A Professional Connection Built on the Global Network

Recently, Workday, the U.S.-based human and financial capital resources company, was expanding its global footprint and needed to build out its talent in Dublin. Nathaniel Hundt, a 2013 graduate of Yale SOM, and a business development analyst at the company, was looking for someone with on-the-ground knowledge to help execute a new product.

“We were building a new product for our customers, which are all over the world, and our design process emphasised going out and talking to folks that don’t live in the U.S. to help source ideas and gain empathy. Our development process was similarly global,” Hundt says. “So I thought back to my experience with the Yale Global Network for Advanced Management. Can I use the network to find another connection for an open position at Workday?”

Hundt was shaped by his Global Network experience. He was at Yale when the network was founded in 2012, and was among the first students to participate in Global Network Week, then known as Immersion Week. He travelled to Koç University in Turkey, an experience that showed him the value of being exposed to diverse ideas and cultural approaches.

“What’s happening in one part of the world is definitely impacting what’s happening in another part of the world,” he says. “I think of it like inputs: the more access you have to these information inputs, the more access you can get to better solutions.”

Fast-forward to Hundt’s time at Workday, a provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. He contacted UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School’s careers department. That’s when he learned about Cian Collins, who was getting his MBA, and was already interested in the position at Workday.

The two got together over breakfast in 2015. It turned out that Collins, a 2015 graduate of Smurfit who had worked at Twitter, had also been shaped by the Global Network—and by Yale SOM. In 2015, he travelled to Yale to participate in the student-run Integrated Leadership Case Competition alongside students throughout the network.

Collins and his team prepared on weekends for months leading up to the competition, and took home the best team dynamics award. “The competition was an amazing experience, and I was thrilled to have won that award but never expected what it could lead to,” Collins says. “It was invaluable meeting Nate, and I never would’ve done that without that connection.”

Collins was a strong Workday candidate—he had global experience and had worked for Twitter as the social media giant was expanding its operations. But their shared experience through the Global Network is what helped Collins and Hundt bond.

“He thought highly of that experience and that stood out to me,” Hundt says.

That encounter led Hundt to recommend that the company hire Collins. Now Collins works as a product manager at Workday, developing HR tools that allow managers in different countries to find the tools necessary to employ foreign workers.

“When he’s seen opportunities, he’s alerted me to them,” Collins says. “We’ve built a friendship from a shared connection. While we work on different teams, we help out each other.”

For Hundt, the experience reinforced the value of his Global Network experience. As leaders learn more about different cultural approaches and make new global connections, he says, they only stand to benefit.

“It helped me develop my global exposure, and it definitely has taught me that my work life is an important part of who I am,” Hundt says. “It’s not just a job. With the network, you have this shared experience. It’s a foundation that can help you get through the door.”

Matthew O’Rouke, Associate Director of Communications, Global Network Office of Communications, Yale School of Management. 

UCD Smurfit MBAs go to Tokyo & Seoul

Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul
Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul

On March 11th, 70 MBA students will depart for the annual Smurfit MBA International Study Tour. This year, for the first time, we will be visiting Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea. The Study Tour encourages participants to immerse themselves in the business environment of these unique countries by taking them on an intensive exploration of local business practices, challenges and cultures, using company visits as the ideal setting for practical learning. It combines a variety of high-level company visits, presentations and panel discussions from leading executives, government officials and entrepreneurs, all relevant to the core management disciplines being studied on the ‘Doing Business in International Markets’ MBA module.

Harajuku, Tokyo
Harajuku, Tokyo

Along with the academic aspect of this module, there are three main outcomes that we aim to achieve throughout the week-long Study Tour:

Career Development: To develop a deeper understanding of doing business in an international context and an opportunity to network with senior executives from various backgrounds.

Skills Development: Practical exposure to innovative business case studies relevant to the core courses studied and enhance team working skills through group challenges.

Personal Development: An intensive social networking opportunity. Build strong relationships. Challenging experience – “get you out of your comfort zone”.

