‘Lonely Planet – The MBA Journey’

 

It is exactly one year since I completed one of the most challenging, transformative, and enjoyable journeys I could have imagined. My MBA journey started on a beach in Vietnam. A month travelling around South East Asia provided space to reflect on those latent goals that you procrastinate on until the time is right, or invariably, perfect. Like everything in life, there is no right time, there is certainly no perfect time. I decided that the time was now, and in fact, the time would be six weeks after returning from my travels. Little did I think I was about to set out on an even greater adventure, and this time round there would be no Lonely Planet to neatly signpost the challenges and highlights.

 The MBA adventure kicked off with an induction and team building week on the soggy grounds of the Smurfit campus. I imagined sharp suits and laptops but the wellies, rain jackets and blindfolds were the perfect leveller! Running around with buckets of water on what I can only describe as an adult sports day, I forged friendships that would endure long after the MBA chapter closed. There are so many more highlights since those first few days in Blackrock, and each of them, like the best adventures, were unexpected and unplanned!

 My Lonely Planet collection expanded more than I had anticipated during an MBA. Together with four colleagues, I had the opportunity to travel to Montreal in Canada to represent Smurfit at the John Molson International MBA Case Competition. Next stop, the International Study Tour saw eighty MBAs travel to Japan and South Korea to learn about doing business in international markets and visit global corporate giants including KIA and Samsung. My MBA passport was stamped again when I travelled to the US to undertake a week long module in the Behavioural Science of Management with global MBAs at Yale University. Smurfit is a member of an international global MBA network which offers students the opportunity to attend a Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) week at one of a number of partner business schools. International travel aside, there were so many more highlights – the class debates, the team presentations, the countless coffee breaks with your colleagues amid writing papers on GE, Coca Cola and Southwest Airlines, and the ‘odd’ beer down the Dark Horse to catch the Six Nations after class!

 The application process was straight forward. I applied online in mid-July with my CV, two letters of recommendation, my university transcripts and a short written application. At the same time I also scheduled my GMAT aptitude test for mid-August. My application was reviewed by the Board and I was called for an interview within two weeks. I interviewed with the MBA Director who assessed my suitability and rationale for pursuing the MBA. In parallel with the application process, I commenced study for the GMAT aptitude test. I received a conditional offer from Smurfit in early August pending a sufficient GMAT score. In mid-August I sat the GMAT and obtained the score I needed to get into Smurfit, and with that my MBA journey kicked off a little over two weeks later.

 A Chartered Engineer by background, prior to the MBA I had over seven years’ experience in the utility industry across asset development, trading, strategy and innovation. Since completing the MBA, I have taken up a new role as a Manager in Accenture’s Resources practice where I work with utility sector clients on strategy and transformation projects. The skills which I gained during the MBA from leadership and strategy execution to client consulting have proved invaluable as I navigate my new role.

 While I believe everyone sets out on the MBA in pursuit of their own personal goals, I will share a few of my reflections and insights. A substantial portion of the learning on the MBA is attained through working in teams with colleagues from varied backgrounds. Embrace the diversity and opportunity to explore diverging perspectives. There will be different styles, there will be conflicting views and there will be frustrations – be open to different approaches and use the opportunity to truly understand and test your own leadership style. The leadership development aspect of the MBA was one of the most enriching elements of the journey. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, go first, have a shot, challenge your self-perceptions – you are there to learn and to push boundaries – nothing grows in a comfort zone. Take time and make the effort to bond with your colleagues. Your colleagues soldier with you and support you every step of the way. The MBA network has been one of the biggest enduring benefits, and the value of being able to tap into the network you formed while at Smurfit is immeasurable.

 To those sitting on the fence procrastinating and considering if the time is now, take the leap and put in the application; there will never be a perfect time. To those who have already secured their place, you are about to embark on an incredible journey, it will challenge you on so many levels but you will grow in equal measure. Enjoy every step of the journey!

