California Dreaming: The GNAM Video

To complement Siún’s introspective diary in the previous post, our UCBerkeley GNAM students Siún Tobin, Grace Bergin, and Kenneth Power have documented their Northern California week in an edited video describing their experiences and what they learned:

The Classified Series from Berkeley Haas’s magazine recently interviewed Siún for an article about the week, titled ‘Teaching Students to Think like Entrepreneurs and Investors‘. Clearly still flying high from her exchange experience, Siún told the paper, ‘Now I feel like the sky’s the limit.’

My GNAM Diary: A Week at Berkeley School of Business

A hidden benefit of doing a full-time MBA in UCD Smurfit comes in the form of GNAM week. “GNAM”, or Global Network for Advanced Management, is a network of leading global business schools who aim to drive innovation and create value by connecting with one another and sharing resources with their stakeholders over a week-long exchange in October.

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-43Of the 20-odd schools offered, the programme entitled ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ in the Berkeley School of Business blew me away. I was like a child on Christmas morning finding out that I had been accepted into this programme, which promoted itself as a deep dive into the Silicon Valley Innovation Ecosystem.

Prior to the program, we were assigned to groups and allocated an emerging Silicon Valley start-up company: in my case, water quality monitoring device firm “Osmobot”. I looked forward to a total immersion into the world of innovation and investment through the eyes of a start-up entrepreneur, hoping that by the end of the week long program, I would have a better sense of which identity—investor or entrepreneur—best suited me.

Arriving and Acclimatizing 

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-50After approximately 8 hours in transit from Dublin, Ken and I landed in Berkeley on Friday afternoon. The chill vibes of California’s student district were exactly what we needed to decompress after a busy 6 weeks of MBA_hood in UCD. The next day’s sparkling sunshine saw us through a walking tour of Berkeley campus–where I hugged a golden bear and got the impression that studying in Ireland could not hold a candle to the US experience. We concluded the day in the campus’s botanic gardens, where I particularly enjoyed the ‘medicinal gardens’, reminding me of my forsaken profession as a pharmacist. Ken reckoned the exhibits weren’t a patch on the Glasnevin equivalent. Sunday’s light hangover dissolved over brunch with our classmate Grace, who lured me out of Berkeley and onto a bike in San Francisco. It is hard to describe the feeling: freewheeling along the water’s edge in brilliant sunshine, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background!

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-42Day One 

After a jovial welcome reception in Haas School of Business on Sunday evening, we presented eagerly for breakfast and our first lectures on Monday morning. We spent the first half of the day focusing on entrepreneurship, customer identification, and company adaptation, while second half introduced us to Venture Capitalism. Practical examples from the faculty’s own experiences complemented detailed theory.

8ccd4e6f-ec6e-4a8e-aafe-33471ab4ace1Day Two 

Tuesday morning commenced with detailed and structured exploration of our allocated start-ups. Later, Professor David Charron interviewed a panel of venture capitalists from the Bay Area, who explained some hard truths about their careers–including expensive mistakes and missed opportunities.

The afternoon stole the show for me. Hopping on a luxury bus and heading downtown to San Francisco, we enjoyed some free time during which we made a visit to Union Square. Thereafter, we went to meet successful start-up, Ginger.io, which deals with mental ill-health using a tech platform, and met founder Karan Singh. We next went to tech super-power Salesforce’s office. Their luxurious office block—resembling a mini-theme park with friendly mascots and animal-themed merchandise on sale in their entrance area–dazzled even the locals among us.

Day Three 

During a lecture on building consumer profiles, Professor introduced the concept of diverging and converging: building ideas individually, and then bringing them together, towards improving a team’s creativity.

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-451While Monday and Tuesday had ignited my entrepreneurial gusto, the introduction to VC demonstrated that when it comes to investment, the investor tends to have the stronger hand. This stimulated two streams of thought. Firstly, perhaps being a VC is in fact a lower risk pursuit than being an entrepreneur? and secondly, being a good entrepreneur actually necessitates having a good understanding of investment models.

 Day Four 

On Thursday morning Stephen from Catering introduced me to the purple potato, which he served with other exotic varieties, seasoned and roasted – an awakening for my Irish taste buds, though I have long identified as a “potato expert”.

