An MBA Halloween Treat

On Monday the 30th of October over half of the MBA class decided to get out of Blackrock to see what life beyond the Pale had to offer. Loftus Hall located in the southern most point of County Wexford also known as the model county is a long way from Blackrock, so we decided to make the most of the trip and stop off at a few choice locations along the way, namely Glendalough and the Irish National Heritage Park. We got very lucky on the day as there were clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine, as anyone in Ireland knows so much of the good things we have to offer in this country is weather dependant. (Aside: Wexford is called the model county as we have a disproportionate number of models, supermodels and in generally beautiful people compared to the rest of the country).

The first stop on our extensive itinerary was Glendalough a beautiful monastic site set in a glaciated valley in County Wicklow.  Wicklow is the most mountainous county we have on the east coast of Ireland, I relayed this information to my travel companions for the day who scoffed before bursting into laughter. Without naming names the offenders come from Venezuela and Greece, however shortly after our arrival in Glendalough they soon came around to the majesty of this ancient site. We took it easy compared to some of the groups who climbed the Spink. All that sightseeing, walking and hiking was hungry work so most of us took full advantage of the chipper vans on site, with the nutrition obtained from the Quarter Pounders and Garlic Cheese Chips setting us up for the rest of the day.

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Next up was a guided tour around the Irish National Heritage Park which is located just outside Wexford town upon the banks of the imperious river Slaney. Upon arrival we were treated to a video which depicted life in medieval Ireland. The tour kicked off in prehistoric Ireland circa 7000 BC (Mesolithic era), through the Stone age, Bronze age and into the Iron age (coincidentally where we left off in Glendalough).  On the tour we learned about pagan Ireland and how our ancestors worshipped multiple gods, how to cook a nice piece of ham in a fulacht fia, farming practices, Irish Kings, and how St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland and chased out the snakes from the country while he was at it. At the end of the tour we found a playground for Spilios which he took full advantage of as our photgraphic evidence proves. All that learning, walking and playing proved to be thirsty work so we headed to one of Wexford’s finest pubs The Sky and the Ground to become suitably refreshed and also (*not for the designated drivers) to calm the nerves in anticipation of what lay ahead of us in Loftus Hall.

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Loftus Hall, the main event, located down on the Hook Peninsula in the South of Wexford. Loftus Hall has a long and troubled history dating back to 1172. For those who don’t know the story the Charles Tottenham took over the mansion in 1666 with his second wife and daughter Anne from his first marriage. One night during a storm a ship unexpectedly arrived at the Hook Peninsula and seeking refuge from the storm a mysterious handsome young man arrived at Loftus Hall. Anne became smitten with the man and one night when playing cards Anne searching for a card bent down and looked on the floor only to see her mystery man had a cloven foot as per Lucifer himself. At that point the man shot through the ceiling leaving a hole there that could never be repaired. Poor Anne was very disturbed by this and became mentally ill. Anne died in 1675 and her ghost has said to have made frequent visits to Loftus Hall ever since. We got the chance to experience a live recreation of this event where I personally got the chance to play the role of Anne’s step mother and use my most feminine voice to address the crowd of 40 people which was very liberating I must admit. On the way out, we were chased by some very scary looking individuals with chainsaws towards the giftshop. I must say thank you to some of my braver classmates who held my hand when things got too scary, without you I don’t think I would be here writing this blog right now and could quite possibly have become another part of the Loftus Hall legacy.

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To conclude I must give a big shout out to Laura Cunningham for initiating and organising the trip down to Loftus Hall for what was an unforgettable Halloween experience in Ireland’s most haunted house. The drivers Ian Ahern, Eoin Carroll and Laura for their efforts because I know for various reasons between, socialising, running marathons and coursework you all had a lot going on! Finally, thanks to everyone who made it down to Loftus Hall, it was great to spend time with you all outside the college and show off a bit of my county. For the rest of the class we hope to see you at our next outing!

James Kelly, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018

Team Coaching

“You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question?”

                                                                                            — The Breakfast Club

 

It’s hard to believe that just one month ago we were enjoying a fun day of team building exercises that required leadership, teamwork, logic and patience. On this day, we were introduced to our Semester 1 study groups for the first time. Each group drew up a team charter, to clarify direction and common goals, while establishing boundaries. My team found no significant commonalities amid ourselves, yet we took immediate comfort in our differences, instantly recognising that they made us stronger. Like every study group, we are diverse, with not only distinct career experience, but also different nationalities; Irish, Canadian, Vietnamese and Indian. My team came from unique industries; from program management to teaching to technology management to marketing. We now have four approaches to business administration, four flavours of strategy, four perceptions, and the chance to see each challenge from four distinct angles. Nevertheless, in time all great teams will face hurdles.

