A bunch of thoughts

Thoughts on the MBA Programme

Time flies, and in 5-6 months we will finish our course… Actually we’ve got only 2 weeks of regular lectures left. And then exams, international trip, and we will all go in different directions – first for doing an individual company projects, and then back to “real life”.

As I realized how close we are to the finish line, a whole bunch of thoughts came into my mind. The following are the main ones “bothering” me.

These next few weeks are our last dash in regards of regular lectures and exams, and we need to be extremely concentrated and work on maximum capacity.

Company project is a chance to experiment. For example, if you are a boring banker, who is secretly passionate about music, you have a chance to make a project for a music company.

And finally, the biggest question is What am I going to do after finishing the course? I have described my thoughts on this issue in the previous blog. And now it becomes more and more important.

So, you can see how many thoughts are going at the same time in my mind. As a result I feel like have no right even for a short break. I have ambitiously registered for three option/elective courses instead of standard two. So my lecture schedule keeps me busy over the week. Group meetings are taking place almost every evening after the lectures. And weekends are devoted to preparing individual assignments. No wonder that I have less time for socializing… However, tomorrow I am going to a walking trip to Dublin Mountains, yay!

–  Nargiza Kalmamatova

Back to work preparation

My MBA class’  return to the labour market is several months off yet, but it is something that is on everyone’s mind (well, that and our international trips to China or Brazil!)

In years past, Smurfit graduates have always done extremely well gaining full employment after three months from graduation. But in these more chastened times, when even a Vanity Fair reporter scoffs at our country’s past spending excesses, the confidence that one might have approached the jobs market has evaporated, and in its place a dire sinking feeling.

But all is not lost. We are given every opportunity and tool to equip us for the daunting task of winning our dream role.

Mock Interviews: Getting it right before the first time

Continue reading Back to work preparation

Mind-boggling how time flies

It seems like the MBA has just started and it’s the middle of term 3 already! Time just flies in this course. Readings, assignments, research and group meetings take away all your time. Sometimes when I look back at the week gone by, I wonder how is it possible to cover what we covered in that week. But nonetheless, we did! What makes this possible is not the classes, but the preparation for the classes that we are expected to do. Before we enter the class, we already have an opinion on what will be discussed in class. The class is more of a 2 hour debate and learning, rather than just sitting and attending it. That makes all the background reading so essential or else one will just sit in the class, completely lost!

The case based courses are my personal favourites. The class brings out so many angles and aspects of a case which I am sure a single person wouldn’t be able to think off. There is that definite 180º divide in opinions but the interesting part is all the middle degrees. When something countering your opinion seems so right, you can’t help but get boggled. Continue reading Mind-boggling how time flies

More than an MBA

Irish hospitality is the stuff legends are made of! Indeed, one of the highlights for an international student on the Smurfit MBA is the opportunity to experience Ireland alongside a group of remarkably welcoming Irish nationals, coming from what seems to be every square inch of the island. This aspect of the program would naturally be missing from the Smurfit brochures, but I can assure you that myself and the other international students – comprising 50% of our overall group and coming from the US, Canada, India, The Netherlands, Germany, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan – have been so grateful for the way our Irish counterparts have received us.

An example of this legendary hospitality came over the winter holiday when my wife and I were invited to spend Christmas in the west of Ireland with my classmate and fellow blogger, Christopher Kitchin, on his family’s sheep farm!
In order to appreciate the uniqueness of this experience, it’s imperative that I mention how I’ve often been described as ‘the epitome of an urbanite.’ Christmas on the farm provided me with the opportunity to break away from this description as I set aside my affinity for cement and tall buildings to feed sheep, ride a Quad bike, collect firewood, picnic on the beach, and sleep in a house that was built over 100 years before my state was founded (how’s that for history?!)! More important to the experience than any of those details was the opportunity to spend Christmas with a group of remarkable people, and the graciousness with which our hosts welcomed us into their home and traditions. Needless to say, Christmas with the Kitchin family was a one of a kind experience for a city boy from the States!

Check out some pictures below…

~Patrick Hillis

Walking on the farm
Walking on the farm

Christopher and I at the beach picnic
Christopher and I at the beach picnic

Some new friends!
Some new friends!

To Networking! Bellinter II

After its acclaimed debut in 2010, Bellinter II took its rightful place as the first highlight in the social calendar for 2011. The thought of staying at Bellinter in Co. Meath was a welcome escape from a cold and dark Dublin where the return to classes reacquainted us with triangularised sandwiches which have become our twice weekly staple.  In fact, demand was such that spaces began to fill up within minutes of circulating the invitations. The ever glamorous Siobhan O’Dowd put her talents to full effect by bringing together a diverse panel of speakers, which included Eddie O’Connor, founder of Airtricity – which was sold in 2008 for €1.8bn and current founder and CEO of Mainstream Renewable Power; Norah Casey the newest dragon on the Den and CEO of Harmonia, Ireland’s largest magazine company; David McWilliams, Economist, Journalist, Broadcaster, Best Selling Author…… with even more titles to be revealed very shortly. Also speaking were property developers Paddy & Simon Kelly.

