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.

Breaking Through the Career Ceiling

Why I did an MBA:

Before the MBA I was working as IT consultant on multi-million European-wide deals. When we were finalising these deals, I found myself in a room with the EMEA heads of HR, finance, marketing etc. I was representing the EMEA lead for consulting. I was keeping up with these high-power conversations, but only just. I had hit a career ceiling and to progress my career further, I needed to break out of my consulting zone and get on the same level as these domain specialists.

The Smurfit MBA was how I did this.

What my head knew but my heart denied:

The content of an MBA isn’t difficult; it’s the breadth and depth of knowledge that you have to consume in a compressed time that’s the challenge.

What everyone says, but I didn’t believe until I got there:

You learn quite a lot from your classmates, and yes – you get out what you put in. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and you will be rewarded.

What I learned most:

Over the years, I had already worked out many of the concepts from the MBA in my own head, from first principles. The MBA put structure and a formal nomenclature on the fuzziness, allowing me again to work with other domain leaders.

What shocked me about the MBA:

In the last 5-10 years before the MBA I had gotten used to being the “smartest guy in the room”. In the first couple of weeks in Smurfit, I realised I was in the lower 50-percentile of the class. This was quite a shock to the ego.

My favourite moment on the MBA:

We had a presentation from the conductor of a concert orchestra. I didn’t engage initially – I wasn’t going to apply for the job. But he slowly explained his role: to coordinate 80 primadonnas, all who believe they are better at their job than he is at his.  All who think they could work better without him, all who wanted to give their own 90 second opinion, some of whom were just passengers, and somehow his role was to add value so the whole was significantly better than the sum of the parts.

EUREKA! I realised these were the same challenges that I faced in my role as a programme manager, and therefore certain knowledge and skills are fungible.

It was these insights that were the highlights of the MBA.

What I did with my MBA

I was hired by a major IT organisation to improve their “Value Engineering:” to create business propositions for large deals, especially where the CIO was convinced.  The CFO & CEO needed to see some financials, albeit based on the technology, and with real numbers before getting on board.

The job offer was routed through the Smurfit MBA Careers Office and the mandatory requirements for the position included an “MBA from a top European business school.”


Luke Beare

Full-time MBA 2009

Senior Director | Industry Strategy & Insight, Oracle

Full-time MBA Maintains Global Rank

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School Full-time MBA programme has been ranked 91st in the world and 25th in Europe, according to the prestigious 2014 Financial Times Top 100 Global Full-time MBA Rankings. It is the only Irish business school listed in the rankings, and one of less than 50 schools worldwide that have been consistently ranked in the top 100 over the past 15 years.

UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business

“Our students are competing with graduates from the best schools in the world in an increasingly competitive international market,” said Professor Ciarán O hÓgartaigh, Dean, UCD Business School.

“We are ambitious for our students and we must ensure they are able to compete. These rankings results are of enormous benefit in enabling them to do so. These results help us to attract the very best faculty and students.”

As the only Irish business school listed in these rankings, the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School maintains its status as Ireland’s leading centre of excellence in business education.

The school’s placement in these global rankings follows UCD Business School’s successful re-accreditation in 2013 with one of the world’s leading international accreditations for business schools – AACSB.  UCD Business School is the only business school in Ireland, and one of less than 60 worldwide, to hold the ‘triple crown’ of accreditation from the three centres of business and academic excellence;EQUIS (Europe)AACSB (US); and AMBA (UK).

For further information on the rankings visit:www.ft.com/businesseducation

*News article taken from the UCD Smurfit website

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

Looking Forward to Looking Back

With a new year upon us, I’ve been reflecting on the highs and lows of 2013 which included completing my first semester of the mid-week Executive MBA (EMBA).  Given that I questioned my sanity on a number of occasions during semester 1, I am pleased to say that the EMBA was close to the top of my list of highs.

