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.
Team Shamrock have created another video for their recent trip to Yale to take part in the Yales Raw Case Study competition. While narrowly missing out on a place in the final they did do UCD Smurfit proud by winning the ‘Best Leadership and Team Dynamic’ award and clearly had a great time doing it. Yale looks amazing. Thanks to Steve Kelly for the video and well done on subtly working Aer Lingus into it. Congratulations again to Steve, Shaun O’Keefe, Jim Gannon and Peter Lee.
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 Yale School of Management Integrated Leadership Case Competition was held over the 5th and 6th of April at their campus in New Haven. With 13 universities selected from premier US business schools and the Yale Global Network for Advanced Management, the participant list benefitted from a geographical breadth as well as quality in depth. Teams were evaluated on their resolution of a 7 hour case in the Yale RAW Case Study format, a data rich format that requires the teams to focus on key issues early and to filter out the key relevant information and data. The Smurfit School of Business team (Jim Gannon, Steve Kelly, Shaun O’Keeffe and Peter Lee) were evaluated by a panel of judges and an in-room invigilator who considered leadership and team dynamics against pre-determined metrics. Although narrowly missing out on a place in the Final, the Smurfit team were successful in winning the overall award for Leadership and Team Dynamics, which included Yale School of Management, MIT Sloan and Carnegie Mellon Tepper schools of business among others. The team are very grateful for the support provided by both Smurfit and Aer Lingus, and are confident that the bond between the schools has been further strengthened by their participation, ensuring value for both faculty and future students.
As the internal UCD Smurfit MBA Case Competition approaches, the MBA 2014 cohort is creating alliances in the form of 4-5 member teams and preparing to do verbal battle. Classmates, friends, and competitors will go head-to-head to be named the MBA Case Competition winners, and to earn the honour of representing The Smurfit MBA programme at the MBA Association Ireland Strategy Case Competition later this year.
They may sweat and perhaps shed a tear, but let’s hope there’s no blood drawn as the teams use their knowledge and skills to out-smart each other.
As inspiration we give you memories of Team Shamrock who represented UCD Smurfit at the last Molsen Case study competition in Canada and did us proud.
Michael Smurfit Business School provides not only an excellent academic background but is also very culturally diverse. In the college, we have good opportunities to explore different cultures from many international student communities.
Tết or Vietnamese New Year, is the most important celebration of Vietnamese culture. On the first day of the first month of the Vietnamese calendar, we, Vietnamese students at Michael Smurfit Business School, successfully organized the special event called “Vietnam Cultural Night”. The main purpose of the event was to introduce Vietnamese culture and promote “Only rice is not enough,” a charity program that raises funds to provide food and cooking services in elementary schools of poor highland mountain regions.
During the event, guests were served different kinds of Vietnamese traditional foods. Some highlights of Vietnamese cultural activities that happen during Tet through the traditional costume shows, traditional dances and music provide the insights about Vietnam. The most interesting activity was the Kid Corner which enabled Vietnamese adopted children to understand about their original point. The event is one of the most meaningful activities during our one year in the Smurfit Business School.
“Oh, what have we done!” As December dawned, the realisation of what our team had committed to was finally hitting me. Whilst undertaking final lectures, finalising projects, preparing for exams and thinking ahead to the annual dilemma posed by Christmas presents, we were also preparing for a case competition, trying to find sponsorship and planning our journey to Montreal. In hindsight, it was lunacy!
The John Molson International Case Study Competition is the preeminent MBA case competition and it provides an opportunity for MBA students to benchmark their learning against the best that other global schools have to offer. It is truly global with schools from Australia, Brazil, Israel, US, Canada and Sweden to name but a few.
Thankfully, everything came together prior to the Christmas holidays with Aer Lingus and Molson Coors Ireland seeing our cause as a worthy one and providing the necessary sponsorship. Also, having some seasoned travellers in our midst was a great assistance when plotting the best route to Montreal via Boston and a road trip.