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-461In class, Dr. Vivek Rao guided us through refining the value proposition of a company – namely by assessing its desirability, viability and feasibility. From Vivek’s lively session, I understood how the “who” the product/service is just as important as the “how”.

Day Five 

Friday was the day the light shone on our diligent assignment work and presentation planning. We each pitched our classmates (“investors”) for fictious investment in our allocated start-up companies. We made a hard sell for our shrimp farm water-quality monitor (Osmobot). After 5 days of exploring founder Zach Stein’s product and business plan, I felt genuine passion towards the Osmobot and confidence regarding its future prospects. My classmates appeared marginally less convinced than my teammates and I, and we received no direct offer of $5 million for our proposed 20% company share!

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-46

I was fascinated by the concept that as both an entrepreneur and a VC, you are constantly placing bets. From my cosy life as a pharmacist, where actions are generally deemed right or wrong by legislation, I felt an explosion of excitement at the risk involved in pursuing either entrepreneurship or VC. My risk-averse life experiences initially inclined me towards VC, but what really invigorated me was the concept of growing a simple idea into a business with the potential to have an exponential impact on the world.

The week concluded with a self-reflection session lead by Sara where we focused on “designing a life you love”. In a team setting, we explored our values and motivators as well as our view of work and of the world. Though challenging at times, this session ultimately provided clarity of thought. The humanity and morality of my classmates shone through. I shocked myself by shedding a few tears, in mourning for the meaningful work in healthcare that I have put on hold as I advance into the unknown of life beyond an MBA.

Final Ponderings 

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-48From exemplary lecturing and first-hand encounters with successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, to sharing state of the art facilities with a group of 49 other MBA students, there was nothing not to love about the whole Berkeley Haas experience. Returning to Ireland, I feel as though little seeds of ideas are beginning to sprout in my mind. Suddenly, anything feels possible as an entrepreneur. When I make my success in business, I know I will think of my GNAM experience as the week when the scope of life’s possibilities opened in front of me.

Siún Tobin, Full Time MBA 2019-2020

Making Connections

A couple weeks before we were set to begin orientation week, we were able to submit our preferences for the mysterious “GNAM.” We were to spend a week in October away from our regularly scheduled programming, attending a course at a member school belonging to the Global Network for Advanced Management. We received our placements quickly, and just as quickly forgot about them, as classes started in earnest. After all, we had studying and assignments to think about!

Sure enough, the time came for us to head to our respective corners of the globe to gather with other MBAs and complete the modules we had chosen two months prior. Our classmates attended sessions at ESTM in Germany, Koç University Graduate School of Business in Turkey, Haas School of Business in the US, UBC Sauder School of Business in Canada, Fudan University School of Management in China, and a strong contingency stayed to participate in the course at Smurfit. I was among four Smurfit students who spent our week at Yale in the US, learning about the Behavioural Science of Management.

To say it was an incredible week would be an understatement. We received five lectures from leading professors in the field, whose topics ranged from Making Better Decisions Using Behavioral Science to Negotiating Mindsets. Mid-week we visited an investment firm in a nearby town and learned about Behavioural Finance: how psychology affects investors and the markets or financial analysts, and subsequently, the markets. Most importantly, we shared the experience with our new friends from around the world. We spent our evenings socialising, and those from Ireland got a taste of life in America. One of our Irish friends even tried his first fried pickle.

Many of the other attendees were nearing the ends of their programmes and getting ready to start the next phase of their professional careers. They understood the hard work of doing an MBA and the mindset it required. They gave us advice, encouragement, and a window into our near futures. At the end of the week, we promised to visit each other soon, connected on LinkedIn, and then Instagram, because LinkedIn felt too stiff and professional for the bonds we had forged. Despite having only spent a week together, I have no doubt that we will continue to be part of each other’s professional and personal networks as we move onto the rest of the MBA and through our careers.

 

Bailey Talkington, Full Time MBA 2019-2020

 

Whack-A-Mole

I remember saying to one of my classmates on the Tuesday of the second week “I can’t believe that I’ve only known you for eight days!”. Many of the MBA graduates I had spoken to before I started in August had told me about the close bonds formed with MBA classmates, but the speed at which it happened still took me by surprise. We’re into our sixth week now and we laugh and joke with each other like childhood friends.

