The view from Week 6

I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see (Amazing Grace, John Newton 1725-1807).

This is how it feels after six weeks of the E-MBA programme. The fog of confusion in which I have lived for the last few years is starting to clear. What makes a company stand out from the crowd? What are they doing differently? Why do their employees enjoy going to work? Where is the meaningful information in an Annual Report? All of these questions and more are being addressed simultaneously in our first semester. There are more questions each week but at least I feel they are starting to resemble intelligent questions.

The group work is great – Carlsberg don’t do groups but if they did it would be Group 2, EMBA Weekend 2014! It is like early morning training on a Saturday, you might not want to do it, but you are not going to let the team down. Being in a team drives you to do more. You don’t want to be that person everybody talks about during the Intro Week – The one who doesn’t pull their weight, the weak link in the chain, the slacker. Although when I look around my class I am left thinking this fictitious creature must be taking the mid-week course? This person is like a unicorn or an elf, they are the subject matter of great stories but we all know they don’t really exist.

The Entrepreneurship Club – I went to my first event at the Google HQ last night. For me it was fascinating. There were talks from industry experts who explained the available supports for start-up ventures, from pre-seed capital right through to International scalability. This is not an area I have any previous experience in so I am looking forward to future events.

Now all I need is a lightning bolt moment where I think of a concept that will change the world. Maybe I will leave that to the end of Semester 2!

Barry Griffin

EMBA Weekend 2014-2016

UCD Smurfit MBA50 Celebrating Entrepreneurship

On Tuesday 2nd of September, the MBA Programme Office were delighted to host a Celebrating Entrepreneurship Event in the Hibernian Club on St. Stephens Green in Dublin.

After a brief introduction by Prof. Pat Gibbons, MBA alumni and current students were treated to some rare insights from Claire Lee, head of Corporate Venture at Silicon Valley Bank.

This was followed by a soap-box challenge which involved a number of MBA alumni and students show-casing their start-up companies within a two minute time-frame.

List of participating start-ups:

Brendan Cunniffe, Apica Cardiovascular

Dave Byrne,  Buzzoo

Mick O’Dwyer,  Envirotech

Donal Ryan,  Equinome

Ian Nolan,  Legalshine

David Larkin,  LogoGrab

Paul Manning, Novo Grid

Eamonn Sayers,  World Sports Team

Steve Kelly,  young Horizons


After a thoroughly enjoyable series of presentations, all present got the chance to mingle over a glass of wine.

Below is a short synopsis of this showcase of innovation and something for our budding entrepreneurs to reflect on.

MBA Mentoring Programme 2014

Katharine Slattery, Director of Peer Mentoring Resources

This year Katharine Slattery, the Director of Peer Mentoring Resources was delighted to be involved in co-ordinating the inaugural MBA Mentoring Programme in conjunction with the MBA Careers Manager. Through this mentoring programme, the full-time MBA students were given the opportunity to meet with professionals who have completed the MBA and have the benefit of hindsight and experience in making the often-challenging transition to ‘real-world’ industry and entrepreneurship. Thirty-five MBA alumni volunteered to take on the role of a mentor for a full-time MBA student and mentors were matched with mentees who had common career interests and/or professional backgrounds. Mentors and mentees met initially in March, with further meetings taking place up until the end of the programme in July. Mentees were encouraged to set specific goals for the process, and both parties completed online reports after each mentoring meeting.

Formal feedback has been gathered from all participants, and some very positive reports on the programme from both mentees and mentors has been received including the following: ‘This is a truly excellent process…It is incredibly reassuring to know that there is somebody there, with your best interest in mind, to offer advice and support on a range of topics, but in particular on career progression.’ ‘I feel it offers a valuable source of support in negotiating the next step in my career. The mentor can provide advice or just act as a sounding board and understands the situation well.’ ‘My mentee has a positive outlook and has embraced the process and I think both of us have enjoyed the dialogue.’ Katherine really enjoyed working with MBA staff, students and alumni on this programme and would like to express her thanks to those involved for the energy, commitment and time that they have given to it.

Katharine Slattery is the Director of Peer Mentoring Resources, who provide consultancy, training and resources for organisations and businesses who wish to provide further support for their students or staff through the framework of a mentoring programme.

Use your UCD Smurfit MBA to pursue that dream.

Ciara O’Brien (weekend eMBA 2014), founder of iSave, recently joined UCC’s start-up accelerator Ignite.

My advice to new MBAs is to really make the most of every resource that’s available to you within the MBA system. While there’s lots to learn from your core modules and lecturers, don’t forget to look outside the curriculum to find other opportunities. Two years is quite a short time frame to achieve big things!

My only regret from the MBA is that I didn’t seek out those opportunities even sooner.  Starting the course is such an overwhelming experience – learning to deal with the teams, assignments and exams.

In year 2, once I kick-started my start-up idea, the various MBA structures were a huge asset. Michael McDonnell brought me the UCD Student Innovation Fund (which we subsequently won!), Brian Marrinan connected me with MasterCard’s start-up accelerator which was invaluable and Bruce Martin, entrepreneurship lecturer, supported me to refine iSave’s value proposition even though I wasn’t in his class!

