How do you market to an MBA student?

One of the main reasons to do an MBA is to gain exposure to areas you have absolutely no experience in, and marketing is definitely one of those for me.  Business strategy + marketing = success, it is a simple enough equation that even I can work with. Add in the marketing 5C’s and 4P’s (I had never heard of them either) and I now know infinitely more about marketing than I did last week.

The subject of marketing got me thinking what has had the greatest effect on me lately? Well, I have really fancied a Grolsch since Sunday, I am now convinced there is no point vacuuming unless it is with a Dyson, and if I ever buy a motorbike it will have to be a Ducati. As I am sure you have guessed they are all recent case studies we have spent hours analysing.

So how do you market to an MBA student? Write a good case study! You’ll be sure to have a captive audience.

Niall Twomey

EMBA Weekend year 2

Learning to analyse and love Financial Statements

Eamonn Walsh in action

Among the MBA courses and options, there is one that I really enjoyed. This is the course on Financial Statement Analysis given by Professor Eamonn Walsh. For the first time, someone was able to connect the strategy of a company or an industry with its financial statements in a concrete form following big principles, abstracts and visual ways. Thus, it presents the financial statements of companies in an original sense in order to make them smarter. It mobilizes all the knowledge we had in finance and accounting since the beginning of our MBA.

The course goes back and forth between macroeconomics and finance, between a global understanding of the issues and to carry out some technical treatments needed for the evaluation of a business. Concrete examples illustrate the course with economic situations in certain countries or certain sectors or industries such as pension which was interesting as it opened the debate during the course.

This comprehensive option ends with an project of a company evaluation. It is a complete and rich project which make me think about the Transactions Services activities that some firms realized such as PWC, E&Y or Deloitte.

This course is also a base on which we can rely in a buyout. Everything is orchestrated by a professional, dynamic and enthusiastic lecturer. The mastery of the subject by the teacher would almost make us forget how evaluation can be complex. Fortunately, what is conceived well expresses clearly and often appears as a simple at the end.

Erwan Le Pavec

FT Class 2014

The MBA summer exams kick off in the RDS

UCD exams in progress

MBA exams are taking place this week and so along with thousands of other UCD students members of the current EMBA and FT classes are joining the mass invasion of the RDS complex in Ballsbridge, Dublin which is where most of the university’s exams take place these days.  It isn’t exactly an intimate setting but it gets the job done in the most efficient manner.

This exam session  is the last hurdle before the summer break for the year 1s and the capstone project for the year 2s so everyone is keen to get them successfully out of the way.

Over the next couple of weeks thousands of students will take hundreds of exams in all disciplines.  We wish them and everyone doing MBA Management Accounting, Corporate Finance or Managing the Negotiations Process exams the best of luck this week.

Case Studies – Lecturers: 2 Students: 0

New semester, new teams and new modules; it’s going to be interesting. One thing which seems to set this semester apart from the last semester is the increased volume of case studies. What better way to get to know your new team mates than mulling over a case study or two?

First up an opportunity to go back in time to save a British motorcycle company from the Japanese invasion. After some creative brainstorming a plan for world domination is put in place; you would almost feel sorry for the company’s competitors! With a detailed report by our side we looked forward to the class analysis confirming the brilliance of the plan. The first question asked and our plan looks shaky “Would you invest your own money in this company?” Now that you mention it, probably not. By the end of the class discussion the company’s competitive disadvantage is so great you almost feel like turning off the lights on the British motorcycle industry yourself.

Next up a chance to redeem ourselves by creating a state of the art IT system for a major fashion retailer. The IT system we are suggesting is going to be the rock they build their business on. Back in class a sense of déjà vu emerges, as the lecturer proves what they already have will do just fine. Again we are pressed if this was your company would you spend your money on an IT overhaul or just a tweak? A tweak will do just fine.

Lesson learned: It’s time to put on our critical thinking cap and look for the less obvious. The good news is that we have plenty of time to even the score.

Niall Twomey

EMBA 2015


A nice way to end Business and Society Module.

People often believe that a case presentation has to be presented in the class. However, it is not necessarily true on the UCD Smurfit Full-time MBA.  Our Study Team was the last presenting team in the final class of Business and Society module.

On that day, we were planning to host an awards ceremony in order to celebrate the end of Movember in Dark Horse, a small pub where MBA class organizes social activities. Why should not we move the pub and have the last presentation there?

Finally, our presentation was delivered in Dark Horse. It is a totally new experience for me. The judging panel awarded a few prizes and collect donations for the MOvember. Congratulations to Mo Bros.

This was such a nice way to end the module and celebrate the meaningful event. Is this similar in your class?

Nguyen Thanh Ba.

FT MBA 2014.

A course in Financial Reporting

Financial reporting was the first course we had at the beginning of the MBA. This arduous discipline is perhaps the one which will follow us throughout our career. Don’t we read financial results through numbers? It is a basic building block of our program that our lecturer taught us very well. Beyond the accounting technics, she always made ​​sure that we develop a critical approach to financial statement figures and a culture of business. This is an important thing.

The interpretation of accounting rules that will surely explain her willingness to step back. The presentation of significant accounting policies, the study of the recent financial crises, the analysis of financial reports, the study of governance, the practice of exercises pace the different courses and individual or group assignments that we have. It is an intense discipline. Learning accounting in a short time is always a challenge.

