International Consulting Project -Iceland June 2018

72 individuals comprising of academic staff, full time and executive MBA students travelled to Iceland in early June for the International Consulting Project. For the full-time students this formed a core component of their studies while the executive students could elect to undertake this module.

We arrived in Iceland on Sunday 3rd June, immediately leaving the airport for a visit to the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s key tourist attractions. After visiting this incredible site, we went to the hotel where we got ready for our first group dinner at Bryggjan Brugghus. Delicious food and a couple of drinks were had and then we were off to bed, ready to get going early the next day.

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On Monday morning there was a line of taxis outside the hotel waiting to take us to our respective companies, it was like a scene from the apprentice. During the day we consulted with our company and worked on developing a plan of how we would achieve the outcome they desired over the next three days. Arriving back to the hotel after our initial day’s work, we met with our academic supervisor for a debrief. Recounting the activities of the day, our supervisors provided us with plenty of advice and guidance to help us prepare for the second day of consulting.

The second day of our consulting project required students to build on the information gained from their client companies and move towards satisfying the requirement as per the engagement letter previously completed by each group.

Wednesday was the last day of consulting with our client companies before delivery of the final presentation to both the company and our academic supervisors. Finishing touches were completed on the project and once finalised, groups got working on their presentations. This went long into the night for many groups with everyone wanting to deliver as good a final product as possible.

Thursday arrived and once again all the taxis arrived to take us to our companies. There was an air of tension about the place as individuals were rehearsing their presentations. If you were lucky enough to get a morning presentation you had the rest of the day off. Myself and a few others from our class took advantage of this and went whale watching. We saw Minke and harbour porpoise whales but unfortunately (to John’s disappointment in particular) we weren’t in deep enough water to see any Orca’s. Later that night we visited one of Iceland’s most iconic buildings, the Harpa, where we had a final reception and group dinner to wrap up the academic component of the week. Following dinner, we went to a traditional Irish pub for a few more drinks where the party continued into the early hours of the morning.

The next day, a lot of the class opted to participate in the Reykjavik sightseeing and Golden Circle tour the MBA programme office arranged for us. We departed early on Friday morning where we made stops at Gullfoss waterfall and the geysers. The tour was fantastic, and everyone was amased by the waterfall. After a long day touring the island, we returned to the Grand Hotel. By this stage most people were worn out, so some opted to have dinner in the hotel while others went out on the town.

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Our visit came to an end with an early departure from Keflavik International Airport on Saturday morning. I really enjoyed our visit to Iceland, learned a lot about what it’s like to be a consultant and have many great memories to cherish long in to the future :-)

Karl McEntegart, Full Time MBA 2017/2018

Reliving the Danville Dream- MBA Rugby Team 2018

It all started with that initial presentation from Brendan ‘Mac Daddy’ Staunton in E101 in the Smurfit building. Followed by a wet and windy Friday night in Monkstown Rugby club where record numbers turned out for the first training session taking by Oisin ‘Crusher’ Farrell. It was the start of the long journey that would inevitably leads us to be crowned world Champions!

With numerous fundraisers and multiple emails sent to companies, the day was finally upon us, the 12th of April was the flight to Charlotte airport! After organising training facilities, two coaches (Tom ‘Nolo’ Nolan & Oisin ‘Crusher’ Farrell), flights, accommodation, insurance, jerseys, all 44 of us (men and women’s teams) were set to play in the 38th MBA Rugby World Cup in Dansville, Virginia. Smurfit have attended the tournament for the past 19 years and wanted to keep this tradition alive; winners on numerous occasions.

A key competitive advantage we had was the inclusion of one of our coaches on the trip ‘Nolo’, wise beyond his years, his knowledge played an important role in our success. This was clear when he turned players who have never played before into try scoring & tackling machines, having never made a tackle in his life before.