Catherine O’ Brien EMBA 2015/17

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“Ice to meet you – the Reykjavík files”-Global Business Environments Iceland Trip 2018

The international orientation is one of the outstanding draws for Smurfit School’s MBA programme. With global case study competitions, modules in other Global Network of Advanced Management schools and international study trips already in place, the previous year’s MBA class had gone to Iceland for the Global Business Environment module.

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That first visit was such a big success that our year had heard a great deal about it long before the email to enroll for it landed in our inbox during the first semester. Fast forward through the second semester and the exams, and we found ourselves back in a classroom in Blackrock with Prof. Karan Sonpar.

Besides being reminded how important it was that a strategy not only sounded good but had to be implementable, we focused on learning how to work more efficiently as a team. We were all experienced professionals, had worked with different study groups during the past year and had read a preparatory book on teamwork. So, huddled in our project groups, we were happy to tackle an exercise that left us pretending to be stranded in the Canadian wilderness following a plane crash. And it quickly became obvious that nobody in the room was as seasoned a team player as they had undoubtedly believed. I, for one, would have died horribly following the fictitious accident, had I had to make the decisions by myself. But thanks to Paul’s real-life survival training and some quick and creative thinking from Monika, Freda and Darren, we made the right decisions and survived to our imaginary rescue.

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Back in real life, on a Sunday not long after, it was time to set out for Iceland. Upon arrival, a visit to the Port Festival in the fishing town of Grindavik and the famous (and stunning) Blue Lagoon put us in holiday mood. Too soon, Monday morning arrived and it was down to business. Taxis arrived for all the groups and we took off to meet our client, an Icelandic travel company, in person for the first time. Given our lack of consulting experience, we were unsure of how well our preparations and our call with the team of the Conference and Incentives Department at the company had equipped us. But as soon as we met the team on site, things started falling into place. Many questions were answered, some additional ones cropped up but, most importantly, an understanding of the company and their needs quickly evolved, and ideas for our deliverable of a marketing plan started to develop.

The three days we had with the company went by (too) quickly and we spent a long and tense Wednesday evening finalising our presentation. After a conversation with our academic adviser Prof. Eamonn Walsh had sparked improvements to our ideas, we needed to overhaul some of what we would talk about the next morning. While other teams were visibly in the same situation (the hotel lobby looked like an exam prep room), we really started to feel the pressure mounting with the time to our presentation seeping away faster and faster while we were fine-tuning how we would put our thoughts into visual queues.

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With Monika, one of the year’s marketing aces, in our group we were confident in our ideas, and we had certainly rehearsed enough to know that we were communicating our suggestions creatively and coherently. But as with everything involving an audience, it is impossible to know what everybody would think, and we were still slightly apprehensive going into the presentation. Fortunately, the client’s reaction was extremely positive and we felt the proverbial weight fall off our shoulders.

group-pic-a-kirsten-icp-1Group members: Paul Donnelly, Monika Ghita, Darren Yourell, Freda Mahon, Kirsten Dottermusch

The remainder of the day as well as our Friday tour of Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Strokkur Geyser felt like a holiday we desperately needed. However, what we embraced and appreciated most about the week was the practical opportunity the consulting project provided. Applying the knowledge that we had acquired during the first year, encountering the pitfalls we were so confident we would avoid but successfully finding solutions as a team when we did not, were significant and rewarding steps towards fulfilling the expectations and ambitions the course programme instills in us.

Kirsten Dottermusch, EMBA 2017/19

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International Consulting Project -Iceland June 2018

72 individuals comprising of academic staff, full time and executive MBA students travelled to Iceland in early June for the International Consulting Project. For the full-time students this formed a core component of their studies while the executive students could elect to undertake this module.

We arrived in Iceland on Sunday 3rd June, immediately leaving the airport for a visit to the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s key tourist attractions. After visiting this incredible site, we went to the hotel where we got ready for our first group dinner at Bryggjan Brugghus. Delicious food and a couple of drinks were had and then we were off to bed, ready to get going early the next day.

