One Last Time

For the last installment of the Leadership Development Programme, UCD provided the full-time MBAs with a two-day session at the Talbot hotel. Hosted by the class favourites, Professors Karan Sonpar and Patrick Gibbons, and MBA Programme Manager Agnieszka Wisniewska, this session instigated a reflection on our personal development and provided  one last dip into self-awareness. It was also our first gathering as a class after almost 5 months, and all of us were geared up and enthusiastic about getting back into a classroom setting.

20200730_102731The first day started with an introduction to the Myers-Briggs type indicator and a review of our results. I was familiar with this test but had never officially done one before. Discussing with colleagues I notice how far our self-perception can be from our real image. For example, I was surprised to discover that introversion is one of my dominant features.

The highlight of the second day was the case study analysis of the Nucor case, where we used many of the skills acquired during the last 12 months–financial statement analysis, organizational behaviour, marketing and corporate finance–to discuss the growth of the different departments of a steel manufacturing company. With no pressure for grades and the relaxed atmosphere provided by the event, this exercise felt more like a game. It was also a great opportunity to see real-life incorporation of one year’s worth of theory and practical lessons. 

Of course, I must not forget that, with a small dose of grief,  this was our last opportunity to say “Together” together with the great Paul Slattery, whose presenting techniques spared us from many embarrassing moments during presentations. The session dealt with Executive presence and how to make the most impact on our body language while remaining relaxed. This was our third session with Paul and it was truly a great experience to see the difference in all of us from our first session back in September 2019.

However,  the real highlight of the event was the chance to see my classmates again. It’s been a weird and unpredictable year and it felt great to have one last MBA classroom experience before we all went our separate ways.

Ricardo O’Connor, FTMBA Class of 2020

Know Thyself

Back together again--at a distance.
Back together again–at a distance.

Towards the end of our MBA program, at the request of the entire batch, the school was kind enough to organize an Executive Development Programme with Professor Karan Sonpar and Professor Patrick Gibbons. 

The session was informative as well as self-reflective and it was a feeling of nostalgic happiness  with which I met my colleagues after five months.

The main objective of the seminar was to enhance self-awareness which in turn leads to personality development. Given our previous encounters with such assessments (I refer to the Strengths Development Inventory assessment taken in autumn),  I was keenly looking forward to this session, and it exceeded expectations. 

What I found most intriguing were the personality assessment tests, particularly the MBTI. The tests are designed to help us better understand where our personality types fit and how best we can use what we know about ourselves to benefit us both socially and professionally. This understanding  aids in nurturing team spirit and diversity and highlights the importance of appreciating and accepting the differences we have as individuals. 

Self-awareness is often sidelined as an essential factor in establishing work culture balance. Still, in reality, such knowledge is vital as it can help us align better with our colleagues and be more efficient at team selection. What’s important to remember is, these tests tell us about our preferences and are not reflective of our skills and abilities.

The test itself had four focus areas, namely; a) Gain and Direct Energy, b) Gather information, c) Make decisions, d) Live your life. The results were rather interesting and revealing. There was a range of sixteen personalities, and we all fit into one of those categories.  For instance, an INTJ personality type meant I- Introversion, N – Intuition, T- Thinking, J – Judging.  According to the test-makers, an individual with this personality type has a natural preference (not one’s ability or skill) to be an introvert. 

The test results gave me mixed feelings. While there were several exciting revelations which were a first for me, there were others which I knew well about myself. Such was the case with all my classmates . 

All in all, it was a fun exercise and most importantly, it was one last chance to have a good time with my peers from the Smurfit MBA class of 2020.

Karna Hallur, FTMBA Class of 2020

Back to Where it All Began

After 12 transformative months and a year like no other, I found myself walking through the tranquil gardens of Blackrock’s Michael Smurfit Business School with the MBA cohort of 2020. We had just returned back at the gates of Smurfit from our end of year MBA trip in Galway City and the nostalgia levels were running high.

Falconry activity on the end of year trip to Galway
Falconry activity on the end of year trip to Galway

On the back of strong advice from past MBAs, we decided to end the year with a trip away together. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, international travels were all off the cards. Fortunately, restrictions set by the newly formed Irish government did permit us to safely take a two-day trip to Galway. The activities had something for everyone, whether you were interested in go-karting or falconry, or simply taking advantage of the excellent food and sites the city has to offer. However, heed my advice: take caution when introducing any activity that has a winner when you’re working with an MBA class, as we do love our share of healthy competition! 