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Fast-forward 30 days, and we participated in a team coaching session at the Talbot Hotel. Since our team work is continuous throughout the year, it was important to debrief using a lessons-learned approach. Each team had the benefit of a coach to facilitate the afternoon session. We were provided with the opportunity to discuss openly as a team what we feel our issues have been, and then had the chance for one-on-ones with each team member to discuss what went wrong, what went right, what may be improved, and ways the improvements can be made. It was interesting to hear my teammates’ first impressions of me. The team coaching session helped us identify ways to improve our time management and teamwork efficiency. It was the perfect opportunity to reflect over the first month and recognise mistakes, errors, and failures, and make any necessary adjustments to our team charter.

Now that we have a better understanding of our colleagues’ individual strengths, weaknesses and personality types, it will be interesting to see how we evolve from here!

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The days are long, and the years are short. After several 12 hour days at Smurfit, numerous hours spent in the syndicate rooms (for which we all received warning emails for overbooking!), social events, and communication outside of school hours, it feels like we’ve known each for months! With the close-knit nature of the program, I think it’s obvious to us all, that many life-long friendships are developing, and I’m looking forward to the countless adventures we will experience together throughout the year!

 

Laura Cunningham, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

An MBA… So What’s It Really Like?

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As I near the end of Semester Two of my first year I have reflected on my experience so far. I thought I’d write a post which, had I read one year ago, would have given me a real insight into what was in store for me when I was considering the MBA Programme at Smurfit Business School. So here it goes………

Semester and Grading Structure – so what do you actually do?

Each semester has 4 modules (subjects). You’ll be assigned, by the school, to your study-team with 4 other classmates which will last for each semester. Some modules will be fully graded on the basis of a combination of individual or study-team assignments. Others will be graded by means of assignment (team or individual) coupled with an end of semester exam. If you have never experienced the delight of the Exam Hall in the RDS –this pleasure awaits! Some of the team assignments involve studying a particular case study or topic and formally presenting this to the full class. Your team’s class presentations will include low cost US airline Southwest Airlines (HR Strategy aspect) and Online UK supermarket Ocado (Supply Chain aspect). Every two weeks the Competitive Strategy module will require your team to prepare a one page assessment report in response to a problem outlined in the assigned case study on topics ranging from the Asian airline industry to an online dating company. You will learn.

Skills development

The program will take you out of your comfort zone straight away. If you are a reluctant orator / presenter, the program will assist in the development of your skills. In the opening orientation week Paul Slattery will give you a small taster of his Presentation Skills Workshop. You will have an opportunity to sign up for a 1 day workshop with Paul later in Semester 1 – make sure you sign up! You will have plenty of opportunity to practice and refine your presentation skills (and gain confidence) in front of your class as part of your presentation assignments. You will develop.

Developing Skills
Developing Skills

Resilience

You’ll figure out that your resilience is put to the test. Semester 1 is “full-on” – by week 5 you will wonder if you (or anyone!) can manage the combined workload of (1) your commitments to team assignments (2) your own assignments (3) your preparation for next week’s lectures and (4) all the while doing the regular 9 to 5 day job. By week 12, you will know that somehow you made it and that you won’t have left anyone behind. You’ll figure out how to make it work, how to find time and how not to waste time.  You’ll get your reading and preparation for the next classes done before work a few mornings a week and you’ll spend one day out of the weekend between study-team meetings and assignments. Occasionally on weekends you’ll need to do more but life will go on. By Semester 2 – you’ll feel much more in control, less daunted and more organised.  You will balance.

Not just Teamwork but Friendships

You’ve heard lots about the emphasis on teamwork. Trust me, you’ll form close friendship bonds that will last beyond the 2 years of the program. You will quickly learn to trust your assigned teammates not just in the narrow sense of the course work but in a broader sense. You’ll get to know them on a personal level and them you – you’ll closely share the ups and downs of the MBA life experience with them. Just before the end of semester 1, when final exams are closely coming into focus, you’ll find that you’ve given up a whole Saturday to coach your fellow teammates and some other classmates on an exam subject that you studied before. You’re motivated to ensure that no one is left behind. You will impact.

You will belong.

 Derek Anderson ~ Executive MBA