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On Monday morning there was a line of taxis outside the hotel waiting to take us to our respective companies, it was like a scene from the apprentice. During the day we consulted with our company and worked on developing a plan of how we would achieve the outcome they desired over the next three days. Arriving back to the hotel after our initial day’s work, we met with our academic supervisor for a debrief. Recounting the activities of the day, our supervisors provided us with plenty of advice and guidance to help us prepare for the second day of consulting.

The second day of our consulting project required students to build on the information gained from their client companies and move towards satisfying the requirement as per the engagement letter previously completed by each group.

Wednesday was the last day of consulting with our client companies before delivery of the final presentation to both the company and our academic supervisors. Finishing touches were completed on the project and once finalised, groups got working on their presentations. This went long into the night for many groups with everyone wanting to deliver as good a final product as possible.

Thursday arrived and once again all the taxis arrived to take us to our companies. There was an air of tension about the place as individuals were rehearsing their presentations. If you were lucky enough to get a morning presentation you had the rest of the day off. Myself and a few others from our class took advantage of this and went whale watching. We saw Minke and harbour porpoise whales but unfortunately (to John’s disappointment in particular) we weren’t in deep enough water to see any Orca’s. Later that night we visited one of Iceland’s most iconic buildings, the Harpa, where we had a final reception and group dinner to wrap up the academic component of the week. Following dinner, we went to a traditional Irish pub for a few more drinks where the party continued into the early hours of the morning.

The next day, a lot of the class opted to participate in the Reykjavik sightseeing and Golden Circle tour the MBA programme office arranged for us. We departed early on Friday morning where we made stops at Gullfoss waterfall and the geysers. The tour was fantastic, and everyone was amased by the waterfall. After a long day touring the island, we returned to the Grand Hotel. By this stage most people were worn out, so some opted to have dinner in the hotel while others went out on the town.

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Our visit came to an end with an early departure from Keflavik International Airport on Saturday morning. I really enjoyed our visit to Iceland, learned a lot about what it’s like to be a consultant and have many great memories to cherish long in to the future :-)

Karl McEntegart, Full Time MBA 2017/2018

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.

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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.

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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

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Life in the Emerald Isle

A cook to prepare food, a maid to clean my house, a chauffeur driven car to take me around, clothes washed and ironed for me to wear, this was how life was for me back in India. Fast forward a few months, I found myself in Dublin, learning to cook even the most basic stuff, vacuuming my floor and putting clothes to the laundry, all of this in the middle of an intense start to the MBA program. Life had certainly taken a 360-degrees turn.

However, as time progressed, with the help of my roommates – Himanshu, Anita and Bhavya, who are also in the MBA program, I was able to settle in quickly. Suddenly, the place seemed familiar, I discovered the food I cooked was edible and I could manage to keep my place clean enough so as to not get kicked out from the on-campus accommodation.

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In the second semester, one knows that one can get through the various modules, no matter how challenging they appear to be. With optional modules available, I learnt immensely from modules such as ‘Negotiations’ and ‘Strategy Execution’ which are relevant to my career path. In this semester, you realize that the end of the course is not far away and start preparing for life, after the MBA. In my case, I was mentally preparing to returning back to my business and the learnings that I could potentially implement. Having set up my own company three years ago and having made a million mistakes along that journey, I am extremely satisfied with the learnings from the MBA and know that I can contribute massively to my business once I get back.

For me personally, it has been that the relationships that I developed further that matters to me the most. Starting with my roommates, to my classmates who were on the trip with me to South America, it has been a pleasure to get to know them better. On the recent international business trip to South America, I fell sick because of the altitude and was diagnosed with Vertigo, a condition due to which I could not balance my body and as a result, could not stand or walk. It was with the help of classmates on the trip, especially, Thom and Himanshu, that I survived and was able to make it back safely to Dublin.

