Lux et Veritas

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

maria-gnam-1

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

maria-gnam-2

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

maria-gnam-3

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

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

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

maria-gnam-4

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

maria-gnam-5

maria-gnam-6-png

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

maria-gnam-7-png

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

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

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

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

maria-gnam-8-png

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

maria-gnam-9-png

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

maria-gnam-10-png

Maria Barry & Lorcán Gormley EMBA 2016/2018

Class Reps MBA Blog

What was it like being an MBA class rep?

Joanna: Volunteering to be class representatives was a great way to show my appreciation to the programme office and my colleagues. The role didn’t add as much load as I thought it would and I had loads of fun being in contact with the programme office. Closing the year as class reps have certainly been fulfilling as we arranged our goodbyes not just to our semester three professors but also to the school and staff with little tokens.

Karl: Being an MBA class rep was a great experience and I’d highly recommend future MBAs consider taking on the role. I wanted to give something back to the class and I felt being a good class rep was an appropriate way to do so. Whether it was organising a World Cup sweepstake for the class or being the voice between the programme office and the class there was always something to keep you busy.

joanna-and-karl-pic-1

How did you feel when you submitted your capstone report?

J: After a 1.5 month ordeal, passing the capstone project has been a little bittersweet. There’s relief of finally finishing 10,000 words worth of work, surprise that the year of being a student is finally over and the anxiety of going back to the real world. But having 32 people who were experiencing the same thing made it easier to deal with everything.

K: I was full of mixed emotions when I submitted our capstone report. I was delighted that we had completed our final project of what was a very intense academic year. However, I also felt somewhat sad as I knew that it marked the end of what was one of the best experiences of my life to date.

joanna-karl-2

Looking back over the last year what was the best memory of the MBA?

J: The local and international trips we took for the term were my favourite memories in the MBA. The term started with the GNAM week, a great introduction to Dublin for some international students. The study trip in Chile and Peru was full of firsts as some of us got to go to Machu Picchu. Finally, the Iceland trip with everyone from the full-time class was a good bonding and learning experience as we engaged in our first consulting project.

K: It is hard to choose just one but the trip to Vietnam and Singapore was definitely a highlight. I had never visited this side of the world before and to be able to do so while visiting some of the world’s most recognised businesses such as Coca Cola was an amazing experience. The additional week many of us spent in Vietnam also made this an unforgettable and memorable experience.

What will you miss the most about the MBA?

J: The 2017/2018 full time class is comprised of the most friendly and supportive bunch. I would not have been able to go through the term as well as I have if not for them. Though we will always keep in touch, not being able to see them every day would be a huge change and what I would miss the most.

K: I was fortunate to travel abroad four times over the course of my MBA, so I’ll certainly miss all the incredible trips we went on. However, what I will miss the most is the amazing group of people I worked with and became friends with over the year. An MBA really is all about your class and I felt very lucky to be part of a remarkable group of 33 individuals this year.

What advice would you give future students? 

 J: The MBA will be one or two years of constantly being on the go. Try to get rest as often as possible. Though sleep might look like less of a priority, it’s still important to have one every once in a while. Ask for help when you need. The programme office is always open for concerns and your classmates are the best people to lean on as they would be having the same shared experience. Finally, fun is allowed on the programme. Enjoy as much as you can.

K: The best advice I would give to future students is to get involved as much as you can in your MBA. Network, participate in extracurricular activities and attend as many events as possible. The full-time programme is only one year, and it’ll be over before you know it – you truly do get out of the programme what you put in!

joanna-and-karl-pic-3

Joanna Villanueva & Karl McEntegart, 

Full Time MBA 2017/2018