Inspirational Presentations in Chile

It was the second event of our second day in Chile, and having spent the last 6 months in Ireland none of us were conditioned for the Mediterranean climate we found in Santiago, especially leaving Dublin at a time when the Beast from the East was fresh in our memories! I would be the first to admit that staying focused is not my forte but when you have travelled the 11,460 km distance from Dublin to Santiago you need to make the effort. Fortunately for myself and my colleagues the calibre of the speakers lined up was fantastic and it made attending the presentations a privilege.

We arrived at Wayra just after lunch on our second day in Chile. Wayra are a start-up accelerator, founded by one of the biggest telecommunications provider in the world, Telefonica and are part their  Open Innovation Program. Soon after our arrival I was informed that to get to our presentation location I would need to climb 4 sets of stairs, as you know ladies don’t sweat we glow and I was glowing red hot 😉 On the way up the stairs to the presentation space I observed some of the people working in Wayra. They were from various start-ups, young, mostly male and sitting around at various locations on bean-bags. This scene brought back alot of nostalgic memories for me about the last start-up I was a part of. Even though our group of 30+something MBA candidates were dressed in business attire, one of the Wayra employees continued to sit amongst us, on a bean bag in true start-up tradition and spirit, absolutely unbothered by the presentation. There was a great atmosphere throughout the presentation and we all found it extremely interesting. Unfortunately, the entire presentation was in Spanish but thanks to the presenter Pepe Pascual, nothing was lost in translation.

What really captured my interest at the presentation was that even though Chile is a developing economy there is still a strong presence of startups venturing into technology industries in areas such as AI, machine learning, cloud computing etc. This  made me realize that these technologies are already highly in demand. Below is a sample set of the start-ups that Wayra are working with:

Smartbox – The team at Smartbox believe that they have taken OTT to the next level. Through their Nunchee platform, users could customize their personal video & audio playlists with many new and interactive features. Nunchee platform could also be easily integrated with any device, including laptop, tablet and mobile. Cool right! Let’s talk about the next one.

Wivo – Another name for retail analytics. The most challenging work done by the team to date is to understand  customer behaviour though algorithms which use data acquired by sensors and heat maps installed in the shops. To highlight their work here is a fun fact that I spotted on their web page.

‘Did you know that people who like dogs are more likely to purchase an iPhone by as much as 37%?’ Very intriguing!

Inbenta – Now I believe this start-up will change the future of customer service or BPOs forever. Inbenta has created a chatbox which interacts with customer queries in the absence of a human customer service representative. This is done with the magic of machine learning and NLP as the underlying technologies. Through these technologies it is possible to predict what the customer is looking for and help precisely direct them to their desired products, vastly reducing search time. Sharp!

And as always I have kept the best till last!

Poliglota – This start up is by far the most original and innovative (in my humble opinion!). Have you ever wanted to learn a new language but didn’t like the mundane tutorials. Poliglota allows people to learn languages in places like pubs, cafes and learn face to face from people who are experts.

The company visit to Wayra really inspired the Thought Leadership Club members and as a result we have decided to bring these revolutionising technologies together on the same platform and help other students to learn more about them. It is my pleasure to present to you the Thought Leadership Club’s  keynote event ‘Digital Transformers’ that will take place on the 24th of April 2018 at UCD Smurfit. For more details, kindly follow the link.

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Last but not the least, muchas gracias to the MBA programme managers for organising this amazing trip to Chile and Peru. We had the best experience of both culture and business together. Salut! :)

Nadisha Garg, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

Bursting the MBA bubble

Our International Study Trip ‘Doing Business in International Markets’ brought us to Singapore and Hanoi with visits to a number of organisations including Citigroup, Amazon Web Services, Caterpillar as well as the Irish Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and the Embassy of Ireland in Hanoi. We had the chance to listen to senior executives of both local and expatriate backgrounds, including a number of Irish expats. The focus was on how they succeeded in business, with insight into the cultural nuances, adapting to the country and the way things are done. We travelled as a large group of both full-time MBA and Executive MBA students together with Professor Patrick Gibbons and Roisin O’Loughlin from UCD Smurfit Business School. Much of the advice and counsel focused on building relationships and the need to invest in and nurture those relationships. Culture, language and traditions may vary in different parts of the world but people still value people who have shared ambitions, ideas and values.