I was happy to get involved in some of the MBA clubs in the last few months. Recently, as part of the social outreach team, we visited the Carysfort National School, where we conducted a ‘Bizworld workshop’. We essentially introduced these kids to the business world, explaining some of the basic business terms and concepts. We explained, in simple terms, things like, how to identify a problem and come up with an innovative solution, how to set up a company, how to assign company roles and finally, how to make an effective business plan. We then, made them understand the world of funding and trained them to pitch their ideas.

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On the final day, these kids had the opportunity to pitch their idea to ‘Dragons’ (some members of our team who played the role of a VC) and get investments. They also pitched their ideas to the students from the previous grade to get funding. The entire social outreach team was mind blown with some of the ideas that came up. The level of creativity shown by these students in coming up with an idea, choosing a company name, designing a logo, creating marketing collateral, was way beyond what we expected. It was an eye-opener for me and a very satisfying experience.
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I was also fortunate to explore the country in the last few months with my family. Visits to Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, reiterated the fact that I chose the right country to study. If I had visualized paradise all my life, this would be it. Of course, I cannot finish before I mention the amount of fun I’ve had enjoying the nightlife in Dublin. Come Friday night, my Instagram stories are filled again, I wake up at 8am on Saturday morning and it suddenly strikes me… I have strategy class in an hour – and off I go again!

Jayanth Veerendra, Full  Time MBA 2017/18

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‘The World travelled road to Washington’

MBA case competitions are a quintessential part of the MBA experience for many ambitious students. Eoin and I found a Case Competition titled ‘IBM Case Competition, The Challenges of Digital Strategy’.  The final of which would take place in the McDonough School of Business part of Georgetown University in Washington D.C. USA. After a quick discussion about the suitability of the competition, we set about putting together a team of complementary skillsets, attributes and personalities, a team we felt could go to Georgetown and win- enter Huyen and Marcelo.

2018 was the seventh year of the IBM-Georgetown Case Competition. Each year a real case based on a U.S. government department is produced. In 2017 this was the Department of Defense, the 2018 case that we received was based on the problems facing the National Park Service (NPS).

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For the first round we were required to submit a five minute video submission detailing our strategy to resolve a case study based on the real life problems facing the National Park Services, problems which included a $11.6 billion maintenance backlog. This was a challenging case with a deadline that clashed with our International Business Trips. The Friday before setting out on our respective adventures we filmed a segment together in Smurfit, as can be seen in the photograph below:

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Karan Sonpar and Pat Gibbons were extremely generous with their time and gave the team fantastic support with the case throughout. With Karan and Pat helping us we began to wonder was destiny conspiring for us to advance to the second round in Georgetown. To produce a quality strategy to this difficult case, every spare minute was utilised by all team members on both sides of the Pacific Ocean with a major part of our round 1 solution being solved on the back of the buses which took us from the company visit to company visit. Our Global Virtual Team experience from semesters 1 and 2 was also put to good use with Skype calls taking place, not easily with a packed schedule and 12 hour time difference between Hanoi and Lima, but where there is a will, there is a way.

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We decided that the theme of our video submission would be that we travelled the world searching for the best solutions to solve the NPS problems, below you can see photos at the various locations where we filmed.

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Returning to Dublin on Friday 23rd March 2018, still jet-lagged we met up on Saturday to finish our submission, upload to the video on YouTube as per the case requirements and inform Georgetown. Twelve days later our belief that we had been produced a quality solution was vindicated when we were one of the 9th out of the 30 plus teams who entered to be chosen to compete in the finals in Georgetown. After an excited talk with the team and the MBA Programme Office we accepted our place in the final, little did we know then what we had let ourselves in for over the next 12 days!