The tournament’s first game on Saturday saw us rise at the early hour of 7am to face Yale. The marker was well and truly laid down early with Cameron ‘No Hands’ Kenny landing a massive hit in the first phase of rugby. Slick hands and direct running allowed Gavin ‘I want to be a centre’ Bolger to finish under the posts for our first score of the competition. Neatly converted by the man who doesn’t miss Jack ‘I actually missed two easy kicks’ Duffy and our player of the tournament. The dominance was further shown by running in three tries before half time, and this also included Cameron ‘No Hands’ Kenny being rather easily stripped of the ball as he went to touch it down under the posts! Some say that it was inexcusable, and they would be right to say so! Fantastic performances from some men who have never played rugby before, Dermot ‘I love teeny bopper songs’ Murphy & Padraig ‘Podge’ Curry.

After witnessing the comfortable win over Yale, Columbia decided it would be best for their players welfare if they conceded; mostly since Patrick ‘I tackle like a train’ Hinkson put up some strong tackles against the Yale players. A set score of 35 nil was awarded to us!

Two from two and up next was SMU, with the lads ready to go after feeling robbed by not getting to play Columbia. Sean ‘I got some Sun’ Brew laying down early markers with running direct lines and clever off-loading allowed Matthew ‘I’m not warming up its roasting out’ Scaife to grab his first try of the competition. He also bagged one for himself. Tom ‘I’m the coach so I’m playing this game as captain’ Nolan togged out to allow some players rest. He missed a tackle! A special note to Brendan ‘Mac Daddy’ Staunton, who with the longest run up in history for a kick landed one from an extremely tight angle following our last try scored by Gav ‘I was robbed of top try scorer’ Bolger.

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The first day was coming to a close, bodies were sore and our toughest challenge LBS was up! Jack ‘I don’t miss’ Duffy landed an early 3 points to put Smurfit on the board. This was cancelled out by two penalties by the LBS out half. With tensions high, fatigue setting in and a disallowed try from Rob ’41 not out’ Becker, a much-needed piece of team brilliance allowed Gav ‘I sneak a lot of tries’ Bolger to finish well under the posts. With our backs against the wall LBS managed to sneak a last-minute try, which was converted, to finish winners on the day 13-10. That signalled the finish to the Saturday and the feeling of disappointment that we experienced after that game, we knew we weren’t going to allow it to happen again.

Following the disappointing end to the group stages on Saturday, the Men’s squad begrudgingly awoke at 6:45am on Sunday morning. Our Quarter-Final vs Columbia A kicked off at 9am, and, owing to the controversy experienced with Columbia the previous day, the lads were ready for action. There was a true sense of animosity to be felt on the pitch as the boys put in a clinical and physical performance against a team who, well let’s just say they should have stayed in bed that morning.

The Quarter-Final victory vs Columbia meant we were to play the old enemy, London Business School, in the Semi-Final, at 1pm. The loss to LBS late the previous evening had no impact on the confidence in the team, we were even more motivated to get the win. A piece of brilliance from Peter “I never eat carbs” Condon, displaying scintillating speed and strength to score under the LBS posts, as well as two well kicked penalties and a conversion from Jack “I don’t miss” Duffy, brought the score to 13-0 to Smurfit with 9 minutes to go on the clock. What was to happen in those last 9 minutes epitomised what UCD Michael Smurfit rugby was all about. Through blood, sweat and tears (tears from assistant coach Niall Connolly) and true heart and courage, Smurfit held out a 42 phase onslaught on their own try line to deny LBS any points, winning the match 13-0 and booking themselves a place in the Final. Special mention should go to Stephen MacCarthy who, after sustaining hyper-extension of every finger on his left hand, went back on to put in a serious defensive shift, only to be injured and ruled out of playing in the remainder of the tournament.

A shock result in the other Semi-Final between tournament favourites, Ivey and Wharton, meant Smurfit would face Wharton in the Cup Final. We knew how physical Wharton were going to be, considering the sheer size of their forward pack and how dominant they were against Ivey. Even though we were the smaller side physically, our intelligent and unparalleled defensive effort, including a vital turnover on the brink of the half-time whistle from Ronan “Factor 50 please” McDonagh, meant we led 3-0 at the break. The lads were visibly shattered, and who could blame them, they had accumulated 200 minutes of game time in 28 degree heat! In moments such as these, however, true leaders come to the fore to galvanise a team, to push them that small bit further. In this case, Peter “Jazz Hands” Condon delivered a half-time team talk Al Pacino could only have dreamed of delivering. The message was clear: ‘20 minutes, of everything you have left, and that cup, that piece of silverware we’ve worked all season for, is ours.’

