Thought Leadership Club

On 23rd November, towards the end of our first semester, the Thought Leadership club organized its first event. We couldn’t have expected a better student organized event to start with. The club was really keen to organize the first event in the first semester itself. At the same time, with all the case studies, exams and assignments it was a really huge task.  Firstly to reach out to prospective speakers and then to organize the event and get others to attend the event. However, James Kelly (Full-time MBA) from our club actively reached out to Stephen Somers, co-founder of Marketplace SuperHeroes, an information product that teaches you how to start an international eCommerce business selling on Amazon, to share his experience as an entrepreneur with us. There was a lot of excitement in the full time MBA class, especially in the Thought Leadership Club, to organize and attend the event.
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Stephen Somers is a 30-year-old serial entrepreneur, who has developed multiple businesses in different industries. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he worked as a data processor with a government agency by day and a musician by night. However, having studied Business in college he also had an urge to start a business of his own. Therefore, when he was introduced by his aunt to Robert Rickey who owned an e-commerce business, he found a way to achieve his dream of starting a business.

With the philosophy of “The best way to start a business is to be in business” he worked in Robert’s warehouse for 9 months without pay so that he could learn and understand the nuances of an e-commerce business. This conviction, which I guess is one of the traits of a thought leader, helped him to take risks and believe in himself. Working in the warehouse he identified inefficiencies in the existing system and observed that there was a lack of well-defined process. He also observed that the products such as TV mounts that were sold by the business had a saturated market therefore a minimal growth prospect. Consequently, he removed inefficiencies, defined appropriate processes and looked for products with unsaturated demands. After working on all these improvements he decided to start online sales on e-commerce websites. Once the online sales business started doing well, he realized that a lot of other people were trying to do the same however without proper guidance they would inevitable either fail or give up. Furthermore, he noticed that numerous “How to make money online” courses in the market were scams. This motivated him to become a THOUGHT LEADER and share his knowledge of how to start a successful online sales business with other people through Marketplace Superheroes.

With Marketplace Superheroes, they teach people how to build a 5-7 figure global online selling business through eCommerce websites by selling simple, low-competition, high profit physical products without “risking it all”. Listening to Stephen, I found a practical implementation of a lot of theoretical concepts of marketing that I had learned in the class. He used direct marketing, through Facebook, for customer acquisition. Coincidentally two days prior, in our marketing class we discussed the importance of marketing channels in any business. He let us in on his secret to successfully selling on an ecommerce website which is “don’t create demand, instead fulfil the existing demand”.  Having had a business degree and having read loads of books about business he introduced us to some business concepts such as customer conversion and value proposition.

He told us how important it is to differentiate your products in an online selling business. He started selling products with a very unorthodox method i.e. by reaching out to people and selling products that did not exist. He reasoned that most businesses first put in 6 months to develop a product and then find out that there is no demand for that product, whereas he tries to identify demand and then address that demand through his products. He also stressed the importance of focusing on a limited number of products instead of too many products to keep the business simple and efficient.

Stephen Somers has demonstrated that being a thought leader in your business differentiates you from your competitors. While others in the business were just selling basic information on how to start an online business selling on e-commerce websites. Marketplace Superheroes was sharing information how to be successful at selling online on e-commerce websites, by proper market research and inventory management. Stephen Somers spoke about his journey and his business for about 50 minutes, however he took us through a very descriptive narration about how he came into business, how he struggled,  and then how he made it successful, and currently how he is utilizing his success and knowledge to help others become successful through his startup Marketplace SuperHeroes.

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At the end of the event, I realized how much these 3 months in the MBA have changed my perspective: I have developed a new way of looking at businesses. In the past 3 months I have been through numerous case studies, which have changed the way I absorb information about businesses and organizations. This change has been so significant that all through the presentation I was just relating information from Stephan Somers, about his businesses, to the concepts I had previously learned in class. Therefore, I am looking forward to finding out how the rest of the course will guide my thinking. Thank You!

Devinder Sharma, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018

IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2017


sauyith-cueva-pic-3From the entrance of the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge in Dublin the grandeur of the venue is noticeable as soon as you set foot in the lobby. To mark the occasion of the 2017 IMAGE Businesswoman of the year awards the Clayton Ballsbridge was garnished with rich pink and purple imagery and decorations. Inside the ballroom the tables were detailed extremely tastefully with gifts for everyone in attendance. What a fitting location for such a special, meaningful and glamorous event I thought to myself as I made my way through the reception and into the bar to meet some of the inspirational women attending, some of whom were also up for nomination.

The IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards recognises all the women who have worked with passion, commitment and perseverance throughout their careers. Some of these women have come from abroad, inherited their family business, created a new company, found solutions to improve our society or developed remarkable innovations. Being able to listen to their stories on the night was truly inspiring and an evening I will never forget. It is not often that you get to sit in a room full of the most powerful businesswomen in Ireland, women so gracious, authentic and kind and also to see the human side of these outstanding women before, during and after the awards.

The key insight that really resonated with me from the incredible award winners are that you should never give up, you should keep working hard, face failure and stand back up, if you do that no one can stop you on the path to success. Be a leader, don’t be afraid to stand up. Be humble because nothing in life can be accomplished alone. Be balanced, there is no reason why you cannot be successful and have a family. “Follow your intuition”, said one of them, “you must trust yourself for others to trust you”.

This event is proof that everyone can achieve great things once the mind and body are focused on an objective. We are all different and the main lesson is that we should play to our strengths. The skills required to win each individual award were all different, the women in the room encompassing a wide spectrum of talents and socio-economic backgrounds. The amazing women have understood their strengths, capabilities and used them to great effect.

This year’s IMAGE Businesswoman of The Year Awards has been completely delightful, it was fantastic to spend it with everyone who attended from UCD, everyone at the table was extremely proud to see Orla Nugent present on the night. I will definitely be back again as I set out to not only make my mark on the MBA at Smurfit but also the Irish business world upon graduation.

I hope that new generations find inspiration from the experiences and the courage of the business women of today and that the coming years will be filled with the accomplishments of the women of tomorrow.

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Sauyith Cueva, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

A Challenging but Rewarding Journey

It feels like the MBA started yesterday, but three months have already passed, and this is the last week of semester one. What an amazing and challenging journey so far! Sometimes I ask myself if it was a good idea to bring my wife and daughter to join me on this journey, but quickly I realize that we are all growing and learning in this wonderful country.

Looking through my calendar from the last three months, I can give a quick snapshot of this journey. Beginning the 7th of November, after more than two months looking for a nice house for my family, I finally received a positive answer from Alan (our letting agent), and I could finally move with my family to a house just for us, right behind my daughter’s school. Even though Ireland quickly recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, the housing market is still suffering from the lack of houses available to rent.
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The following week, I had the privilege to visit Howth together with my team members and family. Ayush was responsible for the spicy egg sandwiches (delicious 😊, considering that it was his first time preparing them), Lucy leading us on the first part of our scary walk on the edge of the Howth cliffs (not recommended for those with a fear of heights), and Marina (my daughter) leading us on our way back (I thought we would never return!). At the end of this incredible afternoon, we stopped at a little market to warm our bodies drinking a hot chocolate and to burn our tongues eating Ayush’s spicy sandwiches. Everyone ate them except for Marina who preferred a half kilo Nutella crepe.

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Last week, a big new challenge was scaring all the teams in the class. By Sunday (26th of November) we had to submit the Performance Marketing assignment, the main project for this subject. During the whole week, we could see all the teams working late, including Saturday with all syndicate study rooms full. By 11:28pm on Sunday, after the last few Google Hangout calls with my team, Eoin pressed the send button, and we could feel again a pleasant, but temporary relief.

The next day, here we are here again in the MBA room on a Monday morning discussing the next steps for our last two assignments of this semester. As we get closer to the end of the semester, I’m starting to have mixed feelings of relief, nostalgia, and gratitude.

I’m looking forward to the next steps of this challenging and rewarding journey!

Marcelo Cardozo de Mello Boccuzzi, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

Nearing Half Time

ruary-martin-pic-1Having only had time to take a week off after finishing work any delusions I had of easing myself back into full time education were shattered within the first few minutes of MBA Foundation week with our first Performance Driven Marketing lecture. To be honest there has been little let up over the last two and half months.

We have had the same group for assignments for the first semester and had our final group presentation recently. The five of us led the rest of the class in a discussion around the difficulties of adaptive leadership within an organisation. Any fear I may have had of presenting has long since disappeared thanks to the sheer volume of presentations we have made. It’s difficult to overstate how our group (2 Indians, 1 Filipino and 2 Irish) have bonded over the last 12 weeks as we spent what seemed like weeks in the syndicate rooms completing seemingly never ending assignments. A brief move to the library ended when we realised there was no eating or drinking allowed. We have now returned to the MBA suite for assignment preparation where we can safely sample exotic pastries in the name of broadening our international experience.  Sadly, we’re still waiting on that Indian beer.

