Challenges and rewards

Smurfit came to me as a predestined affinity.

Thirsty for knowledge and further management development after several years working experiences, I tried to find an opportunity for MBA. Scholarship was the only feasible option for a candidate from an emerging country, like myself. And I found Smurfit and Irish Aid.

However, I was not that lucky to be selected for the scholarship. After several challenges and fierce struggles, I thought that I would give up. However, thanks to the encouragement of my fiancé, who is my husband now, I decided to go forward with the program without waiting for any other opportunities. I came to the school with mixed feelings where I felt both anxious and worried. Deep thoughts normally occupied my mind during the initial time. I only looked forward to gaining as much knowledge as possible to make up my efforts. My husband, and also my classmate ;), was the only place I could put all pressures on during those days.

Gradually, things have changed. Going along with the program, I get used to the culture and study load, I feel more comfortable now, not only in study but in social life as well. I have friends who I can talk with. Not only my husband, but I now also have Germany, US, Kyrgyzstan, Indian and Irish gals who have the same concerns with mine about the programs, life, etc. I started to approach lectures and program more softly. The presentation ways, communication methods, how to realize true facts from daily news, etc. are more valuable to me now. Besides studying, I go here and there to discover Ireland. I know more Irish and react better in specific situations both in and out the classroom ;). Especially, when Tet, the biggest event of Vietnamese, came, my Vietnamese friends and I had all classmates and lecturers to come to enjoy Tet atmostphere with special dishes and images prepared by ourselves. In Pillar Room with special smell of my mother land’s foods, we all shared the enthusiasm and I really felt I was home at that time. “All wishes may come true to all of us” was my prayer for a new year.

Time flies. It has been almost three terms. I am now more confident with what I have gained from the program and eager to be back to my home country to apply to reality.

And finally, “no life with full of roses”, a Chinese sentence, meaning to live is to take both rewards (roses) and challenges. But on my own perspective, challenges are also “roses”. MBA and my peers are beautiful roses that I have enjoyed.

Anh Pham, FT MBA Class


Multinational friends
Multinational friends - I'm the second from the left


Tet event
Me with Prof Pat Gibbons at Tet
Connemara
Visiting Connemara




Meet the Class of 2011

Walking into a class full of 47 people and walking in a week late (thanks to the Visa process!), I was excited and nervous at the same time.  More than anything else, I was curious to know if my class was as diverse as the school claimed! As I entered the class, a positive vibe welcomed me into the room full of smiling faces. Looking around and after talking to a few people, I was so enthralled by the range of nationalities and experiences we had in a batch of 47. From Irish engineers to American sales managers, from Vietnamese bankers to a Canadian telecommunications expert, there was so many to learn from in the coming year.

Continue reading Meet the Class of 2011

What is an MBA all about? Top 5 questions about the MBA

Over the holiday period, you may be able to give more time to the thought of doing an MBA.

Dave Lawton is a Process and Chemical Engineer from Cork. He has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for seven years, prior to starting his full-time MBA in UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business. In writing this blog, he thought he would answer the more common questions out there about an MBA.

What is an MBA all about?
I was in this situation six months ago, and despite some extreme environmental conditions the exit from full time employment and entry back into education has been and continues to be a rewarding decision (hmm, something tells me the transition may not be so smooth – but more of than anon). So what would I have liked to have known prior to starting out? These are the top five questions.

Continue reading What is an MBA all about? Top 5 questions about the MBA

Remembering the first day…

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”
“Really?”
“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.

– Jamie

It’s snowing and I’m having fun!

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. Smurfit Business School Snow Day

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Group meetings are fun. They’re a great time for bonding and making friends.
  4. Once you’ve started your course, what you learn each day is what matters the most, not your marks.

Smurfit Business School Snow Car ParkFinally, 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.

– Diana