Global Network Immersion Week – Sauder Business School, Vancouver

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As mentioned in previous posts, Smurfit is part of a global network of MBA schools, which offers you the opportunity to sit a course in another business school for a week. It’s a great experience and one worth taking if you get the chance. I chose to go to the Sauder Business School in the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The course was entitled ‘Clean Energy and Green Infrastructure – Innovation at the Nexus of Politics and Society’. With an MSc in Renewable Energy Development and having worked in the energy sector for 7 years prior to my MBA, I jumped at the chance. It also meant I had an excuse to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in years.

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The course really struck at the heart of global economics in the context of global warming, and how greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be reduced or offset. Needless to say, the concepts are simple in principle but incredibly difficult in practice. They require buy in across the board and with many other societal pressures acting on governments around the World, the global warming issue is often pushed down the pecking order.

Carbon taxation, carbon offsetting and market-driven GHG reduction policies were explored. Examples of where these market-driven measures were working were contrasted against regions of the world were no such economic drivers existed. Furthermore it is the developed countries of world that are the largest emitters of GHGs and the developing countries that have the greatest carbon offsetting potential. As you might expect the offsetting concept is fraught with political tensions regarding economic development.

In 2012 China overtook the USA as the World’s largest emitter of GHGs. This is primarily as a result of its enormous fleet of coal fired power stations. The scary thing is that its rate of increase of GHG production is much higher than all other major contributors. In fact the other major contributors are flat lining with the exception of India. So what is the global solution to this global problem? British Columbia and western Canada may play a big role in this over the coming years and decades.

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British Columbia and the neighbouring province of Alberta have enormous shale gas reserves and the potential for exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia is very real – shortest distance to market. Per unit electricity produced LNG emits almost 50 per cent less GHGs than coal. With increasing international and national pressure (global warming and air quality), conversion of China’s coal fired power stations to gas fired power stations is one of the front running solutions to clean up China’s contribution to global warming while not impacting on its economic development. For a country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean to prove to be a major part of China’s power solution shows just how interlinked the economies of the World have become. With the Paris summit on climate change just around the corner, this subject is going to become very topical over the next weeks and months.

So that was just a snapshot of my week in Vancouver. A lot more went on that week but as they say ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour!’

Finbarr Coghlan ~ Full-Time MBA

A Most Awaited Week Off!

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The days were getting longer, the nights were getting restless and the weekends were growing boring due to pressing deadlines when the tactically placed GNAM Immersion Week trip came to our rescue. Desperately waiting for 16th October, it was getting harder to spend the last few days in class before flying to our respective locations for GNIW (Global Network Immersion Week).

And finally the day came when we, in a group of nine (one had already reached New York by this time), were at Dublin airport to fly to New York for an extravagant weekend to party hard in NY before starting with our Global Network Week at Yale SOM on Monday – Oct 19th. Landing at JFK, ‘Competitive Strategies’ were discussed among the group to leverage the most out from the Friday evening. ‘Human Resources’ are most privileged ones with god’s gift of a brain (and competencies!), which they utilized to analyze the ‘Economics’ of the places they can visit and understood the ‘Game’ that is going on between various pubs to attract customers.

After a few initial hiccups (OMG – someone left their iPhone and passport in cab) we reached Times square. Then we started looking for a place to begin our evening. Financial Accounting is not everybody’s cup of tea but fortunately we had a financial accountant who helped us find a lovely, economical bar in Times Square.

After an energised weekend in NY, we reached Yale SOM where the five-day experience had an ever-lasting impact. We enjoyed every minute of it. It was a fantastic mix of class with students representing all of the top schools across the globe. Though returning back wasn’t easy, still we were equally eager to meet everyone back in Dublin!

In a nutshell, our bodies got reenergised, our minds rejuvenated and our soul revitalised. Hope to have a repeat telecast of the same soon!

Sumit Chopra ~ Full-Time MBA

Global Network Immersion Week at Koç University, Istanbul

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Last week we had our first international MBA travel opportunity – Global Network Immersion Week (GNIW). GNIW is an optional, one-week module in Semester 1 which allows students to take a mini course either at Smurfit or at another partner university. Each of the universities offer the opportunity to work with other international students, faculty, and companies. Three of us chose Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey, where the topic of the week was From Local to Global: Developing an Effective Global Strategy. Other classmates traveled to Madrid (IE), New Haven (Yale), and Vancouver (UBC).

The classroom portion of our experience was engaging and provided frameworks that we can easily bring back and apply to our classes at Smurfit. After a brief background on the economic and political history of Turkey, lectures were primarily case based and included both local and international companies that have a presence in Istanbul. The three of us were already experts with Porter’s Five Forces (thanks, Brian!); however, we were also introduced to additional models that we can use going forward.

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The latter half of the week was devoted to a business simulation with Unilever. We were divided into teams of six and had three rounds to build a global expansion strategy for products like personal care, food, and household cleaning. The simulation gave us the opportunity to apply what we learned throughout the week and to interact more with our international classmates (Chile, Spain, South Africa, Iran) as well as with management at Unilever.

Outside of the classroom, Koç provided additional networking events for us. These included company visits to Unilever and Turkcell (in case you were wondering where Ryan got that fancy hat). They also hosted an alumni networking evening at a restaurant with beautiful views of the Bosphorus. In addition to all of this, we still managed to fit in some free time for exploring the sights of Istanbul (please ask Carley about her favorite purchase from the Grand Bazaar). Overall, GNIW was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to future students.

Jessica Beloff ~ Full-Time MBA

UCD Smurfit MBA Participates in Yale Global Network Immersion Week 2015

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This past week (Oct 19th – 23rd) saw students from the Full-Time MBA class participate in Global Network Immersion Week (GNIW). Global Network Immersion Week gives UCD Smurfit MBA students the opportunity to pursue intensive study at another network school, in a focused mini course that leverages the perspectives, programmes, and faculty expertise of that school. Alongside their counterparts from elsewhere in the network, students attend classes, tour local businesses, and meet with experts focused on current business problems.

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UCD Smurfit School welcomed students from Koç University (Istanbul, Turkey), Yale SOM (Connecticut, USA), Fudan (Shanghai, China), Egade (Santa Fe, Mexico) and Sauder School of Business UBC (Vancouver, Canada). The theme of the UCD Smurfit GNIW was ‘Executive Decision Making’ and sessions included Executive Decision Making: Art or Science?, Corporate Decision Making: Respective Roles of Boards and Management and Individual and Social Psychological Effects on Decision Making.

Along with contemplating some Decision Making conundrums in the classroom, students went on a Company Visit to Accenture where the Director of the Centre for Innovation, Dublin  discussed the decision making process around locating the new innovation centre in Dublin.

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To balance the class-based learning the students took part in activities such as a Networking Event, a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, a Literary Pub Crawl and a wrap up lunch in Blackrock.

The class are just past the mid-way point in Semester 1 and having spoken to students who participated in the GNIW they viewed the week as a valuable opportunity to take stock and reflect on what has passed since the programme commenced in September and provided an opportunity through learning and social activities to energise for the remainder of the Semester.

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Yvonne Harding ~ Full-Time MBA Programme Manager