We were lucky enough to have had weather that allowed us to take a long walk to the famed diving board in Salthill. Many braved the cold Atlantic waters on the sunny August afternoon. I opted for a more frivolous approach. I enjoyed ice-cream as I engaged in commentary with fellow ‘remainers,’ judging those who took the immediate plunge… and those who took a little longer. 

Renewable energy project in a disadvantaged region of Argentina
Renewable energy project in a disadvantaged region of Argentina

I had found myself back in Galway City, where I finished my undergrad 6 years prior. I never imagined that one day I’d be returning with an MBA class made up of over 7 different nationalities and numerous professional backgrounds – engineers, lawyers, doctors, bankers, pharmacists, and the list goes on. A group of motivated, intriguing individuals, many like myself, who have found themselves at a crossroads in their careers. Equally, there are those whose next step is a foregone conclusion. 

UCD Smurfit GNAM Students at Yale School of Management
UCD Smurfit GNAM Students at Yale School of Management

The title of the New Radicals 1998 hit, “you get what you give” often comes to mind as I reflect on the past year. As much as I sometimes find myself disagreeing with the phrase, it’s quite appropriate when approaching an MBA in Smurfit Business School. The ingredients for success, growth and development are laid out for you. However, it is up to you to engage and utilise them. The facilities and staff at Smurfit are world class from start to finish, but to have a truly brilliant MBA you need one final ingredient: great students. The college also does a great job in recruiting candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds which truly makes the experience so remarkable. 

Trips to the U.S., Argentina, and Lisbon, early Monday morning classes with Professor Niamh Brennan, late Friday afternoon classes with Prof Eamonn Walsh, and everything in-between will ensure there is never a dull moment. 

March trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina
March trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you are someone joining or thinking of joining this program, here is my advice: engage with the course, connect with the people around you, and always strive to control the controllable in the sometimes turbulent but highly enjoyable experience that is an MBA at Smurfit Business School.

To borrow a line from a recent mentor of mine, “it’s not a meal ticket but a licence to fish.”

Daniel Duignan, FTMBA Class of 2020

A Capstone during Covid

The Capstone Project is the final part of our MBA journey. It involves consulting with an organisation on a real problem faced by them. Throughout the six-week project, we will put everything we have learned throughout the year into practice in order to propose a viable solution for the client.

I was delighted to find out that my team would be working with Brown Thomas Arnotts and I was imagining myself in the BTA office,keelins-blog-illustration meeting the team and seeing all the latest fashion trends. This year however the ‘Capstone during COVID’ experience has been very different from the Capstone Projects of previous years.

As restrictions are still in place, we have been working virtually, not only with the BTA team, but also within our own team. The usual Zoom related challenges apply: sharing words of wisdom while on mute, and constantly interrupting one another. However, all in all I think we have been managing quite well.

We are half way through the Capstone Project at the moment and already it has been an excellent experience. Having the opportunity to put our newly acquired knowledge to the test has really helped to reinforce the learnings. It has also shown me how beneficial the MBA has been to my personal development.

Keelin O’ConnorFTMBA Class of 2020

Another 38 Suitcases in Another Hall

UCD Smurfit students with Irish Ambassador to Argentina Jackie O'Halloran
UCD Smurfit students with Irish Ambassador to Argentina Jackie O’Halloran on our first full day

My friends all tell me that I have the best answer to ‘what’s the last thing you did before everything shut down?’, and I have to agree: the last thing I did before shutdown was accompany 36 MBA students and Professor Karan Sonpar on their Doing Business in International Markets study tour to Buenos Aires. I asked the students to share some of their memories–and favourite photos–from that experience:

Colourful storefront in La Boca
Colourful storefront in La Boca

I always had this dream of going to Argentina someday because of its history, politics and of course football. My best memory of visiting Argentina would be visiting the tomb of Eva Peron and visiting La Boca. Of course one of my top experiences of all time would include the Friday night Tango. It was unreal. With a little too much alcohol in the belly, I was finding it difficult to comprehend if the entire performance was real. I would definitely go back to Buenos Aires to re-live the memories. 

Subhajit Dasgupta, FTMBA Student

Welcome dinner at La Malbequeria
Welcome dinner at La Malbequeria

Apart from the amazing food, wine, and tango show, my favorite part was talking with the locals on the street. They were very willing to express their insight of the local economy and were extremely interested in our outsiders’ opinion of their country. This reinforced the importance of understanding the human element behind business theory. 