But the introductory weeks are well and truly over now and while we’ve settled into our study groups, I’m starting to realise that the MBA is like a year-long game of whack-a-mole, but with projects, exams and adventures instead of moles. The GNAM week is just one week away, our first exams loom the following week and master plans for the MBA clubs are firing left and right.

GNAM will see our class disperse to universities across the world, attending one-week courses in fellow Global Network business schools. I’m delighted to be going to Berkeley, while classmates are heading to destinations including Yale, Shanghai, Berlin and Madrid. Though I don’t think I’ll be alone in bringing my books along for financial reporting and economics in preparation for our exams in the following week! The MBA clubs are off to a flying start and plans are afoot for events from golf to rugby to entrepreneurship talks.

There is so much opportunity in the MBA programme and even now, just six weeks in, while there’s no doubt that the marathon has well and truly begun and sleep is a distant memory, the prospect of learning so much, with so many wonderful people over the next 11 months is an exciting prospect.

grace-bergin-pic-1

Grace Bergin, Full Time MBA 2019-2020

 

A lot to look forward to

The difficult decision of giving up an enjoyable job to pursue a full-time MBA is now a distant memory. Since commencing the MBA a month ago, there has been little opportunity to look back. The weeks have been full of new experiences and intense learning – exactly why I chose to take time out to pursue the best MBA that Ireland has to offer. The diversity in the class is incredible. The full-time MBA candidates have backgrounds ranging from medicine to finance and engineering. There is also a real sense of the global aspect of the Smurfit MBA, with candidates from countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America.

There is a lot to look forward to in the year ahead. It’s only two weeks until the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) week kicks off and our class disperses around the globe. GNAM comprises of 30 leading business schools and gives MBA students the opportunity to study and network with counterparts in other GNAM schools. I will be joining 7 of my classmates in Yale School of Management for a module on behavioural science of management. With the itinerary now sorted, we have managed to squeeze in two nights in NYC. It promises to be an enjoyable week.

There is no less than three additional international trips planned for the busy year ahead. The international study tour (doing business in international markets) next March will see MBA candidates spending time in Asia (Singapore & Vietnam) or South America (Chile & Argentina) to learn about their respective business and cultural contexts. Next up, for those who subscribe to the not-so-intense training, will be the MBA Rugby World Cup in Danville, Virginia. An event which many past MBA’s describe as the best experience of a challenging year. Finally there will be the international consultancy project next June, where we will get to test out the skills we developed during the programme. If you’re considering a Smurfit MBA, ensure your passport is up to date, because you will need it.

International travel aside, career progression or career change (function, company or geography) is a big reason for choosing to pursue an MBA and it’s what we look forward to in the year ahead. On this front, much work has already begun. While many of us thought our CV’s were perfected for our applications, we have learned that we have much to do. We’re lucky to have a dedicated careers manager (Mark Davies) to support us. As Careers Rep, along with Ayush Yetchina, I work closely with Mark interfacing between the careers department and the MBA class.

I was fortunate to be offered the Sunday Business Post Scholarship which covered the full cost of my tuition fees. For those aspiring to undertake an MBA at Smurfit Business School, I would definitely encourage you to take action and make it a reality. Don’t be put off by the cost of a prestigious MBA, there are financial supports available. You will face some obstacles (GMAT, Essays & Interviews) along the way, but each is surmountable and there is plenty of support to help you through. Getting in contact with past MBA candidates is a great place to start.

Gerard Finneran, FT MBA 2018/19

 

Lux et Veritas

As part of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) programme, a group of six MBA students from Smurfit took part in in a one-week module titled “Behavioural Science of Management” in Yale School of Management in June this year. Launched in 2012, the GNAM includes 30 leading business schools from diverse regions, countries, and cultures. The GNAM offers students the opportunity to partake in a Global Network one-week course offered by a partner business school.

maria-gnam-1

There was a lot of interest in this module from fellow classmates due to the strong heritage of Yale in the field of behavioural science, not to mention the strong reputation and high ranking of the Yale MBA programme. Expectations for the module were high and we certainly were not disappointed!

maria-gnam-2

We arrived into New York City a few days before the module began to take in the sights. More importantly, we had to collect our mode of transport for the week in New Haven, a GMC Yukon Denali, a ridiculously sized car, which we affectionately christened “The Beast”. Lorcán had the honour to drive it to New Haven and peppered the journey with outbursts such as “…how am I supposed to keep this thing between the lines?”.

maria-gnam-3

The module commenced with a fantastic presentation from Professor Shane Frederick, a leading expert in the field of behavioural science and contributor to the Harvard Business Review. Shane brought us through topics including framing effects, context effects, and choice architecture – the principles that underpin how we make decisions and the techniques used by marketers to influence consumer behaviour.

