THE YALE TALE

Remember the first time you fastened your seat belt to drive your first car? Nervous hands on the steering wheel with the feet juggling among 3 pedals?  – The thrill to drive, fear of failing, anxiety to know what’s next. It felt like a now or never moment, didn’t it?

Well, this is exactly how I felt on being selected to represent UCD in the Yale case study competition. I was thrilled, excited and proud to be part of the amazing UCD team. Given the style of the competition, it was obvious that as a team, we needed to be at our very best on the D-day to create an impact. The panel comprised of seasoned industry leaders and it was our job to ‘wow’ them with our ideas and solution. We took the bull by its horns and came home with the ‘Best Team Dynamics’ award, which meant that we were energetic, positive and adapted well to change. Hurrayyyy!! Let’s rewind a bit and talk more about the process and competition.

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In this competition, challenge was to solve a raw case. A raw case is very similar to a real-life situation resembles an actual client problem. The information related to the case is presented in various formats and sources. The ask in the competition was to parse through all the information to define the ‘Exam Question’, analyze the data to recommend a solution and implementation plan in just 6.5 hours!!! I know! There were 14 teams from all over the world to compete in this competition.

Preparing for this competition was like an additional module in itself. The 2nd semester makes it a little tough as everyone in the team had picked separate optional modules and finding a common available time slot during the week was not an easy task. Given the time constraints to solve the actual case, it was important for us to function well as a team, play to each other’s strengths and work around the weaknesses. Zoe was very generous to help us through the SDI, to identify what will function best as a team for us. Coming together was just the beginning. We aimed to do a ‘Come dine with me’ amongst us to learn more about each other in an informal setting, but given the routine commitments, it was not easy to find time for it. Instead, we used International trip in March as a step in that direction. We met alumnus to learn about their experience, things that went well and key lessons.

As we know, it takes a lot more than a single person who is in the ring to win a game.  We had exceptional support from Roisin Downing. Be it motivational talks, keeping us on the ground running or working around all the logistics. We never had to worry about a single thing. Ro, you are a star!!

“We all need people who give us feedback, that’s how we improve”. Strategy classes with Karan Sonpar gave us valuable tips on solving the case and structuring the presentation.  We had excellent support from our classmates, who were the judges of our practice sessions and provided us with great feedback.

How can I forget about the presentation skills sessions with Paul Slattery? We not only learnt about fundamentals of good presentation, but also about being at ease around each other. It was during these sessions that we truly came out as a team. We had a team huddle and a team song.  No matter how exhausted we used to be from our classes and assignments, we came out energetic after his sessions. His passion, energy and enthusiasm always inspired us to go the extra mile. Paul, you are incredible and an excellent teacher.

I believe our strengths as a team came across well in Yale when we were preparing for the case. We were just being ourselves; comfortable in sharing our view points and having a healthy discussion on all the points. The assessor in our room judged us on the basis of communication, collaboration, decision making and team management. We were natural at this. It is really critical to have a good camaraderie and belief in each other, and that gets projected automatically.

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We won the ‘Best Team Dynamics’ award. We didn’t win the case-study competition but we came back with lots of learning and a beautiful, life-long memorable experience. We were not the winners but we didn’t lose either. The friendships we made, the learning we had and the insights we gained were our trophies from Yale. It is absolutely true that it is not winning or losing that makes a competition worth, but the overall experience or (like we say it here in Ireland) ‘craic’ that you have around it.

Deepti Jindal, MBA Full Time 2017/18

deepti-yale-3Sauyith Cueva, Deepti Jindal, Robert P. Brennan, Ian Rafferty and Ruary Martin represented UCD Smurfit at Yale Integrated Leadership Case Competition, 2018.

Smurfit MBA- ON THE HORIZON

In the blink of an eye, 8 months have passed. As we return from our International trip and begin to re-immerse ourselves into our regular routines of lectures and assignments, I realize that we are into our final lap of MBA. It is now time for me to reflect on how my life has changed in the span of those 8 months.