Caroline Shakour, FTMBA Student

It was an amazing and culturally rich experience from the moment we landed on the Sunday morning. The Argentine people were warm and very welcoming despite all the country has been through politically and economically over the last few decades.

The closing night exhibition at Tango Porteno
The closing night exhibition at Tango Porteno

Buenos Aires in particular was very European but with a Latin tango twist!!

One night six of us had dinner costing over 10,000 pesos – it was crazy as we were counting the notes in 500 denominations – first real experience of such wild inflation.

–Peter McGarvey, EMBA student

A last-minute tour to Buenos Aires' solid waste management plant, which includes a wildlife preserve built on top of a landfill.
A last-minute tour to Buenos Aires’ solid waste management plant, which includes a wildlife preserve built on top of a landfill.

Unexpectedly, one of the visits which I most enjoyed was the visit to the waste management plant. It was interesting to see how the different types of waste are handled and how the landfills can be covered in grass and made to look like nature reserves when full. I think having tours to sites such as this really emphasises the need to reduce waste production and recycle. It is something I think everyone should see. 

Keelin O’Connor, FTMBA Student

The first thing which I learnt about Argentina after reaching there was that it is pronounced as Arr-khen-tina (stressing ‘r’ more). The natives of the place pronounce it that way. In fact, while pronouncing any word which contains the syllable “r”, ‘r’ is stressed upon heavily. 

Steaks and sausages being prepared for our lunch at Estancia Santa Susana
Steaks and sausages being prepared for our lunch at Estancia Santa Susana

Agriculture forms 60% of the economy of Argentina. Also, in Argentina, maximum taxes are paid by the people who are involved in the farming sector. Hence, Agriculture is a very important part of the economy of Argentina. It was very interesting to know that the popularity of a meat depends upon how cheap it is and how many resources are used to produce it.

From Empanadas to Beef steak, from Boca to River Plate, from the stay in Alvear Art Hotel to the Tango dance, everything has been perfect. Amazing food, lovely people, and a rich culture. Another thing was “Empanadas”. Empanadas are common in the culture of Latin America. They are filled up with cheese, or beef, or some other kind of meat. They have the shape which are similar to that of “Ghujiyas” in India.

Aishwarya Mehrotra, FTMBA Student

Hard at work.
Hard at work

We had our last day in Argentina at Sumando Energías – Service Learning Project. Our one-day workshop was to learn how to take advantage of solar energy by building a solar heater and a shower for a family of five. One of the best parts was that all the raw materials used came from industrial and/or domestic waste. So we were converting or reusing what would have otherwise gone into landfills. We were divided into tables each having a simple task like cutting and shaping bottles or assembling the painted bottles.  It was interesting to see how the process unfurled. When it started, everyone just picked a table and did whatever was closest to them. There was not a lot of coordination amongst the different tables.

Hard at work
A student team

However, as we started working, we fell into some sort of pattern. For example, in the table I was at, we rearranged ourselves so that we were working in a sequence. One would cut the bottle, then pass it to the next person to shape it, then it would be passed for sanding and finally to the person stapling it. And after that, we were so much faster. It was like seeing a real-life operations change take place.

Sreelakshmy Koonath, FTMBA Student

Heading home
Arriving home

I think I speak for all of us when I say that we all learned a lot about flexibility and professionalism from watching our travel partners, the educational travel company The Austral Group, adapt to circumstances that changed by the day as the world came to grips with the spread of Covid-19.

The whole trip flowed like a well-executed tango.
The whole trip flowed like a well-executed tango.

From the first day, companies faced increased restrictions on large meetings, and Austral quickly and efficiently replaced what had been cancelled with new tours and company visits. Where possible, the team replaced physical meetings with virtual visits to our hotel conference room. Juan, Sofia, and the team also dealt with a variety of flight booking changes, as Argentina moved to restrict travel and some Smurfit travelers (myself included) found that the school closings in Ireland made it imperative that we get home as soon as possible.

Experiencing such an historic moment definitely added an educational layer to our visit to this historic city.

–Kathryne Del Sesto, Project Manager, UCD Smurfit MBA Programme Office

This is what we train for.

