“I’m a Red-Blue Peacock-Dolphin”

Not many people would understand what the title above means, but to any UCD MBA student, it conveys insight into my qualities as a group member and a leader.

Our Wednesdays have been packed with psychometric tests and learning resources, through the Leadership Development and Careers Programmes, intended to guide us through our pursuits of new roles and new industries as we develop into leaders post-MBA.

Other blog entries have discussed the activities of the first week, when we discovered a little about how we function in groups, and animals and colours were assigned to our individual qualities. Inevitably, my results provided me the least endearing animal possible: the Peacock.

During a more recent Wednesday, we explored the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI). This tool encouraged us to think about our motivational system, our behaviour, our strengths, and the ways in which we respond to conflict in a team setting. As Wednesdays go, given the introspective nature of the tasks and the need to discuss others’ strengths/weaknesses, this was the most emotionally exhausting.

From SDI, the most interesting insight I gained into leadership was the fact that “assertive” (red) leaders are not necessarily the most effective: that at times “altruistic” (blue), or “analytic” (green) will lead to better results. I’m also glad to have had the chance to actively learn from my group mates’ experience of working with me; an opportunity I have never before had in the workplace. So with pride, I announce that I am a Red-Blue Peacock-Dolphin.


Niall Ó Muiré

FT MBA 2014

Ireland


The ability to work together on the UCD Smurfit MBA.

We are well into the UCD Smurfit MBA now and we have settled into a good routine. Our team work has improved and we often walk out of team meetings feeling that they were really productive. This puts a spring in our step as we try to work on the seemingly never ending stream of assignments! I would like to think that this improvement is due, in part, to the bonding work of our “Commitments” video night last month. The guys did not need subtitles in the end and enjoyed an insight into the real Dublin.

In reality, the improvement in our ability to work together is due to the work we do in our Leadership Development Programme (LDP)workshops and practice. Lots and lots of practice. The practice is just due to the workload, as we have a constant stream of meetings and assignments to hand up. The LDP helps us in a number of ways but much of it is focused on identifying our characteristics and the characteristics of our team mates. This gives us a better understanding of how we work together as a team. I found some of the results surprising, for myself but also for my team mates. Without giving it much thought, I had made assumptions about people’s reactions based on my own, which  I realise now might have been a little naive.

On an academic front, it is full steam ahead for the end of the semester, deadlines that seemed so far away are now looming. But it is still great fun. The class interaction is still great, the insights from lecturers, but also my fellow colleagues, is fantastic. I am often astounded at just how smart some of the people in the room are.

Outside of the academic workload, we need to start to think about our careers, i.e. what we want to do when we grow up and leave the cocoon of the MBA. Most of us are investigating a number of industries and roles and this has been facilitated by the great work of Brian Marrinan in the careers office.

It is just hard to tear ourselves away from the books!

Thady Duggan.

FT MBA 2014.

UCD Smurfit MBA takes part in Yale Global Network Immersion Week

One of the highlights of the course thus far was a week spent at Yale University with students from all over the world as part of the Ivy League business school’s Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM).


UCD Smurfit MBA feeling bullish on Wall Street

As a member of the GNAM, UCD Smurfit offers MBA students the chance to attend one-week programmes at various leading business schools throughout the world. These programs are organized around a specific theme combing in-class instruction as well as some company and cultural visits.

Eight students from UCD Smurfit (after a weekend of far too much Mexican food in New York) attended, with the topic being “From Madison Avenue to Wall Street – Everything you need to know about Behavioural Economics”.   The lectures were genuinely fascinating, the topic is about applying Psychology to Marketing and Finance and the professors worked hard to make the lectures as human and entertaining as possible.


Aside from the lectures a highlight of the week was studying with (and going out every night with) students from Mexico, China, the US, Israeland many other countries.  Being able to contact people from these countries for business purposes (or better yet, for fun!) anytime we are in their country (or they are in ours) will be a real asset for the rest of our lives.


UCD Smurfit MBA Team @ Yale 2013



And I think I even survived the Financial Reporting accounting exam in Dublin a few days after I got back!! Or maybe that’s just the jet-lag talking….



Conall Campbell,

FTMBA 2014.

How the UCD Smurfit MBA has improved my time management skills.

The end of 2013 is one of the busiest times in my life.  I have just come back from Global Network Week at Yale School of Management. Right after I arrived in Dublin, I must come back to UCD Smurfit’s campus immediately to study Financial Reporting for the next examination. Whenever you open your Google Calendar, it is full of tasks from day to day.  

After class in the morning, we also spend time to work in groups for the next assignments or presentations. At the weekend, we also have an abundance of readings for the following week. At first, I felt quite overloaded but Google Calendar and EverNote applications have helped me so much in time management.  I did a workshop on time management as part of the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) which is part of the UCD Smurfit MBA.

Every week, I always list a series of tasks that need to be done and put all of them in To-do-list Folder in Evernote so I can open it on my smart phone. I order them from the least to the most important tasks and begin to solve in that order.


Having good time management skills helps you not only to solve all duties in class but also allows you to join in many school events.

It’s a big world and there’s a lot to be done!


