A dragon in the den

Two days before Christmas and I’m finally getting round to writing my blog; David Sweeney I expect you to follow suit.

I’d like to share with you my Bizworld (www.bizworldireland.ie) ‘Dragon in the Den’ experience that I had a couple of weeks ago. I visited St Olafs National School in Balally to be the ‘dragon’ (investor) that five pairs of 10/11 year old kids would pitch to for funding their companies movie production. After the daunting experience of being introduced to the class I was moved to the Den to get ready for the first pair of entrepreneurs. Ciara and Aoife, representing ‘Shooting Stars’ company walked in with a mission – to get as many of my $BB (BizBucks) as possible for the minimum share of their company. They pitched their horror comedy movie idea to me and informed me that the cost associated with production of the movie amounted to $89BB. When asked how this cost was calculated, Ciara clearly explained to me the breakdown of wages, studio rent, ticketing, merchandise etc included in the cost. Aoife then told me that they would sell enough tickets and movie merchandise to make a tidy profit on the production. Shooting stars needed funding and I was the fat cat with the cash. The request for my investment began by Aoife and Ciara offering 30% of their company to me for $90BB. Chancers! My counter-offer was met with assertive shakes of the head, they were having none of it. We negotiated some more before I cracked under the pressure and Shooting Stars ended up taking $60BB of me for a mere 40% of the company. Professionally and politely, Aoife and Ciara thanked me for my investment and left the Den. I was left wondering would I fare any better with the next company and its two representatives?

Being a Dragon in the Den in St Olafs’ lasted only an hour and I would highly recommend all MBA’ers to be a dragon in semester 2. If anyone is interested please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and I will arrange with Bizworld.

Peter MacMahon

Full Time MBA

MBA Charity Club

Peter.mac-mahon.1@ucdconnect.ie

Time out! MBA Charity Club’s Table Quiz

Where does the time go? Seriously… Forgive me for the late post!

The Charity Club decided to kick off the first event accordingly after our Financial Reporting Exam on October 23rd to support two special charities: BizWorld IE and Aid for Sierra Leone. After a challenging morning, a majority of the class and some alumni met up at the Dark Horse for pints and bragging rights.

We were all really glad that we could all sleep in the next day so no holds barred! Cian Collins was an amazing Quiz Master, posing some really challenging rounds. Special thanks are also in order for other FT MBAs: Ronan O’Beirne for providing the audio equipment and Edel Kennedy for photographing and grading the responses. With some amazing persuasion, we were able to round up a couple of teams from outside of Smurfit to participate

Right from the start, the alumni teams kicked off in the lead and held strong throughout the night. The full-time class seemed to just be focusing on getting on the piss. (Can you all tell I’m adapting to the Irish slang?) I recall loads of cheers to our beloved Professor extraordinaire Niamh Brennan for bringing us all together!

In the end, the winning team were comprised of FT MBAs– Enda Power, Joe McMenamin, George Gilliland, and Allan Brownlee ­– who stole the show with the Father Ted round.

The questions were funny and drinks and laughs were a plenty. So all in all a successful night!

Thank you to everyone who showed up to support BizWorld IE and Aid For Sierra Leone!

More about Bizworld here: http://bizworldireland.ie/

More about @aid4sierraleone here: aidforsierraleone.org

Here are the photos, courtesy of Edel.

Lindsey Nguyen

FT class 2015 and Charity Club

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.

Foundation Week and a bucket of ice

Settling into an MBA is very similar to making a sports team. You have a large buildup of anticipation leading up to the opening of training camp and then you’re tossed head long into the thick of everything the school can throw at you. As I sat in the lecture hall on the first day of Foundation week I couldn’t help but feel relaxed that I was finally starting after all the preparation to make it to this stage. But as I soon found out, the week was a dive straight into the deep end of the pool. The hours were long and the amount of information being packed into your brain to get you ready for the official start of classes was overwhelming.

If that hasn’t scared you off then you have made it over the first mental hurdle of the year. The foundation week really feels more like a mental preparation for the semester ahead than anything else. The week was full of lectures from everyone who wanted to pass on useful information that will come in handy at some point during your studies. This overflow of information necessitates notes if you’re able to take them. But overall there is information that you begin to use right away in your first week of classes.

Getting to know your classmates that you will spend the next year or two years of your life with is essential. Throughout foundation week there are times that you get to work in these teams. It all culminates with the team building exercises’ at the end of the week. Where you work hands on at building your team and hopefully accelerating past the forming and storming stages of team building. Everyone in the class seemed to enjoy the build up to the final team task. By far this showed the ability of all members in the full time MBA of being able to work together in many different tasks.

My personal favorite activity however was the Ice Bucket Challenge that Yale University MBA was so kind enough to nominate our class for. For me, growing up next to Lake Superior were the water rarely rises above 10 degrees centigrade I knew what was coming. The best part for me was my classmates’ reaction to the water. I think the video says it all, I’m the one calmly walking towards the camera after nominating the next schools.

This year has just begun, so the only thing left to do is find out what it has in store for us. There is so much to do. Yet at the end there is what we all hope will be a new career with the title of an MBA. We all have untapped potential and now is the time that we will find out exactly what and where that is.

