The Importance of Teamwork

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When I decided to put my music business on hold and to take a year out of life and return to college at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the raw intensity of what was to come. Even after 15 years of intense work in the Hollywood entertainment industry, MBA life often seems to be an exercise in survival training for business more than academic learning. Part of me feels that this is the point of it all. From the beginning, the high pressure environment has created a strong bond between the Full-Time MBA students. We realise that supporting each other is the cornerstone of our fast evolving class culture, and this family attitude increases the chance of us making it through the year relatively unscathed!

Teams, teams and more teams

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From the start, teamwork has been a huge part of our MBA experience. We work in assigned teams, in self-selected pairs, and as individuals. We also share ideas as a class on a regular basis. The thing about assigned teams, as you can well imagine, is that there’s no choosing who you get. At the start of Semester One, I think a lot of us collectively held our breath before meeting our teams after hearing all the rumors about teams being customized to create minor conflict to challenge us. I feel I have been very lucky. I have four teammates from different backgrounds, countries and cultures who support each other and have been there for each other every step of the way. It has been a great support to me personally.

I’ve actually been discovering a lot of hidden things about teamwork that will benefit me for many years to come. So many of us are being reminded that there is a lot more to it than simply having a meeting and then going our separate ways to work on tasks. For example:

  1. What are our individual and collective strengths?
  2. How can we learn from and with each other?
  3. How do we engage with each other?
  4. How can we align our goals or expectations?

Virtual Teamwork at Smurfit

Recently, we were hit with a new challenge – working in virtual teams across the various Executive MBA and Full-Time MBA classes. The task seemed simple: collaborate through virtual communication and make a video about the experience. In reality, it proved to be an engaging challenge. Trying to agree on simple things such as an online platform or when everyone is free is apparently harder to do with teammates you don’t know or see!

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We tested the virtual team experience in a “safe psychological environment” (a phrase heard a lot in our class) and had a lot of fun doing it. When two of us attended Global Network Week in Yale’s School of Management for example, we took the time to organise a Skype call from Yale with our teammates back in Ireland to give us an authentic international Global Virtual Team experience.

Our final video project revolved around interviews with fellow Global Network Week students and our own team discussing our experiences.

The MBA Leadership Development Programme

There is a growing awareness among many of us, that developing our ability to work with and lead a team of diverse individuals is a far more significant part of our growth as future business leaders than simply getting the top grade in an MBA exam. It’s proving to be an interesting psychological transition. The ego wants to be selfish and to focus on what is best for the self, yet we see time and time again that the collective delivers better decisions and outcomes.

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The Leadership Development Programme (LDP) focuses on the skills necessary to help us. It IS all worth it. This voyage of self-discovery feeds our emotional growth, and our capacity to be more productive both individually and collectively. At the end of the day, we unquestionably need to understand who we are, before we can lead others in the future. To help us understand our psychological preferences and our emotional strengths and weaknesses, we have done a barrage of personality tests such as an ESCI 360 Peer Review and a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test based on C. Jung and I. Briggs Myers type theory.

Honestly, it sometimes feels like we are doing a new test every second week!

Moving Forward

So what is next for me? I think most of all, I simply look forward to continuing on this voyage of self discovery and enjoying the remainder of my MBA experience.

Ciaran Hope ~ Full-Time MBA

 

Home from Home!

Moving to another country is never easy; especially when it is your first time. My journey started with my enrolment in UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. I started my preparation with a lengthy visa process and then scheduling my arduous travel accordingly. I am from the northern part of India which is one of the most scenic places in India: Jammu & Kashmir. Like Ireland, there are lots of lakes, rivers and mountains.

My Home Town
My Home Town

Amidst many differences between India and Ireland, there are similarities also. We both share the same tri-colour in our respective national flags: Saffron, white and Green. Both nations have emerged through similar historic experiences. Moreover, Indian constitution resembles Irish constitution more than any other constitution in the world. When Indian constitution was being drafted, Eammon De Valera was frequently approached. There is uncanny similarity between the Irish pronunciation of numbers and pronunciation of numbers in Hindi and between old Irish and Sanskrit. Also, it is amazing to know that Irish time is the same as Indian time, which pretty much means, not on time.

Ireland
Ireland

Well all the hassle becomes easy if you have good company, warm welcomes and friends around you. We can learn to be happy with very little things in life. My first day in Dublin made quite an impression, while taking bus to my temporary accommodation, I went off the route. The driver pointed to the correct location and dropped me there. It is not just me; one of my Indian colleagues had a similar experience. He (guess who) was stranded because someone robbed him but then a complete stranger helped him with the travel fare and guided him home. I have to say Irish people are very warm, which is something that they share with us.

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A diverse classroom and welcoming staff made the transition easier. Next was our culturally and functionally diverse study group. I have a spread of different cultures (Irish, Kenyan, Chinese and Indian) and experience (Engineer, Music Composer, Chef and Sales Analyst). It may be perceived that we would have a lot of differences but unexpectedly there are not, making it easier to overcome the cultural lag and innate hesitation. Out of the blue was the GNAM Global Network Week, a week full of learning, fun and frolics. We engaged with students across 10 different Business Schools. This provided the level of exposure and networking platform to expand one’s perspective. The surprises don’t end here. Everyone here seems to love Indian food. In addition to that, the food may be very different here but there’s still the sort of bickering and slanging going on that I’m used to. In future, I would love to stay here in Ireland after my studies. For now, I hope my stay here is pleasant and I am looking forward to more surprises and to explore more of Ireland.

