The Beginning of a New Phase

This week another phase of my life is coming to an end. I submitted the Capstone Project Report, the last assignment of the MBA. Myself, Eoin, Emrecan, and Cathal were the first team in the class to submit the report. We did our project with a start-up company called Mobstats. The company provides an artificial intelligence (AI) solution for sport clubs to increase fan engagement. Our project was to develop the company’s business plan, particularly focused on market and competitor analysis, marketing and sales plan, pricing guidance, risk assessment, and financial projections.

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The Capstone Project is a unique opportunity to put in practice all the learning from the MBA in a real business environment. Especially for students pursuing a career in consulting, the experience reflects what they would face when dealing with clients, from setting the scope of the project through the engagement letter, to delivering the final product using different frameworks. The diverse background of my team combined with the experience we had in the international consulting trip to Iceland surely maximized the learning from the Capstone Project.

Now that we are ready to go back to the real world, a new phase begins. New expectations, challenges, and goals are now being set by each colleague in the MBA class. Some colleagues have already accepted a job offer, others are still doing interviews, some are starting their own business, others will travel the world before returning to the world of business, and a few will continue their student journey. Regardless of the situation, we all share the same sense of accomplishment from successfully finishing the MBA.

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An important stepping stone was achieved, but we all know that our journey does not end here. New challenges will involve as much effort as required in the MBA. Everything we learned throughout the MBA will help us to succeed in the next stages of our career. However, we need to be aware that our learning process does not end with the three letters on our CV. We all need to be open to continue to learn as the world continues to change.

 Marcelo Cardozo de Mello Boccuzzi FT MBA 2017/18

Celebrating Ireland’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women, 2018

With exam stress a distant memory, the recovery of my social life underway and hints that a heatwave was coming to Ireland, to say I was happy the summer had arrived was an understatement. First year had been more enjoyable and rewarding than I had anticipated,  however there was certainly a need for some well-deserved time off. Despite this, the invite to the WXN Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Ireland awards ceremony came as a welcome reminder as to why I had taken on the challenge of an Executive MBA in the first place.

I didn’t need to be asked twice to attend the awards ceremony in the Intercontinental Hotel, Dublin. The glad rags were on and I was ready to celebrate some of the most inspirational women this country has to offer.

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Founded in Canada in 1997, and expanded to Ireland in 2008, the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) is dedicated to the advancement and acknowledgement of women in leadership roles across a diverse range of industries. The WXN awards ceremony recognises and celebrates the accomplishments of incredible and inspirational female leaders in business, arts, sport and entertainment, entrepreneurship, not-for-profit ventures and the public sector.

The accomplishments of these 25 women are truly inspirational, each one a trail blazer in her own field. The interviewees were candid and sincere in their responses while Senator Joan Freeman had the audience’s undivided attention such was her ability to capture our attentions. She spoke about the female traits that women bring to leadership roles including compassion, acceptance and love. These are traits which are needed in senior leadership roles and she encouraged us all to strive towards achieving our goals.

Of course, like all MBA activities the awards ceremony provided an opportunity to network, this time with our counterparts from the different MBA streams. Now more than ever the differences in full timers and executives MBA journeys was evident. For the first-year executives, it was a great opportunity to get the inside track on which choice subjects to pick next year while the full timers were full of excitement (and perhaps nervousness) for life post-MBA.

Having reached the milestone of completing first year, I am inspired by these 25 women to return to year two and set the bar even higher for myself to ensure I reach my full potential. Until then however, I am happy to take a well-earned break and enjoy the Irish heatwave for as long as it lasts.

Teresa Dillon, EMBA 2017/19

“They think its all over…. it is now”

2 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak at a Smurfit MBA reception attempting to debate the future of big brands and the importance of innovative communication with Damien McLoughlin. I’m going to be nice to myself and call it a draw – but irrespective of the outcome, it made me think of what a journey this MBA has been. 2 years ago I do not think it would have been me in front of that crowd. After the talk, several potential 2018/19 MBA students approached me to gain some insights and find out the best and worst bits of completing an Executive MBA. It caused me to think about it properly, possibly for the first time as it has been a whirlwind 2 years. Outside of the Executive MBA, I have moved job, moved into a new house and any day now our 3rd child will arrive into our family. So it’s been hectic. But it’s been a positive experience too.