Hung Nguyen,

FT MBA 2014.

The Journey Continues on the UCD Smurfit MBA…bringing “an improved ability to affect and lead others”.

Week 8! It is remarkable to think that we have only had 8 weeks of the course so far, it seems like I have far too many memories to fit into only 8 weeks. Flipping that around however, it’s also amazing to think that we are already approaching the end of SEM1. Time flies when you’re having fun, and, apparently, when you’re rampaging through a labyrinth of modules, workshops, projects and deadlines.

Since my last blog, I have experienced some significant highs and lows on the course. The highs are easier to succinctly describe but perhaps provide less meaty and real content for reflection. They have come in the form of positive feedback from respected professors on work I have produced and the development of social ties within the group. The lows, on the other hand, provide for, perhaps, more interesting discussion and for better learning. My lows relate to realizations that have forced me to re-frame my view of the MBA and what I will take from it.

When I decided to come on the UCD Smurfit MBA programme, I assumed that the majority of candidates would be fiery go-getters, all driven to compete healthily and push the envelope of what can be achieved. I also assumed that we would work in teams where everyone would want to get the best results possible. In short, I assumed that people on the course would be just like me. Well, we know what they say about assumptions… The reality of an MBA is far from my mental image of academic and project jousting. The reality incorporates a variety of candidates with a multitude of different personalities and goals for the course.

I have always worked in environments which rewarded and promoted those who rolled up their sleeves and got things done and this has reinforced that mode of behaviour to the extent that it is has been my default mode of engagement. While that behaviour can drive great progress, it isn’t applicable to every environment and every group of people. In many situations, it may be more important to bring the team with you or to analyse the environment exhaustively before acting. By challenging us to work with various people and on various projects the MBA teaches us, in a very real way, how to engage with different personality types and how to step outside our standard mode of engagement. This provides an enormous, if uncomfortable, learning opportunity.

The day I found out that the rest of my team did not want to achieve first class honours in the course was a day I will never forget. It was profoundly baffling how people could not aim for the best possible result. I became dizzy trying to understand it. It took quite a bit of re-framing to accept that the grade of result from an MBA is not the most important measurement of the quality of the experience gained on the course. The breadth of experience and the skills developed that round out the individual are more important.

All of the candidates on the course are high-calibre but their primary strengths lie in various different areas. By exposure to each other’s strengths and weaknesses and through honest feedback from self and others in Leadership Development (LDP) sessions, a mirror is held up showing us how we engage and the benefits and risks of our styles. Through this challenging process the quiet analyst learns to step up, the conciliatory player learns to focus on task and the dominant go-getter learns to move with the team. Interestingly, this learning is not explicitly targeted at developing better influencing skills but that is the effect. The LDP objectives pursued relate to team development and team dynamic enhancement but will translate to an improved ability to affect and lead others.

As the Christmas exams begin to loom on the horizon it is useful to note that the pressure we experience as part of the MBA is essential to keep the personal learning real. Working on our behaviours and interactions is kept relevant and effective as we do so under pressure. The pressure calls out the true selves we will call on under fire when we are back out leading industry. Sharpening our tools for those situations is the greatest benefit the UCD Smurfit MBA can offer. So, here’s to pressure, development, the challenges behind us and the challenges to come.

Liam Doyle,

FT MBA 2014.

TEAMS SINK OR SWIM

In applying for the Full Time MBA at UCD I was informed that there would be a considerable amount of group work throughout the course. I was nonetheless unprepared for the extent to which individual success is dependent on group success. As groups, we sink or swim.

Add to this the fact that that the typical MBA student is seeking to enhance their leadership skills. How does a group function with 5 leaders? The term “herding cats” comes to mind.

I suspect that my group will be informally refining our team charter until its final days. There is a need for constant re-balancing of personal vs. group ambition, of time management and of the division of responsibilities.

Without such a dialogue, our chances of MBA survival and intact friendships match those of a snowball in hell.

Niall Ó Muiré

FTMBA 2013-14

A better way to research a case study

Many people believe that case preparation is often a big challenge in group work. However, there are some alternative ways to work with case studies. One of our group assignments was about Yo! Sushi, a small but expanding chain of restaurants that serves Japanese-style food using a conveyer-belt restaurant design.

After our first meeting for case preparation, we asked ourselves should we not go to the restaurant to have a clear view of what we are going to present. This was a good idea. This helps to understand the offering in more detail, and how the menu and ordering system works. More importantly, by doing this, our relationship within the team grows better and stronger.  The assignment became much easier.

Would you like to try the same way?

Ba Nguyen.  FTMBA 2014.



UCD Smurfit MBA Entrepreneurship Club kicks off a new season in Google HQ.

The UCD Smurfit Entrepreneurship Club put together an introductory event on 8 October. Over 35 current and recent MBA participants attended. The event was hosted at the Google Docks building on Barrow Street with an incredible line-up of speakers and club member who stepped up to make it happen. When you see them, thank these incredibly generous individuals who provided the substance to the event and helped to coordinate everyone and everything on a VERY short timeline.