Whilst driving from Boston to Montreal between a polar vortex and the worst snow storms that have hit the North East in a decade, we realised that things were conspiring with us for once (although we were still happy to have chosen the largest vehicle in North America to transport us). This got us in good spirits from the off and provided ample time for some craic and team bonding! Arguably, the most interesting moment came when we passed a man seated on a snow mobile at the side of the road with a rifle resting on his legs… One of those eternally peculiar spectacles!
When we arrived in Montreal, it was straight to business, buying the requisite stationery and attending the opening ceremony where we discovered that we would be competing against Universities from Nanyang, Singapore, Wilfred Laurier, Kent State & Lund. From here it was onwards to the seemingly endless barrage of cases, presentations, questions, and conversing with new acquaintances.
Who would have known that you could learn so much about yourself in a 3 hour period? Time has never flown by as quickly as the time that we spent in the preparation room. Reading, understanding, analysing, synthesising, discussing, agreeing, recommending, debating and implementing a case regarding a strategic proposal for a company should be given more time! However, we were confident in our own ability and ultimately we learnt that as a team, we are rock solid (a point where others noticeably failed). If we were ever going to crack, it would have been when PowerPoint crashed with only 10 minutes of preparation time to go in one of the cases, however the team stepped up to the mark and we performed admirably to complete the task in front of five high level executives acting as judges.
Completing five case studies in four days is unfathomably taxing on both the body and mind. However, it wasn’t all work, as we had ample opportunities to get to know the other competitors, their entourage and the organisers through events as diverse as an ice hockey match, a networking dinner and a fancy dress party, not to mind the specially organised hospitality suite in the hotel! It was a fantastic experience overall getting to know people ranging from students in Kaiserslautern to a coach from Singapore.
With the weather transpiring against us, we had to cut short our last evening in Montreal to make a midnight dash for Burlington, USA ahead of the imminent freezing rain which the resident Canadians advised us would shut down all efforts to travel out of Montreal for a few hours. Thankfully, it all worked out and we arrived safely in Boston in time for Aer Lingus to deliver us safely back to the Emerald Isle.
I didn’t wake up last Wednesday thinking I’d be taking on a leadership role within the full-time MBA class. But the programme is full of unexpected twists that you have to be prepared to handle as they come your way. That’s an important lesson for anyone thinking about doing an MBA or just living in general, I suppose. Flexibility is a beneficial skill and when opportunities present themselves it’s sometimes best not to over analyse the situation. Just go with the flow.
Each semester the student body is responsible for choosing two class reps to liaise with the students, faculty, and administration. The requirements for class rep stipulate that one male and one female student, one of whom is Irish, the other international, must be selected for the positions.
This brings me to Emma Jordan.
Haaaaaave you met Emma Jordan?
If not, you might want to sort that out ASAP. That lady is going places. Not only is Emma Jordan a CrossFit™ enthusiast, physio turned MBA student, she is also a recently appointed class rep for the second semester of our fulltime MBA. There are big shoes to fill after the retirement of our semester one reps, Ken Barry and Kim Jones, but I have no doubt Emma Jordan will represent our class well. It should also be noted this blog post is in no way intended to curry favour with my colleague. That would be futile. Emma Jordan would see that coming from 100 miles away.
Doing some basic calculations at this point leaves us with one Irish woman rep and a vacancy. This post is long enough so yada, yada, yada, I’m a new class rep too.
The two of us are representing our colleagues for the current term. The coming months will undoubtedly have unforeseen challenges but I believe the fulltime MBAs are in capable hands. Overall this position will add to the total learning experience that is the MBA and build additional skills for the future. I look forward to the new responsibilities and serving my class. As well as learning a thing or two about being empowered, assertive, and self-assured from my counterpart.
Key takeaways from this blog post:
Be flexible. If necessary work on stretching.
Take chances. By serving others you help yourself to grow.
Don’t buy green bananas. You don’t know what the future holds when you get up each morning.
Porridge with cinnamon and a cut-up, ripe banana is a tasty winter breakfast.
That post-porridge hot flash is an added bonus when walking to college.
*Out of deference, the author only refers to Emma Jordan as Emma Jordan. Anything else would be disrespectful.