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For the following 12 days, we all had to step out of our comfort zones, further than any point so far in our MBA experience to date. The second round case built on the first round, however teams were allowed to build on what they had already produced in round 1 or tear up their existing strategy. As a team we decided that our strategy from the first round would not be good enough to win and so we essentially started again. The team dynamic was really good, we were all on a mission to produce a winning strategy for the NPS, apart from attending lectures all team members spend every minute of our time on the case. Two days prior to the competition, one day before flying to Washington D.C. we were pushed to the limit. We presented 3 times that day with an evolving presentation, receiving feedback from the MBA Programme Office, academics and our fellow classmates. That Wednesday night after 10 days of internal debate, external feedback and not enough sleep we settled on our presentation (well most of it anyway!).

Thursday morning we got to the airport and our 12:55 flight with United Airlines was cancelled! We go to the United Airlines desk, let them know that we can’t wait for the next flight which is tomorrow because of the competition and we were put on the 12:30 flight with Aer Lingus.

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We arrive in Dulles International Airport at 15:30 EST and call an Uber to our hotel. After some shopping for essentials in a dollar shop and a fine meal in KFC, we return to practice for the following day’s competition, just after midnight and having been awake for over 24 hours we called it a night.

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Friday morning we started the day right with Pancakes, butter, bacon and eggs, the breakfast of champions, except Marcelo who had cereal, toast and two cups of coffee! On the way to Georgetown we got excited when we drive past the Pentagon and spot the Washington Monument, which prior to the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world and is managed by the NPS, one of many NPS sites that we were set to visit over the weekend.

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We arrived at Georgetown to a warm welcome from the competition committee. One thing I have not mentioned thus far is that all teams throughout rounds 1 and 2 had to remain anonymous until the final results were given, to prevent any potential bias from the judges. After registering, conversing with our competitors and a welcoming address from IBM and Georgetown, we were shown to our private room and told to make ourselves feel at home and that we would be called at 10:50, the countdown was on! For the most part we relaxed, did a small amount of practice got mentally prepared for the competition, 10:50 came and we were escorted to the lecture theatre, in front of us was 5 judges from IBM, the three teams who had presented already that morning and some Georgetown students, all keen to see what strategy the most culturally diverse team in the competition would propose to IBM and the NPS. Our 15 minute presentation was timed to perfection, we answered all the questions to the satisfaction of the judges and at 11:15 left the lecture hall to a round of applause. We were on cloud nine and slowly floated back to our room full adrenaline and the joy of performing to our ability under pressure.

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In the afternoon we had lunch, networked, spoke to IBM’s HR/recruitment representative, and received a tour of the Georgetown campus. 15:20 the moment of truth arrived, IBM gave general feedback on the groups which was invaluable, given that we were all acting as IBM consultants in this round, then the top 3 were presented. Unfortunately we did not place in the top 3 but we were satisfied with our performance and extremely proud that we had gone to Georgetown to present a quality strategy to IBM on a real case and most importantly represented UCD and the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School with pride and conviction.

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After the event we retired to the Bulldog Tavern to share some refreshments with the IBM judges, the McDonough School Associate Dean and our fellow MBA competitors, who predominantly were attending business school in the U.S. but hailed from all over the world. After an entertaining evening with we set off for our Airbnb, exhausted we all fell asleep before 10 p.m. The next couple of days were amazing, the Mall in Washington and the museums which border it need to be experienced. Washington D.C. is a beautiful city and definitely worth including as part of a U.S. East coast trip.

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As a team we must thank on an individual basis, Ro Downing, Agnieszka Wisniewska, Emma Mescall, Pat Gibbons, Karan Sonpar and Bob Brennan. We would also like to thank our classmates for their feedback on our presentations and for their support in general which meant a great deal to us.

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To conclude everyone in the team pushed themselves to the limit for the IBM-Georgetown Case Competition. When the case was released two days before the International trip the easy thing would have been to say it can’t be done, but we said let’s have no regrets and give it our best effort. The lesson here is if there is something you want, don’t look for or accept excuses, keep trying, be brave, keep learning from your efforts, engage with the right people and you will get where you need to be, we promise you and you will be a better person for it.