In my experience, maintaining a sensible balance between study, work, and a personal life was the largest challenge of the past 3 months. Be it lectures, readings, assignments, team meetings or guest speakers, the MBA can consume all of your time! In the case of the MBA, the old saying of “you get out what you put in” is certainly true, however the ability to prioritise and effectively manage your time is key.

Aside from the academic benefits of an MBA program, some personal highlights to date have been:

  • Attending an entrepreneurship club event which had a number of guest speakers from Irish start-ups
  • Participation and insight gained in class group presentations
  • Attending a series of guest speaker panels organised by a group of MBA alums, with a particular highlight being the visit of Des Traynor of Intercom.
  • The Leadership Development Programme events

Above all, the essence of the MBA program is the people (legends) you meet, be it team mates, classmates or those in the alumni network.  In just 3 months, the MBA has provided numerous opportunities to meet and work with exceptionally talented people. As a group, the midweek class has learned a great deal outside of academics, such as:

  • Tina is an awesome electric guitarist.
  • Not all pharmacists are boring!
  • Tullow Oil is the greatest company to work for in the history of the world, ever.
  • Frankie works in a bank.

So as we embark on semester 2 in just over a weeks’ time, where we will have new teams and no doubt new challenges, three pieces of advice I have are:

  • Manage your time & work hard but make sure to maintain a work/study/life balance
  • Attend as many extra-curricular MBA events as possible (and in particular the monthly guest speakers organised by Joe Kenny)
  • And, most of all, enjoy yourselves!


Over and Out

Michael O’Dwyer

Midweek EMBA 2015

A course in Financial Reporting

Financial reporting was the first course we had at the beginning of the MBA. This arduous discipline is perhaps the one which will follow us throughout our career. Don’t we read financial results through numbers? It is a basic building block of our program that our lecturer taught us very well. Beyond the accounting technics, she always made ​​sure that we develop a critical approach to financial statement figures and a culture of business. This is an important thing.

The interpretation of accounting rules that will surely explain her willingness to step back. The presentation of significant accounting policies, the study of the recent financial crises, the analysis of financial reports, the study of governance, the practice of exercises pace the different courses and individual or group assignments that we have. It is an intense discipline. Learning accounting in a short time is always a challenge.

Fortunately, lectures occur in a good state of mind and we have fun. The lecturer is available to help us and drive us in our learning. Moreover, a rehearsal session took place before the final exam. Breaks are made to address current news published in the press. I thought the course was well structured and taught and it gave us the tools to move  comfortably along in business in the future. Exchanges and interactions during the course are also very informative. I will remember many things including that “all is not geology and geography!”

(The  Financial Accounting module on the Full Time UCD Smurfit MBA is led by Prof. Niamh Brennan).

Erwan Le Pavec,

FTMBA 2014.

How did he find the time? Alum Dave Graham on his award winning first novel.

I took the UCD Smurfit EMBA from 2010 to 2012 and this is a short piece about how the time-juggling demands that the course places on people were a great help in getting my published book over the line this year.


Just as a brief background to how I came to be published. I had started writing ‘Incitement’ ( see http://www.davidgrahambooks.com/incitement/ ) around the time our second child arrived. I’d finished the book, submitted it to what I thought were likely agents, got serially rejected and then pretty much tore the book apart and rewrote 75% of it. The problem was I never got around to resubmitting it between work, family and starting the MBA. Then one day driving to work, I was listening to The John Murray Show on RTE 1, Ireland’s national radio station. A piece came on asking whether you’d ever written a book that hadn’t been published. The competition was being run in conjunction with The RTE Guide and the prize was a publishing package. When I got to the office, I thought about it for a while, decided ‘why not’ and submitted the book with no expectation whatsoever.


A couple of months later, I received a phone call saying I’d made a shortlist of five from over 500 entries. I still didn’t feel I’d go further in the competition but was pleased with that. Then in August, the five finalists were invited to go on air while two of the three judges discussed the books and announced the winner. To my surprise I won and, just like that, my book was going to be published. Well, not quite, there was quite a bit of work to be done between edits, cover design and preparing to promote the book.