I didn’t go on any international trips during my 2 years so maybe my highlights are more mundane than those who experienced Reykjavik, Lima or Yale. For me, a large highlight is the fact that I have been in a position to implement so many of the learnings I have made directly into my work. Not only is this very professionally satisfying but it keeps the entire programme relevant and current. Take Group work as an example. Group work never appealed to me – but the setup of the programme forces you to engage with it from Day 1. With Semesters, Global Virtual Teams, Block Week assignments and Capstone, I have been involved with 8 Groups during the 2 years. Not only have I have learned a huge amount about working with teams, from basic communication to the setting of roles, but I have also learned an awful lot about myself. I hope I have added something to the Groups I was in too. They are more than capable of letting me know if I haven’t. I can use these experiences, both positive and negative, in my current job. The current and real life experience focus of the EMBA, driven by not only the lecturers experience and their use of current case studies but more so by the discussions and arguments that took place between my fellow classmates, each with lots of experience in completely different industries to me, help shape this.

Surreally, my last act in my Executive MBA (apart from Capstone of course), was to cook a chicken casserole in Ballyknocken House along with Catherine Fulvio and a group of business students from Smurfit, Yale, Haas Berkeley, IE Madrid, Egade Mexico, Fudan China and Hitotsubashi Japan as part of the ‘Future of Food’ GNAM Block Week. A memorable experience to round off a memorable 2 years. It’s time for the next chapter now. Reintroduce myself to normal life – I’m looking forward to not feeling guilty about sitting down and watching TV without a nagging thought I should be reading something.

On Day 1 of Initiation week in August 2017, the first person I met on the course was Osgur Ó Ciardha.  It was fitting that he was also on the Future of Food week and so we bookended the 2 years nicely. Since we first met he has secured a new job and become a TV star! I look forward to hearing of many more success stories from my classmates into the future.

Robert Slattery, EMBA 2016/18

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Women’s 21st Century Leadership

Susan McDonnell and Oonagh O’Grady joined a cohort of MBA students from around the world at Haas Business School, University of California, Berkeley in early June for an intensive 5-day module titled Women’s 21st Century Leadership. This module was offered as part of the Global Network for Advanced Management week.

Professor Laura Kray in her introduction to the week outlined how the reality remains that the career paths of men and women still diverge in complex yet systematic ways. With more women in the workforce than ever before – and even more joining top leadership ranks – the need for women’s voices to be heard has never been greater. Professor Kray put out a “call to arms” at the outset of the course – What will YOUR role be in advancing gender equality?

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The programme was designed to help us to promote gender equality in the workplace but also to cultivate our own authentic leadership style as women. Authenticity is a key pillar of modern leadership. We were thought that teaching women to act like men in order to get ahead is misguided. It ultimately results in women becoming overly focused on their self-image and not on the leadership task at hand. This course sought to over-write outdated scripts about power and push past the usual stereotypes, for example, the perceived need for women to “fit into” a masculine world.

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Our first guest speaker, Haben Girma, was utterly inspiring and personified the concept of a growth mindset. Haben was the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, is on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was named by President Obama as a White House Champion of Change. She advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities and encourages us all to resist society’s low expectations of those with disabilities. Instead she asked us to choose to create our own pioneering story. She provided us with a master class in public speaking on the first morning despite being born deaf-blind. During the presentation, she received constant feedback from her interpreter who typed a description of the happenings in the room. We then had a chance to ask Haben questions through a keypad which translated our queries to braille.

