My name is Patrick Hillis but all of my new classmates here at the Smurfit MBA have taken to calling me, “Paddy” (affectionately, I think). I come from the Pacific Northwest region of the United States — home of the space needle, Starbucks and fine folks like my good friend Billy Gates (not exactly, but I did come within a mile of his house on a boat once).
This week saw the MBA Conferring for the classes that completed this summer.
Conferrings are always a huge event for us and for the Smurfit School in general as they mark the culmination of so much work and effort for everyone involved, it’s a chance to celebrate a tremendous personal achievement with graduates, their families and the academic staff. This years ceremony was added too by the festive atmosphere provided by the approach of Christmas and the truly impressive Christmas tree which dominated the top to the O’Reilly Hall and which became a favoured backdrop for post conferral class and family pictures. MBA graduates were joined by two other classes, the Master in Accounting and the MSc Finance stream and this made of a busy and vibrant event.
One thing which is always commented upon at MBA conferrals is the large number of small children who attend, a testament to just how good many of our participants are at juggling both academic and personal lives. Throw in work for the EMBA classes and you can see what an amazing accomplishment the obtaining of an MBA degree really is.
This particular conferring ceremony was unusual in that it was actually our second of the year. The previous one -for the classes finishing in Summer 2009- was in March and was the last of the March conferrings since the University decided last year to move conferral up to December.
Congratulations again to the Smurfit MBA Classes of 2010 !
– Roisin O’Loughlin, EMBA Programme Manager
Walking into a room to meet a complete stranger, I was unsure what to expect and how much to reveal myself. I was greeted with a noisy door but a very warm “Good morning”. It was my scheduled meeting with my coach at the MBA program at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. The coaching sessions are designed to help the students chalk out a plan for their future, under expert guidance from trained coaches. Armed with experience, the coaches help you identify your strengths, prioritize your goals and guide you in the best possible manner.
My coach was a wonderful lady (thankfully!). She made me comfortable so I could share my aspirations, future plans, as well as, apprehensions with her. She was a very considerate listener. She gave me time to settle down before she asked me what my future plans were. It helped to share with another lady as she could fully understand me. I told her how the course was shaping, how I was getting along in the course and how demanding and draining it was, both physically and mentally. She asked me about where I wanted to see myself in the future and what I am doing in the course towards achieving that dream. She then asked me what my long term and short term goals were, and we discussed how I could work on myself to become fully equipped to achieve them.
One thing that really impressed me was that there were no strings attached to the session. I could openly discuss anything, professional, as well as, personal. This helped me discuss all parameters that will help form the perfect equation of life for me. My coach, because of her experience and knowledge, could relate to a lot of things I mentioned and advised me accordingly. She helped me envision my future more clearly as she had examples to share from her own life and from the lives of the people she knew. I learnt from her experience. Real life examples helped me gauge the pros on cons of all my plans.
All in all, I think the coaching is a very useful part of the MBA program at Smurfit. It really gives you an insight into what you “really” want in life and what is best suited to your strengths. I expected my first session to be another one of those add-on features that Business schools talk about in their advertisements but I am glad they proved me wrong. The invaluable guidance I received has made me more focussed on my end goal. I am already looking forward to meeting my coach again next month!
I was very nervous as I walked into the main hall of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. There was a group of standing around near the door, chatting. It didn’t look like a close-knit group, so I walked towards them. One was talking about the life he’d just left in Bermuda.
“Aw, it was paradise”
“Heh, no. It’s about a mile wide and very violent.”
The group turned out to be a mix of Full-Time and Executive MBAs, all male. There was even a comment of “sausage-fest” just before the first female student arrived which put us out of our misery.
Given Ireland’s small size, the odds were in favour that I’d know at least one person on the MBA. Sure enough, in walked Ruairí, a classmate of mine from Oatlands College, where I had attended secondary school. We’d gotten along well in school and we had a lot to catch up on. But, while it felt good to see a familiar face amongst 40 or so strangers, it was not necessary. The dynamics of the class are such that close bonds formed very quickly. Within the first week, friendships had formed, and everyone was doing their best to help others with accommodation information, travel, or simply advice on where to get a good pint of Guinness.
All in all, I would have to say that these are some of the nicest people that I have ever met. I immediately felt comfortable and at ease with them, and I’ve made both new friends and great contacts for the future. The sheer wealth of knowledge held by my classmates is mind-boggling, and it’s always a pleasure to tap it. There’s a real feeling of camaraderie and of being a team. We help each other out with projects and study, running tutorials or bouncing ideas off one another.
