Theme: Preparation!

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It’s an October day on campus at Smurfit Graduate Business School, and the MBA Class of 2017 have been at UCD for six weeks. The international students are getting to grips with the mercurial Irish weather and the Irish students are slowly coming to terms with Mayo’s disappointment in the All-Ireland. Summertime is officially over and it’s time to prepare for winter.

Preparation seems to be a theme this week!

First and foremost is preparation for the workplace. I’m a career changer: I studied medicine as an undergraduate, working as a junior doctor before coming to UCD. One of my priorities this year is explore my career options post-MBA.  Happily, Smurfit is making that task very easy.

At the start of term the Careers team circulated an MBA vacancy with a global brand, and I spent much of my Monday evening gearing up for a phone interview next week. There was plenty more to learn about potential employers on Tuesday, as a stellar lineup of firms sent representatives to Smurfit for the Audit & Consulting Recruitment Fair. With the graduate milk-rounds starting, we have a valuable opportunity to do some research ahead of the MBA hiring cycle.

Wednesday was entirely devoted to job-hunting skills with the fantastic Daniel Porot. We were in capable hands, learning from a speaker who works with 12 of the world’s top 20 MBA schools. I’ll have a chance to put M. Poirot’s advice into practice at the second recruitment fair of the week, which focuses on general business functions rather than professional services.

Planning a little more proximally, I’ve been finalising my travel plans for Global Network Week. Due to Smurfit’s membership of the Global Network for Advanced Management, full-time MBA students (and second-year EMBAs) get to spend a week in October participating in the GNAM Global Exchange. Many students opt for the programme hosted right here at UCD, others go to Yale, and a further cohort heads to IE in Madrid. Earlier this week, the destinations for our spring study tour were confirmed as Tokyo and Seoul; 32 of us came to Blackrock, but we’re getting to see the world!

Next Saturday, nine of us will fly out for an immersive exchange at Yale School of Management, studying Behavioral Economics, Marketing and Finance. We just received our schedules, which include a company visit day in New York. Some lucky scheduling means we’ll be able to catch up with UCD business alumni at the New York chapter’s annual benefit dinner, and find out exactly where our MBAs (and alumni connections) can take us.

Thirdly, as usual, I’m preparing for next week’s classes. My long-suffering boyfriend is resigned to the fact that my weekends will be primarily occupied with pre-reading and finance homework for the foreseeable future. Finally, though, I’m getting ready for a friend’s wedding reception on Friday afternoon, which should be a lovely occasion in Georgian Dublin – timely reassurance that normal life still continues during the MBA!

Laura Donaghy ~ Full-Time MBA

Moving Across the Atlantic for my MBA

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When I decided to do my MBA at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, I was excited and naturally a bit apprehensive to leave my comfortable life in Wisconsin to move across the Atlantic to a completely new country. The transition to Ireland was a lot easier than I could’ve imagined. I have moved countries once before and it was much more difficult. Maybe it is easier because I have done it once before, but I think it has more to do with the exceedingly nice Irish people. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming and inviting. To me, the people make all the difference, and this experience has proved that to be true.

The structure of the program also helps with meeting everyone in the program. Foundation week has a lot of events that get everyone involved and the Leadership Development Program gets everyone working in various small groups and as one large group so everyone really gets to know each other. Also, the group work that is involved with the various assignments starts very early on which forces interaction with the other members of the program.

The group work is very rewarding and helps with developing the best ideas possible through discussion in a small group. It is not without its challenges, but the various workshops assist in team dynamic development. The group work was difficult in the beginning getting used to all the different work styles of the various members of the program, but it definitely does improve drastically and quickly over time if it is worked on and the rewards from efficient group work is worth all the effort.

David Camp ~ Full-Time MBA

Global Network Week 2016

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Here at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, we are proud to be a member of the Global Network for Advanced Management, alongside other top business schools like Yale, IE and EGADE (visit GNAM website). The Global Network Immersion Week (GNW) Programme is an initiative of GNAM that is designed to provide students from participating GNAM schools with a rich foreign immersion experience.

The Global Network for Advanced Management connects member schools with diverse regions, countries, and cultures, and economies by facilitating interaction. Through one week immersion programmes and online courses, participating schools host fellow GNAM institutions for seminars, visits, and interactions within local economies.

