Brazil, an amazing country – A Vietnamese comparison

We were back from Brazil three days ago but I still feel the strong energy of that country.  Before getting on the Smurfit MBA International Study Trip, I always thought of Brazil as a home of football and samba with many beautiful beaches and one of the key emerging markets. However, there is actually much more than those in Brazil. If I have to tell everything I have learned from this trip, it would be a lengthy report or say a learning journal which I need to write later on as a part of the course.  Nevertheless, there were three things that impressed me most in terms of comparison between my home country, Vietnam which is also an emerging country, and Brazil.

Vietnam mainly relies on agricultural exports and Brazil is our main competitor in many areas, especially the coffee market where we are only  second to Brazil. Therefore,  my initial perception of Brazil was more of an agriculture-based country rather than a service-based one. And then I was impressed by knowing Brazil’s services now accounts for 66% of the economy while agriculture contributes only 20%. Moreover, most of their population (193 million, the fifth largest in the world) is now living in urbanised areas. For instance, Sao Paulo, our first destination in Brazil, is a huge modern city with 20 million inhabitants.



Sao Paulo - a modern city
Sao Paulo - a modern city



In addition, I had an expectation before the trip that Brazilian would have many characteristics in common with the Western people as Brazil used to be the Portugal’s colony for over 300 years. However after the trip, it turned out not to be true. In fact, Brazilians are group-orientated and collective. They collaborate in group and compete as a group. These characteristics are very close to Vietnamese ones.

More interestingly, I got a chance to go to an open market in Sao Paulo. It was just a small normal area with many small shops selling foods, stuff and the like. When I worked around, I saw that most of the shops accepted payments by credit cards even if they sold 4-5 Real stuff (approximately €2). I found out later on from the tour guide that almost everywhere in Sao Paulo they do the same. I was very surprised at that time as the number of electronic payment in Ho Chi Minh City, the Vietnam’s largest city, is still  very small as compared to the cash payment. This has been a challenge in Vietnam hence seeing how Brazil overcame it really impressed me.


– Khoi Le,



Sao Paulo - open market
Sao Paulo - an open market



Diary of a Vietnamese MBA student

Feb 4th 2011

“Tet – the lunar new year” is knocking the door when I start writing this entry. This year we Vietnamese students welcome our traditional “Tet” in Ireland – a wonderland in my mind. Missing home so much, I know that I will miss this land evermore when I am back to Vietnam.

There are thousands of reasons that make me love this country. My first impression is Irish people, who are very warmhearted and friendly. You can easily get acquainted with people and talk with them, even on the buses or in the streets. I still remember a cold winter day, when I got lost on Moorehampton Road. Thank God, an old lady passed and asked if she could help. She took me to the nearest bus to get home and told me about Ireland in the past. Her stories conjured me up an old Ireland with family ties, catholic norms and community spirit. Above all, I feel the very human nature of Irish people when they communicate and do charity, as in a lyric of my favorite song: “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away”.

Continue reading Diary of a Vietnamese MBA student

Challenges and rewards

Smurfit came to me as a predestined affinity.

Thirsty for knowledge and further management development after several years working experiences, I tried to find an opportunity for MBA. Scholarship was the only feasible option for a candidate from an emerging country, like myself. And I found Smurfit and Irish Aid.

However, I was not that lucky to be selected for the scholarship. After several challenges and fierce struggles, I thought that I would give up. However, thanks to the encouragement of my fiancé, who is my husband now, I decided to go forward with the program without waiting for any other opportunities. I came to the school with mixed feelings where I felt both anxious and worried. Deep thoughts normally occupied my mind during the initial time. I only looked forward to gaining as much knowledge as possible to make up my efforts. My husband, and also my classmate ;), was the only place I could put all pressures on during those days.

Gradually, things have changed. Going along with the program, I get used to the culture and study load, I feel more comfortable now, not only in study but in social life as well. I have friends who I can talk with. Not only my husband, but I now also have Germany, US, Kyrgyzstan, Indian and Irish gals who have the same concerns with mine about the programs, life, etc. I started to approach lectures and program more softly. The presentation ways, communication methods, how to realize true facts from daily news, etc. are more valuable to me now. Besides studying, I go here and there to discover Ireland. I know more Irish and react better in specific situations both in and out the classroom ;). Especially, when Tet, the biggest event of Vietnamese, came, my Vietnamese friends and I had all classmates and lecturers to come to enjoy Tet atmostphere with special dishes and images prepared by ourselves. In Pillar Room with special smell of my mother land’s foods, we all shared the enthusiasm and I really felt I was home at that time. “All wishes may come true to all of us” was my prayer for a new year.

Time flies. It has been almost three terms. I am now more confident with what I have gained from the program and eager to be back to my home country to apply to reality.

And finally, “no life with full of roses”, a Chinese sentence, meaning to live is to take both rewards (roses) and challenges. But on my own perspective, challenges are also “roses”. MBA and my peers are beautiful roses that I have enjoyed.

Anh Pham, FT MBA Class


Multinational friends
Multinational friends - I'm the second from the left


Tet event
Me with Prof Pat Gibbons at Tet
Connemara
Visiting Connemara




The Ireland/Vietnam IDEAS Programme

Ambition to know the world

I grew up in the highland countryside of Vietnam in a family of six children in the time when Vietnam just opened the gate to the world. At that moment, our need was at the basic level of having enough food and clothes.  As a single parent, though my father was struggling to feed us, he still thought big about our future to work extremely hard for our education.  I was impacted strongly by his tenacious effort that not only helped me to have a good education in Vietnam, but also trained me to have a strong will to pursue higher education and open my world.

Continue reading The Ireland/Vietnam IDEAS Programme

Smurfit School’s Vietnam Connection

Each year, a group of highly talented individuals from Vietnam gets the opportunity to study for a year at UCD Smurfit under the Irish Aid Irish Development Experience Sharing (IDEAS) programme. The objective of the IDEAS Programme is to share the lessons of Ireland’s economic and social development with Vietnam. This academic year, the UCD Smurfit School has welcomed 10 students on that Programme

In end November, Orla Nugent (MBA Director) and Gillian Flanagan (Smurfit Admissions) visited Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam to promote both the Business School and the IDEAS Scholarship programme 2011/2012.

In Ho Chi Minh City, Orla and Gillian attended the QS World MBA Fair in HCM. Here they met with over fifty students who were most enthusiastic about UCD Smurfit School, studying in Ireland and the Irish Aid IDEAS Scholarship programme. They also interviewed a number of applicants who have already applied to the Scholarship programme.

Later that week, Orla and Gillian attended a meeting in the Irish Embassy in Hanoi where they met with the IDEAS Programme managers at the Embassy. At this meeting the discussion centred around the applications received to date and a plan of action for the forthcoming months. Part of the programme for the visit to Hanoi was also a visit to the residence of the Irish Ambassador, Maeve Collins, to attend the official launch of the Irish Aid IDEAS Scholarship programme for the 2011/12 academic year. This event was very well attended by interested students who were able to meet also the IDEAS Programme Alumni from the 2009/2010 Programme.

“All in all, it was a very exciting trip. We met a number of interesting applications for the IDEAS Programme 2011/2012 and we now look forward to processing all the applications”, MBA Director Orla Nugent says.

Stay tuned for an update on the IDEAS Programme and to hear from the current students on the Programme.

– Rikke, MBA Programme Manager

For more information about the IDEAS Programme,