Second Term: New Challenges, New Vibe

It’s scary to think we are nearly half way through the second term.  The first term seemed to progress far slower with the workload being quite evenly distributed throughout the week. This term classes are mostly at the beginning of the week, which is presumably designed to allow you time to network with businesspeople and focus on job hunting. While this makes a lot of sense it’s less fun than the first semester when the entire class had similar schedules and we could eat lunch together most days and go to the pub on Thursday evenings.

However all good things must come to an end and the reality is that an MBA is very much an applied degree during which you’re supposed to get outside the classroom and out into the real world to meet businesspeople and work on real business challenges as much as possible. Whatever we are missing in terms of socialising together in recent weeks I’m sure we’ll more than make up for during the China trip which is only a few weeks away.

In my experience travelling together is an excellent way to bond and while going through airports with very little sleep and suffering being away from home comforts can be difficult, such experiences are great bonding and learning opportunities. I think the whole class is really looking forward to the trip (for those with families the sudden burst of freedom might be truly shocking!) and even though I’m sure we’ll all be tremendously jet-lagged by the time we get back we’ll be an even more unified cooperative class for the rest of the year.


Conal Campbell

Full-time MBA 2014

Ireland

The Biggest Surprise on the MBA…

When you begin your MBA journey you are facing into the world of the unknown. You may anticipate some of the challenges and benefits that are to come but many will present themselves from the blind spot of your consciousness throughout the program. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld,

There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.

I have encountered many unknown unknowns during my MBA journey. One such example is the reality that everyone in your peer group has something important to offer and nobody is even close to being the definitive article. This was exactly the sort of fluffy MBA speak that I turned my nose up at before I drank the Kool-Aid myself.

I previously held the view that relatively few people in this world have something truly great to offer and the rest would make great employees. I also engaged in a very black and white mental grouping of the two demographics. I, like many other incumbent MBA participants reviewed the LinkedIn profiles of my classmates before the first day of the program. I made a mental note of the winners and losers and set off to be proven right. The fact that having that sort of outlook put me in the loser category early on was entirely lost on me. Over the next six months or so I was proved wrong on a daily basis. I began to realise that there was significant talent in everyone and everyone was a potential superstar given the right context.

I now firmly believe that you could give me any two of my classmates at random, be they engineer or marketer, red or green, extrovert or introvert and I could easily give you a scenario where one could deliver more value to a project than another. I’m not saying that there aren’t stronger and weaker candidates in the MBA world, of course there are. But every student can outshine everyone else some of the time and there is certainly no one who can outshine everybody else all the time. After you realise this you become more comfortable in your own flaws. You also realise that there may be one small area of expertise that you are truly great at, and you start trying to figure out how to make it a career.

If a company chairman had asked me one month into the program if there was anyone in my class I would recommend as a CEO for his company. I would have said, “yes, x y and z would do a great job for you” before even asking what his company did. Now the first thing out of my mouth would be, “Well what do you need? I have someone for every situation.”


Trevor Whelan

Full-time MBA 2014

Ireland

Pressure is a Privilege

So the 6 Nations Championship is upon us. For the majority of rugby fans in this part of the world, it is a fascinating and gruelling six weeks of international rugby. For those lucky few who take part in the tournament and represent their families, counties, provinces and countries, it is both physically and mentally draining. During the build up to this year’s tournament, I came upon a phrase that has been recycled from the former tennis champion, Billie Jean King. Pressure is a privilege. In a sports context this is quite an easy, logical progression. The privilege to represent your country obviously comes with significant pressure. If it’s ever forgotten by an international sports person, it is a privilege that those around them will quickly remind the athlete of. At this stage, it may seem odd as to what, if anything, this has to do with the journey through an MBA. If the reader is considering this, I strongly suggest a brief reflection on what ‘pressure is privilege’ means to you.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the bubble of completing an MBA. All the assignments, leadership development, careers and networking events can very quickly distort the wider picture and impact personal motivation. The privilege of being amongst a small band of individuals going through this journey comes with pressure. Being successful in our future careers and achieving everything we want to achieve will be a privilege. It will bring with it significant pressure. In order to reach the heights we are being prepared for throughout the course, we have to prove competence under pressure. This connection can be forgotten during the long and dark winter months as we slog through another case study or number crunching exercise.

Pressure in business should not be lonesome. At every stage there will be the support of highly talented teammates. In the sporting context, pulling everyone together onto the same page and pulling for the same cause, taking on the same pressure, is critical to success. The Smurfit MBA provides fertile ground for the individual to acquire the tools with which to succeed in this way. The focus on teamwork, pulling disparate styles and philosophies together and communicating at every stage is very similar to putting together a strong performance on the rugby pitch. Business can take a lot of the successes from sportspeople and learn significantly from them. ‘Pressure is Privilege’ should be just the beginning.