Fortunately, lectures occur in a good state of mind and we have fun. The lecturer is available to help us and drive us in our learning. Moreover, a rehearsal session took place before the final exam. Breaks are made to address current news published in the press. I thought the course was well structured and taught and it gave us the tools to move  comfortably along in business in the future. Exchanges and interactions during the course are also very informative. I will remember many things including that “all is not geology and geography!”

(The  Financial Accounting module on the Full Time UCD Smurfit MBA is led by Prof. Niamh Brennan).

Erwan Le Pavec,

FTMBA 2014.

How did he find the time? Alum Dave Graham on his award winning first novel.

I took the UCD Smurfit EMBA from 2010 to 2012 and this is a short piece about how the time-juggling demands that the course places on people were a great help in getting my published book over the line this year.

Just as a brief background to how I came to be published. I had started writing ‘Incitement’ ( see ) around the time our second child arrived. I’d finished the book, submitted it to what I thought were likely agents, got serially rejected and then pretty much tore the book apart and rewrote 75% of it. The problem was I never got around to resubmitting it between work, family and starting the MBA. Then one day driving to work, I was listening to The John Murray Show on RTE 1, Ireland’s national radio station. A piece came on asking whether you’d ever written a book that hadn’t been published. The competition was being run in conjunction with The RTE Guide and the prize was a publishing package. When I got to the office, I thought about it for a while, decided ‘why not’ and submitted the book with no expectation whatsoever.

A couple of months later, I received a phone call saying I’d made a shortlist of five from over 500 entries. I still didn’t feel I’d go further in the competition but was pleased with that. Then in August, the five finalists were invited to go on air while two of the three judges discussed the books and announced the winner. To my surprise I won and, just like that, my book was going to be published. Well, not quite, there was quite a bit of work to be done between edits, cover design and preparing to promote the book.

I’m married with two young boys and run a small business, so finding the time to get the multiple edits and other pieces done was going to be a challenge. Luckily, though, the MBA had been great preparation for this. When originally considering taking the course, my wife and myself had both looked at our routines because we knew it would mean a commitment from both of us. An added complication was moving house and having the new house extended and renovated during the same time period. We cut away a lot of the extraneous stuff and really prioritized things like time with the kids, there were easy sacrifices like TV and some others that weren’t so easy and, at times, eight hours of sleep was a luxury foregone. Thing is, though, it was manageable; at times it got a little stressful but all of the work got done. So, when it came time to do the book work, what might have seemed otherwise difficult with a temptation to compromise on quality, ended up being quite doable. We just looked at it like a two month resumption of the MBA.

Funnily, the MBA helped in one other way. The book deals with a conflict between two global drug cartels which unbeknownst to the protagonists has been incited by third-parties. Part of the story deals with the issues of drug shortages, what impact they would have on demand and pricing and the possible societal impact. During the rewrites, I was able to subtly change some of these passages to have a firmer economic footing. Saying this, I should provide a disclaimer to my economics and finance lecturers, none of them ever lectured on the supply-and-demand dynamics of the international drug trade and any flaws that remain are solely mine.

The hope with the book now is that people will check it out and spread the word amongst their family and friends. To read a little about some of the books I would recommend and that have influenced my writing you can see some blog pieces at

Dave Graham,

EMBA 2012.

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.

UCD Smurfit MBA is Globally Immersed in Digital Marketing

This year, as part of the Global Network for Advanced Management, UCD Smurfit hosted a week-long module “Digital Marketing – Understanding Opportunities and Devising Strategies”. A cohort of around 25 MBA students from Fudan University School of Management, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, IE Business School, EGADE Business School, Yale SOM, and UCD Smurfit met in Dublin, shared drinks and talked digital.

Within one week, we were quickly, but comprehensively, taught the basics and nuances of the subject: how it works, the trends and future, and the quirks and twists.  In a nutshell, search, social media, mobile connectivity, and web 2.0 skyrocket because they cater to a basic Homo sapien’s nature: freedom or in this case: the freedom to consume media whichever way is convenient. By establishing a seamless integration with web, social and mobile and communicating relevant messages, organisations can attract new prospects and retain their existing customers.

Dublin – the digital capital of Europe – made a perfect backdrop for such a digital marketing marathon. Real-world study formed an integral part of the module. We were bussed to Facebook, Google, Hubspot, learned directly from senior marketing professionals, and marvelled at their stunning offices – or rather working playgrounds. These companies occupy different digital space: social media, search, and content with distinctive marketing approaches. All presentations boasted strong growth in digital marketing spending, notwithstanding the economic recession. To cap off the learnings, we worked on an actual marketing project for NewsTalk and presented our findings to the CEO and marketing manager.

A Dublin experience would be incomplete without the vibrant Irish nightlife. We got to visit Guinness Storehouse, ate Irish lamb stew, and enjoyed the varied offerings of Irish beers and liquors accompanied by live Celtic music. The atmosphere was perfect to cool off a long day, share a laugh, and make friends. Many people planned to keep in touch, and see each other in the future.

In our highly globalized world, the ability to develop networks and collaborate with others outside our comfort zone is more important than ever. The connections between leading business schools, companies and students were made possible by this opportunity. I would like to thank the companies, lecturers, organisers, and students who together made such an unforgettable experience.

Cong Vu.

FT MBA 2014