Surprising Application of MBA learning

The general expectation from the MBA program is to develop your leadership skills and prepare you for management roles. Our LATAM experience showed us how these MBA concepts could also transcend to other interesting aspects of personal life.

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After day-long seminars with important speakers, we were eager to experience the thriving nightlife at Santiago, Lima and Cusco. The odds were stacked against us as we had limited dancing abilities and very little knowledge of the local language.

The lessons learnt from our last semester, it all came back to us! On the dance floor, we strategically identified potential dance partners by scanning the environment through the lens of segmentation targeting positioning concept, which was taught by the three musketeers of marketing – Damien, Andrew and Marius. We reminded ourselves about McNutt’s lesson on Nash equilibrium and realized that it was better to cooperate than compete with each other on the dance floor.

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On analysis of our interactions with the local people, we realized that our competitive advantage was that we hailed from India – the exotic land of the Taj Mahal and Khajuraho temples! We tactically played this trump card, which turned out be a great ice-breaker and kept the conversation flowing.

News of our happening nightlife spread like wild fire to the other end of the globe where the other half of our bunch was chilling in Hanoi. This experience taught us the true meaning of Chinese whispers. Our innocent dancing with the local women was distorted into creative, hilarious stories which made us men of questionable character! Overall, those two weeks were truly a highly immersive cultural experience. This has boosted our confidence of our ability to effectively handle international client relationships by overcoming language and cultural barriers.

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On returning back to Dublin and resting on that weekend, we were directly thrown into early morning day-long sessions of Operations and Supply Chain Management with the effervescent George Onofrei. We had interesting presentations covering companies across a wide range of sectors – Ebay, Dominos, Zappos, Sonae, Amazon, Zara and Cincinnati Hospital. Some of the teams entertained us by offering us pizzas and fruits. However, my team member John Keegan stole everyone’s thunder when he introduced his mother as a guest appearance during our presentation on Cincinnati Hospital. Our first group presentation turned out to be very successful and we look forward to building on that momentum.

Osmund Allan, MBA FT 2017/18osmund-1

 

Study Tour to South Africa – Fostering the Spirit of Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Vodacom Visit March 2015

It was a couple of weeks back when we had commenced our journey to South Africa for our 8-day intensive Study tour, as part of the ‘Doing Business in Emerging Markets’ MBA module. Though, we were looking forward to whole new world of learning and experiences, we never thought that it would be such an amazing experience. The companies we visited ranged from well-established MNCs viz. Vodacom, Old Mutual plc, SABMiller plc to highly successful innovative and entrepreneurial organizations viz. Raizcorp, Synexa Life Sciences, Pick n Pay etc. The interactions with entrepreneurs and top managerial personnel helped us in understanding the nuances, challenges and opportunities of doing business in South Africa in general, and in emerging economies in particular. We also had the opportunity to interact with students of GIBS, a leading business school of South Africa and share mutual perspectives. We had Networking events with ‘Enterprise Ireland’ and ‘Business Ireland’ in Johannesburg and Cape town, which gave us an opportunity to interact with numerous successful and dynamic entrepreneurs, who have established their businesses from scratch in South Africa and today they had become a living inspiration for the aspiring entrepreneur.

South Africa was seen by our group as one of the most enterprising nations and it has therefore earned its place in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) association of emerging economies. During the tour, we also visited a few South African communities to understand cultural perspectives of the country.

It’s really amazing how much an international study tour can transform you and can foster a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. The diversity of the South African population and their determination to collectively work together for their nation’s progress, despite differences in languages and cultures (South Africa has 11 official languages) can be observed in its workplaces. It helped us to gain extremely useful insights about leading effectively in cross-cultural teams, inculcating teamwork and collaboration.

The Study Tour definitely gave us valuable understanding about the business opportunities in emerging markets and challenges being faced by them. This also gave us a toolkit to overcome those challenges which can be applied not only in emerging economies but also universally to foster the spirit of innovation, teamwork and entrepreneurship in the organisations we would be working in throughout our future careers.

