There is no doubt that the Smurfit rugby club has been stunningly successful in this tournament over the past few years. Consistently challenging and often winning the title is a credit to the blood sweat and tears that has been spilt by each committee and successive years of players over the years. It may appear on the surface as a straightforward endeavour – get a team together, travel and play some rugby. Much like a graceful swan, however, the legs are paddling furiously under the water to ensure everything above looks to be running smoothly. This year was certainly no exception.
Competing against some of the biggest and best known business schools in the world (Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Columbia, Kellogg, Stern etc) which all have a far larger pool of students/players to choose from, a fuller fixture list during the season (they play at least one game outside of the MBA Rugby World Cup) and shorter distances to travel. It is a considerable undertaking to try and whip together an entire club inside of six months. Building a player base, raising funds to take at least 20 people to the USA for a weekend in April and designing a whole range of kit requires a lot of work. All amongst the not small undertaking of the Full Time MBA course.
Case study competitions, as they are conducted in UCD, are a unique experiment into the intellectual, emotional and interpersonal resilience of the MBA student. A written case study of roughly 20 pages (including exhibits) is provided to teams of four or five, which then have four hours to read, analyse and discuss content, and then draw conclusions and recommendations to be presented to a judging panel.
This is a pressure cooker environment, where learnings of team dynamics fly out the window, to be replaced by raised voices, hair pulling and frayed nerves.
The team to which I belong won the Full-Time MBA case study competition. Our next task was to compete against the winning teams from the Mid-Week and Weekend Executive MBA classes. This was an especially daunting prospect, as we had followed the success of Jim, Steve, Shaun and Peter at the Molson and Yale competitions.
By contrast, team FTMBA had two preparatory meetings in Lazy Days, a café over the road from Smurfit. Both of which descended into blind speculation on the type of case to come up, mystification of our opponents and making plans for the pub afterwards.
Despite all odds, our unpolished approach to the competition paid dividends. Team FTMBA emerged victorious: according to the judges, the strength of our argument and narrative compensated for a shaky structure.
Our success takes us to the MBAAI Case Study Competition, to be hosted in Smurfit on 21st June. This will pit us against successful teams from other MBA courses throughout Ireland. Our team will need more formal preparation to succeed here. Unfortunately for Lazy Days, our team preparatory meetings will need to be in the focussed environment of a syndicate room.
Congratulations to the winning team from the Fulltime MBA class who are this year’s winners of the annual in-house interclass case study competition. Three teams battled it out on Saturday 17th May last in what proved to be a very closely fought competition. The FT team overcame two Year 2 EMBA teams – one from the Weekend and one from the Midweek class.
The winning Fulltime team are Trevor Whelan, Paul Gardner, Niall O’Muire, Mark Lawton and Mike Noonan. A special mention for the judging panel who had a tough job – Prof. Pat Gibbons, Prof Aikens and Richie Sommerville (MBA 2013) from last year’s All Ireland winning team.
The team will now go on to represent the school at the MBAAI All Ireland Strategy Competition on June 21st next. UCD Smurfit School has the honour of hosting this event this year as defending champions from 2013.
Not adding any extra pressure, but suffice it to say that nothing less than a win is expected once more.
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.