A Walk Down Memory Lane of Recent Irish Economic History

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Kevin Cardiff of the European Court of Auditors addresses the Dean’s Speaker Series

The Dean’s Speaker Series had another event last Wednesday when Kevin Cardiff of the European Court of Auditors and also Auditor of the European Stability Mechanism visited Smurfit School. The Dean, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh welcomed Mr. Cardiff to Smurfit. Mr. Cardiff is a decorated senior civil servant and regaled attendees with a detailed summary of economic history in recent decades, spanning the 1992 currency crisis and various iterations of the ERM up to the recent financial crisis of 2008 and beyond.

In a detailed address resembling memoirs, Mr. Cardiff described the tribulations of the 1992 currency crisis in fine detail – featuring newspaper clippings of the big events at the time including the days of major turmoil for Sterling and the Púnt, including the devaluation of the Púnt. He also touched on the advent of the Maastricht Treaty and the departure from the single currency of certain countries in its early days.

Black Wednesday

Mr. Cardiff described in detail the events of the 16th of September 1992, when the United Kingdom withdrew from the Exchange Rate Mechanism. What happened on this day was that Sterling had come under pressure from speculators who had begun a massive sell-off and the UK Government raised interest rates from an already high 10% to 12% with a promise that they would raise further to 15%, in a scenario that was unfolding by the hour. One of the causes of the acuteness of the crisis was the rules of the ERM, particularly that the Bank of England were required to accept any offer to sell Sterling.

The eventual advent of the European single currency was also addressed by Mr. Cardiff. He highlighted the widening of fluctuation bands via the Brussels Compromise of 1993 and Stages II and III of ERM, when mutual exchange rates between member currencies became fixed and the physical currency was introduced in the form of notes and coins.

Mr. Cardiff also gave a detailed review of the events of the financial crisis of 2008, including key developments in relation to the recapitalisation of financial institutions, which he also deals with in his book, “Recap”.

A short question and answer session followed Mr. Cardiff’s address, when the recent event of Brexit was noted and a discussion was had around the future for the European Union. All in all, the event was a thought-provoking and interesting perspective on recent economic history and food for thought in terms of what will happen next in the EU with respect to both regulatory developments and the overall structure of the Union.

Ciarán O’Shea ~ Year 2, Executive MBA

MBA Rugby World Cup 2017

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All great journeys start somewhere. In our case we started on a wet Wednesday night in early February on a triangle of waterlogged grass adjacent to the UCD all-weather pitches.  There was no room at the inn, we were forced to set up in the dimly lit corner stealing whatever light we could from the American football team training on the pristine surface just 10 metres to our left. We started off as the underdogs and remained so for the duration of this journey, just the way we like it.

The committee had first met the previous week to discuss the possibility of organising a team to attend the 37th MBA Rugby World Cup in Dansville, Virginia. Smurfit have attended the tournament for the past 18 years and we wanted to keep this tradition alive. We outlined the list of tasks we had ahead of us and set to work. It was no mean feat, we had 8 weeks to organise training facilities, a trainer, flights, accommodation, insurance, jerseys, corporate sponsorship and most importantly an actual team.

One of the major turning points and key to our success was the introduction of our Head Coach David “Manners” Mahon. Not much was known about him at the time, although there was a rumour he once fought superman and the loser had to wear his underwear over his pants. He managed to transform us from a bunch of misfits (half of whom had never played rugby before) into a well-oiled try scoring machine. We trained hard for 8 weeks and unfortunately, due to the intensive regime Manners insisted on, we lost a few soldiers along the way, ending up with a bare contingent of 15 lads and 7 ladies travelling.

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With much blood, sweat and tears shed by the committee in getting the logistics in order, the day of departure arrived and we all set off for Danville, Virginia (some arrived sooner than others due to a storm over New York). Upon arrival we discovered we were sharing a hotel with the Harvard team which allowed great networking opportunities (the balanced scorecard was a popular topic of discussion to break up those awkward shared elevator journeys).

