Posts Tagged ‘Academic Programme’
I write this blog staring down the barrel of 6 exams in 10 days and a welcome week break at the end of it. It occurs to me that this is probably the most relaxed I have ever been (hence the possibility of writing this blog) with a test series starting in a day or so. This is unfortunately not in any way related to my academic preparation for these exams. I attribute this feeling to the nature of the MBA program.
The Smurfit MBA program is not an academic exercise. Exams are approached as a formality and opportunity to express knowledge and learning as opposed to any test that needs to be passed. The courses themselves are structured with exams usually contributing a fraction of overall assessment, and most weight being given to practical projects and reflections, assisting and illustrating course learning.
I think this practicality of the course is what contributes to my confidence. I feel under no compulsion to recite any doctrines or theories but am encouraged to express my opinions on the material we have covered through the modules. Rote learning is seen to be of little benefit and the practical nature of the program has emphasized the development of insights and views which are given a chance to be scribed in an exam setting.
The material presented in class is rarely portrayed as being the final answer on any matter, and the case studies and class discussions have forced us all to form opinions on the module content. Module coordinators have further instilled a confidence that there are few right or wrong answers, with the construction, substantiation and articulation of points of view being of most importance.
To this end, I feel my exam preparation has already been done through the term, with this pre-exam window providing a time to review the massive amounts of material covered and collect my thoughts on pertinent issues. That having been mentioned, I realize I still have a fair bit of ‘collecting my thoughts’ to do, and so I will end the blog here for fear of writing this again next year.
- Neil Krige, FT MBA 2012/13 (hopefully!)
End of term and the exams are just around the corner! Hard to believe that we are two thirds of our way through the programme. It is now time to crystallise all the learning since January and demonstrate our understanding of the academic concepts in the final exams. Perhaps more important however is the impending commencement of the Capstone or company projects. There was an impressive list of applications with projects for the MBA Consultancy Initiative and I look forward to once again collaborating with colleagues on our chosen project in the summer and practically apply what we have learned throughout the year. For me this is the highlight of the programme and the opportunity to apply our new skills and toolkits to real, day-to-day, and longer-term business problems.
Have noticed some weary looking people in recent weeks in the MBA class, which is testament to the effort everyone is putting in to contribute to and take from the programme. For many of us, we have put our professional and personal lives on hold for the past year and our families have had to deal with the highs and lows and occasional mood swings. Some would use the term light at the end of the tunnel to describe the imminent completion of the programme but I feel that that suggests that it was all toil and no reward during the year, which is not true. The finish line analogy of a long-distance run is more apt as the year has been about pacing oneself with periodic bursts of activity around exams and assignment due dates.
I wish all my classmates the very best of luck in the exams and I would like to thank our lecturers for the effort and commitment they put into the teaching of the modules.
-Cathal O’Ceallaigh, FT MBA 2012/13
One of the benefits that I find from the Executive MBA is that I go back to my day-job on a Monday morning and “noodle” on what we have discussed in class that previous weekend. I can bounce stuff off my workmates and get a different perspective on things to take back with me to class the following weekend. This is a very practical way of grounding my MBA experience into the everyday work-life on a continuous basis and creates a vital link between industry and academia.
But in writing this blog, I began to wonder are there other less obvious opportunities for linking industry and academia?
I have worked in start-up companies for the last 7 years of my life and if there is one thing that start-ups have in common it is the lack of money available and the requirement to achieve one’s aims with the smartest use of resources possible.
Earlier in my career I spent 8 wonderful years in NUIG as an undergrad and postgrad and if there is one thing that universities have in common it is the abundance of engineering equipment available for testing, analysing and characterising materials,devices, structures, etc. etc. Surely it is logical to bridge the two and create a valuable and strategic symbiosis in the process? Of course there has been continuous links between industry and academia down through the years in the form of collaborative research partnerships, sponsored post-grads,etc. which have been hugely beneficial to all parties. Such endeavours keep third-level researchers relevant, allowing them to work on problems that are very current and applied. At the same time they have provided the sponsoring company with valuable research allowing them to develop technologies and create significant value for their products.
