Preparation, Preparation, Preparation…

Reading the case study is not all the MBA is about if that’s what you’re thinking. In fact, that’s not even 25% of what we do in the MBA. Of course case studies play a major role in helping us understand the different strategies and theories that are part of the curriculum, but there’s just so much more than you can even think of.

For instance, if you just take the readings, apart from the case studies, you also have the Required or Essential Readings and then Further Readings. These are a set of other readings needed to be read in addition to the case, in preparation for the case study to be discussed in class the following day.

What I’ve mentioned here is the preparation required for just one class. The same is required for the two or three classes we have each day.

While everyone agrees that the readings alone take up a lot of time, if you’re willing to put in the hard work, there are definitely a few good rewards waiting for you. The case study-based classes are undoubtedly the best experiences of your MBA days. They’re so interesting that before you realise, they’re already gone – that much interesting that you don’t realise that time passes by so quickly. Thankfully, the Smurfit MBA has quite a few case-study based courses, which I think is extremely important for the MBA.

That’s not all that we MBAs do. Apart from preparing for and attending classes, we also have those much-dreaded assignments, and at least a few of them due for submission every week. Once again, thankfully, we have those life-saving study-group meetings where we have our share of fun, chit-chatting with group members while also taking help for the assignments and presentations. If time permits, we get the luxury of a few hours of sleep in the middle of all the chaos. Even with all of this, we’ve managed to have loads of fun and semester 1 has already gone by. I can’t believe that in a couple of months or even less, we will be on our international study tour, followed by the company projects.

– Diana Vincent

How are we doing?!

When I did my undergraduate degree a few years ago, I remember the dread, panic, cramming, sleepless nights and energy drinks that became the norm in the week approaching the end of term exams.  The difference with the MBA is that this state of feverish work prevails throughout each and every term.

I reckon that there are two primary reasons for this.  The first is that the equivalent volume of information encountered over four years of an undergraduate degree is condensed into a year at Smurfit.

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Career Detection – A student’s perspective

Last Saturday, as a kick off to semester 2, I went to the Careers Detection workshop which is part of our PPD programme. It was everyone’s first day back in Smurfit after the Xmas and analysing your career at 9am on a cold January Saturday morning was a bit of a jolt back to reality for most of us. I’ve been to lots of these types of events over the years. I know my Myers-Briggs, interview technique, CV structure as well as the next person. So I guess my expectations that I’d learn something new were not too high. But as I’m job hunting at the moment I thought why not, I might get something out of it.

I‘m glad to say it was well worth it. There was lots of very practical and honest advice on the current job market – it’s tough (knew that), most roles are contract (yes I’m hearing that a lot) and the successful candidates are putting 20 – 30 hours into prepping for each interview (wow best get at it so). There were also some very useful tools. The Richmond Career driver’s section was good and sparked a debate about money being a driver or is it just a hygiene factor? Our Celtic Tiger mortgages need paying; kids need to be fed and so on.

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Meet the Class of 2011

My name is Andrew Higgins and I’m a full time student on the Smurfit MBA programme. I’ll be blogging over the next several months about various aspects of the programme, focusing on some of the non- academic aspects of the MBA, and hopefully giving an accurate flavour of what the programme involves day to day.

Firstly, some background on me! I finished a Physics degree in Trinity College Dublin in 2002, and after graduation started working in directory advertising sales. I began in telesales, servicing existing SME customers, and was then promoted to fieldsales, where I looked after high revenue accounts in N. Ireland and the UK for several years. This role was highly consultative, and I solution sold a range of print, online and other advertising programmes and advised on Search engine optimisation and Search engine marketing.

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The Ireland/Vietnam IDEAS Programme

Ambition to know the world

I grew up in the highland countryside of Vietnam in a family of six children in the time when Vietnam just opened the gate to the world. At that moment, our need was at the basic level of having enough food and clothes.  As a single parent, though my father was struggling to feed us, he still thought big about our future to work extremely hard for our education.  I was impacted strongly by his tenacious effort that not only helped me to have a good education in Vietnam, but also trained me to have a strong will to pursue higher education and open my world.