The tournament’s first game on Saturday saw the men’s team face SMU from Texas in a riveting contest. We demonstrated our dominance early when Cameron Kenny, who ate the hotel out of weetabix earlier that morning, decided to take on the SMU team himself and ran over for an early try. Dazzling footwork from full back Craig ”Joey Carbery” Kennedy led to two more tries which finished the game early. Our next opponents were Columbia Business School, where man of the match Kevin Lynam took the ball and barged past three stunned Columbia forwards to get us on the scoreboard early. Tries from Darragh ”Biceps” O’Neill and Eoghan “Stringer” Cudmore closed out the game and we marched on to face Wharton in our final game of the day. This was a tougher contest but we prevailed in the end through excellent forward play from the impassable trio of Jan Ullman, David Camp and Colin Dunne. We finished the group stages top seed with an impressive tally of 28 tries.

The newly formed women’s team had a rocky start losing their first touch rugby game to London Business school (A) who allegedly had 76 substitutes, which they used after every try. However, nothing like a defeat to ignite a spark and something happened in that post-game huddle that inspired the ladies to go on and win their next three games against Wharton, LBS B and Columbia. Talk of the first day was a try scored by Smurfit Ladies Captain Ciara Keane, getting the ball in her own half she weaved her way in and out of the Columbia defence to cross the line untouched to win the game in the dying seconds. Some compared it to the magic once conjured by a young Brian O’Driscoll. Incredible skills were demonstrated by all with some impressive team tries including an amazing diving touch by Lyn Markey. The ladies day finished with a tense drop-off game against LBS B that saw Smurfit emerge victorious after a well-rehearsed switch pass between Ciara Keane and Mary Sheehan opened up space on the wing to allow Sheehan touch down in the corner. A job well done by both teams. With sore bodies and big smiles we headed to the Danville farmers market for a BBQ and networking event with the other schools.

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We awoke Sunday morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to prepare for our quarter finals.

The men’s team had drawn Wharton, a formidable Ivy league school from Philadelphia. We had a slow start to this game but true leaders, in the form of Leigh Carr and Niall Gallagher, emerged to score excellent individual tries to see us through to the semi-final. The ladies faced Yale in their quarter final, they scored three amazing team tries with Micaela Connery Maria Barry and Lyn Markey touching down. The men now faced their biggest challenge yet matching Harvard in the semi-final. At this stage our bare panel of 15 began to take its toll and we were reduced to 13 men through injury. Exceptional defensive work from Cathal Murphy and Will Sheahan was unfortunately not enough to keep the pocket protector wearing Bostonians out. We crashed out of the competition coming 3rd overall out of 16 teams, always the underdog.

The ladies breezed through their semi-final, with an exceptional defensive display from Kerry McLaverty, to find themselves in the MBA World Cup Final against their initial defeaters LBS A. I caught a whisper of Manner’s pre-final speech, it sounded somewhat familiar, something about “inches” and “Healing as a team or dying as individuals”,  whatever it was it worked. With the sun shining down and tri-colours out in force the final began. It was a tight contest Mary Sheehan showed her resolve and came close to running over for the Irish. Alas, even great defence from Michelle McEvoy wasn’t enough to keep the Londoners out. LBS used their 76 substitutes to great effect and in the end, the fresh legs made all the difference with Smurfit having to settle for 2nd place. An incredible achievement for a group of ladies assembled hours before the tournament. What they achieved will go down in history as one of the greatest David vs Goliath stories the tournament has ever seen.

The weekend was truly an amazing experience and the committee would like to thank all of the students who travelled. You have done both your school and country proud. We would like to sincerely thank all our sponsors, especially Sinnotts Bar and Newstalk, without your generous assistance none of this would have been possible. A special thanks must also go to Orla and Zoe in the MBA programme office and everyone who attended our fundraising events, your support helped make the trip an overwhelming success.

