UCD Smurfit MBA Investment Competition 2013

I hope the participants are enjoying the competition so far and learning from the practical experience of trading….we’ve had a challenging market environment with infinite QE hangovers and traders doing their best to ignore the US federal shut-down… it is really interesting to see the different trading strategies at work across the competition….and now some good news; UCD MBA Office has put up with two really excellent prizes (thanks Michael);

First prize is a very nice selection of wine – this will be for the overall winner….But, that’s not all! – we also have a ‘most interesting trade’ prize of a €50 book token – to be judged by myself and an independent person from a selection of your trades that are very unusual, creative, brave or just plain stupid!….we’ll have a look at all trades but if you spot a candidate for this prize send your nominations to me, so get going on those exotic trading positions (judge’s decision is final etc. etc.).

In view of the really great prizes on offer and our busy schedules, I am extend the trading game until close of US markets on Friday 18 October 2013.

Markets re-open in under 1 hour – happy trading!

David Flynn.

EMBA 2013.

UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Captain’s Day – perfect end to a spectacular first year!

The first year of the UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Society has drawn to a close. And what a way to finish; under the watchful gaze of the Sugar Loaf, in the beautiful environs of Powerscourt House and Gardens, the scene was set for some dramatic golf. Admittedly, with the members blessed with blue skies and farmer tan generating sun bursts during the previous two rounds, both Cormac and Andrew decided to up the ante(in both weather and prize stakes) for this final outing! Rain and a €250 blue book voucher (thank Michael McDonnell for the latter and God for the former) were the driving forces for the day on 23rd August last.

Another increase in participation helped to reinforce the Society’s existence as a fun and enjoyable networking medium for the UCD MBA crew. That aside, the 11 prizes up for grabs produced game faces unseen since the 2007 Ireland England Six Nations match in Croke Park (God Save Our Queen). Unfazed by his five point deduction, Dave Joyce strode into the clubhouse a mere 10 minutes before his tee time, while Declan Griffin, unfazed by fashion, opted for an Eleanor O Higgins inspired ensemble (somehow he wins both worst and best dressed male for his delightful chalk blue-green pants!!)

Others followed suit with consistent bravado, including the dark horse from the third outing, Dave Kelly and the epitome of calm, Jim Gannon. With all eyes on the prize(s), Dave Flynn, Gareth McCluskey, Chris O Connor and Dave Feighery took to a sodden first tee. These golfing stalwarts approached the round like titans of industry: aggressive, risk taking and at times completely delusional. Dave Feighery, our resident 6 foot 3” man mountain could not handle the pace, opting to pull up at the 12th, leaving the remaining three to battle through one of our tougher challenges since Brian McGrath revealed his project schedule in Semester 2! The greens were slick AND quick, hard to read, and left all from this and other groups scratching their heads. With hands shaken and a resignation that the course had somewhat defeated them, the remaining three decided “to hell with club rules, we’re hitting the Members’ Bar”, a theme which was followed by subsequent groups.

New members David Slevin, Deirdre McHugh and Caroline MacKell (all very welcome, especially the new Ladies) joined MBA Golf Society pro Charlie Weijer as the next Group out. Charlie showed the newbies how it was done on the front nine with an impressive 19 points. However, his round faltered on the Back Nine, leaving his playing partners a little underwhelmed with his chances of winning Top Prize. Deirdre McHugh on the other hand, notable for her unrelenting frugality, chose value for money over low scoring (300 shots is a new course record!!). Of course I’m joking, and she has already stated that the new season will bring an invigorated ferocious golfing legend (with no excuse of lagged MBA exhaustion). Caroline MacKell, in the absence of our two times reigning Lady Champion, Emma Fagan, commanded attention with some delicate chips and exquisite putting to take 28 points into the Clubhouse, claiming the coveted Captain’s Ladies Prize. David Slevin, unable to keep up with the champagne golf on display, opted to copy Dave Feighery and exit before the end of the round. Don’t worry, he’ll be back next year.

