Brazil, here we come !

Last Friday, we finished the last of our International Study Project classes with a tour itinerary presentation. Thanks to the presentation, we’re all now so excited to experience the much warmer weather on the Rio beaches.

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro BrazilOf course we had other important issues covered in that session, such as the importance of being on time and attending all scheduled meetings with the top management of various companies and also about using the opportunity to talk to the MBA students from a top Business school in Brazil. Well, all said and done, it’s a whole new country, with a whole new perspective. There will be a lot to learn from this country that’s developing at a pace like no other. This trip is going to be extremely eventful for the 43 of us going to Brazil in terms of meetings, learning and fun! Just can’t describe in words how much I’m looking forward to this trip and I am sure you will hear much more about it over the next few weeks !

Christ the Redeemer, here we come!

– Diana Vincent

A pleasant surprise

While I was deciding whether or not to do an MBA, and where, one of the things I considered was the ranking of Smurfit (recently up 78th worldwide in the FT and 31st worldwide in The Economist.) I also thought about the academic content of the programme and the anecdotal reputation of the School.

One thing I didn’t give too much notice to was the specific careers and personal development day that we have every Friday. This day focuses on each student as an individual, and leading professionals from the worlds of neurolingustic programming, personality type testing and time management are brought in to share their specialist knowledge with us. The process is highly interactive, and generally gives very good and personalised feedback to the students. The results are that after less than two terms, most fellow MBA students now have a good idea about their inner drives, specific skill sets and even in what types of career their personal motivators would be most likely to be satisfied.

There’s even a one on one personal coach set up for students to discuss anything they like, in my case how to best network nationally and internationally and how to best target specific career opportunities. It could just as easily be used by the student to talk about their personal experiences on the course, additional help they need or confidential issues they may have.

The whole area of personal development, whilst something a lot of people will have some experience with, takes on a whole new dimension of usefulness when it’s a full time integrated subject. For me, it’s been one of the standout experiences of the course so far.

– Andrew Higgins

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

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

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


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.

Continue reading How are we doing?!

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!

Continue reading A choice of optional courses and a big question behind that

The MBA is a wonderful course

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!

-Jamie