However, the journey does not end here, both Men’s and Ladies teams have unfinished business left on that field in the woods of Virginia. The only thing that stopped both teams was a lack of resources, an issue we have plans to address. Luckily most of the team are undertaking the Executive MBA, meaning we have one more year to make things right and get Smurfit back to where it should be, Number 1.

I will finish with the words of a well-loved Irish Poet :

We’re not here to take part…We’re here to take over

Brendan Staunton, Year 1 Executive MBA

Celebrating Lunar New Year in Dublin

Vietnamese Student Body

On February 2nd 2017, our Vietnamese study body organised a warm celebration of Lunar New Year with international students, Irish families with adopted Vietnamese children and members of the Vietnamese community in Dublin.

Lunar New Year is a very meaningful occasion for many Asian countries such as China, Korea and Vietnam, etc. In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tet, which means the ‘feast of the first morning of the first day’. Tet is an important occasion for family reunions, when we cherish the success of past year, let the troubles go and look forward to happiness, success and good fortune in the upcoming year.

Quiz contest about Vietnam’s facts
Quiz contest about Vietnam’s facts

As an organising member, I was glad to see many international students interested in the event. We welcomed over 300 guests despite the heavy rain over the whole day. All the efforts spent over the last 3 months seemed to be rewarding when we engaged with participants through traditional games, when international students enjoyed and took pictures in our traditional dresses or when they attentively watched the performances. Looking back, I was reluctant to take the role as Event Director due to a heavy schedule in the first semester and unfamiliar study environment. But now I felt all the experience I had was such a great one. There were moments of tension the ‘ brain-storming’ stage, yet we had gone a long way to learn how to be flexible in our plan, to be appreciative of each other’s ideas, to give more than to take and to put ourselves forward.

Myself in ‘ao dai’ - traditional dress
Myself in ‘ao dai’ – traditional dress

When I first landed in Dublin 4 months ago, I was impressed by a small little thing – signage. All are written in English and Gaelic. Although nowadays, Gaelic is becoming less popular among young people, the presence of Gaelic in almost all public areas is such a great reservation of culture and traditions. Recent years in my home country have seen debate over whether Lunar New Year should be combined with New Year holiday in the Gregorian calendar. Advocates would point to economic loss and overspending during such a long holiday. For me, I still hope that every year we will still celebrate Lunar New Year and that our people will never lose tradition because of a so-called cost-benefit analysis. Simply, globalization and revolution are not to be carried out at the expense of intrinsic values. 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

 Khanh Nguyen ~ Full-Time MBA

Teams – A Hybrid Approach

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Undertaking an MBA was something I had considered for a long time. However, with my career progressing and being in my mid 30’s I has thought that the time to take on this challenge had passed me by. Realising that I wanted to change my career path, I spoke with friends & colleagues, and made enquiries into what options and programmes were available to me. I quickly realised the Full-Time MBA in Smurfit Business School matched exactly what I was looking for.

After 10 years in the banking industry, giving up my job (and salary!!) for a year was a scary prospect. However, unlike many of my classmates, being from Dublin was advantageous in terms of not having to move, which made things easier for me. Returning to full time education after a gap of 10 years certainly took some getting used to, but after 2 to 3 weeks of a settling in period I was back in the student mind-set.

There is a wide diversity in the class in terms of experience, industry, and nationality. Adapting to different people’s way of doing things takes time and includes some trial and error – but I am always learning. An engineer and a banker certainly have different ways to tackle the same problem! However, what I have learned is that there are many ways to successfully complete a task. Quite often a hybrid approach between team members proves to be the most efficient way of achieving success.

The past 4 months have flown by. It has been tough at times and the hours have been long, however I have learned a huge amount both academically and personally and I have met some great people along the way. Semester 1 is complete, however there is still a long road ahead and I am looking forward to the challenges that 2017 will bring.

I have really enjoyed the MBA experience to date, but having said that I am certainly enjoying the Christmas break! Lots done – even more to do!