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Although it sometimes feels like I have been at Smurfit for years it’s still hard to believe next week is the end of lectures for the first semester. This week we had our last lectures in both Performance Driven Marketing and Leadership & Organisational Behaviour and have our last Competitive Strategy case to prepare. The background reading for the case includes an interesting you tube video on “the Lego Story” which my 10-year-old son very much enjoyed, although he was less impressed with the standard of their board game offering. “It’s just Ludo Dad”. Perhaps I should have sought his insight on previous case studies !

One of the most attractive elements of the Smurfit MBA for me was the emphasis on personal development and as part of this we have been editing, re editing (and re editing again) our CV’s for the upcoming Class of 2018 MBA CV book. Enormous credit must go to Conor for the remarkable perseverance and patience he showed in pushing this over the line.

As I look back and reflect on the last few months it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to date. The widely differing cultural and professional backgrounds within the full-time MBA class have certainly broadened all our outlooks on life. Now just the small matter of three exams to get out of the way before we enjoy the Christmas and get to briefly re charge the batteries before we enter the second semester.

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Ruary Martin, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018

A Home Away from Home

This year’s Smurfit MBA Class are a diverse cohort from different parts of the world. Although it has only been two and a half months it already feels like we’ve known each other for a long time! It is amazing how a group, made up of such varied cultures have learned and found a way to work together so coherently . Each and every one has something unique to offer and I can’t believe I’m saying this so early in the programme but it has become my safe place to explore and try something new each day.

After an intense GNAM week at different universities, we had an even more difficult week with our first exam on Financial Reporting. Immersed in balance sheets and income statements the week went by and we completed our first module in the MBA! As such, we deserved to unwind and celebrate, and what better way than celebrating Halloween together! Thom and Nicole were kind enough to host us all at their place. It was a fun-filled evening with music, dancing, food, and wine, and can only be described as a truly wonderful experience.

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The Smurfit MBA is an intensive experience but at the same time extremely rewarding. One of my reasons for pursuing an MBA was for personal development and it has been an absolutely incredible journey so far. With lots more left to experience and learn, I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us.

Anita Louis, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

 

Team Coaching

“You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question?”

                                                                                            — The Breakfast Club

 

It’s hard to believe that just one month ago we were enjoying a fun day of team building exercises that required leadership, teamwork, logic and patience. On this day, we were introduced to our Semester 1 study groups for the first time. Each group drew up a team charter, to clarify direction and common goals, while establishing boundaries. My team found no significant commonalities amid ourselves, yet we took immediate comfort in our differences, instantly recognising that they made us stronger. Like every study group, we are diverse, with not only distinct career experience, but also different nationalities; Irish, Canadian, Vietnamese and Indian. My team came from unique industries; from program management to teaching to technology management to marketing. We now have four approaches to business administration, four flavours of strategy, four perceptions, and the chance to see each challenge from four distinct angles. Nevertheless, in time all great teams will face hurdles.

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Fast-forward 30 days, and we participated in a team coaching session at the Talbot Hotel. Since our team work is continuous throughout the year, it was important to debrief using a lessons-learned approach. Each team had the benefit of a coach to facilitate the afternoon session. We were provided with the opportunity to discuss openly as a team what we feel our issues have been, and then had the chance for one-on-ones with each team member to discuss what went wrong, what went right, what may be improved, and ways the improvements can be made. It was interesting to hear my teammates’ first impressions of me. The team coaching session helped us identify ways to improve our time management and teamwork efficiency. It was the perfect opportunity to reflect over the first month and recognise mistakes, errors, and failures, and make any necessary adjustments to our team charter.

Now that we have a better understanding of our colleagues’ individual strengths, weaknesses and personality types, it will be interesting to see how we evolve from here!

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The days are long, and the years are short. After several 12 hour days at Smurfit, numerous hours spent in the syndicate rooms (for which we all received warning emails for overbooking!), social events, and communication outside of school hours, it feels like we’ve known each for months! With the close-knit nature of the program, I think it’s obvious to us all, that many life-long friendships are developing, and I’m looking forward to the countless adventures we will experience together throughout the year!

 

Laura Cunningham, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

Rosheen McGuckian Presentation: “Changing NTR Through Adversity”

I have earned my MBA one month after the start of the first semester. No really, I have… In my mind at least!

The “masterclass” delivered by Rosheen McGuckian, CEO of NTR, was all eight modules rolled into one. (Ok, an MBA requires you to do more than 8 modules, but what do I know, this is only my first semester!) She was all eight modules compacted into a single glass, drank up in one gulp that delivered an immediate kick to the centre of my brain. It was corporate governance, strategy, financial reporting, business ethics and more wrapped up in one honest, authentic, thought-provoking one-hour session.

