My first 2 weeks as an EMBA student

Hello, Jen Ward here. I am delighted to share my experience with you of the UCD Smurfit EMBA programme so far. Some of the lecturers said that after Foundation week we would understand why the UCD Smurfit School runs the best MBA programme in the country and it’s very true. Aside from the outstanding taster lectures and first week of core modules, after just 2 short weeks the people in my class already seem very familiar and I for one, feel fully immersed in the MBA learning experience. Here are just a few of the highlights so far:

Week 1  – Foundation Week.

The foundation week was not at all the gentle introduction to the MBA programme I had expected. Instead we were immersed in a jam packed daily programme of lectures, class discussions and networking activities from 8-6pm each day. On Monday we met a range of faculty members who would be delivering the MBA courses and co-ordinating the programme. We received our first insight into the MBA approach to learning from Professor Niamh Brennan, who gave us very clear instructions on the Do’s and ABSOLUTELY Do Not’s of Report Writing! We also had an informative presentation from recent MBA graduates who gave us some tips on how to work effectively in our teams.

On Tuesday, comfortable clothes and shoes were the order of the day. Little did we know that they were required because we would be carrying water on our heads, making giant body shapes blindfolded, solving oversized jigsaw puzzles and carrying some of our fellow class mates through giant spider webs before the day was out. It was an unusual but incredibly effective way to accelerate the process of getting to know each other and to break down the formalities of a big group of people that had just met for the first time the previous day!

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MBA Team Building Day

On Wednesday we had an 8 hour crash course in Financial Reporting from Dr. Colette Yeates, where I quickly realised that I was going to have to do a lot of work in this course having never had the opportunity to study Finance before!

On Thursday, alongside the fulltime MBA class, we were introduced to 4 quirky German and Dutch trainers that would transport us into a realm best summarised as a cross between Monopoly and the Hunger Games! Our mission was the profitable management of a manufacturing plant – sounds dull… it wasn’t! Each financial quarter flew by between copious tea breaks, and for many of the teams, our eagerness to win sales quickly drove our companies into the red. After being schooled in pricing strategy and cost of sale by DieTrainers, we fought our way out of bankruptcy as best we could. Needless to say, some of us have a lot to learn before we are unleashed on the real world!

We met Lucy Butters on Friday for a fascinating lecture on Cultural Intelligence. We learnt how it feels to be uncomfortable in a situation by having a conversation with someone less than 5 inches from each other and how to be adaptive in our communications to connect better with culturally diverse groups of people. The 2nd Year EMBA students shared some of their experiences of the course so far during a networking lunch. The final session of the week was a highly engaging workshop with Paul Slattery on ‘Presenting for Success’, which pushed each of us out of our comfort zone and towards satori – enlightenment no less! “Perfect is not the destination but the journey” was the resonating quote of the day.

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MBA Welcome Dinner 2018

Week 2  –  Semester 1 begins.

It’s now week two, and it has been tough figuring out how to balance a busy work schedule, getting to class on time, homework assignments and keeping up with family and friends. Sometimes I wonder how I will be able to fit everything in, but my motto has always been to tackle things day by day and week by week, and before long I will be in the swing of it. Taking on the classroom environment, the broad subject matter and the leadership development program is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am so grateful to have been accepted onto the programme. Although there is a lot to do, each and every experience has been interesting, challenging and worthwhile. The whole class are an incredible group of talented individuals and I know we will help each other though the countless readings, reports, assignments and presentations! I’ll leave you with this:

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Bye for now!

Jen Ward Mid-Week EMBA 2018/20

 

With less than two weeks for the MBA program to start, here’s what you can do

Dear MBA aspirants, if you have an admit to start in 2018, take a deep breadth before you dive into the most exciting days of your lives. While an MBA is said to provide compounding returns over many years, now is the time for you to embrace an experience you will cherish forever. You’ve just finished a warmup marathon, through your GMAT, ‘money’ planning, essays, scholarship application, LORs and interviews. As the dust settles, start watching Excel videos and work on Prof. Niamh Brennan’s pre-course assignment. Then, grab a pint @ #TheDarkHorse or #ThreeTon… down Carysfort Ave. for a head-start into your MBA life! If you’re moving into Dublin for the MBA, forget pints and start house hunting.

