How the UCD Smurfit MBA has improved my time management skills.

The end of 2013 is one of the busiest times in my life.  I have just come back from Global Network Week at Yale School of Management. Right after I arrived in Dublin, I must come back to UCD Smurfit’s campus immediately to study Financial Reporting for the next examination. Whenever you open your Google Calendar, it is full of tasks from day to day.  

After class in the morning, we also spend time to work in groups for the next assignments or presentations. At the weekend, we also have an abundance of readings for the following week. At first, I felt quite overloaded but Google Calendar and EverNote applications have helped me so much in time management.  I did a workshop on time management as part of the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) which is part of the UCD Smurfit MBA.

Every week, I always list a series of tasks that need to be done and put all of them in To-do-list Folder in Evernote so I can open it on my smart phone. I order them from the least to the most important tasks and begin to solve in that order.


Having good time management skills helps you not only to solve all duties in class but also allows you to join in many school events.

It’s a big world and there’s a lot to be done!


Hung Nguyen,

FT MBA 2014.

UCD Smurfit MBA is Globally Immersed in Digital Marketing

This year, as part of the Global Network for Advanced Management, UCD Smurfit hosted a week-long module “Digital Marketing – Understanding Opportunities and Devising Strategies”. A cohort of around 25 MBA students from Fudan University School of Management, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, IE Business School, EGADE Business School, Yale SOM, and UCD Smurfit met in Dublin, shared drinks and talked digital.

Within one week, we were quickly, but comprehensively, taught the basics and nuances of the subject: how it works, the trends and future, and the quirks and twists.  In a nutshell, search, social media, mobile connectivity, and web 2.0 skyrocket because they cater to a basic Homo sapien’s nature: freedom or in this case: the freedom to consume media whichever way is convenient. By establishing a seamless integration with web, social and mobile and communicating relevant messages, organisations can attract new prospects and retain their existing customers.

Dublin – the digital capital of Europe – made a perfect backdrop for such a digital marketing marathon. Real-world study formed an integral part of the module. We were bussed to Facebook, Google, Hubspot, learned directly from senior marketing professionals, and marvelled at their stunning offices – or rather working playgrounds. These companies occupy different digital space: social media, search, and content with distinctive marketing approaches. All presentations boasted strong growth in digital marketing spending, notwithstanding the economic recession. To cap off the learnings, we worked on an actual marketing project for NewsTalk and presented our findings to the CEO and marketing manager.

A Dublin experience would be incomplete without the vibrant Irish nightlife. We got to visit Guinness Storehouse, ate Irish lamb stew, and enjoyed the varied offerings of Irish beers and liquors accompanied by live Celtic music. The atmosphere was perfect to cool off a long day, share a laugh, and make friends. Many people planned to keep in touch, and see each other in the future.

In our highly globalized world, the ability to develop networks and collaborate with others outside our comfort zone is more important than ever. The connections between leading business schools, companies and students were made possible by this opportunity. I would like to thank the companies, lecturers, organisers, and students who together made such an unforgettable experience.


Cong Vu.

FT MBA 2014

A better way to research a case study

Many people believe that case preparation is often a big challenge in group work. However, there are some alternative ways to work with case studies. One of our group assignments was about Yo! Sushi, a small but expanding chain of restaurants that serves Japanese-style food using a conveyer-belt restaurant design.

After our first meeting for case preparation, we asked ourselves should we not go to the restaurant to have a clear view of what we are going to present. This was a good idea. This helps to understand the offering in more detail, and how the menu and ordering system works. More importantly, by doing this, our relationship within the team grows better and stronger.  The assignment became much easier.

Would you like to try the same way?

Ba Nguyen.  FTMBA 2014.



My MBA team-work journey

Three weeks ago, in the OB class, we had a discussion about team dynamic. Listening to my classmates discussing challenges in a multi-national team reminded me of interesting team-work experiences I have since the beginning of the semester.

As I imagined, one big part of the MBA journey is for us to learn how to work in a diversified team. Just similar to how it is in real life, we are normally not allowed to choose our team members. People with different nationalities, genders, backgrounds, and characteristics are put into teams based on a mystery rule decided by the MBA Office. In these teams, the Peacocks have to work with the Dolphins, the Hubs work with the Greens, the Extroverts work with the Introverts; and it creates room for interesting yet sometimes painful experiences.

In Semester 1, I was assigned into Team 8 with one Russian and two Irish. Teamwork, as what it actually happened to us, was a real journey in which each team member had to continuously learn and adjust to work well with others. During our 5 month journey with around 20 group presentations and assignments for 7 modules, we first experienced a painful time when we had such huge conflicts that we decided “diversity does not work and we need consultation”. Frank communication and continuous commitments helped us overcome that challenge.  Adjustment to each other learning styles (for example Pavel prefers practical ideas and Richie is deeply in-love with tables and frameworks), together with initiatives such as setting agenda and controlling time for each meeting also enabled us to stay focus and work more effectively. Things became easier and easier and we managed to have more time to talk to each other outside of work. I got to know that Richie had two kittens – Gleason and Sheeran, and James’s family always eats their home-grown turkeys at Christmas.