On a routine basis, we (in our company) have need for short-term access to calibrated test equipment such as tensile testers, torque testers, fluid analysers, FTIR, DSC, etc. etc. and have had to contract this work out to third-party vendors. An opportunity exists for some of the third-level institutions to provide such services to industry and generate a valuable revenue stream in the process. Endeavours such as Metric Ireland and Connect 2013 are important drivers for fostering additional links between industry and academia so that short-term gains and benefits can be realised on both sides.
Funding for third-level is being continually stretched and industry is constantly required to operate in ever-more-efficient means to achieve their goals. I believe a significant opportunity exists at present to align all relevant parties in pursuit of this and build sustainability of the indigenous sector into the future.
- Brendan Cunniffe, EMBA (Weekend) 2012-14
I write this blog contemplating the previous 6 weeks of the MBA program which have flown by at break neck speed. I did not think my schedule could get much fuller but the MBA is starting to prove that there is always room for more.
The undoubted highlight of the recent past has been our international study trip. I chose the Brazil option and was not disappointed. Leaving Dublin in sub-zero temperatures and arriving in Sao Paulo at plus 25 degrees was certainly a contributing factor. The Sao Paulo leg of our trip consisted of an introductory lecture at the FIA Business School and 4 company visits. The FIA lecture presented us with an insightful overview of how the Brazilian economy has got to where it is today (6th largest globally) and specifically the challenges it is facing in continuing its growth.
Of specific interest to me, was how a government policy of poverty eradication through social grants, had inadvertently lead to the stimulation of the local economy through increased public consumption. This is a significant departure from the current populist theory of poverty eradication through industry initiatives and private sector development. I intend performing greater research in this regard and specifically understanding such a policy’s applicability in the South African context.
The business visits and presentations that followed were varied and informative. From a business perspective, I went to Brazil to gain insights into what it is like to do business there and what the key challenges are for international businesses to overcome. The business presentations provided clear and repetitive guidance on the key requirements and challenges for international business in Brazil. I was interested to note that speaking the local language was a prerequisite to building strong relationships, which in turn was a prerequisite for doing successful business. I noted at JWT and Pernod Riccard that this language bridge could be overcome by employing educated locals, but that this would come at a price itself due to the high salaries demanded by skilled local labour.
I came to learn that some things will not change in the near future in Brazil and that making adjustments for the poor transport infrastructure and complex tax regime would be a requirement for undertaking business in Brazil. Much like South Africa, I noted that an approach of seeing opportunities as opposed to obstacles could prove successful in Brazil. This was borne out by companies such as Cosan that had seen an opportunity to enter the logistics and infrastructure fields, or Deloitte who provide consulting services on the complex tax system.
Our 3 days in Sao Paulo flew by and before long we were in the air again heading for Rio de Janiero. The flight and landing in Rio is something I will never forget, for all the right reasons! Flying in over Guanabara Bay, with the smattering of islands below, the Corcavado (Christ Redeemer Statue) and Sugar Loaf Mountains in the distance, and the Rio beaches ahead, is an amazing entrance. Rio’s status as the prettiest city I’ve ever been to was affirmed when we took the tram to the top of the Corcovado and spent the afternoon enjoying the views of the city.
The business part of the trip started up again in the morning with visits to the Brazilian multinationals of Petrobras and BNDES. These visits provided examples of the potential for Brazilian businesses to become world leaders in their fields, and exhibited the rich talent and skills that Brazil possesses. I was impressed with the ambitious nature of these companies, their striving for excellence and their national pride.
Having seen some of the best Brazil has to offer, I was eager to get a fuller picture of Brazilian life which our next scheduled visit to the infamous ‘favela’ slums of Rio, would hopefully provide. Entering the drug-lord controlled ‘favela’ under surveillance from a teenager with a radio and hand gun was always going to leave a lasting impression. I was surprised however with the relatively good condition of the houses and living areas, and saw no trace of the abject poverty that I was expecting. This dangerous illusion that crime does pay is possibly a detractor from the superb social work being done at the development centre we visited.
Ending our week with a view of the darker side of Brazil helped provide a broader picture of life and business here and its related complexities. Our 12 hour flight back to Dublin gave me time to reflect how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to experience at least a taste of the diverse country that is Brazil. I was leaving with fascinating insights that would assist me in my life and business decisions into the future, and a much deeper understanding than any readings could ever supply. I found myself pleasantly surprised again by my MBA experience far outweighing my initial expectations, no matter how swamped I feel at times.
- Neil Krige, FT MBA 2013