Some of you might be in the process of getting an admit. If you’re nearly there, hold on tight, as you’re nearly there. On the list of admissions requirements above, I’ve mentioned GMAT first, not that it’s the toughest thing but it needs more time and is a qualifying requirement before you look any further. If you think GMAT is tough, wait for Orla Nugent’s interview and you’ll find out (btw, Orla is super cool)! In August, if you’ve just realised there’s something called GMAT, it’s really ok. We all have our times of realisation.

The GMAT is more than Math and Verbal; it’s a test of nerves. So, pressure doesn’t help. Heard of time-pressure? Still, sit the test if admissions deadline permits you to. Generally, people buy ‘Official Guides’ (best recommended) and start solving questions in the order they are printed. Try this instead. For Math – make mixed sets of 10 questions (5 P.S + 5 D.S) and solve them in approx. 20 mins. For Verbal, make mixed sets of 9 questions (3 S.C, 3 C.R, 1 R.C Passage with 3 questions) and solve them in approx. 15 mins. This gets you closer to the actual flow. On Verbal, SC concepts/rules are numerous; CR and RC have fewer question types and can be largely covered in this short time span. Decide wisely on allocating time to these sections; think of your return on investment (time). Most important, take it easy!

P.S: The GMAT needs months of preparation based on individual’s schedules. Worst case, give it a shot now, and know that you’ve started preparing on-time for the 2019 intake.

Sreekanth Nagabhushana (Sree), FT MBA 2015/16

Just the Beginning

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Five presentations, five writing assignments and more than twenty reading materials, how much time do you think you need to finish all of these? – We have just five weeks.

This is how my MBA programme started. It is never a relaxing beginning but a difficult one, sometimes even a bit stressful. However, it is substantial, interesting, and most importantly, makes you feel that everyday counts. Especially looking back at all of the outcomes to date, I myself even can’t believe we have finished so many tasks in such a short space of time. It is not until I started the Smurfit MBA Programme that I realised I can push myself this hard. The magic five weeks have taught me, changed me and enlightened me.

I have gained a lot of knowledge within the five weeks. Although I can’t call the lectures  pleasant just yet, as I still have to try my best to keep up with the professors’ pace in almost every class, I can now read through the scary financial statement with certain senses; I understand what 5Cs or 5 Forces is; I know how to evaluate the cases by scientific approaches.

I have changed my way of managing multiple tasks and managing time. I don’t waste any minute in the day – if I have five minutes before my next appointment, I read cases instead of wandering. I don’t spend a lot of time surfing on Facebook now. I don’t watch soap operas any more. I concentrate most of my time on studying. The amazing thing is, although this journey is obviously much more tense than my life before the MBA, I am so energetic because I know I am doing something meaningful with my time.

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The last but most inspiring thing is, I am enlightened a lot by the professors, by the MBA Office Team and by my classmates – my friends now. I really can’t think of any place else where you can meet so many interesting people from different backgrounds and cultures. The diversity enables us to learn from each other and thus complete the understanding of other cultures, the entire world and life.

After starting the MBA programme, time has a different meaning to me. On the one hand, every single day becomes so long and the calendar looks endless; on the other hand, the time flies and five weeks feel passed in the blink of an eye. It is a brand new experience in life and it is just the beginning. People say ‘A good beginning is half the battle’. I can’t wait for the adventure that follows in the year ahead.

Minjuan Wang ~ Full Time MBA 

Learning On a Different Dimension

The last few weeks have been interesting. It feels like yesterday, when we all gathered around the main hall of the Smurfit business school on the first day of induction. Each person starting the MBA walked around trying to get to know the person standing next to them. In my case, the enormity of what I had led myself into and the challenges ahead left me almost shell-shocked. It all sunk in in the Foundation Week. I reassured myself, “you have to keep a cool face. This is only the start”.

The diversity of the group was readily apparent, different sexes, ethnicities, educational and professional backgrounds, and industries. Yet, we all shared a common purpose, to get the Michael Smurfit UCD MBA qualification. As I spoke briefly to a few people in the group, I started to notice some common similarities. Each one of the people present was successful, career driven, well educated, but perhaps felt they were at a point where they wanted more in life.