Shane’s presentation included several examples of how rational consumers make irrational choices. He presented logic puzzles, prefaced with “…I’ve presented this problem thousands of times and I still don’t know if I agree with answer.” He showed us how consumers can be influenced to make purchasing choices that might not be appealing if the rational mind kicked in.

A key element of the GNAM week in Yale is the opportunity to network with MBA students from business schools across the world. The opening cocktail reception on Monday evening provided the ideal opportunity to mix and mingle with classmates from China to Ghana to Mexico. This resulted in cross-cultural learnings, a highlight of which was when Monica from Monterrey, Mexico remarked to Lorcán “You are definitely Irish.” She then turned to Johannes from Berlin, “You are Irish too, no?”. Lorcán and Johannes had to give Monica a crash course in the cultural differences between Germany and Ireland!

maria-gnam-4

On Tuesday, we were treated to a tour of Yale University. Yale University is steeped in history and has an almost “Hogwarts-like” feel to the place; college buildings are architecturally beautiful and students are allocated to certain houses in their first year via a “sorting process”. We were almost expecting to find some Bertie Bott’s Beans in the Yale gift shop at the end of our tour. Instead of finding sweets, the lads did their best to get a Yale preppy look going. Thankfully, Ciara and Fiona gave some “constructive feedback” which put an end to that.

maria-gnam-5

maria-gnam-6-png

On Wednesday, four busloads of MBA students departed Yale for a trip to Boston to visit TD Garden, the home stadium of NHL’s Boston Bruins and NBA’s Boston Celtics. Owned and operated by Delaware North, the state-of-the-art TD Garden is a year-round, 19,600-seat arena. Members of the Delaware North management team treated us to an insightful overview of the company and its expanding global reach. Delaware North manages and provides food and beverage concessions, premium dining, entertainment, lodging, and retail at many large venues and special places. These include sports stadiums, entertainment complexes, national and state parks, airports, and casinos. If you have been to London Airport or Wembley Stadium, you have consumed concessions provided by Delaware North.

maria-gnam-7-png

Back in Yale, Thursday commenced with a panel discussion with students from the class. Three highly accomplished classmates spoke about their career paths, MBA journeys, and their views of leadership and working across cultures. It is always inspirational to hear how peers have driven themselves to almost dizzy heights to achieve what may appear as the unachievable.

One of the highlights from the week was the diverse teaching styles of the lecturers. In the “Negotiation Mindsets” lecture delivered by Dalyian Cain, we had the opportunity to partake in a mock negotiation in pairs. As many of the Smurfit gang had already completed a negotiations module in Smurfit earlier in the year, we were quietly confident that our knowledge of “BATNAs” and “Reservation Points” would seal the deals. However, Lorcán managed to buck the trend by engaging in a technique known as “negotiating against yourself”. He blamed a language barrier with his international colleague – he didn’t say whether it was his Donegal accent or theirs that caused the trouble! Don’t tell Stephen Boyle.

Some of the other topics covered during the week included how to make better decisions using behavioural science, understanding consumer experiences, and behavioural finance.

Our final social outing of the week was to a popular New Haven bar for some karaoke. After providing background vocals to “My Heart Will Go On”, the Smurfit contingent rose to the challenge by belting out their best rendition of “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. Who knew that effort can overcome not having a note in your head.

maria-gnam-8-png

The week concluded with a series of group presentations to the class on Friday. We had the task of providing a 5-minute group presentation showing how the principles of behavioural science could be applied to a real-life problem encountered in an organization of one of the group members. There were no boundaries to the scope of content presented by teams or how to interpret the behavioural science principles learned earlier in the week. Presentation topics ranged from a video advertisement, created in under an hour, to a presenter-led fitness dance class.