Female Powerscourt Golf Club Members and Staff were left a little hot and bothered upon seeing our next foursome collectively preparing for their round. Declan “smooth talker” Griffin, Seamus “I invented the Internet don’t you know” Shaw, Conor “whoops, there goes my T-shirt” Ryan and Ronan “I just did a thousand sit-ups” Sheridan hit the course, with little regard for the weather or any of these aforementioned ladies’ husbands! And the confidence of these Alpha Males showed with Declan Griffin racking up a significant 37 points, spanking the course into submission. Chest out throughout his whole round, he forced both Sherdian and Ryan to retire early and lick their wounds on the way home, while Seamus Shaw managed some impressive drives to prove he was up to the challenge. Unfortunately, similar to most combatants on the day, the greens left him frustrated and confused.

Unaware that the eventual winner on the day was ahead of them, Cormac Dunne (our future Captain), Dave Kelly (a contender for Player of the Year 2014), Andrew Bacon (the legend) and Kieran Dowling (the storyteller extraordinaire) took to the course. No one’s quite sure how this foursome, all in contention for Player of The Year 2013, would succeed or falter during the round. To ease any tension, Andrew Bacon, having found one of the many water features on the course, opted for a Seve Ballesteros style recovery shot from the lake edge (this has since been posted on YouTube, link to follow). It should also be noted that in spite of being in water TWICE on a Par 4, somehow a 6 appeared on hisscorecard!! This left Kieran Dowling laughing so hard that all he could do was relax, achieving a birdie on the toughest hole on the course (Index 1), good man. Also still laughing was Dave Kelly as he approached the 18th hole, smashing his tee shot a massive 306 yards to win Longest Drive (Mr Joyce, you can’t win everything, although admittedly yours was longer!!). Meanwhile, Cormac Dunne, “fresh” from his Gaelforce success (finishing in the top 250 athletes) used guile and panache on a course he knows well, narrowly missing a Top Three Finish.

Having patiently observed their peers entering the fray, it was time for our final group to depart to the first: Captain Andrew Bourke, David Joyce, Jim Gannon and Steve Kelly, all ready for battle. Kelly, a novice to the sport, with only two years since he first held a golf club, was still yet to grasp the gravity of how stringent the rules of golf actually are. Just off the 5th green, he declared that his foot had glanced the ball, hoping that we would tell him to play on. David Joyce, however, in keeping with the ethos of honourable play awarded a penalty to a dejected Steve (like a bold child, it’s the only way he’ll learn!!). Both Gannon and Bourke were exhibiting moments of brilliance around the course, with Andrew shooting a 2 over across 5 holes. However, a calamitous run of 3 and 4 putts left both himself and Jim out of the running for the top spot (did I mention the greens were ridiculous?!!). As this final foursome approached the 18th tee, a steely determination to end in style in front of the gallery of “fans” instilled a resolve last seen when Declan was selecting his outfit that very morning. Both Jim and David reached the green on this tricky Par 5 in two shots, while Steve and Andrew played the percentage game to attempt pars. David Joyce, knowing he needed something special to cap off a near perfect back nine, hit his second shot to within 3 yards of the hole, knocking in for a well-deserved Eagle. With the rain having finally cleared, hands were shaken and the time came to withdraw to the Members Lounge to announce the winners.

It should be noted that with an increase in the Prize Pot, a significant improvement in scores took place, with 9 people shooting over 30 points. The eventual top prize of the €250 Blue Book Voucher (graciously donated by Michael McDonnell) was awarded to Declan Griffin on 37 points, with a 2 ball for Carton House going to a very close second: David Joyce on 36 points (he actually managed to get around the course in 7 under par, impressive). Bringing up the rear with 34 points (after his penalty) was a delighted Steve Kelly (his handicap is currently being reviewed by the Committee). Longest Drive was awarded to David Kelly while David Slevin (one of our new members) achieved Nearest the Pin on the day. Ladies Prize went to a very commendable Caroline MacKell with a commanding 28 points, with Deirdre McHugh awarded a voucher for “most use of the course”! Spot prizes were also given to Andrew Bacon, Gareth McCluskey and Kieran Dowling who were delighted to have been drawn out of the hat. To round off the day, it was time to announce Player of the Year. With Steve Kelly on 33 points, Dave Kelly on 36 points, a very worthy David Joyce stood up to collect his prize. With 39 points overall across his two best rounds, he humbly received his trophy and prize.

