‘Business Imagined Better Together – Inclusion, Diversity & Unconscious Bias in Business’

L-R: Niamh Brennan, Ingrid Devin, Mark Ryan, Noirin O'Sullivan, Gina Quin
L-R: Niamh Brennan, Ingrid Devin, Mark Ryan, Noirin O’Sullivan, Gina Quin (Photo Credit – Angela Halpin)

Thank you to everybody who joined the UCD Smurfit School & 30% Club Panel Discussion at The Conrad Hotel on Tuesday evening for our panel discussion.

Prof. Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh opened proceedings for the evening. Our moderator Niamh Brennan and panelists Mark Ryan, Gina Quin, Noirin O’Sullivan and Ingrid Devin explored the topic – “Business Imagined Better Together – Inclusion, Diversity and Unconscious Bias in Business”.

UCD & 30% Club Panel Discussion Event 23.02.16
UCD & 30% Club Panel Discussion Event 23.02.16

The evening was a great success with a lively panel discussion, interesting Q&A session with our audience and plenty of networking. You can see highlights from the evening on our YouTube Channel, link below:

Watch highlights from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business and 30% Club Panel Discussion.

The 30% Club runs a number of very specific and targeted initiatives that look to broaden the pipeline of women at all levels, from schoolroom to boardroom. It is made up of a group of business leaders committed to achieving better gender balance at all levels of organisations. It is a global opportunity for businesses to improve the way they perform by encouraging talented females into leadership positions. The 30% club has impacted on firms around the world and engages in activities spanning the school room to the boardroom. The group aims to reach a 30% female gender balance on Irish boards and executive management level by 2020.

All photos from the event are now available to view here.


Scholarship Opportunity:

UCD Smurfit School and The 30% Club are offering a full tuition fee scholarship to one female candidate wishing to enter the Diploma in Corporate Governance commencing in September 2016. To find out more about the scholarship, please click here.

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Communications & Events


Joe Schmidt inspires Smurfit MBA candidates with Leadership Talk on ‘Managing High Performing Teams’

Joe Schmidt - Photo Credit - Jason Clarke
Joe Schmidt – Photo Credit – Jason Clarke

Last Thursday, Joe Schmidt, the double Six Nations winning Irish rugby coach, talked to Smurfit MBA candidates on ‘Managing High Performing Teams’ at the St. Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club.

He chip-kicked the event by praising his team for being natural athletes who work hard and give their everything to the sport. As a coach, he believes in giving players the freedom to evolve and self-lead themselves. In a team, individuals need to do their job right to win the team’s trust.

Joe Schmidt & David Cashman. Photo Credit - Jason Clarke
Joe Schmidt & David Cashman. Photo Credit – Jason Clarke

Executive MBA candidate and MC for the evening David Cashman steered the talk by discussing Schmidt’s extensive experience in leadership as a coach and strategies for glorious back-to-back Six Nations wins.

Schmidt emphasized the importance of investing in the people that these players are by the route of giving constant feedback. Team members feel assured that they are being noticed and that the leader is invested in them that yields better dividend.

He also spoke about his recruitment style; Besides observing a player’s game, Schmidt studies the player’s attitude too. He said that a player’s game can be improved by the right training but a player’s attitude or DNA cannot be changed. It is not about provinces, it is not about red or white jerseys – he says his foremost task is to pick the 15 best Irishmen who should represent ‘the green jersey’.

Photo Credit - Jason Clarke
Photo Credit – Jason Clarke

He highlighted that a player can lead his team by being emotionally intelligent and unselfish enough to drive younger players – qualities that Paul O’Connell possessed which is why it will be difficult to find his replacement.

Schmidt anecdotally mentioned that many young coaches seek tips from him to be professional coaches. He chuckled and said that they don’t know how tough his job is. And on a serious note, he added that it all depends on the way we invest in our people.

Schmidt delivered an inspiring talk on leadership that had the audience on its feet, clapping most of the time, whistling and roaring in approval.  His address was candid and replete with humour making this event one of the most popular leadership talks of the year.

Joe Schmidt and Dean Ciaran O’hÓgartaigh with MBA Thought Leadership Club committee members – Vincent Cooney, Pooja Dey, David Cashman, John O’Brien, Paul Murphy & Aileen Butler. Photo Credit - Jason Clarke
Joe Schmidt and Dean Ciaran O’hÓgartaigh with MBA Thought Leadership Club committee members – Vincent Cooney, Pooja Dey, David Cashman, John O’Brien, Paul Murphy & Aileen Butler. Photo Credit – Jason Clarke

The event was curated by the MBA Thought Leadership Club, Smurfit School, UCD. There are a few people we would like to thank without whom this event would not have been of this magnitude – Dean Ciaran O’hÓgartaigh for supporting the event, Yvonne Harding from the MBA office for providing guidance and advice, Executive MBA candidate Conor Drudy for helping to set up Joe Schmidt for this leadership talk.

We wish the Irish Rugby Team the very best in chasing the three in a row!

Pooja Dey ~ Full-Time MBA

Zurich Insurance CEOs share Leadership Perspective with Smurfit MBA Students


One of the most relevant and appealing events at Smurfit is the MBA Leadership Talk Series. The MBA candidates have great aspirations to make impact in the business world and The MBA Thought Leadership Club provides excellent environment to supplement just that.