In the final 20 minutes of the tour, the lads displayed some of the best rugby I certainly have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, and showed why they were deserving champions. Second half tries from Rory “Go on Blackrock!” Doyle, Dermot “Wheels” Murphy and Hubert “One Can Wonder” Gallagher, as well as two penalties from reliable Duffer and only what one can describe as the most spectacular conversion kick from Brendan “Mac Daddy” Staunton, which, may or may not have been, in front of the posts.

Special mention must go to the man of the match of the final, Eddie “The Langer” Beechinor, whom, with a serious ankle injury sustained in the quarter-final, put in a performance fellow Munster man, Paul O’Connell, would have been proud of. This dedication from Eddie epitomised the character of not only the Cork man, but the character and determination of each and every member of the squad.

It truly was an honour and privilege coaching this great bunch of lads. I have made some great friends and have amazing memories of what was a spectacularly unforgettable trip. This really was a squad effort, all 34 playing members contributed in spades and it is an achievement they should be immensely proud of.

To sign off, I would like to say a few words about my superb assistant coaches, without whom, none of this would have been possible. Firstly, to Oisin “Crusher” Farrell. Oisin was with us from day one and looked after the forwards for the season. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, Crusher could not travel with us but I know the lads will join with me in extending our deepest gratitude to a man who deserves as much plaudits as anyone for this successful tour. Secondly, to Niall “Limpy” Connolly, a massive thank you for stepping in last minute for Crusher, who couldn’t play himself due to a broken ankle. To be able to bounce ideas off and gather advice from such an intelligent rugby mind is invaluable for a Head Coach, and I will be forever grateful to Niall for his help over the weekend.

Until next year,

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Coach Tom “Nolo” Nolan, B.Sc. Sports and Exercise Management, and Assistant Coach Niall “Limpy’ Connolly, M.Sc. Management

Saturday Group Stages Sunday Knock-out Stages
Yale- 57-0 W

Columbia B- 35-0 W

SMU- 38-0 W

LBS A- 10-13 L

QF- Columbia A-24-0 W

SF-LBS A- 13-0 W

Final- Wharton 25-0 W

 

Global Virtual Teams

The GMAT is well known to all MBA students as the meter by which candidates can qualify for selection for most Business Schools. The numerical and verbal aspects are necessary content in what is essentially an exam testing Executive Reasoning, the ability to prioritise your time and make effective decisions under substantial time pressure. At the time I thought little of it but looking back the same principles have universally applied since the 28th of August. We are drawing towards the end of February and it feels like my feet have hardly touched the ground since Christmas. That small extra hour of brightness in the evening makes it that much easier, somewhere in the back of my mind I know that it’s not too long now until I’ll see my car during daylight hours!

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Dolly Parton once said, “If you want the rainbow you’ve gotta to put up with the rain” and it never seemed more apt than over the last few weeks with assignments due dates coming thick and fast and the small matter of our Global Virtual Teams (GVT) project.

Forecasting aspects such as re-order quantities, job wait times, customer contract values and most importantly revenues, myself, Karl McEntegart and our two counterparts from Yale SOM managed our own virtual production facility for the week.

What started out as a friendly, co-operative atmosphere in the MBA suite early on Monday morning turned quickly into levels of secrecy and espionage not seen since the Cold War. Incognito meetings and guarded secrets regarding customer orders levels and optimal machine utilisation rates were commonplace as we were pitted against our classmates in a winner takes all competition to see who would finish the week with the greatest cash balance.

The jostling for top position amongst the 160 teams was akin to the Grand National at times and the competitive streak of certain individuals came to the fore. Despite the much-publicised traffic laws in this country, one unnamed Full Time MBA Student was heard to complain that he couldn’t check inventory levels on his phone whilst driving in to college.