Mark Kavanagh ~ Full-Time MBA

Canada Bound: Preparing to Represent UCD Michael Smurfit at the John Molson International Case Study Competition

The UCD Smurfit Molson Team. L-R: Declan Walsh, Anne Marie Barcoe, Derek Anderson, Tanya Kenny, Catherine O’Brien. Picture Jason Clarke.
The UCD Smurfit Molson Team. L-R: Declan Walsh, Anne Marie Barcoe, Derek Anderson, Tanya Kenny, Catherine O’Brien. Picture Jason Clarke.

Sunday 18th of December and it is two days after the end of some of the busiest weeks of the Executive MBA to date. With Semester 1 of Year 2 complete, most students could be found making up for lost time with family and friends, Christmas shopping, or simply enjoying their freedom again. All except for our team of five daring Executive MBA students who traded Dundrum Shopping Centre for a small meeting room in The Radisson St Helens Hotel. Acting as a team of consultants, we were challenged to dissect a case on McDonald’s proposed global turn-around strategy within three hours, followed by a 25 minute presentation outlining our proposed strategy and rationale. Armed with the knowledge gleaned from the MBA to date, we set to work confident we could solve McDonald’s strategy dilemma. The Smurfit MBA team’s preparations for the John Molson International Case Study Competition 2017 were truly in full swing.

The journey began on October 11th when the second year Executive MBAs were invited to participate in ‘trials’ to establish the UCD team that would travel to Montreal to participate in the competition. Organised by John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal, the competition is the largest and longest established business case competition of its kind in the world. It takes place in Montreal every January and is a round-robin tournament consisting of seven rounds of unpublished business cases over five days. A total of 36 international universities will be represented in 2017 including teams from Canada, America, Australia, Brazil, China, Mexico, Chile, Sweden and Germany.

The UCD team was selected following individually prepared presentations on a sample case on microfinancing in rural India. We were informed by Smurfit School that we would receive all the support we required and determined to make the most out of this opportunity, we set about  honing our strategy and presentation skills.

First up was an intense session on strategy analysis with Professor Pat Gibbons. Pat is the team’s coach and will travel to Montreal to provide guidance and support throughout the competition.

Next up, Paul Slattery took the team for a master class on how to present, prepare Power Point slides and communicate effectively with an audience, in this case the local business executives who will act as judges in Montreal. For anyone who has had a class with Paul Slattery, they will appreciate how valuable a session in such a small group proved to be. The evening with Paul was challenging but thoroughly enjoyable, provoking more than a few laughs from the group along the way as we perfected the art of corporate story telling amongst other skills.

With our foundation sessions complete, it was agreed that real life practice cases would be the best way to develop our skills. Our first practice case revealed to us the scale of the challenge we were facing within a tight three hour preparation window. It highlighted many areas for development; we lacked structure, time efficiency and a clear direction. This led to a sense of panic during our preparations as the clock ticked down and this was apparent to Pat from our rapidly cobbled together presentation slides. However, we surprised ourselves in getting through the presentation fluidly. Whilst we had some doubts about the arduous challenge facing us, they were quickly eradicated at this point as we knew we could only improve with practice.

Over the next few weeks we worked rigorously to evolve as an effective team under time pressure and developed a clear process for tackling case studies. Our rate of improvement as a team has been incredible and has only been matched by the rate of learning as individuals. Speed reading, effective group brain storming, clear communications, strong Power-Point slides and strategic thinking have all been key takeaways for the group.

The preparations are now complete and all that is left for us is to execute our plan. The team travel to Canada confident that our committed preparations will bear fruit as we represent UCD on the world stage. In reality, we are unsure of what to expect from our competitors but ultimately; win, lose or draw we are satisfied that we have already learnt more about strategy, presenting and most importantly team-work than would ever be possible in a classroom. It has truly been a fantastic experience to date, and we look forward to jetting off to Montreal to put our MBA skills to the test.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Professor Pat Gibbons for the huge amount of time and advice he has given, Paul Slattery for his guidance on presentation skills and finally Ro Downing and all at Smurfit School for facilitating this invaluable experience and providing all the support we could have wished for.