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Penny Kreitzer, an accomplished stage actress, thought us tips to improve our leadership presence through the strengthening of our voice and stance. She also thought us a five-step grounding exercise which she assured us would become second nature through practise.  Christine Carter shared the secrets of “How to Achieve More By Doing Less” by highlighting a number of limiting beliefs and unmasking the truths instead:

  • Limiting Belief #1: busyness = importance

Truth: In fact, the truth is that busyness equals cognitive overload – Single tasking is the way to go

  • Limiting Belief #2: Doing nothing is a waste of time

Truth: Our brains benefit when we waste time – it’s called strategic slacking

  • Limiting Belief #3: More is better

Truth: Often less is more – acknowledge abundance using gratitude

We learned about the “Future of Work” from Sally Thornton and in particular about the work-life blend as opposed to work-life balance. Carolyn Buck‐Luce outlined how we needed to “Celebrate the Leader Within” and introduced us to the secret to her success – The Decade Game. This involves her outlining at the start of each decade her purpose for the next decade. The key questions she asks herself to define her decade strategy are – why are you on the planet? And how would you like to be known by the world at the end of this decade? She recommended that you thought about your strategy as a multi-level computer game where you set targets or levels to achieve every 90 days. With regards to executive presence, she noted how gravitas accounted for 67% of an executive’s presence. Gravitas includes things like grace under fire, decisiveness, ability to read and command, ability to inspire others and the importance of integrity, authenticity and reputation.

Our final guest speaker Sanez Mobasseri helped us analyse our social network under the 5 pillars – depth, breath, structural configuration, dependencies and perceived status of contacts. She also thought us that building and maintaining your network is a lifelong task and that connections need to be made before you actually need them.

The third day of the course entailed two company visits to tech multinationals located in San Francisco.  First up was DocuSign, an electronic signature technology and digital transaction management services company. Chief People Officer, Joan Burke and a number of members of a group called Women at DocuSign joined us to explain what makes DocuSign a great place to work. They outlined how diversity and inclusion was driven from the top by their CEO Dan Springer who was motivated by his experience of being the son of a single mother. This shines through in the company’s HR policies and in particular with regards to maternity and paternity leave which are much more generous than US standards.

We then travelled across town to Uber’s offices where Bernard C. Coleman, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, talked to us about the journey the company has gone through over the past year since the highly-publicised Susan Fowler case. Along with a panel of Uber employees involved in Women and Diversity initiatives, he outlined some of the innovative diversity and inclusion programmes they have introduced.

On the final day, we presented our research project finding on topics which included – Gender differences in values, attitudes, and beliefs – Implicit bias and its consequences in organisations – Women working with women – Work-life balance and Engaging men on gender equity.

No MBA experience would be complete without a networking opportunity and this trip provided this in abundance. We were part of a truly international cohort with representatives from US Business Schools – Haas and Yale as well as people who had travelled from Ghana, Mexico, Russia, Spain, UK, Portugal, Denmark, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and China. Not only was there diversity in geography but also in industries with all of the major industries represented as well as NGOs and the Art industry. Most importantly the class contained a number of male colleagues who leant a balanced and insightful voice to the week.

We both feel we gained a new level of confidence and greater sense of ownership over our own leadership development. We also feel we are now more able to diagnose multiple causes of gender inequality, better equipped to develop techniques for influencing others, and understand the critical role of mindsets in collaborating effectively with others to lead change. We also now have a full itinerary of class reunions scheduled for the coming years….first stop Ghana in 2019!

Oonagh O’Grady, EMBA 2018

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Pre-Exam Glam

With exams looming, assignment deadlines creeping up, and end of semester emotions rising, a group of MBA students attended the UCD Business Alumni Awards on a sunny spring evening in the InterContinental Hotel, Dublin. Ball gowns and tuxes were dusted off for a night of glitz and glamour, before we earnestly began to settle into exam mode the following week – you could say, the calm before the storm!

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The annual Business Alumni Awards Dinner is one of the highlight events in the UCD College of Business annual events programme. Each year approximately 450 guests attend the Awards Dinner to celebrate and recognise the achievements and successes of graduates through the ‘Alumni of the Year’ and ‘Student of the Year’ awards.