At this point, it became clear to me that I was no longer in my comfort zone. I was in the midst of some very talented people. If there was anything I could do during the two years of the MBA, it is to learn as much as possible from the group.

5 weeks now into the MBA, the notes, articles, assignments and projects all keep coming at the speed of light. Weekends seem to have disappeared. Reading has a different meaning. Time feels like an expensive luxury of which there is not enough in the day. Someone once commented that he brings some of the readings to the bathroom, okay maybe this is an extreme case. Or maybe that point is on the horizon for me and would come around the end of term when we all have to sit exams. Yet, the positive I have found from all this is that the smile we all had on the first day remains despite the pressure.

As I embark on the remaining weeks of term, I hope that I enjoy the forthcoming weeks of study as much as I did the preceding weeks. One thing is vividly clear the workload will not get any easier, so I have given up hope that it will. Another thing is for sure the learning curve is real and has certainly taken off in my life. Where it will lead me, I do not know yet but I cannot wait to find out.

Olumuyiwa John Farayibi

Weekend year 1


Foundation Week and a bucket of ice

Settling into an MBA is very similar to making a sports team. You have a large buildup of anticipation leading up to the opening of training camp and then you’re tossed head long into the thick of everything the school can throw at you. As I sat in the lecture hall on the first day of Foundation week I couldn’t help but feel relaxed that I was finally starting after all the preparation to make it to this stage. But as I soon found out, the week was a dive straight into the deep end of the pool. The hours were long and the amount of information being packed into your brain to get you ready for the official start of classes was overwhelming.

If that hasn’t scared you off then you have made it over the first mental hurdle of the year. The foundation week really feels more like a mental preparation for the semester ahead than anything else. The week was full of lectures from everyone who wanted to pass on useful information that will come in handy at some point during your studies. This overflow of information necessitates notes if you’re able to take them. But overall there is information that you begin to use right away in your first week of classes.

Getting to know your classmates that you will spend the next year or two years of your life with is essential. Throughout foundation week there are times that you get to work in these teams. It all culminates with the team building exercises’ at the end of the week. Where you work hands on at building your team and hopefully accelerating past the forming and storming stages of team building. Everyone in the class seemed to enjoy the build up to the final team task. By far this showed the ability of all members in the full time MBA of being able to work together in many different tasks.

My personal favorite activity however was the Ice Bucket Challenge that Yale University MBA was so kind enough to nominate our class for. For me, growing up next to Lake Superior were the water rarely rises above 10 degrees centigrade I knew what was coming. The best part for me was my classmates’ reaction to the water. I think the video says it all, I’m the one calmly walking towards the camera after nominating the next schools.

This year has just begun, so the only thing left to do is find out what it has in store for us. There is so much to do. Yet at the end there is what we all hope will be a new career with the title of an MBA. We all have untapped potential and now is the time that we will find out exactly what and where that is.

Nickolas Boyle

FT Class 2015

Annual MBA Welcome Dinner

The annual MBA welcome dinner took place on Friday night last to welcome all the incoming members of the Full-time MBA Class of 2015 and EMBA class of 2016.  Also in attendance we partners of the class members who had come to see where their other halves would be spending so much time over the next year or two and members of the academic staff of the School and the MBA Programme Office and Careers Service.  The welcome was extended by the Dean of the School Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and MBA Director Orla Nugent.

A feature of the evening was the ever popular film produced for the 45th anniversary of the graduation of the first MBA class.  It was a timely reminder of that first class in this the 50th anniversary year of the commencement of the programme.

The end of the beginning – Foundation week 2014

Foundation week is over for another year and all the incoming Full-time and EMBA students are spending their last weekend of freedom for the foreseeable future or at least until the Christmas break.  Well it isn’t entirely free as there are already book chapters to read and case studies to analyse for the first day of classes.

The week went very well and after the initial shock to the systems of the new participants by mid week friends had been made and study groups started to work together on small tasks all with the aim of ensuring everyone is ready to hit the ground running next week.