We worked well with our American counterparts, dividing the workload evenly and playing to our respective strengths as we set out our action plan for the week. Our new-found appreciation for operations management was put to a stern test throughout and regular Skype calls and WhatsApp messages at unsociable hours re-assured us that our Yale team mates were as invested in the process as we were.

We finished off on Friday evening in a respectable 51st position after working our way back from an early hiccup which set us back on the previous Sunday night. Pats on the back all around, except for one team from the Full Time class, who somehow managed to sell off their machines for scrap rather than purchasing additional units.

All in all, this was a unique and enjoyable experience, giving valuable insight into the challenges of working across time-zones and cultures towards a common goal. It’s interesting to note that during the same week I also negotiated the sale of a high quality smart phone platform, participated in an invaluable mock interview with a Manager from a large consultancy firm, underwent an interview skills workshop, a career coaching session and negotiated funding for the MBA Rugby World Cup which nine of our class will be attending in Danville, VA in April.

Between now and then we have the small matter of the ‘Doing Business in International Markets’ module which will take us to Santiago and Lima. Having already spent a week in NUS in Singapore for GNAM in October, the international focus of the course is obvious.  Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have been together for six months at this stage- as I said, it feels like my feet have hardly touched the ground.

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Peter Condon, Full Time MBA 2017-2018

All Set for the Second Innings

anupam-pic-1It has been five months into in the Smurfit MBA programme and the change couldn’t be any bigger. From the ‘tropical monsoon’ type climate in India to the cold, temperate oceanic climate in Ireland; from machines and client-first attitude in business to personal individual development, from learning to work in small core teams to open exchanges with a very diverse group in the MBA class, even from being in my first semester to the second. It has been a wow journey.

As someone who loves variety, I have been in awe of the intense fast-paced environment and have loved the engagement with intellectually curious and culturally diverse people. The learning has been endless and so has been the joy. I have not only worked hard but also thought hard. It has been a considerable part of investment and I feel transformed. I finished the first semester feeling content but the thirst has deepened to experience what the second innings has in store for me. It’s a new day, new group, new semester, new challenge in the New Year. I’m looking forward to the fun and constructive group time with Bhavya, Elizabeth, Lucy and Thom though I will thoroughly miss my earlier teammates. Each of them brought a wonderful personality to the team. Joanna was our organizer and our beloved social butterfly. She taught me to be focused (an instance: one should see her type). Ruary was the motivating factor of the team, often extracting a “eureka” insight that wowed us all. I adored him and his quality to keep calm and work tirelessly taking the team along. Manish, being super energetic, taught me to live life king size and work silently while I learnt versatility from Bob. He was the seasoned, witty manager, who calmly worked in alignment to the team.

I’m now on my second semester with another set of people waiting to learn and give back in equal measures. The semester started with a class on Financial Statement Analysis by Professor Eamonn Walsh. In a span of a mere two hours, I knew I was in for a great experience. Surprised by Prof. Walsh’s knowledge about anything and everything under the sun, I am sure this subject will leave a lasting  impression on us all. A whole day class in Operation and Supply Chain Management by Mr. George Onofrei followed this. Attending his lecture and listening to the real life experiences of George, made me grasp and understand the fundamentals of supply chain management smoothly. With a follow-up lecture by Mr. Eamonn Ambrose regarding Global Virtual Teams (GVT) Littlefield Operations Simulation, designed to enable us to apply operation and supply chain theories in a real world setting was enticing. GVT is one of the primary focuses of this semester and the opportunity to work as a team with Yale students makes the experience even more worthwhile.

The optional module is another fascinating element of this semester. It was a hard decision to make but my gut feeling drove me towards my keen interests and I chose ‘Entrepreneurship and Managing the Negotiation Processes’ as my optional module. Taught by Prof. Raomal Pereira, the entrepreneurship class was one of the most fun and fundamentally driven classes. In the first class, we ended up formulating and finalizing three business ideas on which we plan to work for this entire semester. We are all hopeful to be able to convert the idea into reality.