With the golf carts safely parked in the garage (and a lot were used that day by the Society), it was time for many to hit the Dame Tavern, Hogans, and eventually Copper Face Jacks (a club befitting the exclusivity of the MBA brand) for a few drinks and laughs.

It certainly has been an amazing journey for myself and Cormac. From a conversation during the Induction Week, to finishing the first year of a growing UCD Michael Smurfit Club, which we created, has been special. A massive thanks must be given to the staff of the MBA program who have tirelessly supported us throughout the setup process and indeed the financial donations we have received over the course of the year. Most importantly, the biggest thank you of all must go to you, the players. Without you, this club would not exist. We are hoping that we have created a fun environment for you to mix with fellow MBAers, take a break from the sometimes stressful aspects of the course, and most importantly, have a few laughs along the way.

Announcements of the schedule for 2014 will be available shortly on our website AND NEW REGISTRATIONS ALWAYS WELCOME!

Thank you again for all your support and see you shortly for some more golf.

Andrew Bourke, Captain, EMBA 2014.

Greens and Fairways

UCD MBA Golf Society

“Cracking Coke” in Galway

Last Saturday morning (29 June), while many of you were catching up on the conversations between the buccaneers at Anglo exposed in the “Anglo Tapes”, I was advising the board of Directors at Coca-Cola on what they should do with their recent acquisition of Coca-Cola Enterprises!

NUI Galway was the generous host of this year’s annual MBA Association of Ireland (MBAAI) Inter-Business School MBA Strategy challenge. The challenge is open to all MBA students from business schools across Ireland.

Four teams competed, with representation from MBA programmes at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Griffith College Dublin (GCD), Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School (UCD).

At 10:15am, all teams were presented with a contemporary Harvard Business School case study on Coca-Cola.

At 10:30am, just as the Lions rugby team were getting ready  to roar, each team was directed to a separate meeting room where we were caged for four hours to ‘crack the case’ and prepare a presentation before returning to present to the judging panel.

During these four hours my team -Richie Somerville, Benjamin Bechtolsteim, Neil Krige, Robert Farrell and I- used the analytical tools discussed during the MBA modules at UCD to analyse the information we were given, identify the problem to be solved and propose a recommendation for implementation within Coca-Cola’s business.

Those four hours felt like minutes. The environment emulated that of everyday businesses, where leaders are challenged to identify, comprehend and solve complex business issues under intense pressure.

The presentations were very diverse, with each time taking a very different perspective on the case. I’m sure the variety was appreciated by the judges!

In the evening, we all convened at the Westwood Hotel in Galway where the MBAAI had arranged a drinks reception followed by a beautiful dinner. It provided an excellent opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved drink whilst getting to know the teams from DIT, WIT and GCD. The sunshine was an added bonus!

Just before dinner, my team were announced All-Ireland Strategy Champions 2013, reclaiming the title for UCD! The road to Galway involved two-rounds of internal competition, testament to the high calibre of students in both the full-time and executive MBA programmes at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business. After months of preparation with Richie, Robert, Neil and Benjamin, it was a real honour to win. We were presented with a glistening Waterford crystal trophy – a new companion for the MBA World Cup trophy in the MBA Trophy Cabinet!

The event showcased the ingenuity, strategic thinking and diverse perspectives of the participants and provided an endorsement of the quality of MBA programmes in Ireland’s business schools. Amidst the widespread media coverage of bad leadership in Ireland, it is encouraging to see a fresh wave of leaders equipped to make a difference and contribute to rebuilding Ireland’s reputation.

Thank you to Professor Pat Gibbons and Michael McDonnell at UCD for helping my team along the way. Thank you to MBAAI and NUI Galway, particularly James and Christine, for arranging a super event and for making us feel so welcome.  We look forward to returning the favour by welcoming teams to Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock for next year’s competition!

– Therese O’Rourke, FT MBA 2012-13

Therese and her new "hat"

Testing Our Mettle in Galway

Have you ever pondered the value chain of Coca-Cola – the world’s most recognised brand?