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*Picture by Eoin Carroll

Singapore oozed sophistication, calm and control with their increasingly wealthy economy and well developed infrastructure.  Hanoi’s frenetic energy couldn’t have been a greater contrast with the noise and excitement and vibrant night life as we drove to our hotel on arrival. We spent a lot of time together; travelling, visiting companies, eating, sightseeing, shopping and even some socialising.

The intense goldfish bowl of the MBA means you spend a lot of time in each other’s company, at lectures, group work, social events and in both structured and ad-hoc meetings. Having come together just six months previously we soon found ourselves spending much of our lives in each other’s pockets. Almost all the deliverables are developed as group projects so that, not only is the MBA an accelerated learning experience covering the academic content, but you build strong relationships with your class.  We see each other at our worst, but also at our best; under pressure when numerous assignments are due at the same time; trying to understand a subject that may be completely out of our comfort zone; sharing the expertise in the class and, with the collective efforts of the whole class focused on a weekend deadline -and a large pizza delivery needed to sustain us through the night. There is the immense satisfaction of achieving those deadlines with seconds to spare, supporting each other through presentation after presentation, asking the right questions and applauding appropriately; celebrating exam survival and success, and, of course, some days it is just about keeping each other going and helping each other make it to the next deadline. And even after all that time spent working so closely, many of us chose to extend our International Study Trip and spend a week’s holiday together afterwards.

As we listened to our international business colleagues talk about the importance of relationships in their different corporate environments, it may be worth reflecting on what we have achieved ourselves. Our class has become our primary network, our support network and our current, and no doubt, future career network. With such an international class, our networks are far-reaching; future business leaders, future business partners, mentors, business confidants, coaches, friends; those who can help us make the next biggest decision. Travel broadens the mind, widens the experiences, and helps us learn from international colleagues. But, sometimes it also makes us appreciate the international network we have built for ourselves in such a short time.

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*Picture by Eoin Carroll

Lucy MacAuley, Full Time MBA 2018-2019

The Tale of Two Cities

Decades ago along the sands of time, Latin America gave birth to two children, Chile and Peru. Both were born with rich Spanish blood and long mountains running down their back. Skin that sparkled brilliantly from the varied numerous minerals hidden beneath its surface, mostly copper and soil rich for food production. Two beautiful children whose fingers and toes were dipped in the blue Pacific Ocean. When Chile became of age, his independence took him to boarding school. He learnt to play by rules no matter how difficult they seemed. He met other boys there and he was instructed on how to treat everyone independent of another. A bank that is fully owned by the state should operate fully independent of state influences. It should do no business with other state agencies to keep it free from financial risk. Chile also learnt to engage in fair competition, no companies are subsidized by the state and regulation allows for participation in free trade for all. Chile learnt to wake up early, dress in uniform, make his bed, walk down the hall in silence and show up for his classes. Children are assigned a social number at birth at the state bank and start carrying a debit card that allows for basic transactions at the age of 14 years. The citizens of Chile do not compromise with the police and it can be seen in the order on the road and obeying of traffic laws. Buildings meet strict regulation building codes which ensures they withstand even a major earthquake. Earth tremors that are the norm in that part of the world do not easily frazzle Chileans-unless the tremor is big enough that one cannot get up to a standing position, they smile and continue to have lunch.