Nickolas Boyle

FT Class 2015

The joys of being an EMBA class rep

The first days of the MBA are a whirlwind. Smurfit School staff and former MBA’s go to great lengths to impress upon you what a huge draw on time the MBA is going to be. There are lectures, assignments, leadership development activities, extracurricular events, networking opportunities and endless readings. They also tell you that you should also spend some time on your job and with your family, but this is optional.

The words “class” and “rep” are mentioned somewhere in the middle of this whirlwind. With everything else that is thrown at you in these first days, anything else could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. When the time comes to choose class rep arrives, everyone is very wary that this could be that straw. However, in a moment of clarity, I put myself forward to represent the weekend class. Upon reflection, this turned out to be one of my better decisions.

In a year where networking is so important, the class rep role gave me the opportunity to engage with my class mates more frequently, put the class perspective forward to lecturers and get insights from the second year exec class that I definitely would not have had the chance to do otherwise. As the intermediary between the class and faculty, the class rep role allowed me get a feel for the pulse of the entire class and aspects of modules that maybe at first were not apparent to me.

Class reps are offered first refusal to attend events at various points throughout the year. Examples of this were the Michael Smurfit Book Launch & the UCD Smurfit School Business Journalist Awards. These are excellent opportunities to network and a welcome break to the list of readings and submissions. They help highlight why we sign up for the MBA in the first place and give focus on the end goal.

Networking opportunities and engagement with class and faculty are great, but one benefit of being class rep outshines the rest. Class reps decide where we get to have the post exam party!

Far from being the straw that broke the camel’s back, I found the class rep experience to be extremely rewarding and actually helped me with the academic side of the MBA. I am glad I stuck my head above the parapet in that first week and recommend future Smurfit MBA’s to also.

Paddy Wall

EMBA Weekend year 2

Feelings on returning to the MBA frey

September 1st 2014 marked “back to school” for primary students and MBA students alike. I am now at the end of week 2, year 2 and it still amazes me how quickly you forget things that you simply don’t want to remember! One would assume that after two semesters I would recall how time consuming this programme is but alas, I again got a shock when we were introduced to the course outlines for each of our four modules last week (namely, Global and Corporate Strategy, Strategies for HR, Investment Management and Performance Driven Marketing).

My evenings from September 1st to September 4th inclusive were tied up with the MBA. Classes are every Monday and Thursday. I had an inaugural meeting with my newly assigned group on Wednesday (groups of 4/5 people are assigned by the college and change every semester) and on Tuesday I attended an MBA event on entrepreneurship in the Hibernian Club on Stephen’s Green. Needless to say I was happy for the weekend to arrive!

Although I may sound as if I am feeling sorry for myself (which, of course, happens on occasion) the truth is that I am thoroughly enjoying my time on the programme. I was looking forward to catching up with all my classmates last week (some of which have gotten married, given birth, bought houses etc. since May) and getting back into the routine of student life. When ‘student life’ gets too much, the Smurfit School organise an array of evening events to cater for all interests. Last week I attended the aforementioned entrepreneurship evening, next week I will be working one-on-one with a CV coach and on September 30th we are invited to an evening with Dr. Michael Smurfit. That’s not to mention all the MBA club events that are initiated by current students.

Time has never been so precious. . . I am already on the countdown for Christmas!





Aoife Mc Mahon

EMBA Midweek year 2

Annual MBA Welcome Dinner

The annual MBA welcome dinner took place on Friday night last to welcome all the incoming members of the Full-time MBA Class of 2015 and EMBA class of 2016.  Also in attendance we partners of the class members who had come to see where their other halves would be spending so much time over the next year or two and members of the academic staff of the School and the MBA Programme Office and Careers Service.  The welcome was extended by the Dean of the School Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and MBA Director Orla Nugent.

A feature of the evening was the ever popular film produced for the 45th anniversary of the graduation of the first MBA class.  It was a timely reminder of that first class in this the 50th anniversary year of the commencement of the 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.

“The Secret Ingredient”

So what do you do when school’s out for summer and the first year of your exec MBA is over…?

You start to push the boundaries where you work, build new teams across departments, apply the learning AND hit the media.

That’s what I’ve been up to. I joined a fundraising team in our hospital and helped to create a cookbook to raise much needed funds for family rooms on site.

Continue reading “The Secret Ingredient”

UCD Smurfit MBA Day out at the K Club.

UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Society Blog update for their latest outing:

Derek “the Scallywag” Scally, you dark horse!!! As a 1981 UCD Smurfit MBA Alum, and one of the true gentlemen from the Golden Era of MBA education (please note: finishing a course that did not contain an “Ethics” module), he continued to set the K Club alight in what were some challenging conditions to take home UCD MBA’s 50th Anniversary Prize. Derek was graciously joined by his dear 1981 MBA colleague and friend, Norbert McDermott and his fellow Meath brother in arms, Donal Coyle (who won the wonderful “Monkey’s Ass” Visitor’s Prize). Alongside an always entrepreneurial (both on and off the golf course) Joe Kenny, this foursome could be heard chuckling their way through the 18 holes and well into the 19th. The highlight of this group came when Joe attempted a Crazy Golf style shot across one of the many bridges traversing the water on the 12th. Derek, we all agree, you deserved the victory, keeping it simple throughout.

Continue reading UCD Smurfit MBA Day out at the K Club.