The awards serve to recognize driven, committed, and successful alumni who have contributed to the business community of Ireland and globally. We were treated to inspiring and very personal acceptance speeches from the Alumni Award winners Padraic Ward and Michael Cullen; both spoke about their time in UCD and how those experiences laid the foundations for their highly successful careers on the global stage. What struck me personally was their authenticity, humbleness, and honesty. The Student Award winners, Jeremey Boles and Aoife Kiernan, also reflected on how their UCD experiences served as a springboard for propelling their careers forward.

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One of the key learnings I will take from my two years in Smurfit is the value and importance of the Smurfit network. I have seen firsthand the value of the network throughout the MBA programme and it was clear from the Awards Dinner that the global alumni community is very active, influential, and strong.

As my own MBA journey is beginning to draw to an end, my Google Calendar is showing positive signs of a full recovery. Opportunities to reconnect and catch up with classmates will become less frequent. The Alumni Awards Dinner is a fantastic opportunity to throw on a ball gown (or tux) and catch up with classmates and the broader global alumni community.

Being able to enjoy the late evening sun in a fancy hotel was an added bonus!

Maria Barry, EMBA 2016/18

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Golf in Historic Surroundings – A Day in the Luscious Parklands of Luttrellstown Castle

 

Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.

Superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results. 

Sir Ernest Shackleton

Just ahead of our recent exams and final assignments, we set out for a day’s leisure in the peaceful and historic surrounds of Luttrellstown Castle. While the golf was at best mediocre, we were fortunate to get some fine weather for the day and had the opportunity to catch up with classmates at the “19th hole” to reflect on our endeavours over the course of the MBA programme.

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Many esteemed graduates note that doing an MBA is like “going on a journey” and the mediocre standard of golf on the day ensured that we got to see more of the tracks and trails that Luttrellstown has to offer than most regular golfers. In conjunction with the challenges posed by the variety of elements of our MBA programme, the championship course we played also provided many obstacles with a lot of water features to be overcome among other challenging features.

The MBA Golf Society will hold its main event of the year in the splendorous surrounds of the K Club on Saturday, July 1st. The day will be held in aid of the UCD Ad Astra Scholarships/UCD Foundation and Cardiac Risk in the Young. Details of how to enter are on Eventbrite at:

https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/ucd-smurfit-mba-golf-society-classic-tickets-34792133207?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=escb&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing

Ciarán O’Shea,

Executive MBA.

The Power of Positivity…How to increase your brain power by 31%?

I stumbled across this Ted Talk recently and I found it truly inspiring and dare I say life changing…

In it Shawn Achor, a Harvard graduate, describes how we can rewire our brains for positivity and in doing so increase our performance levels, brain power and lifespan.

A positive mindset results in:

23% greater energy in the midst of stress,

31% higher productivity,

37% higher levels of sales,

40% higher likelihood to be promoted,

and improved our longevity.

The good news is we can train our brain to happy and more positive just as we can train our bodies. The even better news is its not nearly as challenging as pumping iron or pedalling it out in a spin class. It’s just a matter of developing a few good habits in our daily routine. Achor summarises his recipe for success in the Ted Talk but has written many books on the power of positivity which are worth a read if you get the chance.  Achor’s training plan is very simple… it nearly sounds like something you wise old granny would have taught you…

  1. 3 Gratitudes: List 3 things you were grateful for today.
  2. Random Act of Kindness: Compliment someone on on their outfit, applauded a colleague on a job well done, buy someone a cup of tea…
  3. 10 minutes of Exercise: Teach you brain that behaviour matters
  4. Keep a Journal: Take 2 minutes a day to write a few sentences on a positive experience, so that you can relive it
  5. Meditation: You don’t need to find your innerself but take 5 minutes in the day to sit in silence and allow the world to past you by.

Watching this Ted Talk was the best twelve and a half minutes I have spend this year. I have found a huge difference in my attitude to life and to others as well as my capacity to deal with the increased pressures of taking on a new role as well as the MBA this year.