Ashutosh Singla ~ Full Time MBA

MBA International Study Tour 2015 – South Africa & China


South Africa ~ MBA International Study Tour 2015


On Saturday, March 7th, we saw 90 of our MBA students jet off on the Annual MBA International Study Tour. This is an intensive 8 day tour which is spent visiting cultural, political and educational institutions and undertaking a number of company visits as part of the MBA Module; Doing Business In Emerging Markets.

As we are an International Business School based in Dublin, it is no surprise that the MBA module ‘Doing Business in Emerging Markets’ forms an integral component of our MBA Programme. During this Study Tour, our MBA students will have the opportunity to engage with leading academics and world class organisations across a number of sectors, not to mention the experience of a lifetime with their classmates.

Each year we review our destinations and this year, due to popular demand, we are returning to China for our tenth year and visiting South Africa for the first time.

This is no surprise as China’s story is still fascinating, having transformed from a traditional centrally planned economy into a market economy with all of the associated challenges. South Africa has managed to stay on its feet during the wake of the global financial meltdown, largely due to its prudent fiscal and monetary policies. South Africa is one of the largest economies in Africa – and it remains rich with promise. It was admitted to the BRIC group of countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China (known as BRICS) in 2011. Therefore, this is a very interesting time to experience these economies first hand. We are hopeful that it will be an unforgettable experience for our students and that they will gain a new perspective on international business.


China ~ MBA International Study Tour 2015


There are over 60 participants on this year’s trip to China, including students from both the Full-time MBA and Executive MBA classes. They will visit both Shanghai and Beijing during their trip. This tour is being led by Professor Pat Gibbons.

There are just under 30 participants travelling to South Africa and their tour will include a visit to both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Dr. Paul McGrath is leading this tour.

CELAP, Baosteel, Cisco, Vodacom, QK Meats Group, Enterprise Ireland and Business Ireland are just some of the companies and organisations that will be hosting the company visits and networking events over the course of the week.

I am looking forward to hearing all about both study tours when the students arrive back in Dublin next week and I’m sure they will have lots to share with us on the blog upon their return.

Avril Donohue
MBA Senior Programme Coordinator

Little Flappy Bird vs. giant Zynga Dog!

Our MBA class just has come back from a great MBA International trip, “Doing Business in Emerging Market – China 2014”. In Beijing, we had an exciting morning visiting Zynga Inc., a giant social game company named in honor of Zynga, former CEO Mark Pincus’ late American bulldog, which transformed hundreds of millions of office people around the world to genuine farmers through a social game, Farmville and other popular games on Facebook such as Mafia Wars and Zynga poker.

UCD China 2014 – Doing Business in Emerging Market.

Recently, a tiny game – Flappy Bird – developed by the Vietnam-based developer Nguyen Ha Dong, became the special phenomenon in tech world when it climbed to the top 1st free application on both Google Android and Apple Store, a dream of even many giant technology companies which paid millions US dollars for marketing campaigns to get the top position in both Operating Systems (the author who writes this blog is also proud of being a Vietnamese guy who studies at the same technology university with Dong). While many people doubted that the top indie game Flappy Bird on Android and iOS Store can earn $ 50,000 a day, many top games have reached revenue of $ 1 billion. For example, the game Farmville has reached a revenue of $ 1 billion since early 2013 or the recent game, Clash of Clans, generates $ 2.4 million per day from Supercell Studio, a two-year-old start-up game company of Finland with only 95 members. It is quite normal in “the flat world”, a metaphor by Thomas L. Friedman in term of commerce for viewing the world as a place where all competitors have an equal opportunity. I believe that the metaphor is totally right for the mobile market where many developers have an equal chance to be successful from over the world even they are giant technology companies or dependent developers.