Among managing multiple assignments, writing journals, job hunting and other things; what has really encouraged the collaboration and team work among my cohort are the clubs at Smurfit. These clubs provides us an opportunity to step beyond the realms of our regular jobs and gain first-hand experience of managing a team, while also managing an event.  I take pride in being a member of the Smurfit Entrepreneurship Club, which provides a stage for aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as serial entrepreneurs to learn from each other’s experiences.

It has taken 23 club members, 7 months and to enlist 7 speakers to bring, “ON THE HORIZON” to life. The event was marked with the presence of prestigious speakers from a range of diverse and thriving sectors such as Heathtech, Fintech, Renewable Energy and Artificial intelligence- with the focus on addressing the inevitable Industrial revolution 4.0. As an MBA student, I feel blessed to be in the presence of some of the brightest and forward-thinking minds of the country.

I will admit when we first discussed about the event, I couldn’t have anticipated from that this event concept would grow into one of the most memorable experience of the MBA for me. It was a wonderful experience to witness my MBA colleagues collaboratively sweat to make this event a success.

The Entrepreneurship club provided me with the necessary breaks from the  MBA. I learned a lot about my colleagues during the club meetings through sharing our entrepreneurial experiences, which at times were both insightful and overwhelming. Personally, it gave me a platform to share my initial ideas to a critical and well-informed group for their expertise. I am sure that in today’s world, nowhere else I would be getting such valuable and trusted advice for free.

The idea of “On the Horizon” event, began with industries our club wanted to know more about, in the context of exploring entrepreneurial drive of Dublin. Our interests in Healthtech, Fintech, Renewable Energy and Artificial intelligence became the pillars of this event. The roadmap our event was not smooth, as I realized quite early and it wasn’t easy for us as students to attract such renowned speakers to our event. However relying on our Irish colleagues networks proved really helpful, as did the Smurfit MBA brand behind us in order to help us get the ball rolling. 

We are a club of budding entrepreneurs and wanted our innovative event to live up to the Smurfit name, doing us both proud. Not a single person shied away from their responsibilities, from the event preparation and guidance, with continuous suggestions to improve the event coming from colleagues and club members alike.

What came to me as a surprise to me was the experience that I gained as it challenged my thought process. I was a staunch believer of the fact that an individual requires a certain level of education before they can channelize themselves into setting up a business. My belief was contradicted, when I witnessed a group of school going students in the age group of 7-11 pitched themselves as CEO, CFO and COO. Furthermore, one of the teams had also prepared and shot an advertising campaign for their product. The event witnessed an inspiring array of entrepreneurial talent from school going kids, to our key note speaker- Oliver Tattan, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Genebox. I would like to thank the speakers, MBA Programme Office and my fellow club members that helped to make this event a huge success.

Ayush Nagpal, Full Time MBA 2017/18

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MBA Open Evening

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The first Opening Evening for the classes of 2016 took place Wednesday evening in UCD Smurfit School with the newly installed Christmas tree in the front hall which gave the occasion a rather festive feel. This event concentrated on the post experience Masters and MBA programmes and was a lively event with a good crowd with lots of questions on the details of the programmes and their delivery, admissions procedures and all of their individual concerns.

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The MBA element of the evening included an opportunity to meet with staff from the MBA programme, a presentation by the MBA Admissions Manager and introductory briefings on the UCD Smurfit MBA Leadership Development Programme which runs in parallel with the academic programme and a presentation from the Careers and Skills Office who work tirelessly with our MBA students throughout their time on the programme and indeed afterwards.  This was followed by a panel discussion with MBA alumni and current participants (many thanks to Colin Creagh ’10, Morag Pollock ’13, Niamh O’Reilly ’13, Sarah Tuma ’16, Vince Cooney ’16 and Donal Bailey ’17).  The student and alumni panel and Q&A was probably the most valuable from the attendees’ perspective as it was an insight into the realities, challenges and rewards of the MBA experience from those who have lived or are living it.

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This was the first of many events for the upcoming recruitment season with other Open Evenings, Breakfasts, Experience Days and GMAT preparation sessions on the schedule, so if you are interested in attending please check in with us mba@ucd.ie and we’ll add you to the list of those interested in knowing what is happening and when.