The competition runs from the 1st – 6th January and a further blog post will follow in relation to our experience in Montreal. Hopefully we will be talking about the first UCD team to win the John Molson International Case Study Competition. One has to believe to achieve.

Declan Walsh ~ Executive MBA, Year 2

On behalf of: Derek Anderson, Anne Marie Barcoe, Tanya Kenny and Catherine O’Brien

Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM)

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Two months into UCD Smurfit Full-Time MBA and every day still remains a mix of anxiety, excitement, pressure and loads of memories. The icing on the cake was Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) week – perfect stress buster for learning, meeting people and sharing experiences.

The module hosted by UCD this year was “The Three Pillars of Innovation in Ireland – Technology, Food and Culture” with an aim to drive innovation and create value by connecting leading global business schools, their resources and their stakeholders. We had 40+ students from EGADE Mexico, ESMT Germany, IE Spain, IIMB India, Sauder Canada, and Yale U.S.A and last but not least UCD Ireland.

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Day 1: Rushing through the gates in anticipation of not being late, it felt like the first day of school all over again, from collar name tags to the printed schedule of the week to new puzzled faces in the lecture theatre. Professor Patrick Gibbons, the module co-coordinator addressed us and introduced the students to each other in a unique way, following which we had interactive sessions about the future of Irish beef industry, Challenges of Internationalization and Branding of Irish food. Apart from the amazing lunch, there was a welcome reception in the evening where all the students socialised over wine & cheese.

Day 2: The day started with reflections on the previous days’ learnings. Apart from sessions on Foreign Direct Investment, Innovation in customer Insight and Ireland’s competitiveness, the highlight of the day was a power packed presentation by ‘The Happy Pear’ twins and a visit to their café and production unit in Greystones. It felt like we were on a class picnic and I never knew I would actually like vegan food that was served at the café (being a hard core non-vegetarian!). The experience was really good due to my personal interest in the food production industry.

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Day 3: By now all students knew each other quiet well, with no more introductions, “Hello, I am Prathibha, attending the MBA programme at UCD” and questions “So, which country are you from? “or “ Which business school are you attending?”. Thus began another day planned very well with lectures on the venture capital environment, Google Inc, developing Irish industry and the Irish economy-performance & prospects. A Dublin Literary pub crawl was organized for us (believe me I never knew what a Literary pub crawl was until then). It is a walking tour of Dublin’s historic pubs conducted by two actors who introduce the famous writers and enact scenes from their works. Moving from one pub to another, sharing stories, small talk, drinks and food just made the day even more worthwhile.

Day 4: After a long night, it was really hard to wake up in the morning and reach college by 8:45am for an overview and review session. But still, everyone were present right on time looking all energetic to attend sessions on Innovation, Operations in Ireland, International TV & film industry and Intellectual Property. A farewell dinner was planned out at Johnnie Fox’s which is known as Ireland’s ‘highest’ pub. The night was filled with traditional Irish dance and music and a delicious three course meal.

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Day 5: Today there were no classes; an entire day of outdoor activities was organized starting with a trip to the Abbey Theatre, National Theatre of Ireland. There was a small talk about the history of the theatre and development of Arts followed by an acting exercise. Due to some confusion, I reached the wrong entrance of the Guinness Store house and had to go all the way round to another entrance, only to be received by some smiling faces who happily commented on how late I was and kept them waiting. This was my first brewery experience which tells the tale of Ireland’s famous beer. Along with tastings and beer samples there is a rooftop gravity bar on the 7th floor with 360° views across the Dublin’s magnificent skyline. As this was the last day of the GNAM week, everyone decided to meet up for one last time for some drinks.

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Thus the incredible GNAM week concluded with goodbyes, new friends and valued memories.  Thanks to Elaine Aherne, module manager for organizing everything and always being there with us. Back to classes again, need to do a load of assignments and also have an exam coming up next week. All the best to me and my class!