maria-gnam-9-png

The GNAM week was an incredibly rewarding experience. The chance to network with MBA peers from around the world, to experience different cultures, and to attend one of the world’s leading universities were all fantastic opportunities. Behavioural Science is becoming increasingly relevant in business (see Richard Thaler’s recent Nobel Prize in Economics) and we all found that the possibilities suggested during lectures were eye-opening. The experience and knowledge gained during the Smurfit MBA allowed us to actively contribute in classroom discussions. The trip was an excellent end to our EMBA journey.

maria-gnam-10-png

Maria Barry & Lorcán Gormley EMBA 2016/2018

Women’s 21st Century Leadership

Susan McDonnell and Oonagh O’Grady joined a cohort of MBA students from around the world at Haas Business School, University of California, Berkeley in early June for an intensive 5-day module titled Women’s 21st Century Leadership. This module was offered as part of the Global Network for Advanced Management week.

Professor Laura Kray in her introduction to the week outlined how the reality remains that the career paths of men and women still diverge in complex yet systematic ways. With more women in the workforce than ever before – and even more joining top leadership ranks – the need for women’s voices to be heard has never been greater. Professor Kray put out a “call to arms” at the outset of the course – What will YOUR role be in advancing gender equality?

oonagh-o-grady-gnam-haas-1

The programme was designed to help us to promote gender equality in the workplace but also to cultivate our own authentic leadership style as women. Authenticity is a key pillar of modern leadership. We were thought that teaching women to act like men in order to get ahead is misguided. It ultimately results in women becoming overly focused on their self-image and not on the leadership task at hand. This course sought to over-write outdated scripts about power and push past the usual stereotypes, for example, the perceived need for women to “fit into” a masculine world.

oonagh-o-grady-gnam-haas-2

Our first guest speaker, Haben Girma, was utterly inspiring and personified the concept of a growth mindset. Haben was the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, is on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was named by President Obama as a White House Champion of Change. She advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities and encourages us all to resist society’s low expectations of those with disabilities. Instead she asked us to choose to create our own pioneering story. She provided us with a master class in public speaking on the first morning despite being born deaf-blind. During the presentation, she received constant feedback from her interpreter who typed a description of the happenings in the room. We then had a chance to ask Haben questions through a keypad which translated our queries to braille.

oonagh-o-grady-gnam-haas-3-jpg

Penny Kreitzer, an accomplished stage actress, thought us tips to improve our leadership presence through the strengthening of our voice and stance. She also thought us a five-step grounding exercise which she assured us would become second nature through practise.  Christine Carter shared the secrets of “How to Achieve More By Doing Less” by highlighting a number of limiting beliefs and unmasking the truths instead:

  • Limiting Belief #1: busyness = importance

Truth: In fact, the truth is that busyness equals cognitive overload – Single tasking is the way to go

  • Limiting Belief #2: Doing nothing is a waste of time

Truth: Our brains benefit when we waste time – it’s called strategic slacking

  • Limiting Belief #3: More is better

Truth: Often less is more – acknowledge abundance using gratitude

We learned about the “Future of Work” from Sally Thornton and in particular about the work-life blend as opposed to work-life balance. Carolyn Buck‐Luce outlined how we needed to “Celebrate the Leader Within” and introduced us to the secret to her success – The Decade Game. This involves her outlining at the start of each decade her purpose for the next decade. The key questions she asks herself to define her decade strategy are – why are you on the planet? And how would you like to be known by the world at the end of this decade? She recommended that you thought about your strategy as a multi-level computer game where you set targets or levels to achieve every 90 days. With regards to executive presence, she noted how gravitas accounted for 67% of an executive’s presence. Gravitas includes things like grace under fire, decisiveness, ability to read and command, ability to inspire others and the importance of integrity, authenticity and reputation.

Our final guest speaker Sanez Mobasseri helped us analyse our social network under the 5 pillars – depth, breath, structural configuration, dependencies and perceived status of contacts. She also thought us that building and maintaining your network is a lifelong task and that connections need to be made before you actually need them.

The third day of the course entailed two company visits to tech multinationals located in San Francisco.  First up was DocuSign, an electronic signature technology and digital transaction management services company. Chief People Officer, Joan Burke and a number of members of a group called Women at DocuSign joined us to explain what makes DocuSign a great place to work. They outlined how diversity and inclusion was driven from the top by their CEO Dan Springer who was motivated by his experience of being the son of a single mother. This shines through in the company’s HR policies and in particular with regards to maternity and paternity leave which are much more generous than US standards.

