The importance of friendship to an MBA

Today, on my way back from my trip to Glendalough, Wicklow on a rainy day, I feel that I love my MBA friends, my room in Proby House and my flatmates more than ever before. And I want to say my thank you to all people around me who make my time meaningful and invaluable in every single moment.

My special thank to Rikke who has been organizing everything for us since we arrived here in Dublin in August, to my classmates who comes here to share and learn for whatever reasons, my Group 6 who helps me to get things done together, and Linda who encourages and motivates me to study Continue reading The importance of friendship to an MBA

物以类聚, 人以群分

Six weeks into the MBA, I am still trying to find my feet on this program. Speaking for myself,  I truly enjoyed the hard work, fun of group work, excellent class discussion, international atmosphere, the positive energy and a lot more. Its only when I listed them down I found there are so much being offered in my MBA class from both lecturers and classmates.  While it seems it is unbelievable that six weeks have passed, I am still trying to juggle among articles, case studies, reading, assignment, presentations and my beloved sleep. We were told on day one of the foundation course, the rule of this game is “how much you put into it, how much you get out of it”. I can now totally see the point. As suppose for everything else you do in your life, this rule always holds true.

I feel spiritual today, so I will continue on this track Continue reading 物以类聚, 人以群分

It’s all about teamwork

One of the key strengths of the Smurfit MBA programme for me is how collaborative it is. This weekend served up a few reminders on the importance of teamwork. On the academic side, my learning group had to tackle three projects based on case studies from the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. I was team leader on two of those, which involved compiling the insights of my colleagues and I to deliver an analysis of the challenges being faced by the firms in those areas and our recommendations on how best to overcome them. This effort was in no small part helped by this being an era where smartphones are ubiquitous and resources like Dropbox freely available, so we were able to update the projects in real time throughout the weekend.

While I was very proud of what a team of 5 people from India, Ireland and Vietnam achieved this weekend, outside of college life I also felt a great sense of pride in the achievements of a team of 15 Irish people on Sunday morning, as we secured our place in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Having won all four of their pool games, including a historic victory over Australia, Declan Kidney’s side has shown that, with the right mix of determination and co-operation, a team can achieve great things. Let us all learn from that example!

– Philip O’Sullivan

Another wonderful Saturday!

Ah yes, another wonderful Saturday. It would be like almost any Saturday except for the fact that I have a very busy day.  Holding a full-time job and being a part-time MBA means that Saturday morning is no longer a day to sleep in, but a day to get some much-needed work done.  Today, there is a full schedule.  In the morning I will be collaborating with my group on some group projects. In the afternoon, a networking workshop awaits me on the other side of town.  But for now, let’s figure out how we can efficiently restructure the supply chain for the world’s leading pasta maker… Barilla.  In bocca al lupo!

Michael Munevar – EMBA 2011/2013

Three weeks in

Three weeks in and it already feels like we’ve been here for months. With my Science/engineering background, and having been cosseted away in a Biotech company for nearly 10 years, I’ll admit to being a (little) clueless as to what lay ahead of me academically. In fact if encouraged with the black stuff I may even admit to not having a clue as to what some of the subjects were about. So I am happy to report that the first few weeks have been a very pleasant surprise; Financial reporting– it sounds so sterile and austere, but nothing could be further from the truth.  After just a few lectures we can all spot “jiggery-pokery” (copyright: Niamh Brennan) in a financial report from a considerable distance and have intermittently felt the simple satisfaction when your balance sheet lives up to its moniker. There are even some parallels with the science world; I’m amused to see an intelligent design vs emergence argument raging amongst competitive strategy boffins and I have a niggling regret that I wasn’t around in the mid-seventies to single-handedly rescue the British motorcycle industry.

But that’s just the academic stuff, far more interesting has been getting to know my classmates. It has become obvious to us all by now how much we are going to rely on each other this year. Thankfully the good folk at Smurfit were aware of this from the start and tailored the first weeks to help us bond with one another. We spent a revealing session learning about different personality types which will hopefully stop our group work degenerating into an episode of the apprentice. Luckily our class has an unbelievably diverse range of skills and backgrounds to call on; we have a former tank commander in our ranks, although hopefully those skills will not be required. I’ve been introduced to TED talks (how did I miss these?), the vagaries of the on-line poker industry and heard the first-hand accounts of an unlucky classmate’s two instances of being robbed at gunpoint. Oh and we beat Australia in the rugby, so yeah, a good few weeks!