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*Chile

On the other hand, at Independence, Peru decided to explore the world. He wanted to live young and free with no rules. He made fast and easy friends who fell in love with the copper color of his skin, the mountains down his back and rich soil. They offered to show him the way to live and lead him and he gladly accepted. Peru has embraced leaders with such diverse origins including Irish and Japanese, something not many countries can attest to. These leaders invited Peru to parties where they filled his cup with wine and laid a table of sumptuous food. Peruvian food is acclaimed to be one of the best cuisines in the world due to the influences from all over the world that has led to a wonderful fusion of tastes. Peru’s friend’s played music and his intoxicated body stood and danced to their tunes. His mineral rich skin sparkled and everyone wanted to run their hands over it. Peru’s land is mined not just for copper, but gold and is the world’s highest producer of silver. Peru spent his days sleeping off his hangover and getting up just in time to get dressed for the next party. The party had to keep going and Peru played his part to ensure it. It is the highest producer of illegal cocaine and counterfeit American dollars. His friends that clapped and cheered were actually laughing and mocking as he stumbled in intoxication. Peru has had an unfortunate selection of leaders who have rummaged through it, amassing riches from its copper and mineral rich economy, engaging in boundless corruption that has steeped Peru’s economy in a hole where only a few benefit at the expense of the masses. 10 companies own 70% of the current economy while the population struggles with sub- standard education and a failing healthcare system. The lack of rules has filtered down to the street where even crossing the road is a hazardous fete as road rules are more of an option than an obligation.

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*Peru

Eventually after a couple of decades, Chile left the closed walls of the boarding school and ventured out into the big wide world. He saw people wearing interesting clothes, driving cars and living life as they wanted to and not as instructed to. Wide eyed, Chile began to embrace difference and question the rules cautiously. He learnt to drink wine and dance some nights away. But he finds that most days, he still prefers to stay within the rules he had learnt to follow those many years ago.  Chile is concertedly opening up its doors to the world and signing free trade agreements to encourage the world to come and explore Chile as they too learn from the world.

Peru, after may hungover days woke up and his sober mind realized he needed to break away from his friends. He started to set rules in place to guide him. He started staying in some days instead of going out and with a clear mind he began to strategize. He cut off some of his past friends and some friendships are still being assessed. The current president is under motion to vacate the presidency while the former president and his wife are in jail for corrupt practices they engaged in while in office. Other corrupt presidents before these, unfortunately have managed to get away after a sizeable payoff. Peru continues to grapple with the need of necessary rules for a thriving economy but are determined to make meaningful change. Meanwhile, tourists continue to flock to it to enjoy its sumptuous delicacies and dance to its hip swaying tunes that it perfected in its youth. Chile still comes alive several nights of the week where the streets fill with men and women looking for some delicious wine and fun.

Chile and Peru, siblings and neighbours, similar yet still different. Still growing and learning. Adapting to embrace the good and shift the bad. Still beautifully Spanish, still captivating suitors with their beautiful mineral sparkling skin and rich soil, encompassing captivating mountains and fingers and toes dipped in the Pacific Ocean.

Elizabeth Kiathe, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

Roll On China!


Beijing - First stop for the MBA students participating in the International Study Trip

I’m writing this after attending my first two classes of semester 2, year 2 of the EMBA. There is no doubt but my enthusiasm for attending class has reduced significantly when compared to 15 months ago! However, on the up-side I am six months away from completing the programme and that is a huge motivation to continue!

There was a very different feel to this afternoon’s classes. Firstly, we were all there by choice (we can choose from a range of modules in the final year) and secondly there was a mixture of three class groups in the room (EMBA mid-week, EMBA weekend and MBA full-time students). These two factors led to a much larger class and a different lecture dynamic.

This semester will largely be evaluated based on individual assignments. This is in contrast to much of our course work in previous semesters which was primarily group based. While I thoroughly enjoyed working on teams in the past, I am also looking forward to gaining back my Saturday mornings which had previously been ear-marked for group work!


Shanghai - Second stop

Personally, I am only attending three classes this semester. For my fourth module I will be participating in the Emerging Markets International Study Trip to China. Already, I feel that it will be a highlight of the programme. There is a buzz amongst classmates when we discuss the trip and we are very much looking forward to receiving the itinerary that the MBA Programme Office staff have arranged for us. Roll on China on March 7th. . .

Aoife McMahon

Year 2 Executive MBA Class