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School will be participating in the GNW Programme again this year, for our third year running. We will be hosting an intensive one-week course in October 2016 and June 2017 that will be attended by MBA students from both our school and all other network schools.

Global Network Immersion Week gives UCD Smurfit MBA students the opportunity to pursue intensive study at another network school, in a focused mini course that leverages the perspectives, programmes, and faculty expertise of that school. Alongside their counterparts from elsewhere in the network, students attend classes, tour local businesses, and meet with experts focused on current business problems.

In the video below, Executive MBA student Dermot Boyle & Full-time MBA student Ashish Babbar discuss their experiences of the 2015-16 Global Network for Advanced Management.

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Communications & Events

MBA International Module – Visit to China

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For our final international module on the MBA program, the full-time class went on a study trip to China. Visiting Xiamen and Hong Kong, the trip aimed to give us an insight into the considerable economic achievement as well as the cultural and institutional practices in China. We set off on Saturday morning, flying from Dublin to Heathrow to Hong Kong and on to Xiamen. Xiamen is a beautiful coastal city in the Fujian Province in China, however being wet season, we arrived to thunder storms, lashing rain and approximately 90% humidity. Our first challenge was to make it from the airport terminal to the bus (which was parked only 50 meters away). Safe to say we all got soaked! We arrived at the lovely Lujiang Harbourview Hotel, checked in, dried off and headed back out for dinner at RongYu Restaurant where we sampled a variety of Chinese delicacies such as fried jellyfish and chicken heads. It was an interesting experience to say the least! A stroll through the city showed there was plenty more interesting food waiting for us…

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The next morning we set off for lectures at Xiamen University. We had a mix of lectures from Smurfit’s Prof. Pat Gibbons and Xiamen University’s Prof. Lei Meng. We learnt about the growth and structural changes in China over the past two decades and how China has emerged from its hyper growth phase into a medium to slow growth phase. With the increasing growth rate of wages for low skilled labour, China is losing its competitive advantage in the manufacturing sector compared to some other Asian countries. The challenge China is now facing is how to best manage this transition. However, the government keep changing the policies to manage this transition which is causing more uncertainty in the country. After lunch we met some of the students from Xiamen who gave us tour of the impressive university campus and the nearby Buddhist temples. We enjoyed a lovely vegetarian dinner in Nanputuo Temple before returning to our hotel.

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The next day we returned to Xiamen University for lectures with Prof. Pat Gibbons and Prof. Chen Yan. We learnt about China’s business environment and business strategy. There are many aspects to doing business in China that are significantly different to how business is conducted in the west. For example, China has a high context culture where relationships are paramount and one must pay attention to rules. Furthermore, China’s ‘face culture’ means that they don’t let people lose face in public regardless of the situation. After lunch, we took a ferry to Gulangyu Island which is the third largest island off the coast of Xiamen. A guided tour of the island showed us it’s off beat colonial architecture, lovely beaches and piano museum. With temperatures reaching 36°C and 90% humidity it was an eventful afternoon.

The next morning we returned to Xiamen University for our final lecture before saying good bye to Xiamen and leaving for our flight to Hong Kong. On the coach transfer from the airport to our hotel in Hong Kong we got a taste of the scale of the city with its stunning skyline and majestic mountains in the background. Once checked in, we enjoyed a buffet dinner in our hotel and explored the city.

The next day we visited three very different businesses – Invest HK, Memorigin and Huawei. Invest HK is an investment agency for the government of Hong Kong who promote Hong Kong as a preferred location for businesses to set up and support foreign businesses located in Hong Kong. Memorigin is a Hong Kong brand that produces tourbillion watches and Huawei is a global leader of ICT solutions. These companies gave us a great insight into Hong Kong economy and the opportunities and challenges facing businesses who operate in the region. That evening we went to Kowloon to watch the laser show from the impressive city skyline, followed by dinner and a trip to the night market.