Roisin O’Loughlin ~ Executive MBA Programme Manager

UCD Smurfit MBA supports Plan Ireland

To celebrate ‘International Day of the Girl’ on 11th October, Plan Ireland held its Because I am a Girl Ball in the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Dublin.

Because I am a Girl is Plan International’s global initiative to educate girls across the developing world. To do this, Plan International identify the key barriers to girls’ education – child marriage forced labour, sexual violence, early pregnancy and more – and break them.


Susi Geiger & Eva Wedenberg


The focus of the campaign is girls, because a girl in the developing world faces overwhelming odds from the day she is born. But Plan is reversing these odds, they have reached a crucial tipping point and are making real progress. More girls than ever are being given the chance of education and the tide is turning. More and more of today’s mothers have seen the value of education. Fathers, communities and governments are following.

Associate Professor, Susi Geiger, was amongst the attendees at the ball; “Every girl has the right to an education. It’s apt that the female MBA staff support this great cause (and we have a great night out while doing so)!”

Over the next four years, Because I am a Girl projects will support four million girls to get the education, skills and support they need to move themselves from poverty to opportunity.


Elena Ranguelova & Roisin O'Loughlin


Plan Ireland held the ball in support of this initiative and both the Smurfit MBA team and students supported the event and enjoyed a wonderful evening at the ball.


Adela Perez & Caragh Curran


Support from events such as the ball allow Plan to implement projects that tackle some of the biggest challenges that girls face in developing countries. They believe that supporting girls is one of the best investments we can make in the world today. Removing barriers for girls’ means, not only a better life for them, but a safer, healthier and prosperous world for us all. To find out more information or to support to the cause, click here

Avril Donohue

MBA Senior Programme Coordinator

A life worth living according to Michael Smurfit

Michael Smurfit and Lindsey Nguyen of the full-time MBA class

Dr Michael Smurfit arrived into the Laurence Crowley boardroom in Smurfit College on Tuesday Sept 30th where the noise filled room of curious MBA and business students immediately fell into a quiet hush. He took his seat next to the Dean and then opened with a self deprecating ice breaker apologising for the inadequacy of his book. Result? Everyone immediately relaxed and warmed to their college namesake. Dr Smurfit proceeded to give a fascinating account of how he developed his empire and set up the Business School and shared some lessons learned along the way. Our very own Lindsey Nguyen (Full time MBA) did a great job as MC and posed some carefully crafted but pointed questions to Dr Smurfit which he duly answered.

What became quickly evident was a lot of his success was down to doing the obvious, like cutting costs, managing stocks and being a forward thinker in a time when everyone was looking inward instead of outward. What is also interesting is how Smurfit took a small Irish company to the top of the world in the area of wood and wood products, beating off rivals from countries with significant wood and native paper industries.

As per his autobiography A Life Worth Living, Dr Smurfit was the first Irish mega tycoon, who built a small family business into Ireland’s first multinational company and one of the world’s largest paper and packaging companies. A particularly spectacular feat coming from a country with no indigenous wood industry to speak of. Dr Smurfit’s motto was “I must, I can and I will” and he did.

Continue reading A life worth living according to Michael Smurfit

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.

The Disruptors Business Conference – 5th September 2014

On Friday September 5th, a number of MBA students, both past and present, attended Disruptors in The Marker Hotel. The one-day conference led with the tagline “Your industry is being disrupted. Are you ready?” With disruption seemingly inevitable, the conference aimed to highlight ways in which companies can be the disruptor instead of the disrupted. Thought leaders from around the world were brought together to share their unique and varied insights.

Disruption is brought about through innovation, and it is the ability to innovate that was much debated throughout the MBA. As businesses become larger and more established, they tend to become less responsive to change, and therefore are at risk of disruption from more agile young companies.

The speakers proposed many ways to stay ahead, including for example, the trend of creating startup incubation centres within large corporates to allow them stay close to the leading disruptive thinking in their industry.

