Meet the Class of 2011

My name is Andrew Higgins and I’m a full time student on the Smurfit MBA programme. I’ll be blogging over the next several months about various aspects of the programme, focusing on some of the non- academic aspects of the MBA, and hopefully giving an accurate flavour of what the programme involves day to day.

Firstly, some background on me! I finished a Physics degree in Trinity College Dublin in 2002, and after graduation started working in directory advertising sales. I began in telesales, servicing existing SME customers, and was then promoted to fieldsales, where I looked after high revenue accounts in N. Ireland and the UK for several years. This role was highly consultative, and I solution sold a range of print, online and other advertising programmes and advised on Search engine optimisation and Search engine marketing.

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Meet the Class of 2011

Just to give some background on myself so you know where I’m coming from….

I’m 33 years old and have worked as an engineer in the construction industry here in Ireland for ten years. I studied civil engineering in UCC in Cork and graduated in 2000. That’s more than 10 years ago now and makes me feel very old.

As you may be aware, the construction industry here in Ireland has collapsed in the last two years, so I was faced with a choice; either travel outside the country to find work or else take a year off. What better way to take a year off than to do an MBA; you don’t feel as if you’re completely wasting your time and hey I might even learn a thing or two along the way.

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Meet the Class of 2011

My name is Nargiza and I am from Kyrgyzstan. You may not have heard of it but it is a beautiful country in Central Asia. In fact, the flight from the capital Bishkek to Dublin takes eleven hours so you can imagine how far these two countries from each other, both in geographical and cultural sense. As far as I know, I am the first person from Kyrgyzstan studying at UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School. So, whenever I meet someone in Ireland first question they ask is why someone from Kyrgyzstan would decide to do MBA in Ireland?

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Meet the Class of 2011

My name is Patrick Hillis but all of my new classmates here at the Smurfit MBA have taken to calling me, “Paddy” (affectionately, I think). I come from the Pacific Northwest region of the United States — home of the space needle, Starbucks and fine folks like my good friend Billy Gates (not exactly, but I did come within a mile of his house on a boat once).

Continue reading Meet the Class of 2011

Meet the Class of 2011

Hello! I’m Christopher and I’m on the Full Time MBA programme at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. I’m 27 and come from a farming background in Sligo (in the west of Ireland).


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In subsequent blogs, I hope to discuss in more detail both why I decided to do the MBA at Smurfit and what my application experience was. For the moment, I’ll just give you a quick background of where I’m coming from.

I finished my undergraduate degree in engineering in Trinity College Dublin (UCD’s arch rival here in Ireland!). Having become somewhat bored with the excesses of ‘Celtic Tiger Dublin’, I took a year out and headed to Australia for a year, and then to Scotland for four years. When the Irish economy went downhill, I figured it was time to spend some time in Dublin again!

My previous jobs have involved working in hierarchical companies where older colleagues tend to be in more senior positions and treated with more reverence. It took me a while to get used to this idea and I have some classmates now that are old enough to be my parents!

The following will hopefully give you an insight into our class diversity, while at the same time winding my group up. We have been doing quite an amount of data interpretation on the course, and I’m getting a reputation with my group for being chart-mad.

Smurfit MBA Class 2011 Chart

It’s been a big transition coming to Dublin and jumping straight into the middle of such a demanding programme as the MBA – some days I’m just not sure where on earth I am or what I’m doing. However, I can say that my class has been very good at helping each other out and giving direction freely.

When we all arrived on August 30th, seeing 44 strange faces was a little daunting but we spent about a week ‘bonding’ doing Team Building exercises, etc. Now I know that sounds pretty corny, and many of us were skeptical and reluctant at first, but it was a great way to break down initial barriers between classmates.

Check out some Team Building photos here.

-Christopher Kitchin

It’s snowing and I’m having fun!

Although picking the right business school, writing those endless numbers of essays, getting an admission, a scholarship and finally, a student visa were all extremely overwhelming and tiring, life became so much simpler after getting here on campus. Smurfit Business School Snow Day

As someone who has never lived abroad for more than a month, I was excited and scared at the same time. Being a student from India I did expect to have my share of bad experiences due to cultural indifferences in the foreign land. Adding to my anxiety, my visa arrived later than expected, due to which I had to arrive a week late in Dublin, by which time, the orientation, the team building activities and a few financial reporting lectures were already done with. All of these made me more and more nervous.

I started college on September 6, 2010, a week later than all my classmates. I knew I was in for a roller coaster ride, with no time for bonding, making friends and settling in. Truly, a roller coaster ride it was. Classes were on in full swing. We had meetings with our group members almost every day after class.

To my surprise, however, these group meetings, unlike what I had initially imagined, were times for real bonding to happen. There was so much to catch up on that we ended up spending a lot of time with each other. To be fair, I definitely have to mention how helpful my group members were. A couple of days into the course, I was updated on all things that I had missed out. The programme office was very helpful too, right from settling me into the course to fixing issues with my in-campus accommodation.

So here’s what I have learned so far:

  1. Ireland is beautiful and the Irish are extremely warm and friendly people. They will go out of their way to help you. You can find a great cultural mix here.
  2. You need to be prepared for a roller coaster ride if you want to do an MBA. Your classmates and group members, however, will help you get along rather smoothly.
  3. Group meetings are fun. They’re a great time for bonding and making friends.
  4. Once you’ve started your course, what you learn each day is what matters the most, not your marks.

Smurfit Business School Snow Car ParkFinally, it’s snowing, and I’m having a great time here. It’s unimaginable, how time flies so quickly once you start the programme! I’m now looking forward to spending Christmas with my family back in India.

– Diana