Many thanks to all everyone staff and incoming students who made this week such a success and good luck to the Full-time class of 2015 and the EMBA classes of 2016.  The journey begins here.

Foundation Week for 2014 has begun

The next incoming class has finally arrived on campus, that is the full-time MBA class of 2015 and the Executive MBA classes of 2016.  It was a very busy morning with handout of materials, name badges and getting to know you sessions.  The morning sessions covered the basics of who is who and who does what followed up by a session with Dr. Brian McGrath, the MBA Academic Director, who did an overview of the what the academic expectations are and if previous years are any judge he probably instilled fear in the audience.  This was followed by a ‘Getting to know you’ lunch courtesy of the MBA programme during which MBA participants began to move into their class groups trading information on backgrounds, interests and sharing GMAT war stories.  This afternoon they are to grapple with the basics of how to analyse case studies which is something they are going to be doing in their sleep very shortly.

We wish all our incoming students the very best over the course of their time with us, the journey starts here.  Updates and hopefully pictures will follow during the week.

Upcoming MBA experience day on Saturday

With the advent of summer (or what passes for it in Ireland) preparation is almost complete for our final MBA recruitment event of the current cycle, presentations have been finalised, catering confirmed and Helen from Marketing has almost finished the name badges.  We introduced the MBA Experience day for last years intake and they’ve proven very popular and informative for those who are interested in getting a taster of what the Smurfit MBA is like.    We look forward to seeing all of those of you who’ve signed up, a reminder of the schedule for the day is at http://www.smurfitschool.ie/mbaexperience/

See you Saturday.  The short video below is from a previous Experience day.


Advice on preparing for the GMAT

Some insights from Gerry Grenham who runs Graduate Management Admissions Test® (GMAT)  preparation sessions for the Smurfit school to assist our MBA candidates prepare for the test which is an element of our entry criteria. Preparation is all for the GMAT, give yourself 4-6 weeks to prepare for it to give yourself the best chance of scoring well and to familiarise yourself with the test structure and strategy.

Gerry advises that The Graduate Management Admission Test® has a number of unique features which have implications for how candidates should approach the test:

1. Computer Based

The questions are presented one-at-a-time by computer and must be answered in the order presented, without skipping any question. Candidates cannot change or return to a previously answered question. There is a heavy penalty incurred for unanswered questions. Consequently, time management and strategic answering are critical. Candidates should not spend too much on any one question (the average time should be approx. two minutes per question). To register an answer within this short time, candidates will need to quickly gauge the question level of difficulty relative to their knowledge. If deemed to be too difficult or time-consuming you should guess strategically (i.e. if one or more of the solutions presented can be ruled-out then select one of the remaining solutions at random). If the candidate has no idea of the solution then select one of the five possible answers and proceed to the next question without losing time. If there are unanswered questions at the end – guess; best to have a one in five chance of a correct answer than be heavily penalised for unanswered questions.

2. Adaptive

The test aims to ‘home-in’ on a candidate’s level of ability. It will tend to offer a number of quite straight-forward questions at the start. If the candidate gets these early questions right it progressively increases the level of question difficulty. Getting questions of increasing difficulty as you progress thru’ the test is a good sign. Remember – earlier correctly answered questions have been ‘banked’ and will boost your GMAT score. You can answer subsequent questions with increasing confidence.

3. Memory & Calculation

GMAT is designed to test general verbal and quantitative reasoning skills. It is not a memory test; it does not test knowledge of mathematic formula. Similarly, it does not test candidate ability to do complex arithmetic calculations (hence calculators are NOT allowed – candidates can only use a pen & erasable sheet supplied by the exam centre). As a consequence, numbers supplied in questions and answers tend to be ‘convenient ’ – they simplify easily by cancellation, multiplying easily in calculations and tend to have whole number factors to cut down on non value-adding calculation.

4. Concentration

GMAT demands concentration and attention to detail. Incorrect answer options supplied appear highly feasible and reasonable – the most plausible incorrect answers, corresponding to the most logical incorrect errors, are supplied along with the right answer for each question. Candidates need to maintain concentration otherwise they will be lead to a solution that appears among the list of possible answers supplied, but is in fact incorrect.

For further information the GMAT website is www.mba.com.