Negotiation module taught by Mr. Stephen Boyle is another subject that has been one of the most popular subjects amongst our batch. We were advised by our alumni not to miss this class particularly and they couldn’t have been more right. After a lecture and an intense negotiation role-play interestingly Thom, Emrecan and I were able to sell a factory at the highest rate.

The Entrepreneur Club has helped sharpen my leadership skills and enabled me to explore and pursue new interests and old passions by becoming a member. It has been as great experience promoting new ideas and working with a group of people with different backgrounds that share the same passion.

With a satisfying result, great group mates and amazing professors this semester has already taken its flight. The trip to Peru and Chile for some and Singapore and Vietnam for others is the next big thing all of us are looking forward to.These five months flew past wherein I learnt a lot, taught somebody something (I believe), gained some things while I lost many. But it has been an exhilarating adventure. Life as I knew it had changed; and I ain’t just talking about pin addresses and food habits. Sure, living by the ocean is amazing. But I have to cycle many kilometres in the cold, prepare food, fix clogged toilets, and so much more. I have learnt so many things beyond the classroom too and I must say it has been nice. I now know what it takes for every chore to be done. Little by little, I think I have become a local. For me it started with learning the local language and has now gone way beyond understanding conversations. Eventually, I got to know when to go to the market for the best deals, find a coffee shop/pub where I know what I want before I even order. Even though I will probably never become as local as someone who grew up in Dublin, I have caught myself “doing as the locals do” and trust me being part of a new culture is a pretty awesome feeling.

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Anupam Tiwari, Full-Time MBA 2017-2018

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

Foundation Week 2017

In some respects, it is hard to believe that we are already a week into our MBA programme. Thinking back over the past year there have been so many experiences that felt like finish lines by themselves. Passing the GMAT, getting accepted into Smurfit Business School, wrapping up your life and work to prepare for the task ahead; every point felt like a victory.  It is only now, standing at the end of Foundation Week, that we can look back and clearly see these accomplishments weren’t finish lines but qualifications to enter the race. On your marks, get set, go!

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The real starting line came at the threshold of the grand entrance to the main hall at Smurfit. On Monday morning, one by one, eager faces presented themselves at the door and joined the growing crowd around the banks of gently flowing coffee. Everyone was happy. Everyone was aware that the people in this room would become significant in each other’s lives. When our crowd was complete, we made our way to the lecture hall to get started. We were introduced to the faces of the many helpful names we’ve been interacting with via e-mail for the past several weeks. After warm greetings from the cadre of administrators, Damien McLoughlin took over.

Damien’s presence in the room is felt by everyone. By impressions, it seems that he might have had a bit more coffee than the rest of us.  He can smell the fear in the room. All of us are a bit anxious about our very first case study class. He peppers questions around the classroom while making soft jabs. He likes some manner of sports that I, as an American, didn’t recognise; it could’ve been soccer or hurling or… who could say.  He kept turning the screw by highlighting that “his team” had beat someone else’s team in an epic victory the night before. In between the jokes and jabs are very real questions about the task at hand. I can tell you, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the one who didn’t read the case study.

After an hour and a half with Damien, we could breathe again.  We had made it through the case study and no one had died. The afternoon of the first day was much like the morning.  We spread our attention across a range of topics from Finance to the Library. We were introduced to Professor Niamh Brennan for a primer course on report writing.  I’ll talk more about her later.  I slept very well on Monday night.

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For the second day of the MBA the Executive MBAs and Full Time MBAs split up.  Foundation Week is not only about getting a peek into the programme but also it is a very small window of opportunity to quickly galvanize our team.  It turns out that if you want to accelerate team development for a group of people who are all, individually, capable of being leaders, you have to blindfold them and then tell them to hurry up. In fact, blindfolds, giant spider webs, oversized jigsaw puzzles, inner tubes, and giant Rube Goldberg contraptions were all part of the craziness of day two. Without giving too much away I will tell you that the leadership development team did a masterful job at making 30 strangers quickly feel like good friends.