This has all been key to our success in winning seed funding, acceptance to the Ignite programme and now a potential spot at The Summit’s APLHA programme for start-ups.

So whatever your goal: take the knock-backs in your stride, seek out people who believe in your idea and can help and don’t waste any of the resources that are available to you. If you have an idea you want to pursue this is probably the best time in your life to do it. It’ll all be over before you know it!

Ciara O’Brien, EMBA 2014 and Founder of iSave.

MBA Alumnus Awarded ‘Business Woman of the Year 2014’ at Network Ireland Dublin Awards

MBA graduate Mouna Kenazoui, the CEO and Founder of leading Irish recruitment agency Martinsen Mayer, has received this year’s ‘Business Woman of the Year (New Business)’ award, at the Network Ireland, Dublin Awards which were held on June 27th. Mouna graduated from the full-time MBA programme in 2010.

Mouna, who established Martinsen Mayer just last year, secured the win against strong competition from a host of entrants in the category. In a ceremony that took place in Dublin’s Marker Hotel, judges pointed out that Mouna was “an entrepreneur to watch with a strong vision for her company, she has a growth plan and isn’t putting up any barriers to corporate and personal success.”


Continue reading MBA Alumnus Awarded ‘Business Woman of the Year 2014’ at Network Ireland Dublin Awards

Well done to Ian Nolan on his success at LaunchPad

Recent EMBA graduate, Ian Nolan (2013), has won the NDRC’s LaunchPad 9 with his start-up, Legalshine.  Legalshine was one of 10 start-ups selected to take part last February.  It concluded last week at the pitching event called Lift-Off.  Ian’s pitch beat off all other contenders on the evening to win the overall prize of €30,000 in follow-on investment for future growth and development.

Legalshine has developed software for large organisations to control their legal costs. It takes data from legal bills around the organisation, understands the text, and uses benchmarking and analytics to eliminate waste.  Governments, Banks, Insurance Companies and Multinationals are the target market and Legalshine has already won new business.

Ian is the second major entrepreneurial winner this year joining current EMBA participant, Ciara O’Brien, who won the inaugural UCD Student Innovation Fund for 2014.

Time to think …

There is an element of the MBA experience that gets lost in the noise of commentary on hours, deadlines, hand ins and team meetings. The full time MBA gives you back some time in your life to think. To think about what you want to do, to think about what you have done and to think about what makes you tick. Any perspective student should know the amount of hours required on the MBA programme is a often overhyped. MBA graduates you will meet remember the pinch situations where they had to work until the wee small hours of the morning for three nights in a row, or they remember a chronic three week period in semester 1 where they had 5 projects hanging over them. But the reality of the situation is that this is the exception rather than the rule. There is a steady flow of work that (if you keep on top of) is eminently manageable. The MBA experience gives you more time out then your current career. It is NOT like having a fulltime job and there IS an element of reliving that college experience where you used to have time to think, chat and pursue some new interests and side projects.

As an entrepreneur I find this time invaluable. In the “real world” It’s hard to get time to think about new business ideas and exciting innovations. In the MBA bubble you can find that time again and more importantly, when you do find that time you are far better equipped to turn day dreams into realities should you choose to do so. You start refining your ideas from the minute they pop into your head, what are the barriers to entry? Is it an attractive Industry structure? What is the value proposition? How easily would this be imitated? Do you have access to resources required? It also helps that you now have 35 new people in your life that you can bounce ideas off and develop some thoughts you have had on your career, or a business idea or even a further course of study after the MBA (God forbid!).

So don’t let talk of “surviving the MBA”, the “divorce course” and “say goodbye to your family for a year” influence your decision complete an MBA. It is challenging but doable, and if you are at a bit of a crossroads in life, the programme will give you the time and resources to figure out the grand plan for you. That plan will change daily by the way but at least you will be thinking about it….

Trevor Whelan

Full-time MBA 2014


EMBA year 2 entrepreneur wins grant from the UCD Student Innovation Fund

Congratulations to Ciara O’Brien of the EMBA Weekend year 2 class who won a €5,000 grant on March 27th from the inaugural competition for funds from the  UCD Student Innovation Fund to assist with funding her Start-Up, “iSave”.

Ciara’s winning pitch, iSave, is for a new online/mobile product which enables consumers to manage multiple savings targets via a single interface. The product is aimed specifically at the 18 – 35 demographic as these consumers have lost faith in mainstream banks and are looking for more contemporary, flexible ways to manage their finances. Working with the Credit Unions of Ireland, it was found that there is a significant opportunity to partner on this – they are looking for new ways to connect with younger savers, bringing their core values into a more contemporary setting. The UCD Student Innovation Grant will now be used to build a beta launch version of the product to share with a number of Credit Unions.

The UCD Student Innovation Fund in partnership with UCD Students’ Union (SU) awarded a combined sum of €15,500 to student-run Start-Ups, as part of a new initiative by UCD to invest in student entrepreneurs.

The panel of judges heard pitches from 33 Start-Ups in total and following delegation decided to allocate specific sums of funding to the ideas they felt deserved the backing.

A special word of thanks to Bruce Martin who has been a key support to Ciara in winning this prize.



Ciara triumphant




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.



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.