Global Network Week 2017 – A Visitor’s Perspective

As a Yale EMBA student graduating in 2018, I had the opportunity to attend “The Future of Food” module at University College Dublin as part of the June 2017 Global Network Week (#GNW2017).

This fascinating exchange programme provides students with insights into the inner workings of key industry players in the food and beverage space and attracts both international students from several top participating schools in Shanghai, Berlin, Madrid, as well as students local to Dublin. As an international student, I am truly grateful for the warmth and thoughtfulness from both our programme coordinator, Elaine Aherne, as well as a number of our fellow Irish students in welcoming us to both Dublin and UCD.

GNAM outside

In my opinion, this week-long course is perfectly structured for many reasons. First, the sheer range of case studies covered in the short span of a week exposes participants to food and beverage related strategies, trends and marketing techniques that are very easily transferable to any industry segment. Professor Damien McLoughlin led a diverse set of discussion topics from Brexit to emerging technologies in the food industry, and challenged us to consider both the market and non-market factors influencing decisions within each organisation we examined as part of the cases.

Second, the guest lectures interspersed through the week were excellent and provided intriguing insights into the decision-making processes utilised by executives across a slew of organisations in the food and beverage sector. During the week, the CEO of Greencore, CTO of Ocado and Director from UniGrain, were just a few of the company executives we heard from and engaged with.

Finally, daily product samplings (Skelligs, Keogh’s etc.) and company site visits, such as those to Jameson, Guinness, Kerry Foods and the Ballyknockan House Cookery School ensured we were always engaged and looking forward to what the next day would bring.

Overall, a fantastic program that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to spend the global network week learning about the latest innovations and bleeding edge technology in the food industry while having some good old-fashioned Irish fun as well.

Raahul Kumar, Yale EMBA student

Capstone Project – The Final Hurdle

The Importance of Team Dynamics

We’re well and truly under way with Semester 4. As noted already by Niall Twomey in his recent post, this is the semester that reflects your personal choices. I have heard varying comments in relation to ‘having more time’ on our hands, which is clearly a relative comment. With my choices of Negotiations Skills, Corporate Governance, Management Consulting (by audit) and Managing Sales Relationship I cannot associate with this view, but that’s my choice I guess!

Notwithstanding the workload ahead of us in Semester 4, teams are also beginning to consider the Capstone project that will ultimately bring a close to this 2 year adventure. It’s quite amazing to hear the variety of projects being considered. I certainly never anticipated working on a project relating to sustainable food systems, and how Ireland (through a partnership of Irish Government agencies including Enterprise Ireland) can export expertise in this crucially important area which is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead. I know very little about sustainable food systems right now, but along with my Capstone colleagues and armed with some key MBA learnings, that is sure to change in the coming months. It is with a little trepidation and excitement that teams are proceeding in trying to define exactly what they hope to achieve with the Capstone project. It strikes me that first and foremost, before any considerations around the actual topic, getting the right team dynamic is the most important ingredient in order to ensure a smooth journey from now until July!

It’s hard to think about the end given that we’ve only started Semester 4, but as my wife keeps telling me, the evenings are getting longer, you’re just not seeing them as you’re in Smurfit most of the week! While not entirely true, I choose my battles wisely.

Paul Dunne ~ Year 2 Executive MBA

One Year On…

Decisions, decisions...


January 2015 is the one year anniversary of when I first seriously started considering taking the MBA program. I had toyed with the idea for several months before but with a new year came a new impetus to push myself and develop new skills that would help me develop professionally and personally. The initial stages of my MBA curiosity was to visit the Smurfit school website and look up the academic programme, entry process and pre-requisites. All very daunting stuff! Then I stumbled across the MBA blog. This was different to any of the other sources of information online as it was impressions of the MBA student written for their peers. The blog gave a great insight into the rollercoaster that is the MBA and it gave a window into the experience of the MBA.

Reading these blogs were the catalyst for me to move from the curiosity phase to the activism phase. Over the coming months I attended the open days, spoke to alumni and started to look at the practicalities of taking on the MBA.

Fast forward 12 months and I am one semester in and looking forward to part two with optimism. I wouldn’t have imagined a year previously that I would be sitting here writing an entry for the very blog I had been reading when first considering taking this path. There’s no doubt that the past 12 months have gone by in a flash and that the last four months in particular were a whirlwind but I do look back on 2014 as a successful year. It was the year that I stepped up the challenge and taken the bull by the horns.

As I conclude this entry I am aware that there may be some who are right now thinking tentatively about taking the first steps of the MBA journey. There’s no doubt that the experience and the sacrifices that come with the MBA is not for everyone but until you move from the curiosity phase into the activism phase you won’t know. To those people who are in the curiosity phase I would advise reading the blog entries to get a window into the MBA experience. This might be enough to nudge you into the activism phase.

David Cashman ~ Executive MBA

Class of 2014 Graduation Ball

Class of 2014 Graduation Ball



On Friday December 5th, we saw the MBA Classes of 2014 receive their well-deserved graduation awards at the conferring ceremony in UCD O’Reilly Hall.