For six hours last Saturday, this question captured our full attention. Team Smurfit analysed the case, presented our proposal to a panel of judges, and then awaited the result of their deliberations. We were in good company. The MBA programs from Waterford Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology, and Griffith Collage fielded teams that presented their own version of what Coca-Cola should do, given a critical decision facing the CEO. Our strategy toolkit was put to the test.

The occasion was the annual MBA Association of Ireland Strategy Case Competition. Like the Eurovision, last year’s winner becomes next year’s host. Following their success in 2012, NUI Galway provided all of the competitors with warm hospitality.

A cardiac stress test is used in hospitals to measure the heart’s ability to respond to external stress in a controlled environment. The MBA stress test must be the case competition. With just four hours to read a case, analyse the data, and prepare a series of recommendations, you feel the pressure. Cooked up in a classroom for four hours provides the ideal controlled environment for the Storming Stage of team development.

When it counted this past weekend, our team passed the stress test. We are delighted to bring the winner’s trophy back to Smurfit.

Special thanks to Pat Gibbons, our strategy guru, Michael McDonnell, our coordinator (& travel budget finder), and the extended MBAAI organising team, who organized a fantastic occasion.

On a personal note, my best fortune of the MBA experience was getting to befriend and team up with Benjamin Bechtolsheim, Therese O’Rourke, Robert Farrell and Neil Krige. We had a great time working together, and we share the victory with each other and our school.

To the 2014 Smurfit MBA cohort we pass on the baton!

– Richie Somerville, FT MBA 2012/13

The winning team (L-R): Robert, Therese, Richie, Maeve O Connell (incoming President Elect MBAAI), Neil and Benjamin

Smurfit team at the John Molson Case Competition

Life as an MBA can be an eventful journey. I have been on this journey at Smurfit for the last 5 months and I can definitely say that it has been an enriching experience. I have met interesting people, gained valuable knowledge and visited exciting places. One of the best things to have happened to me during this short duration was my selection in the team which represented Smurfit School at the John Molson MBA International Case Competition held in Canada. Apart from me there were five other students in the team namely, Conor O’Donovan, Michael Munevar, Ian Nolan, Dita Zavrelova and Francis Pérez Colomina. Our team was a blend of different cultures with one American, one Czech, one Indian, one Spanish and two Irish people on board. Our team had to win an internal competition at Smurfit to get this opportunity to represent the school at such a prestigious competition. I feel all the more privileged as I was the only Full-Time MBA student in the team, the rest happened to be from the Part-Time Executive MBA program.

The competition was held in Montreal from 6th-11th January and was organized by the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. 36 teams representing 14 countries from 5 continents participated in this competition. An interesting fact about the competition was the presence of over 250 judges (most of whom were well established leaders from the business and management world) to judge the presentations. Our team was accompanied by Professor Pat Gibbons, who acted as the academic coach for the team. The competition involved solving business problems of global companies. Each team was given 3 hours to read a 20-25 page case and prepare a 20 minute presentation giving recommendation on how to resolve that problem.  The presentation was followed by a 15 minute question session by the judges. The learning was as much from solving our own case as it was from observing other teams present the case. Our team had a decent run in the competition and one more win would have taken us to the semi-finals.

In between solving business cases we took out time to attend various networking events scheduled by the organizers where we got the opportunity to mingle with our counterparts from other business schools. Some of these events also provided us opportunity to meet industry leaders and interact with them on a one to one level. Some of us did take out time to go around and experience the snow clad Montreal city. Despite our decent performance the competition the learning and exposure the competition provided was worthwhile. I believe this is just a start and I will have many more exciting opportunities and experiences in the coming 7 months of this journey.

– Rahul Jindal, FT MBA 2012/13

UCD Smurfit MBA Molson Case Competition Team 2013


Avenge our defeat!

So, we didn’t win.

The better team won on the day, and at least we lost to my old alma mater, NUI Galway. It was scant consolation to learn that it was a close decision.