And a team is what you need on this course. There is a lot of learning in a short space of time. It’s doable but intense. It is also highly interesting and at least one lecturer had to curtail our numerous questions about the economy in order to cover the actual course material. The lecturers themselves are experts in their field, and not only academic but also practical having worked in the real world thus gaining credibility with a class of students that has many years of experience.
To summarise, doing this MBA is turning out to be the best decision that I could have made. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Each year, a group of highly talented individuals from Vietnam gets the opportunity to study for a year at UCD Smurfit under the Irish Aid Irish Development Experience Sharing (IDEAS) programme. The objective of the IDEAS Programme is to share the lessons of Ireland’s economic and social development with Vietnam. This academic year, the UCD Smurfit School has welcomed 10 students on that Programme
In end November, Orla Nugent (MBA Director) and Gillian Flanagan (Smurfit Admissions) visited Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam to promote both the Business School and the IDEAS Scholarship programme 2011/2012.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Orla and Gillian attended the QS World MBA Fair in HCM. Here they met with over fifty students who were most enthusiastic about UCD Smurfit School, studying in Ireland and the Irish Aid IDEAS Scholarship programme. They also interviewed a number of applicants who have already applied to the Scholarship programme.
Later that week, Orla and Gillian attended a meeting in the Irish Embassy in Hanoi where they met with the IDEAS Programme managers at the Embassy. At this meeting the discussion centred around the applications received to date and a plan of action for the forthcoming months. Part of the programme for the visit to Hanoi was also a visit to the residence of the Irish Ambassador, Maeve Collins, to attend the official launch of the Irish Aid IDEAS Scholarship programme for the 2011/12 academic year. This event was very well attended by interested students who were able to meet also the IDEAS Programme Alumni from the 2009/2010 Programme.
“All in all, it was a very exciting trip. We met a number of interesting applications for the IDEAS Programme 2011/2012 and we now look forward to processing all the applications”, MBA Director Orla Nugent says.
Stay tuned for an update on the IDEAS Programme and to hear from the current students on the Programme.
– Rikke, MBA Programme Manager
For more information about the IDEAS Programme,
And so we’ve made it through the first three months with only a few scrapes and bruises, and one major surgery. Nobody’s been killed thank God. Well, not yet anyway.
We’ve the first term done and mostly forgotten and we’re now fully immersed in term 2. The Christmas break is only a week away and it will be our first real holiday of the year. Hanging over us rather ominously before we can relax for a few weeks, are umpteen assignments and, of course, the end of term exams. So near and yet so far…
For some reason this term seems to be more manageable than the first, even though I’m working just as hard. I don’t seem to be as snowed under -no pun intended given the recent weather! Officially, it’s because we’ve had fewer group presentations to prepare. The real reason is that you learn to be a little more cunning in selecting what needs to be done and manage your time accordingly. The Time Management gurus call it ‘prioritising’.
I spoke to an alumnus about this. He said in the first term you try to do everything, in the second you try to do most things and in the third you just do what’s required. As the year progresses your grades improve!
But I think this is part of the MBA learning experience – it’s as much about the process as much as it involves the module material. You learn to prioritise, juggle and even say no. You learn to pick your battles as well; which assignments to concentrate on; where a good mark is possible and which ones to do an adequate job on because of the Law of Diminishing Returns. That’s something from an Economics module that I picked up during the first term.
In subsequent blogs, I hope to discuss in more detail both why I decided to do the MBA at Smurfit and what my application experience was. For the moment, I’ll just give you a quick background of where I’m coming from.
I finished my undergraduate degree in engineering in Trinity College Dublin (UCD’s arch rival here in Ireland!). Having become somewhat bored with the excesses of ‘Celtic Tiger Dublin’, I took a year out and headed to Australia for a year, and then to Scotland for four years. When the Irish economy went downhill, I figured it was time to spend some time in Dublin again!
My previous jobs have involved working in hierarchical companies where older colleagues tend to be in more senior positions and treated with more reverence. It took me a while to get used to this idea and I have some classmates now that are old enough to be my parents!
The following will hopefully give you an insight into our class diversity, while at the same time winding my group up. We have been doing quite an amount of data interpretation on the course, and I’m getting a reputation with my group for being chart-mad.