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A choice of optional courses and a big question behind that

The Thinker statureAt the end of Semester 1 we all had to choose optional/elective courses for Semester 2. The choice was quite big. For me there were two possible directions, either to learn something related to my background (banking), or vice versa learn something totally new.

However before making this decision you should answer a much bigger question behind it. That question is what are you going to do after the graduation? We all come to do an MBA with an ultimate goal of having better lives – more exciting job, higher income, interesting people around, more opportunities and perspectives, etc.

The MBA Career Service at Smurfit was trying to help us to answer that big question from the first week of our study. They provide a range of trainings and session starting from very practical such as writing your CV to individual interviews with professional coaches, who help you to understand your real motivations and goals. The main thing Career Service and all the trainers repeat all the time is that MBA is your chance to think about a job that you would be willing to do for the rest of your life, something that makes you happy and excited!

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PPD on the Smurfit MBA – What is it?

This is our abbreviation for a very important part of the MBA Programme and it is short for Personal and Professional Development

In order to maximise a Smurfit MBA’s student experience, we designed a Personal and Professional Development (PPD) programme which runs in parallel to the academic curriculum. It starts during the Foundation Programme and continues right up until the end of the MBA. Most of our MBA students participate actively and we believe it may prove to be perhaps the most valuable learning experience and will stand in good stead to graduates years after they complete the MBA.

The purpose of PPD is to broaden each student’s set of soft skills to give them the edge in becoming the most effective leaders they can be.

These are some of latest events we have run.

Smurfit MBA PPD facilitator Brian McIvorOn 8th Jan, we held the kick-off event for Semester 2. It was a PPD one day workshop held before the academic term began called Career Detection. Brian McIvor, the esteemed careers guru, facilitated this for us.


Smurfit MBA PPD facilitator Barry Delaney
On the weekend of 14th and 15th January, Barry Delaney from PWC facilitated a workshop on SDI – Strength Deployment Inventory. This PPD workshop forms part of a theme that is based around Teams enabling a deeper understanding of how they function to thereby increasing the MBA student’s skillset in leading teams. For an overview click here





You will be able to read more about the students’ perspective in these blog posts.

– Michael McDonnell, MBA Programme Manager

Do I know exactly where my career is going?

“Who am I? What are my strengths? Where do I want to go?”

These are all very existential questions, which for a thirty-year-old person to be pondering may seem a littlebelated! However, in the context of career path planning, they are fundamental to an MBA’s post-academic professional life. The importance of addressing these questions is underlined by the fact that our full time MBA class spend up to 20% of each week’s lecture time on personal and professional development.

Often we know what we are good at, what are our values and strengths, and how we interact with others, but it can be very difficult to articulate these succinctly and to tie it all into a package which aligns with a specific future career path. In my opinion, this is the most important output of my MBA experience: clarifying my future career wants.

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Meet the Class of 2011

Just to give some background on myself so you know where I’m coming from….

I’m 33 years old and have worked as an engineer in the construction industry here in Ireland for ten years. I studied civil engineering in UCC in Cork and graduated in 2000. That’s more than 10 years ago now and makes me feel very old.

As you may be aware, the construction industry here in Ireland has collapsed in the last two years, so I was faced with a choice; either travel outside the country to find work or else take a year off. What better way to take a year off than to do an MBA; you don’t feel as if you’re completely wasting your time and hey I might even learn a thing or two along the way.

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Meet the Class of 2011

My name is Nargiza and I am from Kyrgyzstan. You may not have heard of it but it is a beautiful country in Central Asia. In fact, the flight from the capital Bishkek to Dublin takes eleven hours so you can imagine how far these two countries from each other, both in geographical and cultural sense. As far as I know, I am the first person from Kyrgyzstan studying at UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School. So, whenever I meet someone in Ireland first question they ask is why someone from Kyrgyzstan would decide to do MBA in Ireland?

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