The third day of the MBA was a wake-up call for me.  The voice on the other end of the phone said “Good morning, remember how you said you wanted a world-class education?  Go get it!”  After some housekeeping presentations first thing in the morning we were back in the ring with Professor Niamh. Being in Niamh’s classroom (she does prefer to operate on a first-name basis) is a bit hard to describe. If you’ve ever thought that your educational aspirations are akin to growing a garden or perhaps a sprouting tree, you might be too delicate for her class. She is an intellectual fire-hose and you had better damn well be on fire if you are going to excel in her class. Day three is a veritable blitzkrieg of Financial Reporting. The MBA cohort consists of people from every professional background, financial and otherwise. As we rounded the fourth or fifth straight hour of Financial Reporting, you could pretty clearly guess who had the chops and who didn’t based upon the looks on their faces. Personally, I looked like an Edvard Munch painting.

Let it not be said that “Graduate school isn’t all fun and games” because that is precisely what the fourth day of Foundation Week was.  Games are a great way to learn, especially for the losers. I will go ahead and tell you that I learned a lot on day four. What was the game? It was a simulation game that brought the use of financial papers into focus. A team of game-makers (a-la Hunger Games) from Germany brought their talent to the Talbot hotel, the off-site location for the day.  In a re-mixed group of Executive MBA and Full Time MBA students, we were asked to build a company.  Each member on the team became a department head of a widget factory. Sales, Process, Procurement, and Finance, the teams competed against one another to try and flip a profit. Before lunch each team felt the stinging slap of the invisible hand as too much competition drove prices to the ground. After lunch, and after a great lesson on pricing strategy and competition, each team re-entered the market and tried to claw their way back from red to green. Most teams made it. Mine did not.

As I bring this post to a close I confess to you, dear reader, that there aren’t 1000 words in any language that could’ve done justice to describing the experience of Foundation Week at Smurfit Business School. But, I would like to offer a two-word description of the final day of Foundation Week as a gold-letter promise that the MBA programme is going to be everything we have hoped for: professional development. On Friday we discussed how to be better listeners, how to understand people better and, most importantly, how to be better communicators. We began the process of being better public speakers. The lessons on Friday made me realise that when this race is over, and I cross the finish line on graduation day, I won’t have merely learned – I will have evolved.

Thomas Strimbu, MBA 2017-2018

A View From the MBA Finish Line

Nothing worthwhile comes easy. The MBA has certainly not been easy but it has been hugely worthwhile. This week marked the finish line as we handed in the final ‘capstone’ project, the culmination of our learnings over two years applied to a real company problem. I have anticipated the feeling of elation for months, but it has come inextricably entwined with mixed emotions. I primarily feel an enormous sense of achievement and satisfaction that I have realised a long held personal ambition. There is also a certain relief in knowing that I am finally free of the constant attrition of assignments, reading, lectures, exams and the Saturday morning dash out the N11 to Blackrock. Unexpectedly, there is also a strange accompanying sense of disappointment that a journey which I have enjoyed beyond expectation, has come to an end.

A journey shared is all the sweeter, and the most enjoyable element of the last two years has been working with, and getting to know, such an exceptional bunch of people. The intensity of the MBA bonds the class in an indescribable way. From team building in a rainy field in Blackrock to Honda, Coca Cola, Southwest Airlines, and GE, to karaoke in Tokyo, we have been on a roller coaster journey together. There have been ups and downs for everyone as we have struggled to balance work and personal lives with the demands of the course.  The unfettered commitment of the group to supporting each other, and ensuring that everyone made it to the finish line together, has been remarkable. Your classmates challenge you, they set the bar high, they expect more, they drive you, but more importantly they teach you and support you.

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Catherine O’Brien, 2nd from left, with MBA classmates

The MBA teaches you all the fundamentals of business management from corporate finance to management accounting, organisational behaviour, strategy and negotiations. But this is not where the growth lies. I attended an event last year where I was struck by a comment made by one of the speakers, who highlighted how comfort zones are nice but nothing ever grows there. Simple but powerful, it stuck with me. The MBA has offered the opportunity to step up and out of your comfort zone in so many different ways, and I am delighted that I have pursued every single opportunity. From representing UCD Smurfit at the John Molson international business case competition in Montreal, to presenting to global MBA colleagues in Yale, I have enjoyed every opportunity to grow and learn.