It’s been a big transition coming to Dublin and jumping straight into the middle of such a demanding programme as the MBA – some days I’m just not sure where on earth I am or what I’m doing. However, I can say that my class has been very good at helping each other out and giving direction freely.
When we all arrived on August 30th, seeing 44 strange faces was a little daunting but we spent about a week ‘bonding’ doing Team Building exercises, etc. Now I know that sounds pretty corny, and many of us were skeptical and reluctant at first, but it was a great way to break down initial barriers between classmates.
Check out some Team Building photos here.
The MBA is a wonderful course. The sheer amount of learning done in such a small space of time really opens the world for you. There’s so much learning that you want to share it with those around you – even if they’re not that interested!
An example of this comes from when we were studying the Elan case for our Financial Reporting class last term. I was lying in bed with my girlfriend…
“What are you reading?”
“It’s an interesting case study about a certain company and their accounting practices.”
“Oh, like what?”
She regretted asking that question as I launched into a description about joint ventures, Bermuda and the questionable ethics in management. I was fascinated with how they managed to make all of their R&D costs into either assets or income. I tried to explain it, but just got a blank look in return. The look was supposed to convey the idea of “I don’t care…” but I took it to be one of confusion and, therefore, assumed that I hadn’t explained it properly. It didn’t cross my mind that anyone would be less than enthralled by this story, even at midnight.
It was only as I reached for the pen and paper and offered to explain with the aid of diagrams that she finally snapped, told me that she was only being polite, and that I should now shut up and go to sleep.
What one learns on an MBA is indeed fascinating…for some!
Although picking the right business school, writing those endless numbers of essays, getting an admission, a scholarship and finally, a student visa were all extremely overwhelming and tiring, life became so much simpler after getting here on campus.
As someone who has never lived abroad for more than a month, I was excited and scared at the same time. Being a student from India I did expect to have my share of bad experiences due to cultural indifferences in the foreign land. Adding to my anxiety, my visa arrived later than expected, due to which I had to arrive a week late in Dublin, by which time, the orientation, the team building activities and a few financial reporting lectures were already done with. All of these made me more and more nervous.
I started college on September 6, 2010, a week later than all my classmates. I knew I was in for a roller coaster ride, with no time for bonding, making friends and settling in. Truly, a roller coaster ride it was. Classes were on in full swing. We had meetings with our group members almost every day after class.
To my surprise, however, these group meetings, unlike what I had initially imagined, were times for real bonding to happen. There was so much to catch up on that we ended up spending a lot of time with each other. To be fair, I definitely have to mention how helpful my group members were. A couple of days into the course, I was updated on all things that I had missed out. The programme office was very helpful too, right from settling me into the course to fixing issues with my in-campus accommodation.
So here’s what I have learned so far:
- Ireland is beautiful and the Irish are extremely warm and friendly people. They will go out of their way to help you. You can find a great cultural mix here.
- You need to be prepared for a roller coaster ride if you want to do an MBA. Your classmates and group members, however, will help you get along rather smoothly.
- Group meetings are fun. They’re a great time for bonding and making friends.
- Once you’ve started your course, what you learn each day is what matters the most, not your marks.
Finally, it’s snowing, and I’m having a great time here. It’s unimaginable, how time flies so quickly once you start the programme! I’m now looking forward to spending Christmas with my family back in India.
We’re often asked about the MBA programme at UCD Smurfit School: ‘What it is it really like?’, ‘What will I learn?’, and ‘What can I do afterwards?’
Although the questions are simple enough, the answers are not.
NO two days are ever the same at UCD Smurfit School MBA programme. It’s always changing. Every day on the UCD Smurfit MBA has a strong focus on the whole learning experience, whether academic, professional or personal, that you will share with your classmates.
One morning you might be participating in a strategic management class while during the afternoon, you could be meeting with your study group to prepare a case study presentation or attending an event where you will have the opportunity to meet with senior managers from a range of both global and small entrepreneurial companies.
Another morning you could be taking part in interactive and unique leadership classes where you learn group dynamics, self-awareness and successful influencing behaviours. Then in the afternoon, you could be involved in one of the MBA Clubs’ activities or meeting with your mentor to learn from their experiences.
To give you true insights into the MBA Programme, we have asked our current MBA students and alumni to share their experiences on the Smurfit MBA Blog. Happy reading!