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On our final day in Hong Kong we visited four businesses. First up were two impressive start-up companies namely Snapask and Horizon which gave us further insight into the type of entrepreneurial activity going on in Hong Kong and some of the key challenges they face. For example, Snapask, a Learning App, explained how they needed to build a completely different product if they wanted to expand into mainland China with different payment system, login system, etc. therefore they are focusing on expanding into other south east Asian countries. We then met with CBRE Group which is a real estate service provider and a fortune 500 company. This talk enlightened us with how competitive the real estate market in Hong Kong is. Our final visit was to Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm, who explained how their business operates and gave insight into the current job market in Hong Kong. We finished off the unforgettable trip with a beautiful dinner at The Peak Lookout restaurant.

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Muireann McCarthy ~ Full-Time MBA

MBA International Study Tour 2016 – UAE & India

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Visit to University of Dubai – Dr. Eesa Mohammed Bastaki takes a selfie with the Smurfit MBA group

On a wet, windy and dark night in September, having just returned to year two of the EMBA after having had the summer off, signing up for the 2016 MBA International Study Tour was a no-brainer. The trip came highly recommended from alumni, promoted as a once in a life time experience – eight days away from regular course work and assignments and the office for the EMBAs – four days in Dubai followed by another four in Mumbai.

We departed from Terminal 1 Saturday evening, March 12th and arrived in Dubai in the early hours of Sunday morning. There was no time for jet lag and once we had checked into our hotel, we were straight onto the coach to go to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. The centre strives to remove barriers between people of different nationalities and to raise awareness of the UAEs local culture, customs and religion. Our host Nasif attempted to break down the barriers to allow us to ask the questions we would otherwise have been too apprehensive to ask. For example, “why are Emirati men allowed to have multiple wives but women are only allowed one husband”. His response was, let’s just say, eye opening.

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Dr. Eesa Mohammed Bastaki & Professor Pat Gibbons

After some traditional Emirati food for lunch, we were given a tour of the mosque where we were informed about prayer times and the traditional clothing worn by Emirati men and women. Emirati men wear the traditional ankle length pristine white shirt, the Kandura and Emirati women wear the black Abaya which pretty much covers every inch of their bodies. As an example Nasif asked for a volunteer to dress up in the traditional Abaya to which I gladly stepped forward – I was fairly confident this would never happen again. Nasif attempted to convince us that the black material reflected the sun light and was cooler for the women. Well, it must have been thirty degrees or more, sleep deprivation was setting in, and my conservative dress under the black Abaya, lead me to strongly disagree with this theory. I was covered head to toe, even my eyes. Nobody could see me, but I could see everything – ideal for people watching, funnily enough, was not one of Nasif’s selling points for the traditional dress. I should have put that in the suggestion box.

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Day one was almost over but it set the tone for the remainder of the week ahead. Day two consisted of trips to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, the Dubai International Financial Centre, and the University of Dubai. Day three brought us back to the airport for a meeting with Dubai Airports, followed by a trip to the Jumeirah hospitality group, the company responsible for Burj Al Arab, the world’s only seven-star hotel. We were so impressed with the Jumeirah group that we felt it was necessary to inspect one of their properties. Eight dedicated students took a trip to the Burj Al Arab at 11:30 that evening to see if it was worth all the notoriety. Unfortunately, a condition of the booking required us to sample a number of cocktails, to which we dutifully obliged. Getting up at 5am the next morning for our flight to Mumbai was not easy but just shows the true dedication to academia required of an MBA student.

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Before moving on to our adventures in Mumbai, it is important not to forget our meeting at the real estate developers, Nakheel. Nakheel are responsible for The Palm, a trilogy of man-made islands that take the shape of a cultural icon, The World, a collection of private islands that form a map of the continents of the world off the coast of Dubai, the Waterfront, the world’s largest waterfront development, which has received widespread international acclaim. We went to this meeting not expecting much. We figured we would be in a dark meeting room and presented with pictures of these famous landmarks, something we could have done on our own time. What happened next, none of us was prepared for. They took the group out on two speed boats, and gave us a scenic view of The Palm and The World – how many people can say that they travelled the world in 30 minutes? It was a little windy to say the least, but the absolutely surreal experience topped off what was truly, a once in a life time experience.

On to Mumbai, sore heads included. No sooner had we left the airport terminal building, we drove straight past the slums. I immediately questioned why I signed up for the trip – Dubai seemed an awful long way away. Our first stop was at the world’s largest open air laundrette. You will notice a reoccurring theme on this trip – the world’s largest open air laundrette, the world’s tallest building, the world’s only seven-star hotel….