We then travelled across town to Uber’s offices where Bernard C. Coleman, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, talked to us about the journey the company has gone through over the past year since the highly-publicised Susan Fowler case. Along with a panel of Uber employees involved in Women and Diversity initiatives, he outlined some of the innovative diversity and inclusion programmes they have introduced.

On the final day, we presented our research project finding on topics which included – Gender differences in values, attitudes, and beliefs – Implicit bias and its consequences in organisations – Women working with women – Work-life balance and Engaging men on gender equity.

No MBA experience would be complete without a networking opportunity and this trip provided this in abundance. We were part of a truly international cohort with representatives from US Business Schools – Haas and Yale as well as people who had travelled from Ghana, Mexico, Russia, Spain, UK, Portugal, Denmark, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and China. Not only was there diversity in geography but also in industries with all of the major industries represented as well as NGOs and the Art industry. Most importantly the class contained a number of male colleagues who leant a balanced and insightful voice to the week.

We both feel we gained a new level of confidence and greater sense of ownership over our own leadership development. We also feel we are now more able to diagnose multiple causes of gender inequality, better equipped to develop techniques for influencing others, and understand the critical role of mindsets in collaborating effectively with others to lead change. We also now have a full itinerary of class reunions scheduled for the coming years….first stop Ghana in 2019!

Oonagh O’Grady, EMBA 2018

oonagh-o-grady-gnam-haas-7-jpg-png

 

The MBA Programme – a chance to observe, experiment and grow in a global context

Prior to entering the MBA Programme at Smurfit, my classmates and I were given a recommended reading list which included a book titled “Snapshots from hell – The Making of an MBA”. The book was a witty and enlightening journal of Stanford MBA graduate Peter Robinson’s experience in his MBA and the more I read through it, the more I could relate to my own experience at Smurfit MBA, which is, to my own opinion, an experience that exceeded my expectations in many ways.

Travelling the world

The Smurfit MBA prepared us for a global career especially through the international experience that can be hard to find in any other MBA programmes. For the past 10 months on the full-time MBA I have visited New York, Washington D.C., Santiago de Chile, Lima, Cusco (Peru) and up next Reykjavik (Iceland) – a travel itinerary that satisfied my thirst for exploration to the core.  Through the Global Network Advanced Management programme, I went to New Haven, Connecticut to participate in the Yale School of Management‘s “Behavioural Science of Management” course. Through the Doing Business in International Markets module I flew to Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru to gain more insights about the business in South America and had the chance to visit one of the seven wonders of the world. Through the IBM Case competition, our four-member-team travelled to Washington D.C. to compete with seven other prestigious business schools. And in our nearest International Consulting Project, we will be flying to Reykjavik, Iceland to offer a route-to-market solution for an Icelandic pharmaceutical company. Exceeding all of my expectations, the Smurfit MBA experience gave me the most intensive exposure to go global in the shortest period of time.

huyen-tran-1

Friendship and Support

The true evidence of friendship and peer support manifested in the revision period when I received tremendous support from my MBA cohorts. Quite reserved and independent by nature, I slowly grew to be more confident to reach out to people thanks to my MBA colleagues, as well as the MBA Programme Office members being always open to support me whenever I have difficulties with the subject or consult with me on difficult decisions. I could never thank my classmates enough for late night studies over Skype, which helped me crack the frameworks and models of Supply Chain Management and Managerial Accounting. Along with the MBA Programme Office members and Professors for last minute feedback on our business case presentation right before flying to Washington D.C. Up to this point, the famous saying “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” can’t ring any more true to me.

huyen-tran-3

A Transformational experience

Reflecting on my past 10 months living in Ireland, I was astonished at how much the MBA programme has grown me intellectually as well as personally. It is truly a transformational experience where I had the chance to observe, learn, experiment, get feedback and be more confident to experiment again. This helps me to be able to deeply relate with OPERA model in Managing Negotiations in cross-cultural context: Observe – Probe – Experiment – Reflect – Action.  After 10 months, I feel more confident and excited enough to get out there in the world and make changes with the new perspectives I have gained.