The self-learning which comes through the leadership dimension of the MBA is one of the most valuable aspects of the course. Through group work and end of semester peer feedback and reflection, you learn about your style of interacting in teams, your style of leadership, your strengths, and preferences. You learn about the preferences of others, that there is no one right way, and that ultimately our differences drive us to achieve so much more.

As I reflect on the MBA journey, I won’t miss the unrelenting workload, but I will unquestionably miss the challenge and the self-development. Above all else, I will miss the class debates, the sharp wit of my classmates, and the laughter imbued post mortems over a few drinks down in the Dark Horse.

To the faculty and programme office at UCD Smurfit, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, thank you for doing your very best to look after us, to inspire us, and to challenge us.

To my MBA colleagues, I am privileged to have undertaken this journey with you, to have learned from you, and to now count you as friends who I know I can call on as we all move forward in our respective careers and lives. May I wish you all the very best with the next chapter.

Catherine O’Brien, EMBA 2015-2017

Icelandic Perspectives

In early summer 2017, the Full Time MBA class and first year EMBA class travelled to Reykjavik, Iceland for Smurfit’s first MBA International Consulting Project.

For the first time this year, the International Consulting Project was part of the MBA curriculum.  For the for the full-time class, it was automatically included in the curriculum and an optional module for the first-year executive classes. This exciting addition to our busy year entailed a trip to Reykjavik to undertake a four-day consulting project for an Icelandic company.

Upon arrival, we stopped at the Blue Lagoon for a warm Icelandic welcome in the form of a swim in the scenic 37º Celsius lagoon. It was a great icebreaker and the ideal situation to have social interaction between the different cohorts on the trip.

We were divided into groups of four, each group assigned to a different company. Our group consulted for a high-tech fishing gear sales and manufacturing start-up, whose objective is to instigate and benefit from a paradigm shift in bottom trawl fishing. Our team was tasked to undertake analysis on the existing shrimp industry and provide them with a route to market strategy. The four days of consulting were intense and we were under immense pressure, but it turned out to be a very valuable learning experience.

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Having the opportunity to work for four days in an Icelandic company and getting to know some of the local people gave us a unique perspective of the country, its people and how business is done there. This was further supplemented by an event hosted by the Reykjavik University’s MBA, whose programme manager gave us an introduction followed by two presentations by their alumni who are both entrepreneurs.

Our group was fortunate enough to finish early on the Thursday after our presentation, giving us enough time to rent a car and do the Golden Loop (a popular tourist route covering some of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks). This was truly a great experience, seeing the natural beauty of Iceland. We managed to stop at the Thingvellir National Park rift valley, Strokkur Geyser, Gullfoss waterfall and Kerið volcanic crater – and still make it back to Reykjavik in time for the group farewell dinner at the iconic Harpa building.

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This quick afternoon trip only gave us a taste of the spectacular scenery Iceland has to offer, and I can completely understand why its tourism industry is booming. I will certainly go back to see more of this spectacular country, with the Northern Lights hopefully included in my next trip.

The International Consulting Project was a memorable, insightful and challenging experience.  Looking back on the MBA programme, this was definitely one of the events that I will never forget. I also believe that it added tremendously to my MBA learning experience as I could apply various academic aspects learned during the year. It also provided me with a good idea of what it’s like to work as a consultant and was great preparation for our Capstone team.

Barnus Beyers – Full Time MBA 2017

Bringing It All Together

In early summer 2017, the Full Time MBA class and first year EMBA class travelled to Reykjavik, Iceland for Smurfit’s first MBA International Consulting Project.

There is far more to an MBA experience than what you absorb in a classroom and it is learning from the experiences and skills of your peers where the MBA is most valuable. The consulting project in Iceland typified this. For our team Taramar, we worked closely with a small organic novel skincare company in Iceland looking to expand into new regions.