One of our own, Mathilde Miravete EMBA 2015, did a fantastic job securing Google as the venue and also MC’d the panel. Michael Culligan pulled double duty on the panel, providing an introductory overview and discussing the types and availability of funds in Dublin. Eamonn Sayers provided an overview of the Incubator environment at the Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC), discussing the benefits of close working environment for entrepreneurs. Our NDRC representative, Gary Leyden, discussed his LaunchPad programme and that an Accelerator slightly differs from an Incubator by focusing on projects closer to viable start-up status. individuals who provided the substance to the event and helped to coordinate everyone and everything on a VERY short timeline.

Bringing social responsibility to the discussion was Darren Ryan from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI). He gave us an overview of how SEI is working to make a difference through entrepreneurs and redefining success by social impact. Brendan Cremen provided an academic supported Incubator at NovaUCD, which leverages the school’s researchers, leaders, and investors.

Our attendees found the event an incredibly useful introduction to the entrepreneur landscape. Pawel Ostropolski enjoyed that a “broad range of the entrepreneurship landscape” was covered from physical products, to IT solutions, and process change through social process reform ideas. Sundar Balasubramani enjoyed the chance to meet and network with Gary and Eamonn. David Keirnan found that “The discussions outlinedpractical steps to take a business concept to reality. Advice on the do’s and do not’s for start-up enterprises was given by highly experienced people working in the field.”

Being Google, we also got some swag in the form of stickers, diary pads, and pens. After the formal Q&A everyone enjoyed canapés with wine kindly sponsored by the MBA Office.

In all, a great introductory event that provided everyone a feel for some of the major players in the Entrepreneur scene in Dublin in such a beautiful setting overlooking Dublin city from Google headquarters.

The next meeting of UCD Entrepreneurship Club is scheduled for 31 October at 7:30p in the Pillar Room.


Pete Kloehn,  MBA Entrepreneurship Club Chair 2013-14.

FTMBA 2014.

Work on sharpening up the softer skill set! (aka the UCD Smurfit MBA Leadership Development Programme).

They say time flies when you’re having fun. It also seems to fly when you’re up to your neck in project work. Well, perhaps more accurately, when you feel like you’re up to your neck in project work. In fairness we’ve had a relatively balanced distribution of fun and hard work to date. A bit of hard work is good for us.

Everyone in the class had something of a shock when we each listed out all of our assignment deadlines, put dates against them and sorted them into date order. In reality the work load, while heavy, is very manageable with a group. It actually feels good to be dealing with a heavy workload again. Yesterday I found myself booking rooms and sending mails that related to meetings and work that will be done two to three weeks down the line, knowing that I needed to get those tasks done now to facilitate the future work. Of course that’s the normal way of things when you’re busy in a job and it was good to feel back to having that sense of purpose and drive.

Given the workload, some people in the class have been challenged and frustrated by the amount of time that is scheduled for personal and team development (Leadership Development Programme) but I feel this is one of the best elements of what we are experiencing. Having come from large, tiered and management driven organisations I’ve seen how important it is for teams to work well. Without the teams functioning, an organisation doesn’t function. The teamwork development aspects of the MBA will certainly stand to candidates when they get back out into the real world. The course is a great opportunity to take time to develop and reflect on team and interpersonal skills in a supportive environment where you can get feedback from peers and experts. Don’t get me wrong, when there are grades on the line in a class of achievers, temperatures rise and tempers fray but that is exactly the emotional live-fire environment needed to work on sharpening up the softer skill set.

I’m looking forward to getting involved with the Thought Leaders and Entrepreneurs Clubs and putting together some interesting events. While club activity will keep me busy, my other project commitments outside of the course are reducing so I’ll even have a little time for sports in the coming weeks. I’m going to do my best not to pack on the MBA pounds that we’ve been warned about. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!

The Team 5 Massive has survived our first few projects and has grown as a team from the experiences. Our first presentation is coming up next week so it will be fun to get the team up and present to the class. Fun, tough, exhilarating and nerve-racking no doubt. Of course, that’s what this experience is all about; getting stuck in and doing our best. Speaking of which, my 8.30 lecture is about to begin…

Liam Doyle.

FT MBA 2014

UCD Smurfit MBA Investment Competition 2013

I hope the participants are enjoying the competition so far and learning from the practical experience of trading….we’ve had a challenging market environment with infinite QE hangovers and traders doing their best to ignore the US federal shut-down… it is really interesting to see the different trading strategies at work across the competition….and now some good news; UCD MBA Office has put up with two really excellent prizes (thanks Michael);

First prize is a very nice selection of wine – this will be for the overall winner….But, that’s not all! – we also have a ‘most interesting trade’ prize of a €50 book token – to be judged by myself and an independent person from a selection of your trades that are very unusual, creative, brave or just plain stupid!….we’ll have a look at all trades but if you spot a candidate for this prize send your nominations to me, so get going on those exotic trading positions (judge’s decision is final etc. etc.).

In view of the really great prizes on offer and our busy schedules, I am extend the trading game until close of US markets on Friday 18 October 2013.


Markets re-open in under 1 hour – happy trading!


David Flynn.

EMBA 2013.