Finding Value in Diversity

As we enter the summer term of the full time MBA programme, I have come to realise how much diversity I, and my classmates, have been exposed to over the past nine months.  Before I decided to undertake an MBA, I had heard some MBA graduates mention this point about “diversity” but I had underestimated the learning experience that diversity can offer.

In an MBA, diversity takes on many forms.  Firstly there’s the diversity found within the cohort itself.  This is a combination of cultural diversity (in our full time cohort of 32 students there are 10 nationalities), there’s age diversity and indeed diversity in our educational backgrounds and experiences!  The result is a multitude of perspectives that contribute to some very thought-provoking classroom discussions.  Coming from an engineering background myself, I have really enjoyed learning about other people’s previous work experiences and pre-MBA careers in various fields such as marketing, e-commerce, finance, IT and the entertainment industry. It has also helped me to realise how valuable diversity can be when it comes to problem-solving.

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Secondly, the vast range of modules also presents another element of diversity.  From accounting, financial analysis, economics and strategy to negotiation skills, ethics and executive decision-making!  The volume of information is over-whelming but the skills obtained will not only be relevant to our future careers, but will be also be helpful in others areas of life, whether one realises this at the time or not!

Thirdly, the prospects we’ve had to immerse ourselves in, outside of the classroom, pose yet another realm of diversity.  An international learning module to Japan and South Korea in March provided a unique opportunity to learn about new cultures, about doing business in Asia but also to get to know our part-time MBA classmates.  I was also lucky enough to travel to Yale for the Integrated Leadership Case Competition in April, with three other classmates.  This trip enabled us to meet other MBA students from 12 different business schools around the globe.  Over the course of three days in Yale, it was refreshing to see how all students were genuinely interested in one another and embraced the diversity around them by exchanging anecdotes about their MBA experiences and offering each other helpful advice regarding post-MBA decisions.

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To complete the international experience, we still have a week in Iceland to look forward to, where we will be working as consultants for a number of different companies.

For me, it took time to realize the value that all this diversity could bring, and I believe that I will continue to see its benefits over the coming years, in both my career and personal life.  I am certainly more open now to looking at things with a different lens, than I was nine months ago.  With this in mind, my advice for anyone considering undertaking an MBA is to truly consider its significance, not only from a career standpoint but from a non-career perspective too.

Aisling O’Halloran, Full Time MBA 2016-2017

The Smurfit MBA – A Diverse & Rich Learning Experience

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As a marketer, I have to learn how to tell an exciting, relevant, and believable story about the products, the brands and of course, the companies. As a person, I am a keen listener. Through stories, I learn not only the tellers’ interests, perspectives and experience in life but also a tonne of random facts – all of which are equally interesting to me. For all of the years I have spent working and travelling around the world; I have been told many great stories, yet very few of them could be exciting as the stories I have heard from my mates in the MBA Programme.

From memorable social experiences to nights out on the town, from the context in Asia, Europe to the Americas (continent not country!), all those narratives not only gave me some good laughs but also taught me so many things about the world – one of them is that funny accountants exist! And two of them happen to be in my class. How cool is that!

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Diversity (70% of our class are not from Ireland) and rich experience (average of more than five working years and some wiser ones have worked for twenty years) would be the things that I appreciate the most from the MBA experience at Smurfit. Very often, I – a Vietnamese – drink American beer (illustration purpose only, my favourite is Irish now) with Indian classmates; and we will soon travel to Africa and China together.

The world seems much smaller to me because of the experience here. And now, during group discussions, when someone speaks up, I no longer think “oh, a different opinion…” I think “oh, a different perspective that I should listen to.”

Duc Le ~ Full-Time MBA

Smurfit Business School & The 30% Club Panel Discussion – Business Imagined Better Together

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UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, in conjunction with The 30% Club, will host a panel discussion in The Conrad Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 23rd February 2016.

Professor Niamh Brennan will moderate the discussion while panellists Mark Ryan (former CMD Accenture), Ingrid Devin (Dell) and Gina Quinn (Dublin Chamber of Commerce) will discuss the topic: “Business Imagined Better Together – Inclusion, Diversity and Unconscious Bias in Business”.

The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Ciarán Ó’hÓgartaigh, Dean of UCD College of Business.

