Just the Beginning

beginning

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.


Newstalk scholarship for 2014 now open for applications

My colleagues in Admissions have reminded me that the MBA Newtalk scholarship is now open and accepting applications.  This scholarship is a 100% fee scholarship and is available to those considering either full-time or EMBA programme.  The closing date is 26th May so get working on that application, you know the old saying ‘If you aren’t in, you can’t win’.

Further information on the application process and entry criteria is available at http://www.smurfitschool.ie/newstalk/

By the way if you are considering doing your MBA this year, and we hope you are, get that GMAT test booked as the slots start booking up later in the summer and doing this at the last minute puts unnecessary pressure on you.

Image MBA scholarship and the Women of the UCD Smurfit MBA

Image evening 25th March, Brian and the panel doing their thing

On Wednesday 25th the UCD Smurfit School hosted the official launch of our annual Image Scholarship with an open evening in our ‘Women on the MBA’ series. We and Image are very keen to increase the numbers of women undertaking our programme because while there are increasing numbers we still don’t think there are nearly enough. Brian Marrinan, MBA Careers (who confessed to feeling outnumbered) did a short presentation on what the MBA careers services does to help students move to the next level and he then moderated a panel of current students and alumni who gave the benefit of their experience as women of the Smurfit MBA. It was a really interesting discussion with good insights and could have gone of far longer if time had allowed.

Many thanks to all who attended and to our panelists Catherine Butler (current EMBA class), Aoife Lucey (current full-time class), Paula Thomas (class of 2010) and Fionnula Croke (class of 2002).

The Image Scholarship is a scholarship to encourage women to undertake the MBA and is open until April 30th details are at http://www.smurfitschool.ie/imagescholarship/