The Doing Business in International Markets Scandinavia Study Tour with the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki, Finland
The Doing Business in International Markets Scandinavia Study Tour with the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki, Finland

Eighteen of us boarded a plane to explore the cultural, economic, and structural differences of Stockholm and Helsinki. Well that was was part of it. A good week away getting to know your peers was also high on the agenda. 

By the time we returned from our study tour the world had changed. Governments were closing US and European airspace, cities across Europe were beginning to go into lockdown, and the global economy was about to experience the biggest shock since the Great Depression. Preserving life was all that was important. The financial cost would be counted later. 

Your first thought, of course, is to ensure your family and friends are safe, and that all preventative efforts are being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19. But part of your mind can’t help but think: how will this impact my industry, my company, and my job?

Anticipating a crisis such as this swayed me to take on the EMBA 18 months previously. The world will throw many challenges at us, both personally and professionally. All we can do is ensure we have a breadth of experiences and skills to take them on.

So, unknown to us at the time, we were in Stockholm and Helsinki building the relationships, gaining the experiences, and developing the skills we would need to pull ourselves and our companies out of this crisis.

The group at the Ice Bar
The group at the Ice Bar

Now I’m not sure if you can call swimming in the 2℃ Baltic Sea as crisis preparation but it surely did build character. In particular, it told a lot about people’s characters as they scrambled over each other competing to get out of the water! Thankfully we had access to one of Finland’s 2 million saunas to recover. Burgers and beers may also have helped! 

Transformation was the topic of the moment for the companies we visited. Everyone is striving to shift their focus to address a pressing issue in the way their companies react to world changes. For example, Nokia is trying to overcome the trauma from their failure to adapt to the transformation of the smartphone market, and reinvent themselves in the mobile network technology market. 

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ICEYE, a satellite radar imagining firm, is re-defining the satellite imagery market by providing governments and businesses timely satellite images to enable them to make better-informed business decisions. Their satellite images can even be used to calculate the world’s stockpiles of oil or steel! Supposedly their images can detect the height of an oil silo’s roof, telling how full it is.

Even the central bank of Finland, Bank of Finland, was looking to transform. Their focus was on restructuring the economy to ensure they can tackle the impending pension crisis.

Each company we visited was pushing the boundaries in which they operate. Over the next few months, we will all need to do the same and continue to do so. The world is ever-shifting and we need to keep shifting with it.

Ruan Dillon McLoughlin, Executive MBA 2020

Generosity of Spirit: 6 Lessons I’ve Learned About Nurturing Effective Teams

The team!
The team!

My MBA journey thus far has provided me with so many new insights. One of the lessons I have valued the most was not taught in the classroom or by faculty, but by my peers. I have been lucky this term to be part of a project team made up of a diverse set of backgrounds: a doctor, an engineer, an entrepreneur, a venture capitalist; and myself, a solicitor. Whilst I have worked in multi-disciplinary teams in my past career as a solicitor, this team takes it to a whole new level. Not only do they each have something different to offer during our team meetings, but each individual has also taught me so much.

The following are some of the lessons that I have learned:

  1. Empowerment– Each member of our team has a voice when it comes to making a team decision, and never has to doubt their opportunity to share that voice.
  2. Trust and Respect– Trust makes each individual member stronger. We can rely on each other’s abilities and strengths, which in turn has allowed us to achieve our goals. Furthermore, we respect each other’s input during discussions and listen to each other.
  3. Diversity– We recognise, and utilise, each individual’s strengths, talents and skills. Each team member has a specific skill set, background and way of thinking that brings something different to the table during discussions  and results in a more effective team.
  4. Honesty– No one is afraid to offer their opinion if they are unhappy with any aspect of a task. We can openly discuss and agree on common goals. This allows us to work effectively and efficiently on tasks.
  5. Fun– From day one when we were completing our team charter, we made a specific note to ensure that we had fun during the semester. We were conscious that the workload can get intense but that it was important to inject some enjoyment in to our schedule. We are only two months in to semester 2 and have already organised a team hike to Seefin Passage Tomb in Co. Wicklow! It is important to realise that there is a life outside of college and this helped us to bond as a group.
  6. Celebrating Achievement – As a team, we recognise the need to collectively celebrate every success along this journey, whether that be by words of support following a presentation or going for drinks after submitting a report. This has helped us to remain motivated and increased team morale.

 

At the beginning of term we were asked to choose a team name. We chose Generosity of Spirit. Reflecting now on this name, I can see that a successful team is just that: a team where everyone can feel empowered to share the very best of themselves.