Continue reading To Networking! Bellinter II

MBA Entrepreneurship Club

The Entrepreneur’s Club finally got the opportunity to hold the ‘How To Finance Your Business’ session at the end of January. Free from the travails of the snow and fresh after a well deserved month off everybody was keen for new events. 4 great speakers convened to give their views on raising finance from different perspectives. Ned Gladney, Managing Director, GSW Tax and Business Advisors (a specialist firm for small & medium sized enterprises), Michael Hayden (Business Advisor Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Enterprise Board), Giuseppe Insalaco – An Entrepreneur (Smurfit School MBA Graduate) & founder of Squargo Ltd, and Dermot Berkery, Partner-Delta Partners Ltd -one of Irelands leading Venture Capital Firms (VC).

Discussion ranged from enterprise structure, to grant and seed money from local authorities to the holy grail of venture capital funding. Dermot explained how VC’s source and invest their funds and the expected win & loss rates for their investments. Giuseppe brought the entrepreneurial flavour in explaining the Do’s and Don’ts from his own journey in trying to source financing for start-ups.

The good news is all the participants reiterated that although times are tough, there is money available for start-ups. However, the cautionary warning was it largely depends on the industry. Let’s see who next from the class will be on the stage in years to come explaining their successes and woes in starting up a business.

– Colm O’Reilly

Chuc mung nam moi!

Most people know about the Chinese New Year and how it is a big event in the Chinese calendar. However, did you also know that the same is true for the Vietnamese?

Vietnamese TET

Whereas the Chinese now celebrate the year of the rabbit, the Vietnamese celebrate the year of the cat.

That is why our Vietnamese IDEAS scholarship students have invited fellow students and staff to celebrate the Vietnamese New year, TET.  This Friday will therefore see us all gather for a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine, storytelling, song and dance -and I’d say it is gonna be a great event. Stay tuned for an update and photos…

Chuc mung nam moi!

– Rikke Budolfsen, MBA Programme Manager


PPD workshop: SDI – What motivates you when working in teams?

Our second semester for the Year 1 EMBA, kicked off on Friday 14th January with a half day session on Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) facilitated by Barry Delaney of PWC. To prepare, we had all been asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire which probed our motivations in different scenarios especially when under pressure. Understanding your motivation and that of others is a key skill in team working. Modifying your behaviour to achieve a successful outcome especially in situations of conflict is a sign of an effective team.

The session gave us direct feedback about ourselves and an opportunity to reflect on this. I had the benefit of working with SDI 18 months previously, so I was up to speed with the main concepts and I was particularly interested in seeing if my own motivations have changed. Of course they haven’t!

The objective of the session was to think about our Semester 1 Study Teams in these terms and to apply the lessons learned to the formation of our Semester 2 Study Teams which was done through a series of exercises. There were a few funny moments when the “assertive-directives” disagreed with the “altruistic-nurturing” group over some ethical points but at least they listened.

There is no doubt that the most important unit in the MBA is your work group or Study Team. I already valued SDI as a useful tool and this enjoyable and well run session has reinforced it. What I have taken away is some specific and practical help to work with my group members in such a way that we get the best out of each other. As we roll into the long semester ahead we will certainly by relying on each other!

Eoin Lyons, Smurfit Exec MBA Year 1 student

– Eoin Lyons, EMBA Yr 1

Financial Times MBA Ranking 2011

The Financial Times ranking of the top 100 global full-time MBA programmes was published today. The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School MBA has jumped 20 places in the global MBA rankings. We are now ranked as 78th in the world and among the top 25 MBAs in Europe. We are among less than 50 schools worldwide that have been consistently ranked in the top 100 over the last twelve years.

We are the only Irish MBA programme that appears in the ranking and are pleased given these difficult economic times that we have improved our standing.

So what’s behind this? We believe it’s a combination of continuous improvement; a collegiate leaning environment coupled with small class sizes, dedicated programme and academic teams and outstanding alumni.

For example we are currently undergoing an academic review of our curriculum, the objective being to enhance student learning. We have streamlined our Personal and Professional Development Programme, which includes team development and individual business coaching with experienced professional business coaches. Finally our MBA Careers Service continues to work on a one to one basis with our MBA students providing them with the skills to accelerate their career.

Orla Nugent UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School MBA Director

Stay posted for more updates.

– Orla Nugent, MBA Director

Back For More…

So here we all are back at Smurfit School after a well-earned break. The time off for Christmas and New Year has recharged everyone’s enthusiasm, so much so that most people didn’t mind coming back. But when we were back, we were back. There was no allowance for easing ourselves back into the routine – we were straight into assignments, readings, presentations and more readings and more assignments. The time off we enjoyed seems like a distant memory now.

Getting the Job

One slight difference I have noticed this term has been the increase in mutterings about jobs and applications and “what are you going doing next year?”  Surely it’s much too early for that I thought (and hoped).

However in reality it’s not too early. At the end of this term, it will be March and we will be going on our International Trip. Before we know it, April will be upon us and then the panic will set in! And if we are to be honest with ourselves, it is the reason we signed up in the first place. Whether it was to get a leg-up in our chosen profession or for a change in job, it was all about the career at the end of the day.

So onwards and upwards as we commence our search for gainful employment in earnest! I had better make my way to the Careers Office.

– Donal O’Sullivan