities

Although the in-company project was due to start only in April, right from the last week of January, I started looking out for projects with Digital Marketing companies in India. I had my reasons for wanting to do the project in India. First, my goal was to return to India. Second, I wanted to use the 7 week period to also explore post-MBA job opportunities in India. If I don’t find suitable opportunities in India within these 7 weeks, I will then be able to look out for potential roles in Dublin when I return to Ireland in June for the summer term. But to know about the job market in India, I will have to spend some time in India and explore! So the in-company project was a good opportunity.

The reason I wanted to do my project with a digital marketing company was because all my professional experience has been in this industry, and I’m keen on going back to the same industry and using my acquired skillsets. Therefore, I approached quite a few digital marketing companies and about 4 of them were happy to offer me a project. I was overwhelmed by the response and had the opportunity to pick the best of the four available project offers.

I’m currently in India doing my project, and the experience and exposure have both been great so far. Adding to this, my efforts toward finding a suitable job have also been fruitful. At the moment, I have about two offers, well almost, and both of them are currently in the salary negotiation stage. I’m, therefore, really glad that I chose to do my project in India.

So far, my classmates have been very helpful in passing on all the important information shared with the class back in Dublin, my second home. Therefore, I don’t think I’ve missed out on anything important, at least up until this point, thanks to my wonderful classmates. Right now, all that’s in my mind is to finish the project successfully and within the 7-week deadline. More to come in about 2 weeks’ time after there’s been more progress with the project!

Until then,please all wish me luck!

– Diana Vincent

From the Rugby World Cup

Consistent with its fine reputation and playing in a manner that befitted the best traditions of their club, the 2011 UCD Smurfit Rugby Team delivered many spirited performances to regain the MBA Rugby World Championship.

Required to play 220 minutes of championship rugby, in 30+ degree heat and against three of the top four teams in the competition in one day, UCD Smurfit overcame injury and fatigue to win the World Championship for the ninth time since 2000.

Described by their coach, Barry Gibney, as having the most heart of any team he ever coached; the team fronted up to every challenge thrown at them, with the same intensity as the one before, to deliver one of the most memorable Championship victories of recent years.

The team defeated Harvard Business School 13 – 10 in the final, with the try coming from an inspirational chip and chase by centre David Neary. Wild scenes of emotion greeted the final whistle and, after a rousing rendition of Amhran na bhFiann, the trophy was accepted on behalf of the team by captains Rob Downes and Eoghan O’Dwyer. The trophy will now join the other trophies in the Trophy cabinet at the Smurfit School.

-Shane Horan

The winning tea

First Day in Leitrim

The full-time MBA social committee organised a trip to Leitrim Quay as a last weekend away before we started into our company projects. Unfortunately, some of the guys that signed up were unable to make it, due to course workloads and the MBA rugby world cup that was happening the following week in Duke University (which Smurfit won! Go team!).

Justin and Tham sailing the boat
Justin teaching Tham to sail the boat

However, some of us were able to head down. On the night of Thursday 31st March, five of us headed down to check the place out and, more importantly, grab the nicer beds. We arrived late, so it wasn’t until the following morning that we were up and about and playing with the boats.

One of the Vietnamese girls from the class, Tham Nguyen, had never driven a vehicle in her life. So we decided that a very slow boat on the river Shannon was good place for her to start. And she loved it! We, of course, loved it too because it meant that we could sit back and drink beers while Tham guided the craft for us.

Continue reading First Day in Leitrim

An “epic” trip

One of the hallmarks of the Smurfit MBA is the international study trip that every fulltime student takes part in each March. In the programme brochure, the trip is described as an opportunity to “visit a dynamic market and enhance your global perspective.” While these would both be true statements, after my recent experience in China, it’s my suggestion that Smurfit add a few more adjectives to the description such as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘monumental’ to illustrate the overall opportunity the trip provides. Indeed, after a quick informal poll from my classmates, I’d say the most common word they used to describe the experience was: ‘epic’.

The trip was filled with highlights on both a professional and personal level. From the space age city of Shanghai (felt like visiting the future) to the booming cultural and political capital of Beijing, we were treated with a line-up of interesting meetings, presentations, tours and networking events with local and international businesspeople.

Although I could go on and on about some of these experiences, there was one event in particular that I’d like to share about: The Irish Ball. In honor of St. Paddy himself, every year the Irish expat community in China throws a huge black tie event in Beijing. This year, the event was attended by 750 people and it was easily one of the coolest parties I’ve ever been to. Champagne reception, 5 course meal highlighting Irish cuisine, Guinness/open bar, with musicians and dancers flown in from Ireland – the place was electric. At one point it occurred to me while I was standing in a crowd of people (fresh off a really embarrassing attempt at Irish dancing!) watching the Irish rugby team dismantle the English in the cup of nations tournament – I’m from the US, studying in Ireland for the year, and right now I’m having the best Paddy’s day of my life in Beijing surrounded by loads of new friends from all over the world.

I tip my hat to the Smurfit MBA.

– Patrick Hillis

Here are a few pictures from the trip…

River cruise in Shanghai
Tour of Forbidden City
Tour of Forbidden City

Smurfit MBAs before the Irish ball

Networking: Learning the Basics

“Fifty percent of your career success depends on networking” that’s one of the first statement we heard on MBA.