From start to finish the project lasted just three weeks which concluded with four days working on site with the client. Timelines were extremely tight and we knew we would have to hit the ground running if this project was to be a success. We spent two weeks prior to our trip researching market conditions, compiling data, liaising with the client on project scope and defining success criteria. Just like in the real world, no consulting project runs exactly smoothly and Team Taramar had to work through a number of trials and tribulations throughout our project. We quickly realised that defining scope and understanding exactly what a client desires is crucially important. We faced each challenge head on and a highlight for all of us was presenting our work at the end of the week to a delighted client.

As a team, we used the skills and knowledge we had acquired over the year to carry out a feasibility study. When we look back now, it is amazing the body of work that was accomplished in just four short days. But that is another characteristic of the MBA; each team gets more and more efficient as the year progresses. We assessed the market conditions, carried out a pricing study, drafted a marketing strategy, proposed a logistics solution to distribute in the new territory and used aspects of each MBA module we had completed.

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Although putting all the arduous hours of study into practice at the end of the year was rewarding, looking back it is what we learned from each other that was a real highlight. Our team was comprised of a variety of backgrounds and experiences from e-commerce, sales and commercial strategy, accounting, pharmacy and chemistry. The combined experience of the group was invaluable when developing a solution for our client. For each member in our team it was a first foray into the consulting world, and it’s safe to say we loved it!

The trip to Iceland was definitely one of the highlights of the year for all who attended. There was a sense of camaraderie from start to finish which helped to enhance the overall experience for all involved.

The opportunity to engage with faculty and members of the Full Time and both classes of the Executive MBA was thoroughly rewarding. We have all made new connections which will no doubt be invaluable in our future careers.

Suffice to say our Icelandic experience will live long in our memories!

https://www.taramarbeauty.com/

John Cassidy, EMBA 2016-2018

… the sweetest thing?

In early summer 2017, the Full Time MBA class and first year EMBA class travelled to Reykjavik, Iceland for Smurfit’s first MBA International Consulting Project.

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“…And these are the team’s recommendations for market entry with your new product”. This was the end of what can only be described as a fantastic, informative whistle-stop journey into the world of management consulting working with ORF Genetics in Iceland. It was hard to believe just three days earlier the team sat down with the company’s Head of Market Development for our project briefing in ORF’s new state of the art offices that overlook the Reykjavík skyline and the blue Atlantic ocean beyond.

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We were tasked with determining if a market exists for ORF’s new sweetener grown in a barley plant. It was a excellent opportunity to apply not only our first year of the Executive MBA’s classroom learning but also our own team’s diverse background experience to a real life scenario and business problem. We left with a sense of fulfillment and pride, confident our findings have the potential to add real value to the company.

Little did we know when we set out from Dublin airport what a wonderful experience we would have as a team but also as a wider group spending a week in Iceland working with businesses on real life commercial challenges. Not that it was all work and no play; we also managed to pack in visits to the tourist destinations of the Blue Lagoon and the famous Golden Circle which encompasses the gushing Strokkur geyser, the iconic Gullfoss waterfall and the wide open landscape of Thingvellir National Park. The visit was helped all the more by the nearly 24 hours of sunlight at this time of year at 66 degrees latitude.

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The week also included an insightful visit to Reykjavík University to hear about how to do business in Iceland from two of their business school’s alumni, Thordis Loa Thorhallsdottir, CEO of Gray Lines Tour Iceland and Viggo Asgeirsson, Chief HR Office and Co-Founder of Meniga, one of Iceland’s top Fintech companies.

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Our Iceland experience was topped off with a farewell dinner in the architecturally stunning Harpa Opera house looking out over the old harbour where all students and staff got to celebrate a successful week. We just missed out on the mountain top concert but maybe next time….

A big thank you to Professor Karan Sonpar, the faculty and MBA office for organising a wonderful trip.

Paul Donnelly, Séamus Harrington, Ciara Keane, Brendan Staunton, Paul Walsh – EMBA 2016-2018