On Friday October 2nd, Mr.Martin Senn, Global CEO and Mr.Patrick Manley, EMEA CEO of Zurich Insurance were the coveted speakers who officially kicked off the first session of the series. Both visited Smurfit to share insights from their personal and professional journeys.

As MBA candidates we found it really insightful to hear their inspiring stories of cultural diversity while working in different continents from Americas to Asia, maintaining a positive attitude in challenging situations both truly manifesting the significance of leadership skills.

Mr.Martin Senn - Global CEO Zurich
Mr.Martin Senn – Global CEO Zurich

Mr.Senn candidly talked about his experience as a soldier for Swiss army and how he learnt to see the silver lining even in the most challenging situations. He called this phenomenon ‘Artist of Life’. He inspired students with thought provoking ‘coin story’ that his mentor told him. The closer we keep the coin to our eye the lesser we see. He advised that leadership is not about chasing money but great good of society and maintaining integrity.

Mr.Manley discussed the key ingredients required to be a great leader. He highlighted that leadership is about credibility. He mentioned a number of things including ‘therapy to let go’…with companies aggressively adding more portfolios, a CEO needs to learn to extract only relevant information from the clutter. Mr.Manley also mentioned that it is the leader’s responsibility to hire people he can trust and not micro manage a team’s every move.

He succinctly gave us MBA candidates a tip that it is imperative to be vigilant followers as we move to the corporate world to take on leadership roles.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity of being in this company. What a great start to the MBA program!

On behalf of the club I would like to thank Mr.Brian Hunt, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Zurich Insurance, who was instrumental in making the event a success and of course the MBA Programme Office that supported us in this endeavor.

Pooja Dey ~ Full Time MBA

Smurfit MBA Team Represent Ireland In Yale Integrated Leadership Case Competition & Take Home ‘Best Team Dynamic Award’

Pic Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

How do you determine a company’s future strategy in only 7.5 hours? Simple. Put a team together, enter the Yale Integrated Leadership Case Competition (ILCC), get nominated to represent UCD Smurfit Business School, and then fly to New Haven and proudly do just that!

On Saturday morning on April 11th 2015, four full time MBAs, Cian (marketing) Collins, Peter (selfie) MacMahon, Enda (HJ) Power and Cathal (thumbs up) Small donned suits, UCD ties and pins, and entered the impressive Yale SOM (School of Management) building in New Haven, Connecticut at 7am to get to work on the case and do battle against 14 other business schools from around the globe. We were given no indication of the case content,  but weeks of practice and help from the Smurfit School had greatly helped our preparation and our confidence to ably compete. Doing the MBA program hadn’t hurt either!


Prior to the competition, our team met every Friday morning for about two months to discuss previous raw Yale cases and to figure out who would play which role on the day. We had a diverse mix of skillsets on the team – Cathal is a strategy-focused accountant, Peter is an engineer, Enda is a project manager and Cian’s background is in Human Resources. We had all worked across multiple industries and businesses, both indigenous and global, so between us we also brought a lot of collective yet diverse work experience.


We came to discover that the team that tells the most compelling, articulate and concise story of their strategic recommendation would emerge victorious on the day. This meant that having a killer market strategy and a well prepared slide deck  counted for little without a great presentation. Thanks to Michael McDonnell, Nxtgen’s Paul Slattery was engaged to coach us on everything that would help us get our compelling story across to the judges.

The case each of the teams had to present on related to a Mexican food producer that had been underperforming for many years. The owner needed recommendations on future strategic direction. Seven hours to determine a new strategy passes very quickly when presented with so much information but thanks to great teamwork, we formed a strong solution, created a comprehensive deck of slides and at 3pm stood in front of the judges and gave our presentation.  Only one team from each group of five qualified for Sunday’s final – from our group, HKUST (Hong Kong) qualified and went on to win the competition. The overall standard of competition was excellent – we were delighted to have come through the process and hold our own. We thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of implementing all of our MBA module learnings into a single case.


We were also chuffed to win the ‘Best Team Dynamic’ award at Sunday’s closing ceremony. Each team had been individually observed during the pressurised 7.5 hour process to observe team leadership skills. The judges advised that our team demonstrated the highest level of distributed leadership, clear communication, and collective decision-making. They also observed it was clear we were enjoying the process without letting the pressure get to us.  Prior to going to Yale, we’d had a cracking night out and a day sightseeing in New York (Bryant Park anyone? haha) and this may have helped! To be recognised as the best performing team out of all fifteen competing teams was a great achievement for us and for everyone who had helped us in our preparation for the competition – we were delighted as it capped off a truly memorable weekend.

In hindsight, the highlight of the competition was in the people we met – a great diverse mix of students from all over the world. Everything from how the competition was run and organised by the Yale MBA students, to the facility and  the judges (one of whom took us playing football with him and his mates the next day) was top class. It was a definite highlight of the MBA so far and we hope that a Smurfit team can again qualify in 2016 and have as good an experience as we did!

Cian Collins, Peter MacMahon, Cathal Small & Enda Power ~ Full-Time MBA