Event Details:
Date: Tuesday, 23rd February 2016
Venue: The Conrad Hotel, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2
Drinks Reception: 6pm (drinks and canapes served throughout the event)
Dress Code:
Business Attire

Click here to REGISTER for the event

Keynote Speaker: Professor Ciarán Ó’hÓgartaigh,  Dean of UCD College of Business

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Ciarán was appointed Dean in June 2011, having joined UCD in 2008 from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is a BComm graduate of NUI Galway, qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen (Dublin) and holds a PhD in Accounting from the University of Leeds. A former Fullbright Fellow at Northeastern University (Boston), he has published widely on financial reporting and on accounting history in international peer-reviewed publications.

Moderator: Professor Niamh Brennan, University College Dublin

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Professor Niamh Brennan qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG, holds a PhD from the University of Warwick and is a Chartered Director of the Institute of Directors (London). Having established the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance in 2002, Niamh plays a leading role in the public discourse in Ireland and internationally on corporate governance. The Centre has provided executive and professional training to thousands of Irish company directors.

Panelist: Mark Ryan, former CMD Accenture

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Mark retired from Accenture in 2014. He was Country Managing Director (CMD) of Accenture in Ireland since 2005. Mark spent his career with Accenture in Ireland, the US and UK. Mark was also Head of Accenture’s Financial Services Practice in Ireland. He was heavily involved with the Accenture Corporate Citizenship Programme in Ireland working directly with numerous local community organisations. He also drove major Diversity programmes within Accenture. Mark sits on the Genovate (Gender Diversity) Group in UCC and is also on the Sub-Committee tasked with addressing Gender Diversity at the Abbey Theatre.

Panelist: Ingrid Devin, Dell

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With 10 years of regional and global experience Ingrid is responsible for driving Dell’s diversity & inclusion strategy across Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). She provides subject matter expertise on all areas of diversity and works closely with the EMEA leadership team and HR to implement a strategy focused on leadership and accountability, inclusive culture, and external brand.

Panelist: Gina Quin, Dublin Chamber of Commerce

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Gina is CEO of the Dublin Chamber, ensuring it meets its strategic objectives of being the voice of business, Dublin’s best network and inspiring learning and leadership. Working closely with the President and Council, she leads the Chamber team with a clear focus on delivering for member companies. Prior to this role, Gina ran Gandon Enterprises, worked for the Irish Trade Board and Lansdowne Market Research.

Click here to REGISTER for the event

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Marketing & Events 

Just the Beginning

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Five presentations, five writing assignments and more than twenty reading materials, how much time do you think you need to finish all of these? – We have just five weeks.

This is how my MBA programme started. It is never a relaxing beginning but a difficult one, sometimes even a bit stressful. However, it is substantial, interesting, and most importantly, makes you feel that everyday counts. Especially looking back at all of the outcomes to date, I myself even can’t believe we have finished so many tasks in such a short space of time. It is not until I started the Smurfit MBA Programme that I realised I can push myself this hard. The magic five weeks have taught me, changed me and enlightened me.

I have gained a lot of knowledge within the five weeks. Although I can’t call the lectures  pleasant just yet, as I still have to try my best to keep up with the professors’ pace in almost every class, I can now read through the scary financial statement with certain senses; I understand what 5Cs or 5 Forces is; I know how to evaluate the cases by scientific approaches.

I have changed my way of managing multiple tasks and managing time. I don’t waste any minute in the day – if I have five minutes before my next appointment, I read cases instead of wandering. I don’t spend a lot of time surfing on Facebook now. I don’t watch soap operas any more. I concentrate most of my time on studying. The amazing thing is, although this journey is obviously much more tense than my life before the MBA, I am so energetic because I know I am doing something meaningful with my time.

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The last but most inspiring thing is, I am enlightened a lot by the professors, by the MBA Office Team and by my classmates – my friends now. I really can’t think of any place else where you can meet so many interesting people from different backgrounds and cultures. The diversity enables us to learn from each other and thus complete the understanding of other cultures, the entire world and life.

After starting the MBA programme, time has a different meaning to me. On the one hand, every single day becomes so long and the calendar looks endless; on the other hand, the time flies and five weeks feel passed in the blink of an eye. It is a brand new experience in life and it is just the beginning. People say ‘A good beginning is half the battle’. I can’t wait for the adventure that follows in the year ahead.

Minjuan Wang ~ Full Time MBA