James Kelly, MBA Full Time 2017/18

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Surprising Application of MBA learning

The general expectation from the MBA program is to develop your leadership skills and prepare you for management roles. Our LATAM experience showed us how these MBA concepts could also transcend to other interesting aspects of personal life.

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After day-long seminars with important speakers, we were eager to experience the thriving nightlife at Santiago, Lima and Cusco. The odds were stacked against us as we had limited dancing abilities and very little knowledge of the local language.

The lessons learnt from our last semester, it all came back to us! On the dance floor, we strategically identified potential dance partners by scanning the environment through the lens of segmentation targeting positioning concept, which was taught by the three musketeers of marketing – Damien, Andrew and Marius. We reminded ourselves about McNutt’s lesson on Nash equilibrium and realized that it was better to cooperate than compete with each other on the dance floor.

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On analysis of our interactions with the local people, we realized that our competitive advantage was that we hailed from India – the exotic land of the Taj Mahal and Khajuraho temples! We tactically played this trump card, which turned out be a great ice-breaker and kept the conversation flowing.

News of our happening nightlife spread like wild fire to the other end of the globe where the other half of our bunch was chilling in Hanoi. This experience taught us the true meaning of Chinese whispers. Our innocent dancing with the local women was distorted into creative, hilarious stories which made us men of questionable character! Overall, those two weeks were truly a highly immersive cultural experience. This has boosted our confidence of our ability to effectively handle international client relationships by overcoming language and cultural barriers.

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On returning back to Dublin and resting on that weekend, we were directly thrown into early morning day-long sessions of Operations and Supply Chain Management with the effervescent George Onofrei. We had interesting presentations covering companies across a wide range of sectors – Ebay, Dominos, Zappos, Sonae, Amazon, Zara and Cincinnati Hospital. Some of the teams entertained us by offering us pizzas and fruits. However, my team member John Keegan stole everyone’s thunder when he introduced his mother as a guest appearance during our presentation on Cincinnati Hospital. Our first group presentation turned out to be very successful and we look forward to building on that momentum.

Osmund Allan, MBA FT 2017/18osmund-1

 

MBA International Trip – A True International Experience

I had the opportunity to visit South America for the first time as part of the MBA International Study trip. Narcos, Machu Picchu and football were few of the things I knew about South America. This International study trip was my opportunity to have a real taste and feel of the continent, while also understanding a different culture. This helped me to link the theoretical knowledge that I learnt in the MBA programme, to its market application in an unfamiliar country. The main reason of doing an International MBA was to obtain a global experience. This trip added the icing on the cake.

Santiago is one of the most developed cities in South America. However, it is also a city which lies in a highly active seismic zone, as earthquakes in Chile are a routine occurrence. I was astonished to find that the Chilean infrastructure is so strong and dependable and that the Chilean people are unperturbed unless an earthquake measures higher than 6.5 on the Richter Scale. I also had the opportunity to visit one a non-profit organisation- Fundacíon Vivienda, which makes temporary houses for earthquake affected people. I fortunate to meet with to Miguel Mora, the Operations Director of the firm. We discussed on how we could make use of the residing materials from the houses.

We also met a lot of renowned speakers like Nicolas Verdesoto, who manages investor relations at Banco Estada, the State Bank of Chile. He explained the Chilean economy and its fiscal policies. We had the privilege of visiting one of the finest vineyards in the world- Vineyard Veramonte in Casablanca and of course, we bought some bottles for ourselves!

After a few exciting days in Chile, we flew to Lima, Peru for the second leg of our journey. And guess what, we met the CEO of Vivo Air, one of the cost leaders in the Aviation Industry. He spoke about the history, the company strategy going forward, their beliefs and how being a cost leader gives them a competitive advantage.

This trip also gave me the opportunity to visit one of the leading textile manufacturing firms in LATAM. I had never been to a textile manufacturing factory before. Eduardo Elias, the Director of the firm, provided us with a great insight into the process of making clothes. We also visited his industrious factory and the textile testing centre.