In semester two, we have two different groups (one for Negotiation and one for the remaining subjects); and then a final group for Capstone project. I believe what we have learnt will sharpen our skills to cope with real-life teamwork issues and enable us to make the most of team dynamic in our post-MBA lives.

Thu Dieu Ngo




– Thu Dieu Ngo, FT MBA and IDEAS Programme 2012/13

My personal journey

Before going to UCD Smurfit Business School to pursue an MBA degree, I have heard a concern that if a person might be able to accumulate MBA knowledge by taking a few business classes, reading journals and business books on their own and interacting with experienced people, etc. Does it worth rather than getting the qualification from an accredited MBA program in terms of knowledge and ROI (Return on Investment)?

For six months here, I realize that what the MBA program taught me was not only business knowledge but chances for self-actualization, especially when I interacted with others. Thus, for the concern above, I would say that taking part in a well-designed program is worth value compared to other alternatives. Through a variety of personality tests and career coaching sessions, I had opportunities to understand what type of person I am, how I could improve myself and what kind of sector I should follow to. For instance, the game about 4 types of animals, including peacock, dolphin, owl and panther together with the psychometric test called SDI drew me an overview and well explanation about people’s characteristics. The Myers Briggs test (MBTI) gave me the concept of personality and cognitive styles through 16 categories. Although I did this test several years ago, only when I entered the MBA program, did join some teamwork activities, could I be fully aware of my mind, my thought and my weaknesses which I might never know if I were not here.

Beyond academic and business knowledge, as an international student from an Asian country, I have chance to jump out of my comfort zone to discover new things, including different styles of thinking of my classmates and the diversity from different cultures. For example, I was all the time confused about Muslim women when I see they always cover their faces and their bodies until the day I had chance to work with my intelligent and creative Muslim classmate from Malaysia. Gradually, I realize the hidden charm behind her hijab. In addition, my thought that all Muslim women are faint and frightened was gone when she invited me to an interesting party of Muslim people. I was impressed that every woman there was confident and warmhearted. That was the moment I realized the inner beauty of their religion and their souls although they are covered by the hijab.

Hue Pham

Waiting for the International trip to Brazil and preparing for the 5 month left of the program, I hope that I can experience more interesting and new things. “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”. To me, an MBA is a kick-off for my future plan and my lifelong learning journey.


– Hue Pham, FT MBA 12/13

Vietnamese Culture Night at UCD Smurfit

A few weeks ago, Smurfit School played host to the Vietnamese Culture Night, celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. The event was organised by the IDEAS Programme participants in connection with the Vietnamese Youths and Students In Ireland organisation and all proceeds went to the Vietnamese charity Only Rice is Not Enough.

The event included singing and dancing performances, quiz, photo booth with national costumes,  souvenir sales, children’s entertainment and of course Vietnamese food and drink.

About 400 people attended the event, both the Vietnamese community, fellow students and staff, and Irish families who had adopted children from Vietnam and more than €2200 was raised for the charity. Overall, a great success and can’t wait to attend next year’s event!

– Rikke Budolfsen, MBA Programme Manager


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

The Symbol of the Table



The Symbol of the Table
Women of the MBA 2011: (Left to Right)- Nargiza Kalmamatova (Kyrgyzstan), Blonde Beauchamp (Boston/Haiti), Yvette Grave (Germany), Anh Pham (Vietnam), Lindsey Keefe (Boston), Gemma Ginty (Ireland), Megan Molloy (Washington), Megan Hayward (New York), Amneet Jhiete (India), Toan Do (Vietnam). There in spirit, Diana Vincent (India), Tham Nguyen (Vietnam) and Barbara O’Beirne (Ireland).




As part of the MBA we did a course in Negotiations where we learned about expanding the pie and creating ‘win win’ situations. As a final gesture towards the meeting of minds and cultures, the MBA women of 2011 translated this idea into the ritual of creating a dish and sharing it together at the table.

Thirteen may be considered unlucky, but in this context we are thirteen extremely skilled and confident women who have just qualified with an MBA. We certainly feel lucky to be in this position and with the world at our fingertips.

For us, this small but unique microcosm represents the world and it’s differences. The table acts as a common ground no matter what our religions or nationalities. For each of us, the act and art of making food gave us an opportunity to represent who we are and where we’ve come from and we did this with pride. Our menu ranged from Vietnamese fried spring rolls and chicken fried rice, Kyrgyz beef noodle, American brie in pastry and macaroni cheese, German potato salad, Haitian Curry, and Irish apple tart.