Asakusa Temples, Tokyo
Asakusa Temples, Tokyo

There is a strong networking and social element to the Study Tour and we have lots of exciting adventures lined up; dinner in the ‘Kill Bill Restaurant’ in Tokyo, visits to Harajuku, Takeshita Street, Asakusa temples, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok village and National Museum of Korean Contemporary History.

The students will be joined by Professor Karan Sonpar, Professor Pat Gibbons, Roisin O’Loughlin (UCD Smurfit), Lyndon Worrall (Legacy Ventures) and myself. Keep an eye on the MBA Blog next month to hear how we get on in Tokyo and Seoul!

Click here find out more about the Smurfit MBA.

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Communications & Events

Successful People Never Reach Their Goals Alone

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On 22nd November, the Women of the MBA Group and their guests came together to explore the importance of mentoring and how both mentoring and networking can be crucial to career development. The group were delighted to welcome speakers Irial O’ Farrell, Evolution Consulting & Mary Cronin, Thousand Seeds.

We heard how mentoring is a two way relationship, and that we all need someone to inspire us to do better than what we know. An interesting statistic shared at the event from a WXN survey was that 91% consider mentoring critical to career advancement. Irial advised us on the benefits of having a sponsor that is not our line manager. We should develop relationships with people outside of our own function or department, who will promote and recommend us and introduce us to their network. Hearing stories from Irial and Mary on how mentors have helped them get where they are today left us in no doubt of the importance of mentors and sponsors. Attendees, both male and female included current students, recent graduates and more experienced graduates of the MBA programme. Those of us in more senior positions were reminded by Kevin Spacey that “if you are lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down!”

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The focused networking session had us at different times interacting with one another, sketching like Van Gogh and sipping on wine by the roaring fire! We were reminded to attend networking events with a plan and a goal, even when sometimes that goal may not be clear. If you don’t know what you are looking for it is harder to find! And during those awkward initial conversations, be interested before you are interesting!

We were left with the final words from Mary; “It is not the mountain we need to conquer, but ourselves”. In today’s world with all the noise and potential burnout, we need to decouple the chaos, challenge our self-limiting beliefs and trust ourselves. We can make the most of ourselves by believing in those tiny inner sparks of possibility and turning them into flames of achievement.

Ruth Mc Avoy ~ Executive MBA, Year 2

Global Network Immersion Week at Koç University, Istanbul

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Last week we had our first international MBA travel opportunity – Global Network Immersion Week (GNIW). GNIW is an optional, one-week module in Semester 1 which allows students to take a mini course either at Smurfit or at another partner university. Each of the universities offer the opportunity to work with other international students, faculty, and companies. Three of us chose Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey, where the topic of the week was From Local to Global: Developing an Effective Global Strategy. Other classmates traveled to Madrid (IE), New Haven (Yale), and Vancouver (UBC).

The classroom portion of our experience was engaging and provided frameworks that we can easily bring back and apply to our classes at Smurfit. After a brief background on the economic and political history of Turkey, lectures were primarily case based and included both local and international companies that have a presence in Istanbul. The three of us were already experts with Porter’s Five Forces (thanks, Brian!); however, we were also introduced to additional models that we can use going forward.

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The latter half of the week was devoted to a business simulation with Unilever. We were divided into teams of six and had three rounds to build a global expansion strategy for products like personal care, food, and household cleaning. The simulation gave us the opportunity to apply what we learned throughout the week and to interact more with our international classmates (Chile, Spain, South Africa, Iran) as well as with management at Unilever.

Outside of the classroom, Koç provided additional networking events for us. These included company visits to Unilever and Turkcell (in case you were wondering where Ryan got that fancy hat). They also hosted an alumni networking evening at a restaurant with beautiful views of the Bosphorus. In addition to all of this, we still managed to fit in some free time for exploring the sights of Istanbul (please ask Carley about her favorite purchase from the Grand Bazaar). Overall, GNIW was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to future students.

Jessica Beloff ~ Full-Time MBA

The Job Interview: Does An MBA Make A Difference?



The Job Interview: Does an MBA make a difference?


