Incredible Hospitality That Will Be Remembered for Life

After receiving the schedule of the GNAM week (Global Network for Advanced Management), hosted by UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, and exchanging a couple of letters with the Module Manager Elaine Aherne, I realised we, the MBA students had two PDF documents; each approximately 60 pages, plus a Harvard business school case to read before class started. With nervousness and anxiety, I could not imagine the week-to-come was going to be the one of the highlights of my MBA program.

 Day 1: Not so stormy, but sluggish day


                                          Photo source: Wikipedia

On Sunday, we found out that school had to be cancelled because hurricane Ophelia, the biggest hurricane to hit Ireland in 50 years and whose name I would always remember, was about to hit the island on Monday. As a result, other than quickly hitting the market to stock up on groceries, the rest of Monday was sluggish with awkward naps induced by time zone differences. The “storm” surprisingly had a very  mild impact on Dublin. There was very little rain and the strong wind only lasted for few hours. So after all the waiting, our program finally started early on Tuesday morning!

Day 2: Professor Damien and the Happy Pear


Our first speaker of the week, Professor Damien, came to talk to us about the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish food industry. While being anxious about cold-calling during the lecture, we learned that agriculture was an important underlying component of the Irish economy. The lecture was engaging and involved critical thinking about corporate strategy, competitive advantage, and evolution/growth of a company with its competitive advantage. Then came the Happy Pear, whose presentation was voted the most popular presentation of the week. Not only did we get to understand the importance of living and breathing values and mission when growing a new venture, we were also fed with delicious treats. Dining at the Church Road café in Greystones and touring around the factory made us realise again how tough it is to grow an idea into a business. It’s a long journey but the Pear did it!

Day 3: Council for competitiveness, Qualtrics, Draper Investment, and LinkedIn

Ireland is one of the few countries with a governmental division dedicated to competitiveness. From Professor Peter Clinch, the chair of National Competitive Council, we learned that only through an increase in productivity and efficiency, can the country  sustain its competitiveness and continue growing.

Qualtrics and LinkedIn are both data-driven companies. On the surface, they might seem to have little to do with data; however, it is only with the data they are able to collect, store, process, and analyse, they are able to provide clients with powerful insights about the market. This will be the trend in the up-coming century.

In the lecture entitled “The importance of innovation” Mr. Brian Caulfield, Managing Partner at Draper Esprit, thought us that innovation is not equivalent to invention. Innovation is changing the conventional practices in meaningful ways.


                    Johnny Foxes – The Highest and Happiest Pub in Ireland

We were so fortunate to have had the chance to visit the highest pub (altitude-wise) in Ireland, Johnny Foxes. At first, the dining area seemed crowded and loud, but once the ensemble started to play, Irish dancers started to perform, and people had plenty to drink, the Irish energy filled the entire room. On the other side of the room was a group of elderly visitors. The UCD GNAM crew were so energetic that by the end of show, even they joined us in the party and stood up to move around with the groove.

Day 4: Irish Economy and Intel in Ireland

On Thursday, Professor Jim Power took us through macroeconomic factors influencing the Irish economy, including politics, growing trend of protectionism, BREXIT, etc. We learned that the imbalance of wealth between big corporations and workers might soon create tension and it is the corporations’ responsibility to take actions and tame the sense of the anti-corporations (for example, pay more taxes). After Professor Power’s lecture, Mr. Eamonn Sinnott, the GM of Intel Ireland came to talk to us about Intel’s strategic location in Ireland, its unceasing leadership in microprocessor manufacturing, and its strategic bets (ie. AI, Automated Driving/ADAS, 5G, and Virtual & Merged Reality).

Literary Pub Crawl

As we gathered in the oldest pubs in Ireland, the two actors took us back in time with their superior acting skills. In the old pubs, under The Campanile of Trinity College, and in front of the Saint Andrews Church, we immersed ourselves with Irish literature and of course, beer and Irish pub food. The day was long and the road was wet, but nothing could beat the warmth inside the pubs from other pub-goers and from the UCD GNAM team.


Photo Credit: Tushar Gandhi from IIMB, India

Day 5: Innovation in the Performance Art Industry and Use of Body Language as Communications


At the Abbey theatre, we got to go on the main stage. The stage had been designed by the arts director for the play that was on-going, Ulysses (A live trailer can be found here). Because the stage is considered as the intellectual property of the artists, we were not allowed to take pictures of the stage. However, the mere experience of walking on the stage was once-a-life-time experience on its own. The coach led the UCD GNAM team through a series of exercises and games which actors would frequently play during routine practices. By the end of the two-hour session, the UCD GNAM team was more aware of the messages we can convey to people around us by body languages, including the way we vocalise, walk, hold a posture, etc. The team then went on to learn more about the history of Abbey theatre and how innovations had changed the theatre industry in Ireland. We learned about how immersive theatre was started and how nowadays, the performers asked for more than just the audience sitting in front of the stage, shifting from passive participation to taking part in the story and furthermore, playing a role in the story. After a well-balanced mix of hands-on experience and intellectual insights into the theatre arts, we were fed with delicious lunch at the theatre before moving on to our next, and last stop, the Guinness Storehouse.


      Photo Credit: Benjamin Benhamou, from Sauder School of Business, Canada

The Guinness Storehouse is one of the most highly rated sites to visit in Ireland and it is not over-rated at all. The team broke into smaller groups and toured around the Storehouse. After a long week, of meeting new friends, learning, immersing ourselves in the Irish culture, nothing can be more perfect as an ending than a pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar, the rooftop bar of Guinness Storehouse with a panoramic view of city of Dublin.

Closing Remarks

The week, even though shortened by hurricane Ophelia, was full of valuable learning, be it through lectures, site visits, or theatre performance. Professor Patrick Gibbons and Module Manager Elaine Aherne put a lot of thought into designing the program and making sure that all of us from different parts of the world felt welcomed and returned to where we come from with new insights about Ireland. All of us from the UCD GNAM team would like to thank Professor Gibbons and Elaine dearly for the memories we have from the program.

Yvonne Li, MBA Candidate 2018, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia