The student perspective on an MBA open event

Open event taken from first floor landing, note the funky lighting

Last night I was fortunate enough to be a participant on a panel discussion with regards to the MBA for prospective students. I am in my second year of the mid week EMBA. It is the first time that I participated, last year I was too worried about my exams to give the time. However, this year I think I have relaxed more into the course and also have the self confidence to know that I will be OK exam-wise.  The evening began with a presentation given by Gillian Durnin, MBA Admissions Manager, Orla Nugent, MBA Programme director and Brian Marrinan, MBA Careers Director. It was great to see so many people interested  in the MBA, but disappointing to see so few women in the audience. It was the same when I came for the MBA evening 18 months ago. I had the same questions and worries as expressed by those present. It was nice to be in a position to advise on my experiences to date on the course. Other panellists were current students from the first year Exec and weekend courses, a second year student from the weekend course and two students that have survived the MBA and lived to tell the tale, so a broad perspective was given. The main areas of concern were the GMAT (a big one for the majority of us), the costs not only financially, but also the time commitment and the required juggling with home and work life. Brian was able to advise on the return on investment career-wise for the course. For me the most interesting part was meeting people afterwards and having the opportunity to speak on a one to one basis. For one prospective student, they had come to the evening not sure if they wanted to choose this course or another, but after the information session, they felt more inspired to pursue the MBA. I wish everyone that decides to pursue the MBA the best of luck in their endeavours. It is a lot of hard work, don’t think otherwise, but there are a lots of rewards that go with it too.

Muireann Cullen

Midweek year 2

Banish the Nay-sayer in you

I was never much good at maths. Richard Mitchell’s mathematical blog dated October 1st inspired both my awe and a nervous skin rash. I wonder whether the labels that are slapped on you at primary school (‘satisfactory’ or ‘could improve in this area’) accompany you like an imaginary friend into adulthood. A duplicitous buddy always ready to tap you on the shoulder and whisper in your ear: Do not get ahead of yourself.  Maths is not your thing.

That same old pal accompanied me into the GMAT exam and chuckled in the corner while I tackled all those blasted quadratic equations. That was the first day of my MBA journey, when I dug the ear-plugs in deeper and drowned out the nay-sayer in me. We all have one lurking somewhere in us which we will need to learn to ignore as the pressure mounts during our studies.

Confidence is key on the MBA programme. The pace is frenetic from the outset and there is little room for self-doubt. The demanding admissions process is dual purpose: to prove that you can reach the requisite standard for the school and equally, to remind you that you deserve your place amongst your accomplished peers. You have earned your foot in the door.

Now that the door has long since shut behind me, I am still wary of numbers. Perhaps my clever classmates can explain to me how it is that 10 short weeks of study can feel like 6 months? How about my feedback to friends and family that I have learned more in this short period than I have in a year of working life?

Many of us have made these financial and personal sacrifices on a wing and a prayer to some degree. I spent months during the summer agonising over whether the hardship would be worth it and fretting about comments from a small group of (real life) nay-sayers. Everyone has an opinion about MBAs. One was that a chartered accountant doesn’t need one. Another person commented that surely I had already accomplished enough in my career and didn’t need the bother. My father asked if I might be joining the family for Sunday dinner wearing a Margaret Thatcher badge! Revenge is sweet Da.

The truth about an MBA is that you are unlikely to ever find yourself surrounded by a less homogenous group of people in a professional setting. This is never a bad thing. So far I have heard the varied views of engineers, medical and sales professionals, supply chain managers, business owners, army officers, journalists…and me. Extolling values and opinions that I never even realised I held. One classmate tells me she is proud to be able to demonstrate to her three sons that learning is an important part of life. And that they have now learned where the hoover lives in their house.

The gamble is paying off. Each week, we are offered additional courses and seminars which are above and beyond the curriculum we signed up for: presentation and interview skills courses, Excel training, personality profiling etc. I am delighted by the fact that the school – like every well-run business – strives to deliver at every turn, inviting the students’ feedback on a regular basis.

Two things I need to improve on before I report back here in Semester 2:

1. To feed myself wholesome food instead of reaching for any old fuel.

2. To learn to be less cheeky to lecturers. I don’t know what’s come over me. I must have been sleeping more as an under-grad.

Best of luck to you all for the rest of the first semester. Eat well. Rest well. Exercise. Stay positive.

And guard your good manners with ferocious intention in the absence of all of the above.

Rachael Dunne

Weekend EMBA Year 1

Choosing the right MBA

Undertaking an MBA programme is a significant decision to make. So when you understand that it is your real desire, try to research your choice of programme and business school as thoroughly as possible. In this post I will outline some of the facts which require attention, such as the international accreditation, continuous presence in both prestigious top 100 rankings, and national leadership. These facts may certainly influence your final decision, but they are not crucial. That is why I want to describe to you a couple of things which helped me to form my preference of MBA programme.

The first one happened when I visited Smurfit Business School last year. The only thing I knew was that somewhere in Blackrock there was a university which offered a top MBA programme. There I met one member of admission team. During our conversation and a little excursion through the university building I got quite a distinct picture of the programme and of the School itself. There I could really feel the spirit of the School and was seriously impressed with their professional approach, which I could see in every little detail. So my first advice to individuals interested in an MBA programme is to go and see the campus, speak with people and ask questions.

The second piece of advice I would offer relates to alumni of UCD MBA programme. In order to explore the School more deeply, I wrote to some graduates of last years class and asked them to express their opinions. They didn’t want to advertise UCD MBA programme, but they wanted to provide me with their knowledge and help me to make the right decision. The key is to find and write to current alumni, speak with them, and again, ask questions. Facebook and Linkedin are quite helpful in this case and I found alumni more than willing to assist..

In conclusion, I can say that these things really work and that I am reassured and absolutely happy with my programme choice. If some readers of this blog are curious about UCD Full-Time MBA programme, please, feel free to write to me and ask your questions!

Daniil Matcoian

Full-Time MBA 2014-2015

Coaching on the UCD Smurfit MBA.

The feedback has been excellent once again this year.

We offer all of our MBAs personalised one to one coaching from the very best Business Executive Coaches and it is entirely free to all of ourparticipants.  The programme fits into the personalised Leadership Development Programme (LDP) and goes from strength to strength every year.  Some stats from the latest survey:

– It got a 95% rating in terms of its effectiveness as part of LDP.

– 93% will recommend as unmissable for next year’s participants

– 63% will continue to seek coaching post MBA at their own expense.

– hot topics this year were Career Transition, Leadership Development, Managing upwards and Personal Confidence building.


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Use your UCD Smurfit MBA to pursue that dream.

Ciara O’Brien (weekend eMBA 2014), founder of iSave, recently joined UCC’s start-up accelerator Ignite.

My advice to new MBAs is to really make the most of every resource that’s available to you within the MBA system. While there’s lots to learn from your core modules and lecturers, don’t forget to look outside the curriculum to find other opportunities. Two years is quite a short time frame to achieve big things!

My only regret from the MBA is that I didn’t seek out those opportunities even sooner.  Starting the course is such an overwhelming experience – learning to deal with the teams, assignments and exams.

In year 2, once I kick-started my start-up idea, the various MBA structures were a huge asset. Michael McDonnell brought me the UCD Student Innovation Fund (which we subsequently won!), Brian Marrinan connected me with MasterCard’s start-up accelerator which was invaluable and Bruce Martin, entrepreneurship lecturer, supported me to refine iSave’s value proposition even though I wasn’t in his class!

This has all been key to our success in winning seed funding, acceptance to the Ignite programme and now a potential spot at The Summit’s APLHA programme for start-ups.

So whatever your goal: take the knock-backs in your stride, seek out people who believe in your idea and can help and don’t waste any of the resources that are available to you. If you have an idea you want to pursue this is probably the best time in your life to do it. It’ll all be over before you know it!

Ciara O’Brien, EMBA 2014 and Founder of iSave.

“The Secret Ingredient”

So what do you do when school’s out for summer and the first year of your exec MBA is over…?

You start to push the boundaries where you work, build new teams across departments, apply the learning AND hit the media.

That’s what I’ve been up to. I joined a fundraising team in our hospital and helped to create a cookbook to raise much needed funds for family rooms on site.

Continue reading “The Secret Ingredient”

MBA Careers at UCD Smurfit

Careers support and development is very important for any reputable MBA Programme. In Smurfit great emphasis is placed on providing the best of both to all participants full-time and EMBA according to their need. The Head of the Smurfit Careers Office is also the MBA Careers Manager, ably supported by two other managers who work with MBA and MSc as needed.

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.


Come and meet the MBA team at the upcoming Smurfit open evening

We have an open evening coming up on Wednesday April 9th and if you’d like to come in and meet the team, current students and alumni and attend our MBA presentation we’d be delighted to meet and talk with you, you can register at http://www.smurfitschool.ie/openevening/. The short presentation on the programme which begins at 6.30pm will cover all the basic information you might require on the programme, how it works and what it can do for you.

The video above is from a recent Smurfit MBA Experience day which provides a more in-depth look at the programme and taster lectures, if you are interesting attending the next one let our Admissions Office know and they’ll add you to the list for the next one.