Medhav Gondi ~ Full-Time MBA

Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM)

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Two months into UCD Smurfit Full-Time MBA and every day still remains a mix of anxiety, excitement, pressure and loads of memories. The icing on the cake was Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) week – perfect stress buster for learning, meeting people and sharing experiences.

The module hosted by UCD this year was “The Three Pillars of Innovation in Ireland – Technology, Food and Culture” with an aim to drive innovation and create value by connecting leading global business schools, their resources and their stakeholders. We had 40+ students from EGADE Mexico, ESMT Germany, IE Spain, IIMB India, Sauder Canada, and Yale U.S.A and last but not least UCD Ireland.

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Day 1: Rushing through the gates in anticipation of not being late, it felt like the first day of school all over again, from collar name tags to the printed schedule of the week to new puzzled faces in the lecture theatre. Professor Patrick Gibbons, the module co-coordinator addressed us and introduced the students to each other in a unique way, following which we had interactive sessions about the future of Irish beef industry, Challenges of Internationalization and Branding of Irish food. Apart from the amazing lunch, there was a welcome reception in the evening where all the students socialised over wine & cheese.

Day 2: The day started with reflections on the previous days’ learnings. Apart from sessions on Foreign Direct Investment, Innovation in customer Insight and Ireland’s competitiveness, the highlight of the day was a power packed presentation by ‘The Happy Pear’ twins and a visit to their café and production unit in Greystones. It felt like we were on a class picnic and I never knew I would actually like vegan food that was served at the café (being a hard core non-vegetarian!). The experience was really good due to my personal interest in the food production industry.

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Day 3: By now all students knew each other quiet well, with no more introductions, “Hello, I am Prathibha, attending the MBA programme at UCD” and questions “So, which country are you from? “or “ Which business school are you attending?”. Thus began another day planned very well with lectures on the venture capital environment, Google Inc, developing Irish industry and the Irish economy-performance & prospects. A Dublin Literary pub crawl was organized for us (believe me I never knew what a Literary pub crawl was until then). It is a walking tour of Dublin’s historic pubs conducted by two actors who introduce the famous writers and enact scenes from their works. Moving from one pub to another, sharing stories, small talk, drinks and food just made the day even more worthwhile.

Day 4: After a long night, it was really hard to wake up in the morning and reach college by 8:45am for an overview and review session. But still, everyone were present right on time looking all energetic to attend sessions on Innovation, Operations in Ireland, International TV & film industry and Intellectual Property. A farewell dinner was planned out at Johnnie Fox’s which is known as Ireland’s ‘highest’ pub. The night was filled with traditional Irish dance and music and a delicious three course meal.

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Day 5: Today there were no classes; an entire day of outdoor activities was organized starting with a trip to the Abbey Theatre, National Theatre of Ireland. There was a small talk about the history of the theatre and development of Arts followed by an acting exercise. Due to some confusion, I reached the wrong entrance of the Guinness Store house and had to go all the way round to another entrance, only to be received by some smiling faces who happily commented on how late I was and kept them waiting. This was my first brewery experience which tells the tale of Ireland’s famous beer. Along with tastings and beer samples there is a rooftop gravity bar on the 7th floor with 360° views across the Dublin’s magnificent skyline. As this was the last day of the GNAM week, everyone decided to meet up for one last time for some drinks.

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Thus the incredible GNAM week concluded with goodbyes, new friends and valued memories.  Thanks to Elaine Aherne, module manager for organizing everything and always being there with us. Back to classes again, need to do a load of assignments and also have an exam coming up next week. All the best to me and my class!

Prathiba Fernandes ~ Full-Time MBA

F.O.M.O

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F.O.M.O – Fear of Missing Out – Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere

I’m not sure whether it’s something that I developed while living in London, where there is always a reason to be out, or something that was always in me, and has in fact developed me. Regardless, it is making this chapter a little hectic.

I have just returned to Dublin to do the MBA in Smurfit, after six years working in the UK. A lot of thought went into my choice of school having offers in both London and Dublin. Smurfit’s highly regarded name, a part scholarship and the option to move back in with the folks, made the potential return to my MBA investment in Smurfit stand out a mile.

Was it the right decision? Definitely. The last six weeks has been a whirlwind, but an extremely interesting, engaging and thought provoking whirlwind. The quality of the lectures, as a result of combining high caliber students with world-class faculty and teaching methods, makes you really want to be there. FOMO rating (1-5) on missing lectures, 4.

Golf, Rugby, Entrepreneurship, Thought Leadership, just a handful of societies to get involved in. As newly appointed Chairman of the Golf Society, which I got by default from being the only new MBA to attend the final outing of last year’s society, I am now tasked with organising a calendar of events for the year. On Thursday night, my Competitive Strategy study plan was hi-jacked by an Entrepreneurship event, which I must admit was well worth attending. FOMO rating on missing Society events, 4.