I’m married with two young boys and run a small business, so finding the time to get the multiple edits and other pieces done was going to be a challenge. Luckily, though, the MBA had been great preparation for this. When originally considering taking the course, my wife and myself had both looked at our routines because we knew it would mean a commitment from both of us. An added complication was moving house and having the new house extended and renovated during the same time period. We cut away a lot of the extraneous stuff and really prioritized things like time with the kids, there were easy sacrifices like TV and some others that weren’t so easy and, at times, eight hours of sleep was a luxury foregone. Thing is, though, it was manageable; at times it got a little stressful but all of the work got done. So, when it came time to do the book work, what might have seemed otherwise difficult with a temptation to compromise on quality, ended up being quite doable. We just looked at it like a two month resumption of the MBA.


Funnily, the MBA helped in one other way. The book deals with a conflict between two global drug cartels which unbeknownst to the protagonists has been incited by third-parties. Part of the story deals with the issues of drug shortages, what impact they would have on demand and pricing and the possible societal impact. During the rewrites, I was able to subtly change some of these passages to have a firmer economic footing. Saying this, I should provide a disclaimer to my economics and finance lecturers, none of them ever lectured on the supply-and-demand dynamics of the international drug trade and any flaws that remain are solely mine.


The hope with the book now is that people will check it out and spread the word amongst their family and friends. To read a little about some of the books I would recommend and that have influenced my writing you can see some blog pieces at http://www.davidgrahambooks.com/category/blog/

Dave Graham,

EMBA 2012.

The road less travelled – giving rugby a shot.

“Please tell me you are not playing rugby but only helping out with the equipment department!” – Timothy Downs

The above quote comes courtesy of my brother in response to telling him I signed up for the UCD Smurfit Rugby Football Club. A little background info for the readers: I’m 5’8” and weigh 145 lbs soaking wet (that’s 65 kg for you Continentals). I’ve never been much of an athlete either. And sure, trying rugby for the first time is a bit out of my comfort zone but that’s kind of the point. It’s kind of the point of doing this whole UCD Smurfit MBA thing too.

I could have followed an easy path and continued working at my old job. But I didn’t want to keep living my life on autopilot. Everyday was basically the same: routine, static.  At times to spur growth you need make a drastic change to the status quo. And if I can jolt myself out of my comfortable routine I suppose I should keep that theme going throughout the rest of the year.

So, I’ll give rugby a shot. Sure, I may get knocked down and banged up on the pitch but that’s okay. Now is the time to try new things. If it doesn’t work out at least I can say I tried. So long as I finish my UCD Smurfit MBA with the same number of teeth that I started with, I’ll mark it up as a successful year.

Tony Downs,

FTMBA 2014.

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.

UCD Smurfit MBA takes part in Yale Global Network Immersion Week

One of the highlights of the course thus far was a week spent at Yale University with students from all over the world as part of the Ivy League business school’s Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM).


UCD Smurfit MBA feeling bullish on Wall Street

As a member of the GNAM, UCD Smurfit offers MBA students the chance to attend one-week programmes at various leading business schools throughout the world. These programs are organized around a specific theme combing in-class instruction as well as some company and cultural visits.

Eight students from UCD Smurfit (after a weekend of far too much Mexican food in New York) attended, with the topic being “From Madison Avenue to Wall Street – Everything you need to know about Behavioural Economics”.   The lectures were genuinely fascinating, the topic is about applying Psychology to Marketing and Finance and the professors worked hard to make the lectures as human and entertaining as possible.


Aside from the lectures a highlight of the week was studying with (and going out every night with) students from Mexico, China, the US, Israeland many other countries.  Being able to contact people from these countries for business purposes (or better yet, for fun!) anytime we are in their country (or they are in ours) will be a real asset for the rest of our lives.


UCD Smurfit MBA Team @ Yale 2013



And I think I even survived the Financial Reporting accounting exam in Dublin a few days after I got back!! Or maybe that’s just the jet-lag talking….



Conall Campbell,

FTMBA 2014.