Realising the fact that 5 years of work after college graduation for me was spent at full speed with business trips after business trips, campaigns after campaigns and results after results, I was so thankful for the decision to take my one year of MBA experience slowly and immersive with learning, reflection and heart-warming friendships. Up to this point when there are 9 weeks until the end, I finally came to understand that it is the journey that matters, and it’s the people that gave me such a wonderful journey.

Huyen Tran FT MBA 2017/18

huyen-tran-2

Revisiting great GNAM memories in Yale

What is the best time for writing a reflection after a new experience? For some people, it would probably be right after the experience when the memories are still fresh and vivid. For me, it’s before the exams.

Our brain is amazing. When we’re not having fun, it either makes us want to go to sleep or reminds us of the good times. Being in the middle of the hectic revision period myself, I find it a perfect occasion to reflect on one of my best experience in Semester 1 as a Smurfit MBA student – the Global Network Week (GNW) at Yale.

  1. The morning walk on Yale campus:

When you’re too lazy for the gym but enthusiastic enough to take some amazing photos, I would recommend booking accommodation at a location not too close to Yale SOM as you can enjoy a long morning walk while contemplating some of the best American architecture of the last hundred years. Though we also had the campus tour on the GNW schedule, in which we were introduced to the history of famous spots such as the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Silliman College, Sterling Memorial Library and the Old Campus. It was an exotic feeling to be immersed in the tranquillity and ancient feeling all by myself in the middle of picturesque Georgian and Gothic buildings.

huyen-tran-pic-1

  1. Cramming for Financial Reporting at Book Trader:

Coming to the GNAM with me, besides my 5 other MBA cohorts from Smurfit,  was a friend called ‘Financial Reporting’ with an exam coming the following week. I struggled to find a quiet place to cram for my Financial Reporting until I found Book Trader – one of Yale students’ most favourite spots in New Haven. Not only offering great coffee and cheap books, the place is ideal for those who prefer a quiet space to study, but not so isolated  that you can fall asleep.

  1. The lectures:

If someone asked me about what opened my eyes during one week at Yale I could go on forever: the lecturers, the class debates, the panel discussions, etc. Neuroscience and behavioural psychology were my areas of interest and they were the main reason why I signed up for GNW at Yale.  However it was not until I attended the classes that I realized the enormous possibilities to influence people and businesses with findings about the human brain. From Framing Effects, Context Effects and Choice Architecture lectures, we learned that consumer judgements and choices greatly depend on the context, and marketers could use this knowledge to nudge consumer’s decisions by structuring defaults, feedbacks, incentives and product design. In the Negotiation Mindsets lecture we learned the research-based steps and tactics to “carve out a larger slice of the pie”. And last but not least, from a panel discussion with the directors of lpsos and PepsiCo, we learned how behavioural science has become such an important resource for business decision making, especially in communications, product assortment, packaging design and in-store display.

huyen-tran-pic-2

  1. New Haven’s “apizza”: 

Home to a number of Italian families in the twentieth century, New Haven offers some of the best pizza in the United States. Thin-crusted, charred and crispy, the pizzas brought by Yale SOM’s GNAM organizing team was a real feast!

  1. Getting connected with friends from around the world:

If the karaoke night, drinking nights and on-campus reception created opportunities for us to relax and reach out to one another and form new friendships, the lunches and dinners enabled us to have passionate conversations about things such as other’s interests, goals and experiences. In one meal I was fascinated to become a “trial customer” of a Berkeley fellow’s latest business venture, exchanged ideas about how learning from GNAM shed new light on our understanding of the business. In another, we were carried away with discussions about hiking trips in Machu Picchu with friends from Chile, Austria, Hong Kong and Spain.

To my amazement, GNAM is definitely not only about lectures and networking. It is also about exploring the world from different perspectives, exploring yourself, and feeling connected to different parts of the world.

huyen-tran-pic-3

Huyen Tran, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

The Journey So Far…

It all started in August 2017. I cannot believe that 3 months of this MBA journey have past already, and the first semester is about to end. I can honestly say that so far it has already been an amazing journey. It started with foundation week, which was a small trailer of the big picture waiting for us. The first day of foundation week was our introduction. However, it was the second day which was the main highlight, when Fintan Ryan made us do some outdoor team building activities. We not only had fun doing those activities but also got to know each other very well. The whole class participated with enthusiasm and were able to successfully complete the Jedi run. It gave us a glimpse of how we would be expected to work together in the coming months.

manish-collage-1

After foundation week, our course started with the Financial Reporting module, taught by Prof. Niamh. She started off the lecture by telling us that her name is pronounced as “Neeve” …which was the first Irish culture shock for me. She is one of the best professors I have ever come across. She is enthusiastic in her approach to teaching, which I really like. Niamh, if you are reading this, please don’t let this affect my grades ( :D :D).