In those 60 minutes, a good number of case studies and countless class hours came together in my mind like numerous puzzle pieces joining into one big picture as she recounted her business management journey.  How what started as a seemingly great strategy, gave way to a very difficult ride. Then dealing with the opposition that arose from that. The passage to adaptation, the investment in change, making hard decisions, the place for personal reflection and ultimately, turnaround and business success.  I was surprised, incensed, inspired, provoked, appeased, disappointed, hopeful, fearful and educated. She muddied my mind and then offered clarity and wisdom in such a simple, practical and real way. She was nothing short of everything and anything that the real business world is.

I took this MBA course because I am looking to enter the competitive business world and Rosheen McGuckian was my MBA experience personified. So indeed, after meeting her, I do feel like I earned my MBA. In the very least, a good part of it! I simply cannot wait to see which speaker I get to engage with next.

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Elizabeth Kiathe, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

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. 

1 Month Down, 11 More To Go…

I didn’t realize until I started writing this blog that I have already completed a whole month of my MBA.  A very busy month that went so fast I barely noticed it going. Before completing my Foundation Week, which was my first week in the Smurfit School of Business, I was a nervous wreck. The idea of meeting people from other nations was nerve racking especially as I had forgotten how to “speak” after working as a software developer for over 7 years. The idea that I had to talk, network and make sense was just too stressful.

Well then why did I choose to do an MBA? To get speaking, and boy have I spoken a lot since then. I will admit that the struggle was real! Irish accents are a lot harder to comprehend than I had initially thought. The Irish pace of speaking is a total contrast to mine. What caught my attention was the way they spoke words like ‘a-bu-t’(about) and ‘ha-au’(how). I found it extremely funny for the first couple of days and I just couldn’t get over it, haha!

Hmmm… so far we have learned a lot and much to my surprise I have already given 4 presentations in the first month alone. Am I now a confident public speaker who can speak on any topic; Nope! It takes time, but trust me I have come quite a long way from where I began, and to know that I still have 11 more months to complete, I am sure that I will have my own talk show by the end of it.

The study group is another experiment, where I, a north Indian, need to complete assignments with American, Irish and south Indian (it is not the same!) team members. This was not a comfortable thought for me at first, however, as we started to work together, I learnt that despite obvious differences between us there were also a lot of similarities. Especially in terms of how each one of us struggled to cope with the pressure of just too much to do in too little time. This made us understand each other and bond more.

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What has truly started to make sense to me is that with good team work and good time management you can achieve a humongous amount! Interestingly, this lesson has also come from my personal experience of travelling daily for at least three hours. I am only able to keep up with my assignments due to good time management and the team work at home between my husband and I. You might be surprised to know that even though my first month in UCD was anything but relaxing, I am very excited to experience what is coming next.

Nadisha Garg, Full Time MBA, 2017-2018

Week Two 2017

“Hell Week” 5 days of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep. Hell Week tests physical endurance, mental toughness, pain tolerance and your ability to perform under high stress. Above all, it tests determination and desire. This is the first training week for the NAVY seals, and the Smurfit MBA foundation week wasn’t far behind.

OK, so maybe I’m being a tiny bit melodramatic, but I did find Foundation Week challenging. Even though I lost my faith years ago, I was nearly tempted to say a little prayer that they would go easier on us in week two.

Over the weekend I checked my time-table for Monday week two. We have just two lectures, Niamh for Financial Reporting and Damien for Marketing. Damien was our very first lecture in “Hell week” and scared the bejesus out of all of us so I make double sure I have his pre-reading done.

Monday rolls around and everything goes without a hitch. I actually enjoy it, but Damien gives us yet another assignment, will the fun ever end? Thankfully I make it through the week unscathed and things are looking up. We have the welcome dinner on Friday to look forward to.

After the dinner on Friday night we all headed to Sams Bar on Dawson Street and the drinks were flowing. The guys from India love to dance, they were up on each other’s shoulders like they had just won a general election. It was a great night and I’m already looking forward to our next night out.

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Now I’ve been informed that it’s my turn to write a blog about week two. Great, because I just didn’t feel like I had enough work to do. I thought about doing what the Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle does; locks himself away in a remote farm house, gets high on Tramadol and runs around the house in his underwear while coming up with creative ideas, but I’m not Scottish. Instead, I decide to just have a few beers and type it at my kitchen table instead (fully clothed).

If the last two weeks are anything to go by, this is going to be an amazing year. I will be travelling to Istanbul for a week in October as part of our GNAM and our class will be travelling to Singapore/Vietnam or South America as part of our study trip in March. I can’t wait! I definitely feel I have made the correct decision by doing the MBA, but only time will tell. I’ll let you all know at the end of the year.

Ian Ahern, MBA 2017-2018