The ‘table’ represents the symbol of engaged exchange. In the future we will gather around different tables dotted around the world developing strategies, designing products, managing teams and deciding our own future. Although we will be in different contexts, we will continue to bring the same enthusiasm and creativity to our future challenges as we brought to this table.

As a unique group of Smurfit MBA graduates, we recognise our differences but also realise our future experiences will be similar, dealing with the challenges as young woman in business. These will range from our family expectations, stereotyping of our roles, how we fall in love and how we fulfil our dreams. We will also need to balance how society dictates how we should live, how we should behave, what our remuneration should be as business women, and how we will cope with raising children and doing the work that drives us to be successful.

We have promised each other we will meet again at another table in ten years’ time. But before we re-unite with our stories of work and life, it would be great to keep the idea of the metaphysical table intact, where we could advise and support each other as we meet our individual challenges. As we look to the future we hope to bring the same enthusiasm and engagement to our future tables, as we brought to sharing this last meal together as Smurfit 2011 MBA students.

-Gemma Ginty, FT MBA 2010-2011

The change after one-year in Smurfit School

Recall last August when arriving in Dublin, many things were strange to me: people go on the left hand-side on streets, the weather was cold even in the summer and the sun was still on my head even in the evening. In my country, Vietnam, evening means dark and no sun, summer means very hot and humid; and of course, we go on the right hand-side. All those things made me feel unusual and I asked myself how could I adapt to a new society and what should I do to perform well in the MBA?

How am I now after one year? Everything is different. I am confident walking on streets in Dublin, I am confident to be a tour-guide for my friends visiting the city. I can speak fluently about Cork, Galway, Killarney, Cobh, Dingle bay, Belfast and Giants Causeway. More than that, I also have experience of working in family farms of my classmates in Sligo and Mullingar.  I love to play football and hurling with my mates in sunny evening (you cannot say “sunny evening” in my country!). What has changed me? That is one year MBA with lovely people.

The first day coming to my class, I worried – how can I catch up with the class, how can I work with people from various countries? My concerns were reasonable because the difference in culture, the unfamiliar business environment and the language barrier were big challenges waiting for me. In the first term, those challenges accompanied with heavy workload were extremely tough. Indeed, language barrier was the major obstacle. For example, sometimes, I was confused in class discussion; and it took me double or triple times to finish all readings and assignments in comparison with others in my class. I feel that the first term was the hardest time of study in my life.

How am I now? Now I am confident to involve in discussions and presentation in my class, I understand the business customs and I am comfortable to contribute ideas from the viewpoint of people from an emerging and dynamic economy in the East. My contributions are valuable to the class because I give them the perspective from different experience and different angles. What has changed me? That is the MBA.

It is the end of June now and there are only three days left for me to finish my journey with the MBA. I am very sure that MBA in Smurfit School is my best decision ever. It is a bridge for my future, both in career and in life. I came here with a group of Vietnamese people and I am very sure that they learned a lot too. I would like to say thank you to my classmates, to the school, to all my professors and teachers and especially to Irish Aid who sponsors me for my MBA. Only three days more in the school and several weeks before coming back to Vietnam, I am very sure that I will miss Ireland and the school a lot. To me, MBA is unforgettable in my life and Ireland is my second home.

– Phuong Hoang, FT MBA 2011

Irish Aid Seminar in Limerick

These days, Dublin is in spring time with beautiful flowers blossoming everywhere and sun is out until 9PM. I have also finished most of my classes at school and been working for company project. My school is recruiting for MBA 2012. It is also the time when Irish Aid gathers all fellows, who receive scholarship from Irish Aid, at the headquarter of Irish Aid in Limerick.

Though I have been in Ireland for 8 months, this is my first time to visit the office of Irish Aid, my sponsor. At 7AM, I was ready at the office of ICOS (Irish Council for International Students) from which our bus headed to Limerick. It took us 3 hours by bus to travel from Dublin to Limerick.

Irish Aid Department of Foreign Affairs Riverstone House is located at 24 Henry Street in the centre area of Limerick. This is the second year that Irish Aid holds this event and it hopefully will become an annual event for fellows to meet up with each other and with Irish Aid staffs.

This seminar was to discuss key issues in the 9 partner countries (in white) and the areas Irish Aid is working on: Poverty and Hunger; HIV/AIDS and Health; Development; Environment; and Education. These focuses are delivered by three main programmes: Fellowship, IDEAS (Irish Development Experience Sharing) and Strategic Cooperation.

We are explained three reasons that Ireland gives aid to developing countries are Moral Obligation, Self-interest and International Commitment. Irish children are educated these values from primary schools. At the moment, the budget for Official Development Assistance is made up 0.53% GNP of Ireland. 15% of the budget for Vietnam goes into capacity building in IDEAS programme which aims to share lessons of Ireland’s economic and social development with Vietnam. Programme commenced in 2009.  Irish Aid does not directly train fellows, but they have partnership with UCD Smurfit Business School.

Continue reading Irish Aid Seminar in Limerick