– Fergus O’Dea

I love Group 5!

It has been over three weeks since I discovered that I am actually doing a Smurfit MBA, it is very exciting. I remember that it was a Wednesday when our groups were announced. For a moment, I was wondering whether I can offer some girly input into all the boys’ mind (I got Fergus, Justin, Mohit and Paul in my group). So far, I have been successful, the first class I lectured to all 4 boys was to carry handbags for their ladies (I have not collected feedback yet, because I don’t dare to.).

Ok, what I really want to blog here is how brilliantly we have worked out as a team. Professor Niamh Brennan has started us well on her Financial Reporting. Personally speaking, I was thrown into the deep end with readings, homework, assignments, group work, etc. I really started tasting the MBA from the pace Niamh puts us in. Our group started working on the group assignment as soon as we discovered the assignment, Ok, it did not take long for the discovery. We had discussions, agreements, disagreements, no storming, but hard working.

By last week, we had a draft. By then, our Financial Reporting project manager, Fergus, threw a thought to the group, which is the current work looks like a B- project, shall we polish it to something like a A+? (here you need to use your imagination). Just at that moment, I felt like I am in the best group ever in my life. It was exactly what I would like to hear, challenging ourselves! All group members agreed and eager to review the draft. Paul volunteered to look into a particular session in addition to what he was already assigned to (Paul, you have done loads just as everyone else). Justin and Mohit have also gave thoughtful input in our discussion session. At 3:30, I left the syndicate room in a very happy form even though I reversed my car into a wall yesterday! I guess the wall failed to alert me because that piece of wall is not in my group.

PS: this is first blog I ever blogged in my life, so please do not laugh at me. Thank you and happy studying.

PPS: Our A+ stands for Amazing Plus

– Christine Liu

Congratulations! UCD Smurfit MBA Team Wins Prestigious All-Ireland MBA Award

UCD Smurfit has won back the MBAAI Strategy Forum Trophy.

Our team are All-Ireland Champions after a historic win for UCD Smurfit at the annual business strategy competition held on Saturday last, June 18th in the salubrious surroundings of the St. Stephen’s Green Club in Dublin city centre.

Congratulations to our team which was made up of participants from the Executive Year 2 MBA City cohort:

UCD Smurfit 2011 MBA Association of Ireland Comp Winners. L to R: Alan Dunne, Fionnuala Healy, Siobhan O'Dowd, Maria Finnegan, Tom O'Connor


Organised by the MBA Association of Ireland (MBAAI) and open to all MBA programmes in Ireland, teams of MBA students from around the country met in Dublin on Saturday (June 18th) to compete in the day-long Inter-Business School MBA Strategy Challenge.

Well done to the team who came through an internal preliminary round and put in the hard work required to reach the standard necessary to become All-Ireland Champions for 2011 and demonstrating the high calibre of participants on our programmes this year.

The wonderful Waterford Glass trophy is currently on view in the MBA Office and will be moving to the new MBA Trophy Cabinet to take pride of place beside the MBA World Cup trophy.

I hope you will join with me in congratulating the team.

Well Done!

Michael McDonnell

MBA Programme Manager

BANANAS! The Importance of Support during the MBA and other Sweaty Pursuits

I have met no one who does the MBA all by themselves; such a travail would be foolhardy to attempt on one’s own.
That is not to say that there isn’t a lot of lonely nights in the library perspiring over possible questions that might come up on the next day’s exam – there most certainly is! But, throughout all of this, it has been vital to have people to lean on – both emotionally and physically.

So who are these heroes?

These tireless people who put up with the whinging, the exasperation and exhaustion, and the absenteeism?

Having discussed the point with classmates, I can say that support has been overwhelming in positivity and strength and comes in all forms: parents, siblings, partners, offspring, friends, old work colleagues, college staff and lecturers…. The list is endless. It has to be acknowledged that when I am awarded the MBA, I won’t look at it as a personal achievement, but as a successful joint team effort.

Which brings me to BANANAS!

Figure 1: Claire, Mam, and I after the Cork Marathon 2011
Marathons are a lot like MBAs: you sweat a lot, it’s important to rehydrate regularly, and completion seems more important than results by mile 22. Each year I participate in the Cork City Marathon (The REAL marathon in Ireland). This year I shared the run with my sister, Claire. One of the most important factors in our completion, and a constant since I’ve being running in the Cork marathon, is the presence of our Mam by the side-lines – jumping up and down, shouting, and throwing bananas at us – she does resemble a crazed monkey, but it’s that encouragement and knowing the support is down the road that keeps us running.

So to all the side-line supporters on our MBA marathon – THANK YOU and one final request – it’s the final stretch, we need one final blast of encouragement to get us over the line.

– David Lawton

Smurfit – great for socialising

And so we’ve all arrived back safe and sound from our international study trip. About thirty five members of the full-time class went to Brazil with the balance opting for China.

The trip turned out to be a fabulous experience. We learned a lot about the Brazilian economy and society. Of course, there was an onus on the travelling group to take a holistic approach to sampling Brazilian culture.  This sampling of the culture ranged from sipping caipirinhas on Ipanema to some of the group attending a local football game. These extra-curricular activities could be viewed as burning the candle at both ends but we would like to look on it as making the most of the trip.

The other group seemed to have just as interesting a time although based upon the photographs of their trip we seemed to get the better weather – hats and coats for them, shorts and flip-flops for us!! One of the more unexpected benefits of the trip has been the manner in which it allowed us to get to know each other even better. This is especially true for those of the people who were not part of the same study group up until now.

What I would like to understand is how the students of MBA programmes with classes of more than 250 manage to get to know each other. With that many in a class, it must be difficult to get to know everyone’s name!  Within Smurfit, the class is less than fifty so everyone knows each other a lot better. This makes for a great atmosphere and a more rounded experience.

-Donal O’Sullivan

A Wider Perspective

It’s the Friday of the fifth week of term 3 and as I wind up catching some sleep, the thoughts of the months gone by flash through my head. From my first day at Smurfit until today, there is a significant difference at the way I look at a situation in work scenario. Earlier, it was just limited to my team, my project and to my personal excellence. MBA has helped me develop a holistic view of the business arena. The curriculum design at Smurfit helped us in slowly but steadily developing this view.

The first term was focussed on building the foundation. It focussed on understanding the firm, introduction to general management, Financial Reporting and Operations. All this was very beneficial in bringing everyone from diverse backgrounds, to the same page. As mentioned in my previous blogs, the range of experience in the class is very impressive and term 1 gave us a chance to get familiar with it. Being the first term on the course, it all seemed like a mad rush and I was left wondering will I ever get to know people around! But the group assignments, class discussions and get-togethers all helped in binding us all together.

UCD Smurfit MBA Class of 2011
UCD Smurfit MBA Class of 2011

Then came term 2! I thought I was better prepared to handle this term, with my experience of term 1 to support me, but I was wrong. This term had a different approach. It focussed on looking into the market. Modules like business economics, marketing, financial markets and valuations broadened our perspective to look at the industry and how the firm fits in the industry. Not to mention the unending submissions and presentations!

After the speedy semester 1 (though I think the entire MBA course is pretty fast paced!), came the welcome winter break. Having known each other very well, spending time together was always much fun. The day exams ended, we all went out to celebrate. We exchanged Christmas presents, courtesy the Secret Santa game! It was a much needed break and we all made the most of the opportunity.

UCD Smurfit MBA Students in Christmas Spirit
(from left) David G, Amneet, Nick, Tham and Diarmuid in Christmas spirit

Semester 2 began in January and this time the focus of the modules was on building strategies. We also had a range of options to choose from, depending on our personal areas of interest. Corporate Finance, Negotiation Dynamics, Global Strategic Management, Strategy for Human Resources, all these modules take us a step further. We are not only learning the strategies but now are expected to apply them to situations.

Later in the course we shall be a part of a company project which will test our acquired skills in the real world scenario.  I am hoping that will be a very enriching experience, especially for people wanting to switch industries. This is the last week of formal lectures for Semester 2 before we face the exams! The thought of the upcoming study trip to Brazil keeps coming to my head but I know I need to focus on studies for the next 2 weeks! And the Leitrim weekend trip after the spring break. Ok, I better focus! ;)

– Amneet Kaur