Prathiba Fernandes ~ Full-Time MBA

Global Network Week 2016

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Here at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, we are proud to be a member of the Global Network for Advanced Management, alongside other top business schools like Yale, IE and EGADE (visit GNAM website). The Global Network Immersion Week (GNW) Programme is an initiative of GNAM that is designed to provide students from participating GNAM schools with a rich foreign immersion experience.

The Global Network for Advanced Management connects member schools with diverse regions, countries, and cultures, and economies by facilitating interaction. Through one week immersion programmes and online courses, participating schools host fellow GNAM institutions for seminars, visits, and interactions within local economies.

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School will be participating in the GNW Programme again this year, for our third year running. We will be hosting an intensive one-week course in October 2016 and June 2017 that will be attended by MBA students from both our school and all other network schools.

Global Network Immersion Week gives UCD Smurfit MBA students the opportunity to pursue intensive study at another network school, in a focused mini course that leverages the perspectives, programmes, and faculty expertise of that school. Alongside their counterparts from elsewhere in the network, students attend classes, tour local businesses, and meet with experts focused on current business problems.

In the video below, Executive MBA student Dermot Boyle & Full-time MBA student Ashish Babbar discuss their experiences of the 2015-16 Global Network for Advanced Management.

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Alumni Relations, Communications & Events

A Smurfit MBA’s Startup – Hospital Contact

Dr Joe Sheehan, Radiologist Registrar,Ger Bowens from MSD, and Dr Donal Reddan pictured at the launch of the WNWHG App outside Galway University Hospital. Photo: Reg Gordon
Dr Joe Sheehan, Radiologist Registrar,Ger Bowens from MSD, and Dr Donal Reddan pictured at the launch of the WNWHG App outside Galway University Hospital. Photo: Reg Gordon

As a 22-year-old with two Bachelors of Science degrees to my name and 1 year of medical school under my belt, joining the MBA class of 2009 at Smurfit was the greatest risk of my very early career. That risk turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. For the first year of the MBA, the Celtic tiger was still roaring and I got a first-hand look at how not to do business. In the classroom, we were learning the bedrock principles of business and outside the walls of the school that bedrock was being broken by far too many people. To this day I can almost pinpoint when I realised it was all about to crash. We had just gathered for our first lecture on a sunny spring Friday and I was reading the cover of the financial times to see that RBS had announced a rights issue. I asked our economics professor about it and we then spent the first twenty minutes of class discussing what a rights issue was and what it all meant. From that point on, we had a separate Harvard business case study being played out in real life on a weekly basis. I remember thinking to my myself at the time that this is the best learning experience of my life and to this day I still believe that.

Since graduating from the MBA, I have gone on to finish medicine and am nearing completion of my training as a Radiologist in Galway. I have continued to use the skills I learned in the MBA on a daily basis as a director on the board of the Galway Clinic and as a co-founder of a company called Hospital Contact. Hospital Contact is a start-up and is the place where my MBA has been most useful. As a student, I concentrated heavily on entrepreneurial studies and took all the electives the school offered. Those classes opened my eyes to the fact that a start-up is hard work with little early payoff. But I also realised, through that second year of MBA discussions, that the company that sticks it out through the hard times will flourish in the good times. Hospital Contact makes healthcare related smart phone apps with our flagship app used by over 10,000 healthcare professionals in Ireland. The world of tech is full of ups and downs, but as my start-up now begins to flourish I know that without my Smurfit MBA the company might not have lasted through the past two years. Thank you Smurfit for the great education and happy 50th birthday to the Smurfit MBA.

Joe Sheehan ~ Executive MBA 2009

Toastmasters International Pilot Session

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The word ‘’Toastmasters’’ was doing the rounds in our school since November. Some knew what it was while some did not. On Monday, the 8th of February, UCD Smurfit had its first Toastmasters International workshop at the Laurence Crowley Board Room. Facilitated by office bearers of ‘Tara Toastmasters’ club, the event had participants from MBA, MSc and PhD streams. So what is ‘Toastmasters’ all about?