One of the main reasons I decided to do an MBA at Smurfit was career progression. After nine years of working in the turbulent banking industry, I was lucky enough to secure voluntary severance and a scholarship which enabled me to start the Executive MBA last September. Finding the right job – and ensuring that I was selected for that job – were top priorities for me once I had settled into the MBA Programme.

It soon dawned on me that the labour market was awash with job-seeking bankers as a result of downsizing across the sector and that a brutal ‘survival of the fittest’ regime was in play. Advice from many quarters suggested that I may have to take several steps backwards in my career as well as a huge pay-cut, such was the ferocity of competition for financial services roles. If I had a euro for every time I heard ‘it’s an employer’s market’….

The first benefit the MBA offered me during this waiting game was brain training. Many of my former colleagues were happy to take an extended break from working life to spend time with family or to work on their golf handicap. For me, the MBA provided a focus to divert my attention from a potentially disheartening job search. In fact, I became so distracted by Semester 1 that only in January did it occur to me that four months had passed and I had only applied for one job.



Shaking off old habits...


Which brings me neatly to the second benefit of the MBA: networking. The single job I had applied for was advertised by the very lady who had interviewed me for the MBA Programme during applications season. So far, so good. We had a successful phone interview and I was progressed to the next round immediately.

The next part of the process is where the MBA learnings really kicked in. The second phase involved a comprehensive interview, psychometric testing and Powerpoint presentation, the likes of which would have made me quake in my boots pre-MBA. But the programme had by this point taught me some valuable skills:

1)      Presentation Skills: we had completed a two day extra-curricular workshop during which we were filmed until we had shaken off any poor habits

2)      Research Methodology: I approached the interview like a project assignment, using all the knowledge and databases at my disposal, including lecturers’ views on sectoral developments and ‘best practice’ organisational behaviour

3)      Career Development: Smurfit’s Head of Careers Brian Marrinan provided me with valuable tools for preparation including sample psychometric tests, interview tips and encouragement

4)      Powerpoint: my MBA team-mate introduced me to powerful animation tricks, making for a much more impressive presentation than I had produced in the past

Above all, the MBA has boosted my confidence, which it seems is the key reward offered by the programme. I entered the interview process much clearer on my own strengths and competencies as well as my areas for development, which made for a more relaxed and honest exchange throughout the second and third interviews. Previously, I had been struck by a dose of Ms. Sandberg’s Imposter Syndrome. Not so this time.



Learning the importance of Personal Branding


Finally, I should point out that two of the six interviewers that I met indicated that they were specifically looking for MBA students and graduates. I mention this because it is good to know that all of the hard work and expense of an MBA is worthwhile.

I start in the new role next week, with a bank that is growing rapidly and steadily enhancing its brand. Just like me.



Invest time in creating and enhancing your Personal Brand


Rachael Dunne ~ Year 1 Executive MBA

Time out! MBA Charity Club’s Table Quiz

Where does the time go? Seriously… Forgive me for the late post!

The Charity Club decided to kick off the first event accordingly after our Financial Reporting Exam on October 23rd to support two special charities: BizWorld IE and Aid for Sierra Leone. After a challenging morning, a majority of the class and some alumni met up at the Dark Horse for pints and bragging rights.

We were all really glad that we could all sleep in the next day so no holds barred! Cian Collins was an amazing Quiz Master, posing some really challenging rounds. Special thanks are also in order for other FT MBAs: Ronan O’Beirne for providing the audio equipment and Edel Kennedy for photographing and grading the responses. With some amazing persuasion, we were able to round up a couple of teams from outside of Smurfit to participate

Right from the start, the alumni teams kicked off in the lead and held strong throughout the night. The full-time class seemed to just be focusing on getting on the piss. (Can you all tell I’m adapting to the Irish slang?) I recall loads of cheers to our beloved Professor extraordinaire Niamh Brennan for bringing us all together!

In the end, the winning team were comprised of FT MBAs– Enda Power, Joe McMenamin, George Gilliland, and Allan Brownlee ­– who stole the show with the Father Ted round.

The questions were funny and drinks and laughs were a plenty. So all in all a successful night!