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Our next stop, (this was all before we even made it to our hotel – remember, sore heads and a lot to experience in Mumbai), was at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, one of the several locations targeted in the 2008 terrorist attacks. Our guide gave us a quick tour and a brief outline of the 2008 attacks before we were back on the bus and onto the next location – the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, not where we were staying unfortunately, apparently it was fully booked! After all, it was the first stop of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s recent trip to Mumbai. While we unfortunately didn’t gain entrance at this stage, we were able to properly visit it on our last day in Mumbai where we were able to learn of the events that took place in the hotel on November 26th, 2008. If you don’t know what happened in Mumbai that day, I would highly recommend you check it out. It is such a remarkable story of truly inspirational people with extreme courage and integrity that Harvard have even written a case study about it.

Too much happened in Mumbai to outline everything but as a summary we visited some of the biggest companies in India. The speakers were exceptional and answered all of the many questions of 20 odd extremely inquisitive MBA students. The companies welcomed us in the traditional Indian way by feeding us at any available opportunity. In India, a guest is to be treated like God, which was clear from all interactions observed throughout the trip. One of the meetings that deserves to be highlighted was the trip to the OSCAR foundation (the Organisation for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility) which is a not-for-profit organisation which provides high quality football coaching to underprivileged boys and girls in Mumbai and across different areas of India. OSCAR runs a unique programme that not only teaches sport to children and youths but also helps them to understand the value of education. A condition of all youths and children joining OSCAR is that they remain in school. To learn all about what the foundation was achieved since inception and the challenges it has overcome along the route is another inspiration story that all of us were genuinely privileged to experience.

It is difficult to outline any one particular meeting or incidence during the eight days that truly sums up the experience gained from going on the trip. Personally, the trip to Nahkeel and the Burj Al Arab made Dubai special, but once we stepped onto Indian soil, Mumbai stole the show. We were shown such exceptional warmth everywhere we turned. As part of our trip to the OSCAR foundation we were given a tour of the slums – this was extremely intrusive for the inhabitants, having complete strangers wandering around their homes. But the Mumbaikars welcomed us with the biggest smiles I have ever seen. Some of the group even played football with them on our last day – I could be wrong, but I think we decided it was a draw!

The trip to Dubai and Mumbai wasn’t just about academia, it was a life experience none of us will ever forget. It has also taught us to realise the many differences in cultures that are all too often misunderstood. I have a new found respect for both the Emirati and Indians – something you couldn’t possibly even begin to experience from a book.

Dorothy Chestnutt ~ Executive MBA, Year 2

Newstalk MBA Scholarship

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Newstalk, in association with UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, is offering one exceptional candidate the chance of a lifetime. A scholarship for the full-time or executive (part-time) MBA programme starting in late August 2016.

The scholarship worth up to €34,500 can only be used towards tuition fees on the full-time or executive (part-time) MBA programme at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School; it will be awarded to the best candidate who meets the selection criteria and standard MBA programme entry requirements.

Entrants to the scholarship competition must complete the online application form, where they will be asked to answer 3 GMAT questions correctly and submit a short essay outlining why they deserve to be awarded the 2016 Newstalk MBA Scholarship.

A panel of judges will evaluate submissions and entrants will then be invited to complete a full MBA application if they have not already done so.

Before commencing your application, please review the entry criteria and terms and conditions below.

Previous Newstalk MBA Scholarship winner, Peter Hynes, discusses the impact that winning the scholarship has had on his career and personal development, and offers advice to anyone considering applying to the Newstalk MBA Scholarship at UCD Smurfit School this year.

Closing date for applications is

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Communications & Events

MBA Capstone Consulting Project Company Event

MBA Students Listening to Company Pitches
MBA Students Listening to Company Pitches

An integral component of the MBA programme is the Capstone Consulting project which is completed by our full-time students over a six week period in the Summer semester. This project fuses all the component learning of the MBA at the final stages of the academic year. It is an opportunity for companies to collaborate on a strategic project with our MBA students and for students to implement what they have learned over the course of the MBA in a very practical sense. Our MBA students work with companies to address strategic or operational business issues that a company wishes to address but currently do not available resources to do so. It is an invaluable opportunity for students to gain experience in sectors that they may not have worked in prior to commencing the MBA.