‘Toastmasters’ club is one of its kind, with more than 320,000 members in over 15,000 clubs across 135 countries. It is a platform for people to develop public speaking, leadership and inter-personal skills, and heighten their confidence levels. Overtime, members reach different levels of proficiency and participate at national and international forums. How popular is the Toastmasters?

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Many MNCs run active Toastmasters clubs. Other reputed B-Schools have their Toastmasters too. Dublin has over 20 registered clubs. Students and working professionals meet at evenings and head for pints. Helps us talk to everyone, both before and after some intoxication. As it is said, ‘it’s a bit of good craic!’

On Monday, in a typical Toastmasters set-up, we heard two prepared speeches followed by ‘Table Topics’ on which the audience spoke. The evaluators, time keepers, and a Toastmaster kept our adrenaline levels high. Although table-topics tingled our bellies, the crowd pulled it off well. Apprehensions became smiles, turning towards the person speaking and wondering who’d be next. Topics such as psychology, business and romance, along with some laughter ended the session in style. Thanks to Orla Nugent – MBA Programme Director and our MBA Programme Manager Yvonne for their constant support. Thanks to the the Services Team and Smurfit Restaurant for their flawless coordination.

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”Next is what?” If we succeed in setting up the club in Smurfit, we can all become members here and invite alumni as well to join the club. Hold joint meets with Toastmasters from companies. Show the talent pool in Smurfit. Share presentations that went great in the class. Create networking space through informal talk on business, sports, humour or anything interesting. Search online for ‘’Toastmasters’’ now, share it your friends and click here if you are interested in becoming a member. It’s time to raise a toast..!

Sreekanth Nagabhushana ~ Full-Time MBA

Global Network Immersion Week – Sauder Business School, Vancouver

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As mentioned in previous posts, Smurfit is part of a global network of MBA schools, which offers you the opportunity to sit a course in another business school for a week. It’s a great experience and one worth taking if you get the chance. I chose to go to the Sauder Business School in the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The course was entitled ‘Clean Energy and Green Infrastructure – Innovation at the Nexus of Politics and Society’. With an MSc in Renewable Energy Development and having worked in the energy sector for 7 years prior to my MBA, I jumped at the chance. It also meant I had an excuse to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in years.

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The course really struck at the heart of global economics in the context of global warming, and how greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be reduced or offset. Needless to say, the concepts are simple in principle but incredibly difficult in practice. They require buy in across the board and with many other societal pressures acting on governments around the World, the global warming issue is often pushed down the pecking order.

Carbon taxation, carbon offsetting and market-driven GHG reduction policies were explored. Examples of where these market-driven measures were working were contrasted against regions of the world were no such economic drivers existed. Furthermore it is the developed countries of world that are the largest emitters of GHGs and the developing countries that have the greatest carbon offsetting potential. As you might expect the offsetting concept is fraught with political tensions regarding economic development.

In 2012 China overtook the USA as the World’s largest emitter of GHGs. This is primarily as a result of its enormous fleet of coal fired power stations. The scary thing is that its rate of increase of GHG production is much higher than all other major contributors. In fact the other major contributors are flat lining with the exception of India. So what is the global solution to this global problem? British Columbia and western Canada may play a big role in this over the coming years and decades.

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British Columbia and the neighbouring province of Alberta have enormous shale gas reserves and the potential for exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia is very real – shortest distance to market. Per unit electricity produced LNG emits almost 50 per cent less GHGs than coal. With increasing international and national pressure (global warming and air quality), conversion of China’s coal fired power stations to gas fired power stations is one of the front running solutions to clean up China’s contribution to global warming while not impacting on its economic development. For a country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean to prove to be a major part of China’s power solution shows just how interlinked the economies of the World have become. With the Paris summit on climate change just around the corner, this subject is going to become very topical over the next weeks and months.

So that was just a snapshot of my week in Vancouver. A lot more went on that week but as they say ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour!’

Finbarr Coghlan ~ Full-Time MBA