James Radmore – MBA Rugby Captain

FTMBA 2014

United Kingdom

L’Oréal, Sodexo, Imerys…oh my!

The Carnet Alliance is a group of 12 business schools, including UCD Smurfit Business School, which develops links between employers, students and schools.

Recently, I participated in The Global Talent Day, an event organised by EDHEC in Paris, France, with the help of my Career Manager. The event brought together business schools from Ireland, France, England, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Scotland to meet with French companies including L’Oréal, Sodexo and Imerys.

As well as attending a series of company presentations, the event provided an opportunity to discover a wide range of sectors through roundtable discussions and question and answer sessions.

Through meeting other students, developing new branches of networks, and obtaining feedback from a recruiting firm, I gained direct contact to domestic firms and took advantage of the multi-national event.  I made the most of the network with the help of Smurfit.


Erwan Le Pavec

FTMBA 2014

France

Get (Back) Into the Groove

So the second semester has begun and classmates are generally looking and feeling relaxed after a one-month break (possibly the longest period of time any of us will have off for a long time to come). While the second semester brings a lighter course load for some of us compared to the first, most of us are using any spare time to network and find a suitable job for after the MBA. The mandatory courses for this term seem to have a more quantitative slant than those we studied last term but we also have two option modules so everyone has something to feel positive about. In terms of looking forward, the class is already talking about the upcoming trip to China in March, where, being from an Irish school, we plan to strike a balance between hard work and good fun!

One major change this term is that we all have new teams (the classmates with whom you do many of your academic assignments). Most people had really positive experiences with their first semester teams, but classmates are nevertheless happy to experiment with working with new people.  After one semester of Smurfit’s excellent Leadership and Development Programme we are all feeling well equipped to deal with whatever the new year throws at us!


Conal Campbell

FTMBA 2014

Ireland

The ability to work together on the UCD Smurfit MBA.

We are well into the UCD Smurfit MBA now and we have settled into a good routine. Our team work has improved and we often walk out of team meetings feeling that they were really productive. This puts a spring in our step as we try to work on the seemingly never ending stream of assignments! I would like to think that this improvement is due, in part, to the bonding work of our “Commitments” video night last month. The guys did not need subtitles in the end and enjoyed an insight into the real Dublin.

In reality, the improvement in our ability to work together is due to the work we do in our Leadership Development Programme (LDP)workshops and practice. Lots and lots of practice. The practice is just due to the workload, as we have a constant stream of meetings and assignments to hand up. The LDP helps us in a number of ways but much of it is focused on identifying our characteristics and the characteristics of our team mates. This gives us a better understanding of how we work together as a team. I found some of the results surprising, for myself but also for my team mates. Without giving it much thought, I had made assumptions about people’s reactions based on my own, which  I realise now might have been a little naive.

On an academic front, it is full steam ahead for the end of the semester, deadlines that seemed so far away are now looming. But it is still great fun. The class interaction is still great, the insights from lecturers, but also my fellow colleagues, is fantastic. I am often astounded at just how smart some of the people in the room are.

Outside of the academic workload, we need to start to think about our careers, i.e. what we want to do when we grow up and leave the cocoon of the MBA. Most of us are investigating a number of industries and roles and this has been facilitated by the great work of Brian Marrinan in the careers office.

It is just hard to tear ourselves away from the books!

Thady Duggan.

FT MBA 2014.

Taking action is really the key in getting that job.

After the rush of adrenaline while on the UCD Smurfit MBA, Playing Grownup (my post MBA start-up), and the UCD Smurfit Student of the Year award, it was difficult to switch into job hunting mode.   I made all the rookie mistakes starting out- applying for random jobs online, sitting in front of a computer rather than actively networking. Fortunately the wisdom of the UCD MBA and Brian’s preaching on networking allowed the light bulb to go off thinking back to his tennis swing analogy and doing something you love hitting that sweet spot on the racket and swinging without thinking all led me in a better direction.

First, I reached out to a local non-profit called DurhamCares to help them with a project interviewing businesses and using readings from the MBA to help them create a framework. This started to get me in front of local business leaders and build up a local reference from the non-profit who actually got me an interview with a local company that I declined because I had another offer from CrossComm. I went from getting no responses to multiple offers all starting from this decision to get involved in a cause that I loved and could add value so that started the momentum.