Dawn Reilly

EMBA Midweek year 1


Time out! MBA Charity Club’s Table Quiz

Where does the time go? Seriously… Forgive me for the late post!

The Charity Club decided to kick off the first event accordingly after our Financial Reporting Exam on October 23rd to support two special charities: BizWorld IE and Aid for Sierra Leone. After a challenging morning, a majority of the class and some alumni met up at the Dark Horse for pints and bragging rights.

We were all really glad that we could all sleep in the next day so no holds barred! Cian Collins was an amazing Quiz Master, posing some really challenging rounds. Special thanks are also in order for other FT MBAs: Ronan O’Beirne for providing the audio equipment and Edel Kennedy for photographing and grading the responses. With some amazing persuasion, we were able to round up a couple of teams from outside of Smurfit to participate

Right from the start, the alumni teams kicked off in the lead and held strong throughout the night. The full-time class seemed to just be focusing on getting on the piss. (Can you all tell I’m adapting to the Irish slang?) I recall loads of cheers to our beloved Professor extraordinaire Niamh Brennan for bringing us all together!

In the end, the winning team were comprised of FT MBAs– Enda Power, Joe McMenamin, George Gilliland, and Allan Brownlee ­– who stole the show with the Father Ted round.

The questions were funny and drinks and laughs were a plenty. So all in all a successful night!

Thank you to everyone who showed up to support BizWorld IE and Aid For Sierra Leone!

More about Bizworld here: http://bizworldireland.ie/

More about @aid4sierraleone here: aidforsierraleone.org

Here are the photos, courtesy of Edel.

Lindsey Nguyen

FT class 2015 and Charity Club

Time management lessons

Baby Alex contemplating his future with an MBA

It has been an eventful few months. In August I finished up work and moved house to Dublin. This was the same month that I started the Full Time MBA programme and became fully immersed in the course. With the workload of the MBA my time management skills were thoroughly tested from the outset. Being a project manager, I managed my time well at the beginning with various calendars, trackers and to-do lists. I was very busy, or so I thought.

Then baby Alex arrived to the world on 27th September. My time since has become even more precious. I have learned how to function on approximately five hours sleep a night. I have learned how to carry out various baby related tasks, sometimes while reading a chapter of ‘Contemporary Strategy Analysis’. The MBA and the coursework that goes with it has continued at full throttle. I have had great support from my classmates (thanks for the babygro!) and my ‘performing’ team.

Had I known how hectic these months would be, would I change anything?

Not for a minute!

Jospeh McMenamin

Full-time class 2015

To MBA or not MBA

Filling in the application form in March, April and May (yes that’s right 3 months to finalise the initial submission) I feel demonstrates the fine art of procrastination I had mastered over the years. Fast forward to today, 6 weeks of lectures under my belt and those precious lazy Sunday afternoons lying on the sofa gone. They have been replaced with a sea of paper and an ever growing pile of ignored emails from friends (fingers crossed they are still friends).

The question is do I miss the lazy Sundays and do I need those friends? Well I may need the friends but I don’t long for those lazy Sundays. Yes some sleep without the constant mouse on a wheel running in my head screaming, OB pairs project 60%, supply chain presentation 20%, competitive strategy report 25% would be nice, but you can’t have it all.

The learning curve has been steep to date and the group dynamics intense at times, especially when feminism is brought up, which is generally twice a week in our Group.  It is however this fast paced environment that keeps me alert, no matter what the week in work was like and what obscure place in Europe I had the pleasure of visiting.

There has not been a lecture where I have questioned why did I sign up to this? I run out of work on a Friday to get to lectures (generally with minutes to spare) and eagerly await the classroom discussion tangents we will undoubtedly force the lecture to take. So far so good!

The lyrics corner

The lyrics which sum up my first six weeks are: my face above the water, my feet can’t touch the ground. Ironically my feet are on the ground.

Darren Kelly

EMBA Weekend year 1