This coming Monday, Global Network Week (GNW) commences. The GNW program is an initiative of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) and is designed to provide students from participating GNAM schools with a rich foreign immersion experience. You have the opportunity to travel to schools abroad, including Yale, or staying in Dublin, where the theme of the week is “The Three Pillars of Innovation in Ireland Technology, Food and Culture”. The aim of the week in Dublin is to “drive innovation and create value by connecting leading global business schools, their resources and their stakeholders. Initially I wasn’t going to take part in GNW because I didn’t want to travel abroad, and if I chose the week in Dublin I would have to drop one my three electives in semester two Executive Decision Making, Strategy Execution and Entrepreneurship) each one of which I really wanted to do. Roll on Week 4 and with the GNW buzz is in the air, FOMO creeps in. The thought of an amazing GNW week in full flow right on my doorstep, while I procrastinate about studying financial reporting for the mid-November exam, got the better of me. FOMO rating on missing GNW week, 5. FOMO rating on dropping a module, 5. Answer, do it all. You can see where this year is going.

I think I can speak for the class when I say we are up to our eyes. My mother thinks that ‘they’ are giving us too much ‘overtime’, as she probably spoke to me more when I lived in London than she does now, when we share the same roof. However, I have explained to my folk, it is all great, I’m enjoying the overtime, and everybody wants to be there. My only challenge is ranking things accurately on the FOMO scale, so I don’t get my prioritisation wrong.

Colin Dunne ~ Full-Time MBA

Theme: Preparation!

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It’s an October day on campus at Smurfit Graduate Business School, and the MBA Class of 2017 have been at UCD for six weeks. The international students are getting to grips with the mercurial Irish weather and the Irish students are slowly coming to terms with Mayo’s disappointment in the All-Ireland. Summertime is officially over and it’s time to prepare for winter.

Preparation seems to be a theme this week!

First and foremost is preparation for the workplace. I’m a career changer: I studied medicine as an undergraduate, working as a junior doctor before coming to UCD. One of my priorities this year is explore my career options post-MBA.  Happily, Smurfit is making that task very easy.

At the start of term the Careers team circulated an MBA vacancy with a global brand, and I spent much of my Monday evening gearing up for a phone interview next week. There was plenty more to learn about potential employers on Tuesday, as a stellar lineup of firms sent representatives to Smurfit for the Audit & Consulting Recruitment Fair. With the graduate milk-rounds starting, we have a valuable opportunity to do some research ahead of the MBA hiring cycle.

Wednesday was entirely devoted to job-hunting skills with the fantastic Daniel Porot. We were in capable hands, learning from a speaker who works with 12 of the world’s top 20 MBA schools. I’ll have a chance to put M. Poirot’s advice into practice at the second recruitment fair of the week, which focuses on general business functions rather than professional services.

Planning a little more proximally, I’ve been finalising my travel plans for Global Network Week. Due to Smurfit’s membership of the Global Network for Advanced Management, full-time MBA students (and second-year EMBAs) get to spend a week in October participating in the GNAM Global Exchange. Many students opt for the programme hosted right here at UCD, others go to Yale, and a further cohort heads to IE in Madrid. Earlier this week, the destinations for our spring study tour were confirmed as Tokyo and Seoul; 32 of us came to Blackrock, but we’re getting to see the world!

Next Saturday, nine of us will fly out for an immersive exchange at Yale School of Management, studying Behavioral Economics, Marketing and Finance. We just received our schedules, which include a company visit day in New York. Some lucky scheduling means we’ll be able to catch up with UCD business alumni at the New York chapter’s annual benefit dinner, and find out exactly where our MBAs (and alumni connections) can take us.

Thirdly, as usual, I’m preparing for next week’s classes. My long-suffering boyfriend is resigned to the fact that my weekends will be primarily occupied with pre-reading and finance homework for the foreseeable future. Finally, though, I’m getting ready for a friend’s wedding reception on Friday afternoon, which should be a lovely occasion in Georgian Dublin – timely reassurance that normal life still continues during the MBA!

Laura Donaghy ~ Full-Time MBA

Global Network Week 2016

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Here at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, we are proud to be a member of the Global Network for Advanced Management, alongside other top business schools like Yale, IE and EGADE (visit GNAM website). The Global Network Immersion Week (GNW) Programme is an initiative of GNAM that is designed to provide students from participating GNAM schools with a rich foreign immersion experience.

The Global Network for Advanced Management connects member schools with diverse regions, countries, and cultures, and economies by facilitating interaction. Through one week immersion programmes and online courses, participating schools host fellow GNAM institutions for seminars, visits, and interactions within local economies.

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School will be participating in the GNW Programme again this year, for our third year running. We will be hosting an intensive one-week course in October 2016 and June 2017 that will be attended by MBA students from both our school and all other network schools.

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.

In the video below, Executive MBA student Dermot Boyle & Full-time MBA student Ashish Babbar discuss their experiences of the 2015-16 Global Network for Advanced Management.

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Communications & Events