Flappy Bird vs. Zynga

During the meeting with the executive managers at Zynga, Flappy Bird story has been referred by my Indian classmate when he asked whether Zynga planned to make some tiny games like Flappy Bird. There are also some questions about ethical issues, i.e., many young people get addicted to the game, leading malnourished and neurological problems. The philosophical answer of the manager in Zynga quite met my moral perspective: “The addiction can happen to any field such as workaholic, alcoholic, Facebook-addicted etc… And individuals have a complete responsibility for their own actions but game developers should also limit time to play game”. Playing game in moderation is good for entertaining and socializing as Zynga stated their mission is “Connecting the World through Games”.

Coming back to the 5-star hotel, New Otani Chang Fu Gong and researching more about Zynga and Pincus, I opened my Google Market Store on my Android Phone and saw that some games from my classmate’s start-up game studio (not Ha Dong) had reached 1 million downloads. It’s amazing! Can it be a second Flappy bird earning $50.000 a day? Standing up to open the window and seeing “the emerging market” outside, I exclaimed: “I have found China and Friedman is right. The world is flat!!!”

(Some of) the (very tired) eagles have landed

The international study trip for 2014 ended last night for about half the participants in the Arrivals hall of Dublin Airport with 34 arriving home after a long days flight from Beijing.  The rest of the group will be arriving back over coming days having opted to stay on a few days to explore Beijing and the surrounding region further.  There were a lot of tired but happy people collecting their bags and already beginning to reminisce about speakers and companies we visited not to mention nights out in Shanghai and Beijing and the St. Patrick’s Day Ball in Beijing topped off by a late night watching Ireland beat France.  More detailed thoughts will follow from participants on the trip but for now all we can say is it went well and much was learned and unlearned and many perceptions and preconceived notions were changed.

Staying on Track

Semester two is tough. It is not tough because the workload is greater than Semester one. Nor is it tough because the courses are more challenging. In fact, for a vast majority of the class the workload is lighter for the option modules. It isn’t the obvious things that make Semester two tough. It is the growing realisation of the need to figure out where the next stage of my life, post-MBA, is going to take me. Deciding what and then moving onto the how should be the focus of my time. It is, let’s face it, the reason anyone embarks on an MBA. Whilst some of the academic staff may not wish to admit it, the academic parts of an MBA course are a means to an end. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to learn and plenty to stimulate the intellectual curiosity, but the MBA is a springboard into a potentially new and exciting career.

Semester two is tough. There are so many pulls on your time and it is too easy to neglect the longer and longer shadow being cast on a future career. Many will say this is simply down to time management, and there is a certain degree of validity in that assertion. There is more complexity to it, however. Using the year in an MBA is, as has no doubt been noted by my colleagues previously, a unique opportunity to explore a totally different career path. However, this requires a depth of research and contact building that could in its own right be a full time job. Notwithstanding the HR strategies to get you around, the Activity Based Costing in Managerial Accounting and Investment Management classes that leave you mentally exhausted, trying to forge a new career is a considerable challenge.

Semester two is tough. As more and more gets thrown at you from preparing for the trip to China to extracurricular activities to assignments and late night classes, many things can knock you down. The prospect of developing an exciting new career from September is enough to motivate you to keep bouncing back off the canvas. But it is easy to lose track, no matter how often you are reminded of the real reason you are doing an MBA.

As the days get longer and (hopefully) the sun starts to get warmer, it is a great time to revaluate priorities and at the same time maintain the commitments you have made to family, friends and colleagues. That is the challenge.


Jim Radmore

Full-time MBA 2014

United Kingdom

MBAs in China – First Stop on Their Journey

Yesterday, 61 Smurfit MBA students, two staff members, and two professors arrived in China for a week of cultural immersion, corporate visits, and experiences they will not soon forget. The group began their trip in Shanghai where they hosted a Welcome Dinner, met Smurfit MBA alumni living locally and MBA students from the Fudan University School of Management, and visited CELAP.

Tonight will be their first chance to explore Shanghai. Let’s hope they take advantage and make sure to get enough sleep to adjust to the time change!

Keep an eye on this page over the next few weeks for details of their experience…

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

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

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)