We stayed back in Peru for five more days to understand the LATAM culture. We explored the cities on our own experiencing the nightlife, the remains of the Incas civilisation and the natural beauty that South America possesses such as Machu Picchu and the Rainbow Mountains.

Orientating and managing cultural differences is an essential part in a manager’s work life. As an MBA graduate, it becomes essential to learn how to conduct business in a completely different environment with a variety of cultures. Furthermore, it becomes vital to understand how to harness the theories learnt during the MBA to accommodate the cultural diversity in an International setting.

Finally, I would like to thank the Smurfit MBA Office for providing us this opportunity, my group who accompanied me to make each and every day special, Karan Sonpar for his speed dating networking tips, Thom Strimbu for capturing these wonderful pictures and the tour organisers for making this trip a memorable experience.

Himanshu Kamat, MBA FT 2017/18

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The MBA: A Year of Transformation

The MBA programme has finally come to an end.  My one-year roller coaster experience has ended faster than I had imagined.

When I bid farewell to Orla, Michael and Yvonne in the MBA programme office before heading to Dublin airport, I found myself stuck by a simple question asked by Yvonne,  “How do you feel right now?”. I had a strange feeling that I never had before. I felt glad yet sad, relieved yet nervous. I am so glad and relieved that I have endured this demanding programme (not to mention the intensive 6-week capstone project that has just ended at Microsoft). At the same time, I was sad as I was about to leave Ireland and all the lovely people I met here very soon. I also felt a little nervous since the end of the MBA programme means the beginning of the real career challenges ahead, given the expectations of prospective employers for MBA graduates.

When reflecting upon the year I spent in Smurfit, I found that the past year was a truly rewarding one in terms of personal growth and knowledge gained. Other than the nice combination of the business knowledge that I have gained, I have developed a deeper self-awareness through the Leadership Development Programme (LDP). I have also learned a lot by working with classmates with different backgrounds, experiences and personalities.

On the other hand, the opportunities to gain international exposure were tremendous in Smurfit. In October last year, I studied for a week at Yale School of Management as part of the Global Network of Advanced Management (GNAM) programme. Earlier this year, our class went to China for a week as part of the “Doing Business in Emerging Markets” module. And now, I am heading to Malibu, California for a semester long MBA exchange programme in Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University, before I officially complete my MBA programme.

Going forward, I am cautiously optimistic about my future. As mentioned by my mentor, an MBA degree will not magically transform a person to what he or she wants to be. Indeed, I have to be realistic of what to expect in the near future and try very hard to pursue every opportunities that are presented to me.

However, I believe there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. After a year of immersion, I believe I am different from what I was a year ago.

The transformation has just begun.

Sai Mun Leo

Full-time class 2013-14, currently on exchange at Pepperdine University in US.

The end of the semester is nigh

After our massively successful trip to China it’s back to the grindstone at Smurfit. Since returning many students are commenting just how close to the end of lectures we are, with essentially only four weeks of classes remaining. While this idea dawned on me several days ago I was heartened to see some of our class presentations this week which were really of a very high quality (they had numbers, they had words, the material all fitted together, they worked!). It would be truly interesting for us to sit down as a class and watch some videos of ourselves presenting last autumn, I’m sure we’ve all really come a long way.

Asides from the few weeks of lectures remaining, we have two weeks of exams and the Capstone project. This project will put us out in small teams into the real world to work with companies on consulting projects. I’m slightly concerned how my body clock is going to react to early mornings as leading in to exam season I’ve started studying into the night-time and waking up late but apart from this I’m definitely looking forward to applying all that I’ve learned. I’ve heard rumours that real companies are more complex than what can be described in 15 pages of a Harvard Business School case study! Anyway, the experience should be a great final hurrah and a real chance to gain experience in a new business sector.

Conal Campbell

FT MBA