While the tips and thoughts throughout the day were helpful, the value of the conference was wrapped up in its core message. Either disrupt, or be disrupted.

A special word of thanks to the organiser, John O’Loughlin (MBA 2012) for the opportunity to attend this conference.

Mark Good

Full-time MBA 2014

Upcoming MBA experience day on Saturday

With the advent of summer (or what passes for it in Ireland) preparation is almost complete for our final MBA recruitment event of the current cycle, presentations have been finalised, catering confirmed and Helen from Marketing has almost finished the name badges.  We introduced the MBA Experience day for last years intake and they’ve proven very popular and informative for those who are interested in getting a taster of what the Smurfit MBA is like.    We look forward to seeing all of those of you who’ve signed up, a reminder of the schedule for the day is at http://www.smurfitschool.ie/mbaexperience/

See you Saturday.  The short video below is from a previous Experience day.


Indulging in the wake of the EMBA year 1

With much anticipation and relief, we awoke on Saturday the 17th of May 2014. No it was not a dream; we had indeed survived our first year of the EMBA.  The exams were now behind us (for the moment at least), the sun was shining and a celebratory feast was to be had that afternoon.  We were ready to party, having at least caught up on some of the sleep that we had missed during the year, the semester and the exams.

We celebrated our end to first year in Peacock Green, probably best described as a cool upmarket deli- just beside Morton’s of Station Building of Hatch Street, Upper.  We consumed a delectable four course feast of a very nice and light tomato and basil soup as a starter, followed by a mouth-watering choice of pulled pork sandwiches on hoagies, frittatas, quiches and salads, it proved hard not to ge back for seconds. At least, we pretended to be a bit healthy by having the salads, which gave us good enough reason to descend like vultures upon the homemade desserts – fruit salad, meringues of various flavours (perfectly crispy on the outside and oh so gooey on the inside), macaroons (again of a multitude of flavours and colours, a veritable rainbow) and a selection of cakes. These were then washed down by very refreshing teas and coffees which helped to increase (very slightly) the sobriety levels – it is a BYO premises and there was no drought! We spent a lovely three hours at lunch with the added company of Cormac (Corporate Finance Lecturer) and Christoph (Management Accounting Lecturer).  Throughout the afternoon, the staff at Peacock Green treated us as though we were royalty – they had obviously calculated the net present value of our presence and the potential opportunity costs, just like we had been taught!

The décor of this upmarket deli was very sympathetic to its environment and has a very nice balance. It is a cavernous space due to being part of a railway station in a former life, but they have managed to make it a funkier version of your kitchen. You know the one we would all like, rustic and yet very cool. Interestingly, you can also purchase a lot of the items that are used to decorate the tables or to serve dishes/drinks in.

After being completely satiated in Peacock Green and managing not to make a holy show of ourselves, we retired to House on Leeson Street (to do that here instead). In conjunction with our weekend classmates, we showed the others there a thing or two on the dance floor. However, as they say, what goes on tour, stays on tour!

It will take a while for us all to settle into our newly found freedom, but we look forward to that challenge.

Muireann Cullen

Midweek year 1

The Easter Bunny pays early visit to UCD Smurfit

The Easter Bunny and friend examine an easter egg

The Easter bunny made an early visit for the second year running to UCD Smurfit on Saturday 12th April to assist with an easter egg hunt run by the EMBA classes.  We arrived to find he’d been very busy laying out coloured streamers and various kinds of eggs all over the grounds.  Baskets were kindly supplied by his helpers to the hunters to assist them with keeping their finds together.

Bunny worked the crowd and made sure everyone got their share.  Also in attendance was his friend the Green Dragon who had to be coaxed around the grounds by small children who offered up easter eggs as tribute, despite the occasional roar and some very odd dance moves Dragon seemed to have a good time too.

Many thanks to Jennifer Boyer who is apparently the Easter Bunny’s contact on campus, Claire McAlistair who was on face painting duty, Ciara O’Brien who fronted the operation and most especially to Andrew ‘Easter Bunny’ Watene and Steve ‘Green Dragon’ Kelly.

The Green Dragon demands more tribute