Within a week, we got 2-3 assignments and got the first flavor of this intense course. Although we are busy all the time, whenever we get time we all hang out together. The best thing about our class is that we have only 33 students and everyone knows each other. With such a small group, it’s easy to hang out. Our main hang out point or ‘adda’ as we call it in India is the ‘Three Tun Tavern’. Whenever we get time out of our busy schedule we all chill out there.

Before coming here I had stage fright but the Presenting4Success sessions from Paul Slattery came to my rescue. The sessions helped me a lot to boost my confidence. Almost every module in our course had 1-2 presentations for each group. I applied the knowledge gained from Paul’s session in these presentations and now I am more confident and less nervous while giving presentations. Life in the MBA is challenging with a lot of reality checks, but I’m loving these challenges. This is what I am here for and I’m getting it. Everything that I do, as  part of this curriculum, is helping me improve personally and professionally. It was hard at the start to face these challenges, but now I have adapted myself to it.

manish-pic-3

The main highlight of the  last 3 months was the Global Networking for Advanced Management (GNAM) week. It was the most amazing experience of the MBA so far. It came as a breather for all of us as we were so busy attending lectures and doing assignments. We needed a break from our studies and we got one. Although, we had a Financial Reporting exam the following week after GNAM, no one restricted himself/herself from enjoying the week to fullest.

During GNAM week, all the participating schools sent students in groups of 3 or 4 to other participating schools. I attended GNAM week in Smurfit itself. In the GNAM week, Smurfit had students from some of the best B-schools such as Yale, IE Spain, ESMT Berlin, IIM Bangalore, Sauder, Fudan and many others from around the world.

I had lot of fun during this week and made some new friends from many different business schools and expanded my network. During this week, we had lot of  guest speakers from different industries. For example, we had a speaker from LinkedIn, who is the head of all HR related operations for the EMEA region.

On the fun side of this week, the main highlights were; a visit to Johnny Foxes Pub, taking part in Dublin’s Literary Pub crawl, and a visit to the Guinness Storehouse.

On one evening, we went to Johnny Foxes, one of Ireland’s highest and oldest pubs. I really enjoyed the time spent here. It was the first time I saw a live performance of Irish music and dance. The music and dance performances were fantastic. The evening was awesome, and we also got to do some dancing.

The next evening, we went on Dublin’s literary pub crawl. The pub crawl was hosted by two talented and famous Irish theatre artists. They showed us some of Dublin’s oldest pubs and narrated some of Dublin’s history during the pub crawl. It was an amazing evening for me as it was my first experience watching a live theatre performer.

manish-pic-4

During the GNAM week all the students mingled with each other really well and had a lot of fun. No cultural and regional barriers stopped us from having fun with each other.

As the GNAM week ended, I switched to study mode because the toughest exam of the semester, Financial Reporting, was approaching. For 3 days, I cut myself off from the whole world and studied for the exam. In the end, it went well. Now it all depends on Niamh to know how well it really went.

After the exam, during the first week of November, the whole class planned to go to Loftus Hall, Ireland’s most haunted place, and Glendalough. The day was very well spent. It was our first proper outing together, although we always hang out every now and then. During this outing, I got the opportunity to see some of Ireland’s beautiful countryside. Loftus Hall was a scary place, but none of us apart from Nadisha got scared. It was hilarious to see Nadisha so scared and running away as fast as she could ( :D :D).

On the night of Halloween, Thom and Nicole threw a party for us. A big thank you to both of them for being such lovely hosts. I had a great time.

This MBA is turning out to be the time of my life. I am learning so many new things, facing challenges and getting reality checks. I am eagerly waiting our study trips to Santiago, Lima, and Iceland next semester. While it is already an amazing journey so far I am waiting in anticipation for more fantastic moments to come.

manish-collage-2

 

Manish Mosalpuri, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018