UCD Smurfit MBA Foundation Week


When I joined the military 10 years ago, we had to complete an induction week. The week was designed to give us a ‘soft landing’ into the organisation and dismay any anxiety or fear. Now, ten years later I have completed a similar week as part of the EMBA Programme in UCD Michael Smurfit Business School and the induction week seemed to have quite a different objective; a hard landing!

If I was to walk away from the Programme now, the week, as a standalone undertaking, would have been worth attending. Although ‘life-changing’ may be a little dramatic, it certainly challenged me, questioned some of my long-standing beliefs, taught me several practical life-skills and allowed me to meet some truly interesting people.

The Why Marketing Lecture with Prof Damien Mc Loughlin
The Why Marketing Lecture with Prof Damien Mc Loughlin

Although I have attended college before, UCD Michael Smurfit feels different when you arrive. The campus feels modern and all the staff (and fellow students) are particularly friendly. After arriving we received our ‘welcome pack’ and then sat through a series of presentations. The faculty introduced themselves and very soon the message was clear; hard work was the name of the game and there would be no hiding from it. The straight forwardness was refreshing; we all knew where we stood.

Tuesday involved a day-long team building exercise. I found myself at the edge of my comfort-zone before the end of the day, leading the class in the final challenge. I had been determined not to risk exposing myself to a position like this so early on but here I was. In the military, standing out early in a course of training is usually a bad thing. I expected that leading a group of natural leaders like those who might enroll in an MBA Programme, would lead to a ‘too many chiefs’ situation. Surprisingly there were no counter-ideas or subversive actions after I voiced my plan. Each individual acknowledged the action required to achieve the teams objective and played their part diligently. I have never experienced a team of this size come together and operate with such efficiency, in such a short time.


The rest of the week saw us meet our study groups, complete a day-long business simulation, practice our presentation skills and learn about our personality styles and those of others. I left on Friday, looking forward to seeing my new classmates again and in particular working with my new study group.

No one could say they weren’t challenged, no one could say they didn’t learn something new and it’s pretty clear what lies ahead: hard work, the development of great friendships and the opportunity to overcome huge challenges.

To quote Gordon B. Hinckley – “Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds”.

Gearóid O’Briain ~ Executive MBA, Year 1

Are Brands Living Entities?


As part of a marketing assignment, we were asked whether brands are living entities. The question by itself suggested an answer. It is fantastic to perceive brands as living entities with unique characters. Brands have the ability to communicate, carry reputation, earn loyalty and become friends for life.

Have you ever heard brands talk to you? For instance, BMW instills power in its driver by calling its car an Ultimate Driving Machine, Toyota in turn drives the aspiring class by saying let’s go places. They not only trigger thought but motivate through strong messages. Nike elevates an adrenaline-rush pushing us to just do it, while Reebok invokes confidence by assuring impossible is nothing. Do we care little about these phrases? Or do we care less as they are all just right?

Sometimes – subconsciously though – we are moved by colours that brands wear. Coca Cola introduced a green coloured packaging for its new Coca Cola Life. Research indicated that green as a colour would induce a go signal and project a pro-health appeal. The creamy-white clothing and white interiors on the backdrop of a Dove TV commercial reinstates the milk-cream moisturising message that the soap brand conveys – with a mainly white packaging.

The ‘H’ on the logo of Hyundai and that on Honda surely makes us capture them distinctly.


Brands work hard to earn value over their lifetimes, but some fall prey to self-inflicted trouble.  Without talking much about Enron, let’s look into brands that have had holy communions rather than obituaries. We all know that brands have a life of their own.

Who personifies a brand? A manufacturer uses chemicals, fabric, leather, metal and glue to produce bags; but it is in style, glamour, attitude, prestige and fashion that we embody a Prada. Brands carry a character, making space in our psyche, constantly competing against each other to win our attention.

We may wear Zara, smell Davidoff, buy SuperValu, read Jeffery Archer, drink Guinness, see through Specsave, or wake up to a Clocky..! Brands are everywhere. They ‘‘live’’ amongst us.

Brands are so lively that they have made it to this UCD Smufit Blog in which their fanciful personification has kept you reading it to the end. Wait, do you have an Apple? As in…

Sreekanth Nagabhushana ~ Full-Time MBA