I learned about CrossComm through Amy, my better half, who did some part time book-keeping for them and before I knew it I received a job description for a Chief Business Development Officer position for this small  mobile app development company. The reason I think this will be of interest to the current class is that instead of creating a standard cover letter I submitted a 100 Day Plan. It impressed the CEO enough to hire me and made me more confident it would be the right fit having taken the extra time to present my ideas for the role and what I would try to accomplish in my first three months. And to wrap the story up with a bow – my first marketing sponsorship was with DurhamCares non-profit in a campaign they are doing locally so getting involved and taking action is really the key!

Justin Thomas, FT MBA 2012.



Playing to your weaknesses.

You don’t come on the UCD Smurfit MBA to practice things you’re already good at and avoiding falling into this trap has been a key priority for everyone thus far. When you’re pressed for time (as everyone is with such a big workload) the inclination is to get the accountant on your team to do the accounting and to get the marketer to do the marketing. But what would be the point in that?

The MBA is all about developing you into a better-rounded professional so this means you have to become comfortable doing things that you don’t have much prior experience of. Coming from an international journalism and communications background moving over to “dealing with the numbers” in Corporate Finance and Financial Reporting has been truly challenging for me but after the initial shock I can say the experience has been worthwhile and I’m now much more prepared to analyse things from a quantitative perspective.

I hope the people on the course from a more quantitative background are feeling similarly positive about crossing over to more “woolly” subjects and that we are all using our experiences to make each other stronger

Conall Campbell,

FT MBA 2014

UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Society goes from strength to strength!

REVIEW OF EVENT on 19th July.


Word is spreading fast throughout the streets (of Blackrock mainly) that the MBA Golf Society is becoming one of the most popular clubs in UCD Smurfit history. With yet another increase in participation from the last outing in Druids Heath, the prestigious K Club served as the backdrop for the club’s penultimate event of 2013. As the temperatures reached a tepid 27 degrees, the competition for Player of the Year continued to heat up, with a noticeable air of excitement (and camaraderie) building in the Clubhouse.


The K Club, home to the Ryder Cup in 2006, certainly lived up to its reputation as an exclusive venue, with Andrew Bourke kindly reminded early on that “shorts, if they absolutely must be worn by visitors, should be tailored”. To avoid any risk of offence caused by his combat style pocketed shorts, Andrew was safely placed in a pair of black slacks for a meagre €110 (apparently all that was available in the Pro Shop on the day). With this minor obstacle surmounted, all players arrived suitably early for their respective tee times to discuss strategy and double up on their sun cream dosage. Some, namely Andrew Bacon and Declan Griffin, (believing it to be Ascot) were aiming for Best Dressed Male, putting the extravert golfer Rickie Fowler to shame. Also notable for his dress sense was David Kelly with his all black number (black shorts, black shirt and black cap). Among many overheard comments in the changing room were, “There’s a ninja on the course” and “He’d use black golf balls if he was allowed”.


With the prizes again graciously sponsored by the University, the battle to obtain these much coveted accolades was ready to commence. Ray O Gorman, Andrew Bacon, Declan Griffin and Cormac Dunne took to the first tee with all the bravado and showmanship of prize fighters… with only one decent drive between them as a result. Already the heat was wreaking havoc. This did not stop an intense driving rivalry from developing; Griffin Vs Dunne. They just could not wait until the 16th for the Longest Drive competition. By all accounts, Cormac was the victor, probably using the strength he’s been developing while training for Gaelforce West!


Next up were the intellectuals: Kieran Dowling, David Joyce and Jim Gannon. “Fresh” from his holiday in Spain and fully acclimatised to the heat, Kieran was ready to take on the top two players from the last outing. David Joyce, our resident scratch golfer, was using this round as a mere practice session before an epic 54 hole weekend that lay ahead, while Jim was using his excessive IQ to course manage his biggest challenge yet, the River Liffey. Rumour also had it that David continuously had one eye out for the Course Manager with a view to becoming the resident course professional. This threesome impressed throughout with touches of elegance around the green coupled with shots unseen since Padraig Harrington’s numerous final round collapses during many, many Majors! It should be noted that these lads admirably lost the least amount of balls during their round with a mere 26 balls!


The time to let the more mature gentlemen enter the fray was upon us with Chris O Connor, Ciaran Hynes and David Kelly looking relaxed and in control. However, by Hole 4, they looked dishevelled and forlorn. Actually in fairness, David Kelly was making the K Club look like a pitch and putt course! By all accounts it was one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf he has ever played, possibly a direct correlation to him just finishing the full time MBA course.