Following this, on Saturday December 6th, we attended the Smurfit MBA Graduation Ball 2014. The ball was organised by the graduates and took place in The Morrison Hotel, Dublin.

One of the greatest things about working in Academia is the privilege of seeing our students, year after year, achieve one of their greatest life goals, and the past weekend was no exception.


The Blues Brothers


The graduation ball was a huge success; with a champagne reception, delicious four course meal, a free prize draw and a night of fantastic music from the Blues Brothers which saw everybody dance the night away, it was the perfect way for our former students to celebrate the monumental achievement of becoming a UCD Smurfit MBA Graduate.


Emma Fagan, Alan Leahy, David Addie, Cormac Dunne


Class of 2014 Graduation Ball


Aisling O'Keeffe, Andrew Bacon, Lorcan McFadden, Claire McAlister


Ciaran Hynes, Claire O'Sullivan, Andrew Bourke


Congratulations to each and every one of our graduates and best wishes for your future adventures! Although you are no longer students, no matter where life takes you post-MBA, you will always be connected by the UCD Smurfit Business Alumni, keep in touch!


MBA Team: Shannon Coco, Avril Donohue, Orla Nugent, Michael McDonnell


Big congratulations again and best wishes for a bright future!

Avril Donohue

The MBA Team

Congratulations to Grainne Barron winner of MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award 2014

Word has reached us from London that Grainne Barron who graduated from the EMBA programme in 2007 has been awarded the prestigious MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award from the UK based Association of MBAs.

Andrew Main Wilson, AMBA Chief Executive: ‘This is the 2nd time in three years that UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School has won our MBA Entreprenurial Venture Award, which clearly indicates the quality of their MBA programme and its focus on creativity and entrepreneurship. This year’s winner, Grainne Barron, CEO and Founder of Viddyad, has demonstrated just how successful women in technology can be.

Grainne is CEO and Founder of Viddyad and is responsible for commercial product development internationally. She is a recognized expert in video advertising technology and has been interviewed on Bloomberg TV, TechCrunch, USA Today been quoted in the WSJ where Viddyad was listed as ‘One to Watch!’

Further information on Grainne can find it at – Profile of Grainne from Smurfit Alumni

Further information on the AMBA AWARDS event, click here.



The refurbished Smurfit Common Room in all its glory

Readers of this blog may recall we mentioned a lot of refurbisment and building work going on on campus over the summer.  The refurbished Common Room a favourite haunt of students re-opened a short while ago and is more popular than ever, especially the flat screens which can be used for group work and presentation practice sessions.

C201 the Schools largest lecture theatre also benefited from a major overhaul and is looking great and its increased number of power points and comfy seats are a big hit with the students who use it regularly.

Building work still continues for the next couple of months with three new classrooms and a coffee dock to come on-line in late November/early December.

The newly refurbished Common Room in use

UCD Smurfit MBA50 Celebrating Entrepreneurship

On Tuesday 2nd of September, the MBA Programme Office were delighted to host a Celebrating Entrepreneurship Event in the Hibernian Club on St. Stephens Green in Dublin.

After a brief introduction by Prof. Pat Gibbons, MBA alumni and current students were treated to some rare insights from Claire Lee, head of Corporate Venture at Silicon Valley Bank.

This was followed by a soap-box challenge which involved a number of MBA alumni and students show-casing their start-up companies within a two minute time-frame.

List of participating start-ups:

Brendan Cunniffe, Apica Cardiovascular

Dave Byrne,  Buzzoo

Mick O’Dwyer,  Envirotech

Donal Ryan,  Equinome

Ian Nolan,  Legalshine

David Larkin,  LogoGrab

Paul Manning, Novo Grid

Eamonn Sayers,  World Sports Team

Steve Kelly,  young Horizons


After a thoroughly enjoyable series of presentations, all present got the chance to mingle over a glass of wine.

Below is a short synopsis of this showcase of innovation and something for our budding entrepreneurs to reflect on.

Annual MBA Welcome Dinner

The annual MBA welcome dinner took place on Friday night last to welcome all the incoming members of the Full-time MBA Class of 2015 and EMBA class of 2016.  Also in attendance we partners of the class members who had come to see where their other halves would be spending so much time over the next year or two and members of the academic staff of the School and the MBA Programme Office and Careers Service.  The welcome was extended by the Dean of the School Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and MBA Director Orla Nugent.

A feature of the evening was the ever popular film produced for the 45th anniversary of the graduation of the first MBA class.  It was a timely reminder of that first class in this the 50th anniversary year of the commencement of the programme.

Lots of change and building work on campus

Getting around the Smurfit main building is a little awkward these days as various rooms and corridors are closed off for the summer and skips and portacabins appear around the campus.  Short trips to the restaurant for that all important cup of coffee in the morning have now become a scenic tour around the outside of the building or if it is raining a tramp up and down various staircases.  It is all going to be a bit of a nuisance for a while but the disruption will be worth it because it is all part of major refurbishment of the Common Room where Smurfit students meet to eat, talk and work on their assignments, a complete overhaul of the Schools largest lecture theatre C201 and last but not least the conversion of the Memorial Hall into three new state of the art classrooms.  It is great to see the campus expanding and updating and we look forward to seeing the outcome in early autumn.