Anita Puri, Full-time MBA 2019-2020

My Exciting Smurfit MBA Journey So Far

I have worked as a mechanical engineer within the power industry for the past 17 years and decided to do the full-time MBA to build on my business experience. Although I have only completed the first semester so far, I can already say that the UCD Smurfit MBA course provides an excellent set of business tools and has already opened many opportunities. 

It was a bit daunting to get back into student life after so long away, but the orientation week and support from the college made the process seamless. The classes are small, so you get a great chance to develop a bond with each class and can easily interact with the professors.

ken-at-berkeleyI have had some great experiences in the MBA. I got the amazing opportunity to participate in the GNAM (Global Network for Advanced Management) week at Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley–you can learn more about that week here.

I currently interact with students throughout the world via an online course on Corporate Entrepreneurship at EGADE business school at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico, which is also facilitated by GNAM.

The UCD MBA Entrepreneurship Club, which I serve as a board member, has proved to be a great opportunity. The college has assembled an advisory board from government agencies, SMEs, and start-ups, to provide connections for the club members. We have arranged one event so far that brought in Conor Hanley to give us a fascinating talk about his entrepreneurial adventures within the medical device arena.

students-with-ambassadorIn November, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Edward F. Crawford visited the Smurfit campus to speak about his fascinating entrepreneurial journey. He met specifically with members of the Entrepreneurship Club before the presentation.

Participation in the MBA includes access to Executive Coaching and an assigned business mentor. I am taking full advantage of both options. The coach acts as a sounding board and offers help with my career direction. The mentor, provided through Career Services, is an experienced UCD alumni from the power industry, so will be another great resource.  

I have also arranged to put what I’ve learned in the MBA directly into practice by providing some consultancy work to an energy company based in UCD’s start-up hub UCD Nova.

As the MBA programme at Smurfit has an international focus, I am preparing for a trip to Argentina next month for the hands-on ‘Doing Business in International Markets’ module. In June, we’ll travel to Lisbon, Portugal for a week of consulting assignments with local businesses.

I could not more highly recommend the UCD Smurfit MBA. It provides an exceptional opportunity to build your business and personal skills, while becoming part of an extensive alumni family. 

Kenneth Power, FTMBA 2019-2020

From the Newsroom to the Boardroom, as told to Business Because

If you’re reading the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School blog, chances are you’re thinking about how an MBA can help you progress in your current career–or find an entirely new one.

A UCD Smurfit MBA alumna recently talked to MBA Guidance website Business Because about how her degree helped her transition from her journalism career to a position in the sustainable energy industry.

edel-kennedy-headshot

After years as a journalist at the Independent, Edel Kennedy was ready to bring her storytelling and communications skills to the business arena. In order to do that, she needed to enhance those skills with training in areas such as accounting, finance, and business strategy.

Edel completed her studies in 2015 and now serves as Head of Marketing at UrbanVolt, a ‘full solution sustainability partner’ that works with large companies to help them rapidly reduce their carbon footprints.

You can read more about Edel’s journey from the newsroom to the boardroom here!

My GNAM Diary: A Week at Berkeley School of Business

A hidden benefit of doing a full-time MBA in UCD Smurfit comes in the form of GNAM week. “GNAM”, or Global Network for Advanced Management, is a network of leading global business schools who aim to drive innovation and create value by connecting with one another and sharing resources with their stakeholders over a week-long exchange in October.

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-43Of the 20-odd schools offered, the programme entitled ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ in the Berkeley School of Business blew me away. I was like a child on Christmas morning finding out that I had been accepted into this programme, which promoted itself as a deep dive into the Silicon Valley Innovation Ecosystem.

Prior to the program, we were assigned to groups and allocated an emerging Silicon Valley start-up company: in my case, water quality monitoring device firm “Osmobot”. I looked forward to a total immersion into the world of innovation and investment through the eyes of a start-up entrepreneur, hoping that by the end of the week long program, I would have a better sense of which identity—investor or entrepreneur—best suited me.

