Lux et Veritas

As part of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) programme, a group of six MBA students from Smurfit took part in in a one-week module titled “Behavioural Science of Management” in Yale School of Management in June this year. Launched in 2012, the GNAM includes 30 leading business schools from diverse regions, countries, and cultures. The GNAM offers students the opportunity to partake in a Global Network one-week course offered by a partner business school.

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There was a lot of interest in this module from fellow classmates due to the strong heritage of Yale in the field of behavioural science, not to mention the strong reputation and high ranking of the Yale MBA programme. Expectations for the module were high and we certainly were not disappointed!

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We arrived into New York City a few days before the module began to take in the sights. More importantly, we had to collect our mode of transport for the week in New Haven, a GMC Yukon Denali, a ridiculously sized car, which we affectionately christened “The Beast”. Lorcán had the honour to drive it to New Haven and peppered the journey with outbursts such as “…how am I supposed to keep this thing between the lines?”.

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The module commenced with a fantastic presentation from Professor Shane Frederick, a leading expert in the field of behavioural science and contributor to the Harvard Business Review. Shane brought us through topics including framing effects, context effects, and choice architecture – the principles that underpin how we make decisions and the techniques used by marketers to influence consumer behaviour.

Shane’s presentation included several examples of how rational consumers make irrational choices. He presented logic puzzles, prefaced with “…I’ve presented this problem thousands of times and I still don’t know if I agree with answer.” He showed us how consumers can be influenced to make purchasing choices that might not be appealing if the rational mind kicked in.

A key element of the GNAM week in Yale is the opportunity to network with MBA students from business schools across the world. The opening cocktail reception on Monday evening provided the ideal opportunity to mix and mingle with classmates from China to Ghana to Mexico. This resulted in cross-cultural learnings, a highlight of which was when Monica from Monterrey, Mexico remarked to Lorcán “You are definitely Irish.” She then turned to Johannes from Berlin, “You are Irish too, no?”. Lorcán and Johannes had to give Monica a crash course in the cultural differences between Germany and Ireland!

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On Tuesday, we were treated to a tour of Yale University. Yale University is steeped in history and has an almost “Hogwarts-like” feel to the place; college buildings are architecturally beautiful and students are allocated to certain houses in their first year via a “sorting process”. We were almost expecting to find some Bertie Bott’s Beans in the Yale gift shop at the end of our tour. Instead of finding sweets, the lads did their best to get a Yale preppy look going. Thankfully, Ciara and Fiona gave some “constructive feedback” which put an end to that.

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On Wednesday, four busloads of MBA students departed Yale for a trip to Boston to visit TD Garden, the home stadium of NHL’s Boston Bruins and NBA’s Boston Celtics. Owned and operated by Delaware North, the state-of-the-art TD Garden is a year-round, 19,600-seat arena. Members of the Delaware North management team treated us to an insightful overview of the company and its expanding global reach. Delaware North manages and provides food and beverage concessions, premium dining, entertainment, lodging, and retail at many large venues and special places. These include sports stadiums, entertainment complexes, national and state parks, airports, and casinos. If you have been to London Airport or Wembley Stadium, you have consumed concessions provided by Delaware North.

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Back in Yale, Thursday commenced with a panel discussion with students from the class. Three highly accomplished classmates spoke about their career paths, MBA journeys, and their views of leadership and working across cultures. It is always inspirational to hear how peers have driven themselves to almost dizzy heights to achieve what may appear as the unachievable.

One of the highlights from the week was the diverse teaching styles of the lecturers. In the “Negotiation Mindsets” lecture delivered by Dalyian Cain, we had the opportunity to partake in a mock negotiation in pairs. As many of the Smurfit gang had already completed a negotiations module in Smurfit earlier in the year, we were quietly confident that our knowledge of “BATNAs” and “Reservation Points” would seal the deals. However, Lorcán managed to buck the trend by engaging in a technique known as “negotiating against yourself”. He blamed a language barrier with his international colleague – he didn’t say whether it was his Donegal accent or theirs that caused the trouble! Don’t tell Stephen Boyle.

Some of the other topics covered during the week included how to make better decisions using behavioural science, understanding consumer experiences, and behavioural finance.

Our final social outing of the week was to a popular New Haven bar for some karaoke. After providing background vocals to “My Heart Will Go On”, the Smurfit contingent rose to the challenge by belting out their best rendition of “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. Who knew that effort can overcome not having a note in your head.

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The week concluded with a series of group presentations to the class on Friday. We had the task of providing a 5-minute group presentation showing how the principles of behavioural science could be applied to a real-life problem encountered in an organization of one of the group members. There were no boundaries to the scope of content presented by teams or how to interpret the behavioural science principles learned earlier in the week. Presentation topics ranged from a video advertisement, created in under an hour, to a presenter-led fitness dance class.

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The GNAM week was an incredibly rewarding experience. The chance to network with MBA peers from around the world, to experience different cultures, and to attend one of the world’s leading universities were all fantastic opportunities. Behavioural Science is becoming increasingly relevant in business (see Richard Thaler’s recent Nobel Prize in Economics) and we all found that the possibilities suggested during lectures were eye-opening. The experience and knowledge gained during the Smurfit MBA allowed us to actively contribute in classroom discussions. The trip was an excellent end to our EMBA journey.

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Maria Barry & Lorcán Gormley EMBA 2016/2018

Pre-Exam Glam

With exams looming, assignment deadlines creeping up, and end of semester emotions rising, a group of MBA students attended the UCD Business Alumni Awards on a sunny spring evening in the InterContinental Hotel, Dublin. Ball gowns and tuxes were dusted off for a night of glitz and glamour, before we earnestly began to settle into exam mode the following week – you could say, the calm before the storm!

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The annual Business Alumni Awards Dinner is one of the highlight events in the UCD College of Business annual events programme. Each year approximately 450 guests attend the Awards Dinner to celebrate and recognise the achievements and successes of graduates through the ‘Alumni of the Year’ and ‘Student of the Year’ awards.

The awards serve to recognize driven, committed, and successful alumni who have contributed to the business community of Ireland and globally. We were treated to inspiring and very personal acceptance speeches from the Alumni Award winners Padraic Ward and Michael Cullen; both spoke about their time in UCD and how those experiences laid the foundations for their highly successful careers on the global stage. What struck me personally was their authenticity, humbleness, and honesty. The Student Award winners, Jeremey Boles and Aoife Kiernan, also reflected on how their UCD experiences served as a springboard for propelling their careers forward.

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One of the key learnings I will take from my two years in Smurfit is the value and importance of the Smurfit network. I have seen firsthand the value of the network throughout the MBA programme and it was clear from the Awards Dinner that the global alumni community is very active, influential, and strong.

As my own MBA journey is beginning to draw to an end, my Google Calendar is showing positive signs of a full recovery. Opportunities to reconnect and catch up with classmates will become less frequent. The Alumni Awards Dinner is a fantastic opportunity to throw on a ball gown (or tux) and catch up with classmates and the broader global alumni community.

Being able to enjoy the late evening sun in a fancy hotel was an added bonus!

Maria Barry, EMBA 2016/18

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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.