Unaware that a new champion was playing ahead of them, Ronan Sheridan, Conor Ryan, Joe Kenny and Andrew Bourke looked the epitome of MBA class approaching the first tee. Andrew seemed a little shaken though, quickly revealing he had committed the cardinal sin of drinking the night before a competition. With a pitiful 5 points in the first 8 holes, and being driven around in a buggy by a factor 70 wearing Joe, he looked desperately for the drinks cart (for water people, for water). Conor Ryan, on the other hand, playing off 28, used the first 3 holes to rack up 8 points, and was notably the first person to wear a sleeveless extra small polo shirt to the K Club! Ronan, who had moments of brilliance, could obviously not stop thinking about his future wife long enough to string two decent holes together, while Joe attempted to capitalise on his team mates’ weaknesses, waiting until the back nine to demonstrate his true golfing panache.


Finally, Steve Kelly (the reigning long drive champion), Emma Fagan (the current female champion) and Charlie Weijer (the champion for 2nd year MBA causes) aimed to challenge right up to the gallery that awaited them on the 18th. Emma, arriving just one minute before her allocated tee time brought her mother along for support (that’s how serious these competitions are taken). And she still found time to change out of a black and into a pink top during the first hole. Steve, having secretly played nine rounds in the previous two weeks maintained a quiet confidence throughout, racking up points while keeping the natives behind the final threesome at bay. Meanwhile, Charlie who earned a free baseball cap (resulting from a welcome credit card machine malfunction) was thoroughly enjoying a little freedom from his Capstone Project. It seems that these three were not the only players to enjoy this course.


As the summer sun started to make its way deservedly to the horizon, the final few joined the jubilant masses enjoying a drink in the luxurious clubhouse. With the numerous buggies safely parked and sun cream long gone (due to persistent sweat), talk turned to longest drive and nearest the pin. It seems that, yet again, hitting the fairway and green respectively would have been sufficient to win either award, with only two participants managing both. Charlie Weijer waited until the 12th to bring his best work, pinging a perfect 6 iron 970mm from the hole while Jim Gannon smashed his drive across the 16th chicane to claim yet another prize (we’re starting to realise we’re fund his outings).


Meanwhile, the point’s race was again slightly unflattering with only two players achieving 30 points or over. Thankfully David Kelly, with 39 points, led by example for next month’s Captain’s Day in Powerscourt on the 23rd August. Second with 30 points was David Joyce, with Cormac Dunne claiming third with a modest 27 points.


Yet again, it was recognised by all that the MBA Golf Society, although created upon the premise of networking, presented an arena for witty banter and adolescent regression (where the relaxed atmosphere spilled over onto the wee hours outside the Dame Tavern, hosting a band and many many pints!)


With representatives from midweek, weekend, full time, first and second year MBA classes present at the K Club, the society is certainly gaining momentum. It should also be noted that the club cannot keep giving the female prize by default to Emma Fagan (step up to the challenge ladies). And there’s always room for more male contenders, considering the relatively low winning scores.


Finally, a little note from the creators of the MBA Golf Society: We (Andrew Bourke and Cormac Dunne) started this club on an absolute whim, from a conversation that started in the canteen during our first week. However, as this club goes from strength to strength, we endeavour to create a club befitting the ethos of MBAs worldwide. Therefore we thought, “Why not use the society’s popularity to showcase Ireland as one of the best golfing destinations on earth?” To this end, we would like to announce at this juncture that we intend to present Ireland the hub of the first ever MBA Golf World Trophy, a competition that invites every nationality sharing our educational experience to join us as host in one of the most prestigious events on the MBA calendar, rivalled only by the MBA Rugby World Cup. More will follow, and thank you again for your support.


The next outing, is our “Captains Day” and our Captain Andrew Bourke is keen to see a large number attend our first, end of season event. Our target is 25 golfers, and we appreciate your assistance in making this happen.


The event is on the 23rd of August 2013 on the West Course of Powerscourt. A minibus will be running with further details on our website.


Greens and Fairways

UCD MBA Golf Society

UCD Smurfit EMBA ranked in TOP 20 in Europe

The prestigious EMBA programme gets widespread media coverage based on the recently announced inaugural Economist’s EMBA rankings.

The Economist’s Executive MBA ranking places the UCD Smurfit School in the top 20 in Europe. This is the first Executive MBA ranking undertaken by the Economist and UCD Smurfit is yet again the only Irish business school to be included.

In the Financial Times Global Masters in Finance ranking, the UCD Smurfit School is placed 34th this year, up one place from last year.

“We are delighted to be recognised by two of the world’s leading independent rankings for our MSc in Finance and for our Executive MBA,” said Professor Ciarán O hÓgartaigh, Dean of Business, University College Dublin.

“These rankings recognise our position as an international leader in business education and are a tribute to the great work that our faculty and staff put into the design and execution of our courses,” he said.

To read more, please go here, and here and also here.