We even have been proved of power of the networks on one of the sessions organized by our Career Service. There is a website called The Oracle of Bacon. If you enter a name of any actor, they will show you the number of movies through which your actor is linked to Kevin Bacon, who is also an actor. The amazing thing is that you can enter the name of an actor who is from a different country and even from different generation, but he will still be linked to Kevin Bacon. And it’s not because Kevin Bacon is a very popular actor or had played in enormous number of movies. I think he was taken just as an example in order to show that you can link anyone to anyone. And the practical use of this example is that you can link to anyone you want. All you need is just to tell your friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and etc that you are looking for someone who know that person. They say that usually acquaintances are even more useful for networking than your close friends. So feel free to tell your hairdresser or a man from grocery shop what you are looking for. You never know who will give you the precious contact.

Finding the right person is only half of the success. Next step is to talk to that person, and preferably make good impression. There are rules like, don’t talk too much about yourself and in general don’t talk too much. Active listening! At the end of the day it all seems to be common sense – be nice, be polite, be interesting and don’t forget to listen. However, even knowing all the do’s and don’ts it’s not that easy, because you can never have one key for communication with everybody. My answer is practice. During this year we had lots and lots of opportunities for networking – presentations, receptions, interviews, sessions, study trip… in fact, any event can be your opportunity for networking. Our facilitator of Effective Networking, Tony Newton said that even after years and years of business experience he is still a bit nervous before meeting new people; but you would never say that when you look at him.

MBA Smurfit School Networking event
Networking events during our International Study Trip to Brazil

Some interesting links:

Ten rules of networking

The Elevator Pitch

A blog about a person who has 16000 contacts

– Nargiza Kalmamatova

China: Free-Market Economics in a Command Economy

Prior to our International Trip to China, I had heard the rumour that China was a communist country. Having spent two weeks there, I’m certain that this is not the case. China exhibits all the elements of a free-market economy, with a healthy display of consumerism and a liberal sprinkling of capitalist greed and exuberance. However, in contrast to traditional capitalist societies, we were told that China is governed by a decisive and strong central governing body, which acts unilaterally to control the market.

There were several examples of where government control is all-powerful in determining the power of the individual players in the market: Continue reading China: Free-Market Economics in a Command Economy

It’s coming home…

Yesterday, the Smurfit Rugby team won the MBA World Cup !

The team was superior in the group play, beating the hosts, Duke (22-12), UTexas (35-12), UCLA/Cal State (22-7) before beating Wharton 17-14 in the QF. The semi-final saw Smurfit beat London Business School 12-8  on a last minute try to win. The final was played against Harvard which Smurfit won 13-10!

What can I say, our guys are great and  the new trophy will look good with the rest in the new trophy cabinet.

Congratulations again to all 29 players – well done and look forward to seeing you back here later this week.

PS: The Rugby team and the trip to the World Cup was featured on Irish TV on 7th April. Click here to watch -the piece about Smurfit Rugby is @ 2:24

– Rikke, MBA Programme Manager.

Going to the MBA Rugby World Cup

The panel’s selected, the fees are paid, the flights, transportation and accommodation are booked and the gear is on its way (they hope)… the UCD Smurfit Rugby Club is going to the MBA Rugby World Championships.

After months of fundraising, training and preparation, the Club is finally in a position to send a team to Duke to participate in this year’s competition. Intending to uphold and build on the fine traditions and reputation of the Club, twenty-eight players will depart Dublin Airport on Thursday 7th April. Bound for North Carolina, these players, and their coach Barry Gibney, will pitch there skills against the best teams from around the world with the sole aim of regaining the title last won in 2009.

Throughout the competition, the Club will be providing continuous updates on their progress using Twitter and @SmurfitRFC. So if you are interested in how they are doing, just log on and follow them.

– Shane Horan, MBA Rugby Club Coordinator

Financial reality of Brazil

Like an entrepreneur half the battle in Brazil was too survive in the short run. As the mullet has often been described ‘business on top and ‘party at the back’, this was very much the motto on the Brazil trip, as all the students tried to experience both the business culture and the social culture. The country was infinitely wealthier than I had presupposed and the level of wealth in Sao Paolo was quite astonishing at times as we passed by a whole street of car shops selling Lamborghinis, Porsches etc. Even Ireland in it’s hey day never saw such levels. However, this is juxtaposed with poverty showing the sharp contrast between the haves and have not’s which is not apparent in Europe. However, it was interesting how business opportunities can exist in both arenas and the interesting lecture we had in how to incorporate poorer communities with large scale businesses in an inclusive style of entrepreneurial businesses.

The opportunities initially appear endless as it rushes headlong forward in growth, the group spends the week between beers (which is rare) attempting to comprehend whether it is purely a commodity boom or a more sophisticated economic development. No one really had the answer, yes it is a commodity boom but at the same time its hard to understand until you are there that Brazil is nearly a continent in itself. What are the chances for Irish business in such an environment? I spoke with a friend who is doing business in Brazil; and while opportunities exist it is not the easy win that people might think. Very few speak English, regulation is extremely confusing, long term financing is difficult to find, local trading partners are required as well as many other barriers? This brings us back to our first point whether an incumbent business can it survive in the short to medium term without cash flow. Many of our fellow students did not financially survive to see a second week in Brazil while some of those who stayed on could be paying back for a considerable time. There might be a lesson in there somewhere.

– Colm O’Reilly