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.

A better way to research a case study

Many people believe that case preparation is often a big challenge in group work. However, there are some alternative ways to work with case studies. One of our group assignments was about Yo! Sushi, a small but expanding chain of restaurants that serves Japanese-style food using a conveyer-belt restaurant design.

After our first meeting for case preparation, we asked ourselves should we not go to the restaurant to have a clear view of what we are going to present. This was a good idea. This helps to understand the offering in more detail, and how the menu and ordering system works. More importantly, by doing this, our relationship within the team grows better and stronger.  The assignment became much easier.

Would you like to try the same way?

Ba Nguyen.  FTMBA 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.



Leveraging the UCD Smurfit MBA: “I call it networking”

In his career development workshop Brian Marrinan explained it’s more effective to talk to someone you know than to send your CV to someone you don’t know. This made me reconnect with a Dutch company I’d done an internship with as an undergrad. I didn’t want to move back to the Netherlands and was keen to leverage the MBA. I mentioned this upfront and added ‘but I’m interested in something suitable in Dubai’. I have no idea why I said ‘Dubai’, but it turned out they were looking for someone with my profile in the UAE. Brian helped me prepare for the interview; Stephen Boyle gave me valuable negotiation tips and with Prof Damien McLoughlin’s advice in mind (change jobs during the MBA) I accepted the offer.

Robert Burgers (EMBA, City Centre, 2010)


My biggest fear while doing my MBA was not getting a job after the completion of the course. I heard the word “networking” several times, but didn’t believe in its power until I benefited from it. When my fiancé had a job interview in Dubai I decided to go with him to make some contacts myself. Simon Teevan, an MBA colleague and friend also searching for a job in the UAE, mentioned Robert Burgers, a principal consultant with DNV GL, who also did an MBA. I contacted Robert and we went for lunch to discuss career possibilities in the energy sector in Dubai. During the conversation we both talked about how interesting the MBA programme was and how it changed our thinking and ways of working. A few weeks later I was called for an interview and offered a job. I met only one person in Dubai and this person helped me to get a job. Some people call this destiny; I call it “networking”!

Elisa Cataldo (FTMBA, 2012-2013)


UCD Smurfit MBA Entrepreneurship Club kicks off a new season in Google HQ.

The UCD Smurfit Entrepreneurship Club put together an introductory event on 8 October. Over 35 current and recent MBA participants attended. The event was hosted at the Google Docks building on Barrow Street with an incredible line-up of speakers and club member who stepped up to make it happen. When you see them, thank these incredibly generous individuals who provided the substance to the event and helped to coordinate everyone and everything on a VERY short timeline.

One of our own, Mathilde Miravete EMBA 2015, did a fantastic job securing Google as the venue and also MC’d the panel. Michael Culligan pulled double duty on the panel, providing an introductory overview and discussing the types and availability of funds in Dublin. Eamonn Sayers provided an overview of the Incubator environment at the Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC), discussing the benefits of close working environment for entrepreneurs. Our NDRC representative, Gary Leyden, discussed his LaunchPad programme and that an Accelerator slightly differs from an Incubator by focusing on projects closer to viable start-up status. individuals who provided the substance to the event and helped to coordinate everyone and everything on a VERY short timeline.

Bringing social responsibility to the discussion was Darren Ryan from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI). He gave us an overview of how SEI is working to make a difference through entrepreneurs and redefining success by social impact. Brendan Cremen provided an academic supported Incubator at NovaUCD, which leverages the school’s researchers, leaders, and investors.

Our attendees found the event an incredibly useful introduction to the entrepreneur landscape. Pawel Ostropolski enjoyed that a “broad range of the entrepreneurship landscape” was covered from physical products, to IT solutions, and process change through social process reform ideas. Sundar Balasubramani enjoyed the chance to meet and network with Gary and Eamonn. David Keirnan found that “The discussions outlinedpractical steps to take a business concept to reality. Advice on the do’s and do not’s for start-up enterprises was given by highly experienced people working in the field.”

Being Google, we also got some swag in the form of stickers, diary pads, and pens. After the formal Q&A everyone enjoyed canapés with wine kindly sponsored by the MBA Office.

In all, a great introductory event that provided everyone a feel for some of the major players in the Entrepreneur scene in Dublin in such a beautiful setting overlooking Dublin city from Google headquarters.

The next meeting of UCD Entrepreneurship Club is scheduled for 31 October at 7:30p in the Pillar Room.


Pete Kloehn,  MBA Entrepreneurship Club Chair 2013-14.

FTMBA 2014.

UCD Smurfit EMBA ascends global MBA rankings

Some good news this week,  the UCD EMBA is now placed 81st in the Financial Times global rankings for 2013.

The Irish Times picked up on the breaking news quickly –  “The Dublin university, which is the only Irish business school included in the global rankings, has moved up seven places in the rankings from last year, up to 81.”  Read more here.

The Journal.ie ran with an article entitled “UCD Smurfit School MBA ranked among best in world” which in 24 hours has received almost 15,000 views.  Click here to read.

You can access the school’s own announcement on Business & Leadership by following the link for the associated press release here.

A special thank you to all who participate in these rankings every year.  Your efforts contribute to growing the UCD Smurfit MBA as the brand leader in Ireland.

MBA Team.