Our case was on eBay and Amazon. Along with analysing the current state of play, we had to formulate a new strategy for eBay. The time got away from us as we searched in vain for the ‘secret sauce’ that could point the way to success. Unfortunately, there was no rabbit in this particular hat. We took our eye off the ball and with thirty minutes to go we still hadn’t formulated a new strategy. Tempers became short (mainly mine – sorry guys!) and our decisions became panicked. In the end, we rushed it and it showed.

Win or lose, the important thing is that we never have to see each other again” was the toast that I proposed before the winning team was announced. We had a sinking feeling that it wasn’t going to be our day and, in my own inappropriate way, I thought some humour might lighten the mood (though I may be using the term ‘humour’ quite wrongly).  We accepted defeat graciously, and, though downhearted and exhausted, managed to enjoy ourselves by invading the birthday party of our captain’s long-suffering wife.

The strategy competition was a great way to finish our MBA, and, while it would have been nice to ride off into the sunset with a trophy under our arms, it just wasn’t to be. I’m certain that my toast won’t come true, either for this team or for any of our MBA colleagues (but I would imagine that Eoin’s wife will just have to learn to deal with her suffering).

On behalf of the team, I would like to thank Brian McGrath for his help in our preparation, and on behalf of the Smurfit School I would like to thank Michael McDonnell and all in the MBA office for ensuring that the event was organised impeccably.

Finally, to the team of 2013 – avenge our defeat!

– David Collins, Exec MBA 2012

UCD Smurfit MBA Team 2012: Dr. Brian McGrath(Academic), David Collins, Kate Healy, Jonathan Cuthbert, Sinead Hope, Eoin Lyons (Team Captain)

MBAAI Strategy Competition 2012 – Main Hall, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School


MBAAI Organisers:  Ms. Christine Lewis and Mr. Gareth Quinn

UCD Smurfit Strategy Competition winning team

Congratulations to the winning team from the EMBA Weekend Year 2 class who are this year’s winners of the annual in-house case study competition.  Three teams battled it out on Saturday 30th May last in what proved to be a very closely fought competition.

The winning team are Eoin Lyons, Kate Healy, Jonathan Cuthbert, Sinead Hope and Dave Collins.

The team will now go on to represent the school in the MBAAI All Ireland Strategy Competition on June 23rd.   This annual competition will be held in the UCD Smurfit school this year as defending champions from 2011.

L to R: Dr. Brian McGrath(Judge), Siobhan O'Dowd(Judge), Eoin Lyons(Team Captain), Sinead Hope(Team member), Jonathan Cuthbert(Team member), Dave Collins(Team member), Prof. Pat Gibbons(Judge), Kate Healy(Team member).

Thank you all who participated – to the judges and the teams who made it such a successful day.

Best of luck to the team on Sat 23rd June!

MBA Programme Team.

Teamwork on the MBA

From left: Fergus O’Dea, Nihar Panda, Nicole Blair, Prof. Pat Gibbons, Dr. Brian McGrath, Phillip O’Sullivan and Donnchadh Casey

One of the most challenging and fulfilling parts of the MBA is the significant element of group work required by the majority of our subjects. Learning to manage the different styles, cultures and timekeeping habits of our colleagues has been the source of more than one disagreement this year! But I have seen how team diversity, if properly managed, can drive a team to be greater than the sum of its parts.

I have been extremely fortunate to be part of two great work teams this year and that trend continued as I joined my friends Donnchadh, Nicole, Nihar and Philip on a team for the MBA case study competition. The process began with stiff competition from my fellow full time colleagues, and then the winner would take on a team of UCD Executive MBA students. The eventual winner would then represent UCD at the annual MBA case competition this summer in Dublin.

It is a testament to the ambition and dedication of our class that 15 students, comprising three teams (somehow) found time to dedicate themselves to this competition. We met early in the morning to be presented with a case study, and were then given 4 hours to analyse the case and prepare a presentation of our findings for a discerning panel of judges; Michael McDonnell, Prof. Pat Gibbons, and Dr. Brian McGrath.