Arriving and Acclimatizing 

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-50After approximately 8 hours in transit from Dublin, Ken and I landed in Berkeley on Friday afternoon. The chill vibes of California’s student district were exactly what we needed to decompress after a busy 6 weeks of MBA_hood in UCD. The next day’s sparkling sunshine saw us through a walking tour of Berkeley campus–where I hugged a golden bear and got the impression that studying in Ireland could not hold a candle to the US experience. We concluded the day in the campus’s botanic gardens, where I particularly enjoyed the ‘medicinal gardens’, reminding me of my forsaken profession as a pharmacist. Ken reckoned the exhibits weren’t a patch on the Glasnevin equivalent. Sunday’s light hangover dissolved over brunch with our classmate Grace, who lured me out of Berkeley and onto a bike in San Francisco. It is hard to describe the feeling: freewheeling along the water’s edge in brilliant sunshine, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background!

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-42Day One 

After a jovial welcome reception in Haas School of Business on Sunday evening, we presented eagerly for breakfast and our first lectures on Monday morning. We spent the first half of the day focusing on entrepreneurship, customer identification, and company adaptation, while second half introduced us to Venture Capitalism. Practical examples from the faculty’s own experiences complemented detailed theory.

8ccd4e6f-ec6e-4a8e-aafe-33471ab4ace1Day Two 

Tuesday morning commenced with detailed and structured exploration of our allocated start-ups. Later, Professor David Charron interviewed a panel of venture capitalists from the Bay Area, who explained some hard truths about their careers–including expensive mistakes and missed opportunities.

The afternoon stole the show for me. Hopping on a luxury bus and heading downtown to San Francisco, we enjoyed some free time during which we made a visit to Union Square. Thereafter, we went to meet successful start-up, Ginger.io, which deals with mental ill-health using a tech platform, and met founder Karan Singh. We next went to tech super-power Salesforce’s office. Their luxurious office block—resembling a mini-theme park with friendly mascots and animal-themed merchandise on sale in their entrance area–dazzled even the locals among us.

Day Three 

During a lecture on building consumer profiles, Professor introduced the concept of diverging and converging: building ideas individually, and then bringing them together, towards improving a team’s creativity.

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-451While Monday and Tuesday had ignited my entrepreneurial gusto, the introduction to VC demonstrated that when it comes to investment, the investor tends to have the stronger hand. This stimulated two streams of thought. Firstly, perhaps being a VC is in fact a lower risk pursuit than being an entrepreneur? and secondly, being a good entrepreneur actually necessitates having a good understanding of investment models.

 Day Four 

On Thursday morning Stephen from Catering introduced me to the purple potato, which he served with other exotic varieties, seasoned and roasted – an awakening for my Irish taste buds, though I have long identified as a “potato expert”.

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-461In class, Dr. Vivek Rao guided us through refining the value proposition of a company – namely by assessing its desirability, viability and feasibility. From Vivek’s lively session, I understood how the “who” the product/service is just as important as the “how”.

Day Five 

Friday was the day the light shone on our diligent assignment work and presentation planning. We each pitched our classmates (“investors”) for fictious investment in our allocated start-up companies. We made a hard sell for our shrimp farm water-quality monitor (Osmobot). After 5 days of exploring founder Zach Stein’s product and business plan, I felt genuine passion towards the Osmobot and confidence regarding its future prospects. My classmates appeared marginally less convinced than my teammates and I, and we received no direct offer of $5 million for our proposed 20% company share!

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-46

I was fascinated by the concept that as both an entrepreneur and a VC, you are constantly placing bets. From my cosy life as a pharmacist, where actions are generally deemed right or wrong by legislation, I felt an explosion of excitement at the risk involved in pursuing either entrepreneurship or VC. My risk-averse life experiences initially inclined me towards VC, but what really invigorated me was the concept of growing a simple idea into a business with the potential to have an exponential impact on the world.

The week concluded with a self-reflection session lead by Sara where we focused on “designing a life you love”. In a team setting, we explored our values and motivators as well as our view of work and of the world. Though challenging at times, this session ultimately provided clarity of thought. The humanity and morality of my classmates shone through. I shocked myself by shedding a few tears, in mourning for the meaningful work in healthcare that I have put on hold as I advance into the unknown of life beyond an MBA.

Final Ponderings 

photo-2019-11-06-14-55-48From exemplary lecturing and first-hand encounters with successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, to sharing state of the art facilities with a group of 49 other MBA students, there was nothing not to love about the whole Berkeley Haas experience. Returning to Ireland, I feel as though little seeds of ideas are beginning to sprout in my mind. Suddenly, anything feels possible as an entrepreneur. When I make my success in business, I know I will think of my GNAM experience as the week when the scope of life’s possibilities opened in front of me.

Siún Tobin, Full Time MBA 2019-2020