MBA Student Ryan Nuanes, Muireann McCarthy and Jack Mac Giolla Bhride networking with David and Stephen Flynn, owners of ‘The Happy Pear’
MBA Student Ryan Nuanes, Muireann McCarthy and Jack Mac Giolla Bhride networking with David and Stephen Flynn, owners of ‘The Happy Pear’

Working in teams of three to four, MBA students are highly motivated and bring diverse personal and professional experience to the teams. Companies have actively engaged with the Capstone Consulting Project for over 7 years which is testament to the value and benefit that world-class organisations place on this initiative and many students have secured jobs post MBA with the company that they complete their project with. The end of the project initiative culminates with the submission of a full report including methodology, analysis and recommendations for the company.

Liam Doyle (MBA Class of 2014), Managing Director at Clink Hostels, networking with Ying Wu, Thao Nguyen, Paul Kelly and Minh Le Tran Hai
Liam Doyle (MBA Class of 2014), Managing Director at Clink Hostels, networking with Ying Wu, Thao Nguyen, Paul Kelly and Minh Le Tran Hai

The MBA Programme Office liaises with a diverse range of organisations to compile a selection of interesting, thought provoking and challenging projects that offer opportunities for personal and professional growth to our students. Last night, the MBA Programme hosted a successful Company Networking Event in which organisations pitched their project ideas and networked with the MBA students to answer any questions that they had. We are delighted to have 19 companies involved in the process this year across a range of industry sectors including Tourism & Hospitality, Retail, Finance, Not-for-Profit, Fin-Tech, IT, Start-Ups and more. Feedback from the event has indicated that this networking event has changed the opinions of some students and that they would like to complete a Capstone project in a sector that they didn’t think they would be interested in. Students being open to different options and using the MBA programme as a medium to explore these options through their academic, project based and leadership development curriculum is one of the key strengths of the UCD Smurfit MBA programme. The students will commence their project work in June and we look forward to seeing the results in early August!

Yvonne Harding ~ Full-Time MBA Programme Manager

A Week In South Africa

 

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Bo-Kaap

South Africa is the country that I have always dreamed to visit once in my life. One year ago, I still questioned if I would ever have a chance to be there. One year later, I found myself sitting on the deck of The Water Front, in the centre of Cape Town, enjoying the bright sunshine and fresh breeze. Like a dream. I got this wonderful chance thanks to the International Study Tour which is part of the UCD Smurfit MBA Programme. Although, the trip was only one week, but I, along with my MBA peers spent a fruitful time in this amazing country. The first destination was Johannesburg, a rapidly changing city and the vibrant heart of South Africa. Being the biggest city of South Africa, Johannesburg also plays the role of the major commercial, financial, and industrial hub. Here, we not only visited big companies like Coca Cola and Old Mutual, but also got a chance to go to Soweto, a historic ‘township’ area, Hector Pietersen Museum and Nelson Mandela’s old house which helped me to understand more about history of this country.

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Velokhaya

Coming from Vietnam, a country experiencing the same terrified pain of war, I feel that I can really relate to South Africa’s long history of struggling for freedom and equality, and also amazed by the fact that the country has quickly rebuilt and developed to become a member of BRICS within just 20 years. The next destination was Cape Town, the capital of South Africa. It is such a beautiful and lovely city which easily makes you fall in love with. We visited a lot of companies, start-ups, social entrepreneur and non-profit organizations, as well as having a great time on a sunset cruise and wine tasting trip to the winelands.

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Sunset Cruise

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Winelands

Through this trip, I have learned a lot of new things. What impressed me most is that although being an emerging country, South Africa pays a lot of attention to policy measurements that improve the environment, income gap and social equality. Especially, to me, the idea of BBBEE is very interesting and I think this can be applied to other developing countries. Other than that, I also had a chance to experience the culture of South Africa which is mixture of African and European influence. In just one week, I fell in love with South Africa’s unique culture, beautiful landscape, and nice people. Everywhere I went, I always saw bright smiles, I was warmly welcomed, and treated with friendliness and great hospitality. I will definitely come back to this country. Thanks to the Smurfit MBA for giving me this memorable experience.

Thao Nguyen ~ Full-Time MBA