We retired to a syndicate room when a brief period of calm while we read the case was quickly followed by a flurry of debate as we tried to corral the stampede of ideas into a coherent presentation. After the quickest four hours I can remember, we were slightly dazed, but ready to present. The MBA class of 2012 have become adept at preparing slick presentations, and the level of preparation has included an incredible adaptation of Toy Story 3, and some trademark guerrilla film making from Stephen Smith. The case study competition was excellent in forcing us to get back to basics and to present without the same level of preparation that we would usually put in. I was very impressed by all three presentations each of which dissected the case from a different perspective and offered various solutions for the company in question to move forward.

The Competition!

All of the teams would have done the full-time class proud, but I’m delighted to report the judges favoured our presentation, and we were awarded first prize and the right, along with the second placed team, to face the Executive MBA team in the next round.

From my experience of the Exec’s they will no doubt raise the bar further and it is up to us to match them if we are to go on to face the other MBA’s from across the country and live up to the achievements of last year’s team.

– Fergus O’Dea, Full-time MBA 2011/12

Congratulations! UCD Smurfit MBA Team Wins Prestigious All-Ireland MBA Award

UCD Smurfit has won back the MBAAI Strategy Forum Trophy.

Our team are All-Ireland Champions after a historic win for UCD Smurfit at the annual business strategy competition held on Saturday last, June 18th in the salubrious surroundings of the St. Stephen’s Green Club in Dublin city centre.

Congratulations to our team which was made up of participants from the Executive Year 2 MBA City cohort:

UCD Smurfit 2011 MBA Association of Ireland Comp Winners. L to R: Alan Dunne, Fionnuala Healy, Siobhan O'Dowd, Maria Finnegan, Tom O'Connor


Organised by the MBA Association of Ireland (MBAAI) and open to all MBA programmes in Ireland, teams of MBA students from around the country met in Dublin on Saturday (June 18th) to compete in the day-long Inter-Business School MBA Strategy Challenge.

Well done to the team who came through an internal preliminary round and put in the hard work required to reach the standard necessary to become All-Ireland Champions for 2011 and demonstrating the high calibre of participants on our programmes this year.

The wonderful Waterford Glass trophy is currently on view in the MBA Office and will be moving to the new MBA Trophy Cabinet to take pride of place beside the MBA World Cup trophy.

I hope you will join with me in congratulating the team.

Well Done!

Michael McDonnell

MBA Programme Manager

UCD Smurfit MBA Rugby Reception 19th May 2011

The MBA Rugby World Cup Championship Trophy was formally welcomed back to the place it has called home for nine out of the last eleven years, UCD Smurfit, at a reception on the evening of Thursday May 19th.

In celebration of the achievements of UCD Smurfit’s championship Rugby team and those who have gone before them, a brand new glass trophy case was erected in the Student Common Room and formally inaugurated at last Thursday’s event.  The trophy was proudly placed in the case by 2011 team captains Andy Kane and Eoghan O’Dwyer, and sits amongst other gold and silver shining examples of UCD Smurfit rugby triumphs in years past.   O’Dwyer thanked the team and coach Barry Gibney, saying “without Barry’s experience and the team’s tenacity and fortitude, we would never have brought this trophy home”.

Prof. Frank Roche with MBA Rugby Team Captains

Representing UCD Smurfit School at the reception were Prof. Frank Roche, School Director, MBA Programme Director Orla Nugent, and Specialist MBA Programme Manager Michael McDonnell.

Prof. Roche hailed the rugby team as a vehicle through which the different Smurfit programmes were all brought together and their role in giving strength to the UCD Smurfit School name on such an international stage.  He acknowledged the achievement as “a proud moment for all UCD Smurfit students, faculty, and alumni.”

Ms. Nugent thanked the men for their hard work and perseverance, making special note of the efforts of player Shane Horan, who single-handedly took the initiative to raise the funds necessary to send the team to the USA to compete in the 2011 MBA Rugby World Cup in Danville, VA in April with sponsorship from Smurfit Kappa, CRH, Hunky Dory’s, O2, HH&C and Dunreidy Engineering.

The challenge now passes to those who will make up the 2012 UCD Smurfit Rugby Team to emulate the achievements of the past and make a little history for themselves along the way.


– Megan Molloy FT 2011 & Michael McDonnell, MBA Programme Manager

Photos by Nargiza Kalmamatova