Thank you to everyone who showed up to support BizWorld IE and Aid For Sierra Leone!

More about Bizworld here: http://bizworldireland.ie/

More about @aid4sierraleone here: aidforsierraleone.org

Here are the photos, courtesy of Edel.

Lindsey Nguyen

FT class 2015 and Charity Club

UCD Smurfit MBA Day out at the K Club.

UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Society Blog update for their latest outing:

Derek “the Scallywag” Scally, you dark horse!!! As a 1981 UCD Smurfit MBA Alum, and one of the true gentlemen from the Golden Era of MBA education (please note: finishing a course that did not contain an “Ethics” module), he continued to set the K Club alight in what were some challenging conditions to take home UCD MBA’s 50th Anniversary Prize. Derek was graciously joined by his dear 1981 MBA colleague and friend, Norbert McDermott and his fellow Meath brother in arms, Donal Coyle (who won the wonderful “Monkey’s Ass” Visitor’s Prize). Alongside an always entrepreneurial (both on and off the golf course) Joe Kenny, this foursome could be heard chuckling their way through the 18 holes and well into the 19th. The highlight of this group came when Joe attempted a Crazy Golf style shot across one of the many bridges traversing the water on the 12th. Derek, we all agree, you deserved the victory, keeping it simple throughout.

Continue reading UCD Smurfit MBA Day out at the K Club.

Launch of Women’s Executive Networks mentor programme

The Smurfit MBA Office in collaboration with the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) have this week launched WXNs first Mentoring Programme in Ireland which is based on the successful mentoring programme launched in Canada in 2007.

Orla Nugent, MBA Director and Brian Marrian, MBA Careers Manager and Eadine Hickey delivered the first of 3 seminars to a group of WXN Mentees the focus of which was professional and personal growth.  Paired with these education classroom sessions, mentees are matched with a mentor from WXN’s community of Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25 Award Winners. This opportunity provides mentees with the support to progress professionally; learn the insights into their journey; and, ask the questions that are important to you. You will learn directly from women who are at the top of their fields about the steps they took, the challenges they faced and exactly how they got to where they are now.  Feedback from the mentees on the first session was very positive and it was judge a success, the second seminar is scheduled in September.

Learnings from year 1 for Newtalk scholarship winner 2013 Niall Twomey

One year down (almost!), one more year to go and what a year it has been! Looking back on the past twelve months the experience has been both fun and challenging. I don’t think any applicant can fully appreciate the opportunities the Smurfit MBA offers until they experience them first-hand.

The MBA is all about teamwork, and understanding your strengths and weaknesses in a team setting is vital in order to develop your career. The calibre of your fellow students is second to none. You quickly realise you are being given the opportunity to work with future leaders from different industries. Through team interactions I have come to recognise that because I have only worked in the IT sector my opinions were actually quite fixed and need to be challenged and matured. My teammates certainly helped me there.

The style of classroom learning is very different to anything I have experienced before. You are expected to have completed a large amount of self-study and research before class. This means the classroom is an interactive learning experience where you learn from your lecturer and your classmates through discussion and debate. You realise that you need to be on top of your game in order to participate, but it is a lot of fun to challenge yourself.

The academic content is just one strand of the MBA; the leadership development programme, speaker series and society events are just as important. The connections to industry mean that your network goes far beyond your classmates.

Having the good fortune of receiving the 2013 Newstalk MBA scholarship has opened up the Smurfit MBA experience to me, and one which I will always be grateful for. The opportunity to be interviewed by Bobby Kerr on his “Down To Business” show was a great way to finish off the first year.

Niall Twomey

EMBA Weekend Year 1

A busy day in Smurfit sharpening the ‘Executive Edge’

We thought things would quieten down here this week as all the current MBAs both full and part time make the most of study week and prepare for their semester 2 exams next week.  Today was busy though with the Schools Executive Education “Executive Edge’ day running on campus and some of the current students are using it as an opportunity to add to their learning experience and do a little networking at the same time.  Trust MBAers to make the most of all opportunities wherever they find them.

Damien McLoughlin holding forth at the Executive Edge day in 2013