Baby Got Back – Smurfit and the School of Life

An MBA is designed to put one to the pin of their collar. For me, this was never more so the case for last few weeks of semester 1. Deadlines, assignments, heated debates, sleep deprivation and the small but not insignificant matter of the impending arrival of my first born during exam week! Suffice to say it has been a bit of a whirlwind!

Despite best laid plans of finalising group projects, submitting assignments and preparing for exams, it all changed at short notice as our baby daughter decided to arrive early for Christmas. Everything went out the window and all sleep deprivation training throughout the semester kicked in for real. Suffice to say exam preparation was difficult to say the least as concentration levels were variable. But through both the flexibility and the patience of my long suffering team members and the Programme Office, I came out the other side. Although the results have not been published yet I feel like I have passed a module in achieving a work-life balance.

Attention now turns to semester 2 and a slightly bigger juggling act than before Christmas. The balance between the academic, leadership development, networking and nappy changing is a mystery, at least until we start back. Who knows it may still remain a mystery by the end of the semester? Let’s see what awaits.

Before semester 2 suddenly creeps up on the class, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and successful new year.

PS: For any of you interested, I highly recommend it. I would not change the experience for the world, the MBA or fatherhood!


Ken Barry, Class Rep Semester 1

FT MBA 2014

Ireland

Looking Forward to Looking Back

With a new year upon us, I’ve been reflecting on the highs and lows of 2013 which included completing my first semester of the mid-week Executive MBA (EMBA).  Given that I questioned my sanity on a number of occasions during semester 1, I am pleased to say that the EMBA was close to the top of my list of highs.

In my experience, maintaining a sensible balance between study, work, and a personal life was the largest challenge of the past 3 months. Be it lectures, readings, assignments, team meetings or guest speakers, the MBA can consume all of your time! In the case of the MBA, the old saying of “you get out what you put in” is certainly true, however the ability to prioritise and effectively manage your time is key.

Aside from the academic benefits of an MBA program, some personal highlights to date have been:

  • Attending an entrepreneurship club event which had a number of guest speakers from Irish start-ups
  • Participation and insight gained in class group presentations
  • Attending a series of guest speaker panels organised by a group of MBA alums, with a particular highlight being the visit of Des Traynor of Intercom.
  • The Leadership Development Programme events

Above all, the essence of the MBA program is the people (legends) you meet, be it team mates, classmates or those in the alumni network.  In just 3 months, the MBA has provided numerous opportunities to meet and work with exceptionally talented people. As a group, the midweek class has learned a great deal outside of academics, such as:

  • Tina is an awesome electric guitarist.
  • Not all pharmacists are boring!
  • Tullow Oil is the greatest company to work for in the history of the world, ever.
  • Frankie works in a bank.

So as we embark on semester 2 in just over a weeks’ time, where we will have new teams and no doubt new challenges, three pieces of advice I have are:

  • Manage your time & work hard but make sure to maintain a work/study/life balance
  • Attend as many extra-curricular MBA events as possible (and in particular the monthly guest speakers organised by Joe Kenny)
  • And, most of all, enjoy yourselves!


Over and Out

Michael O’Dwyer

Midweek EMBA 2015

Learning New Things.

Our first semester is coming to an end. Time is really flying these days. I am so eager and look forward to the next two weeks, when all is said and done, I will have one month free!!!

I heard from many former students that the first semester is the hardest semester of the course.  If what they said it right, I am about to overcome the hardest part of the course in the next two weeks!!!

After nearly four months studying here, I have learnt a lot from my classmates and my Team-mates.  There are two characteristics of my classmates that I really wish that I can apply to myself and they are the way they manage time and their self-discipline. Hopefully, I can be more disciplined and better in managing my time, even it takes time to achieve these skills, I will do my best.

I have gone through one-third of my UCD Smurfit MBA course. Hopefully, in eight months’ time, the day I leave Dublin and take the flight back to Vietnam, I will have learned many new things in comparison to the day I left Vietnam some five months ago.

Trang Do.

FTMBA 2014.

How did he find the time? Alum Dave Graham on his award winning first novel.

I took the UCD Smurfit EMBA from 2010 to 2012 and this is a short piece about how the time-juggling demands that the course places on people were a great help in getting my published book over the line this year.


Just as a brief background to how I came to be published. I had started writing ‘Incitement’ ( see http://www.davidgrahambooks.com/incitement/ ) around the time our second child arrived. I’d finished the book, submitted it to what I thought were likely agents, got serially rejected and then pretty much tore the book apart and rewrote 75% of it. The problem was I never got around to resubmitting it between work, family and starting the MBA. Then one day driving to work, I was listening to The John Murray Show on RTE 1, Ireland’s national radio station. A piece came on asking whether you’d ever written a book that hadn’t been published. The competition was being run in conjunction with The RTE Guide and the prize was a publishing package. When I got to the office, I thought about it for a while, decided ‘why not’ and submitted the book with no expectation whatsoever.


A couple of months later, I received a phone call saying I’d made a shortlist of five from over 500 entries. I still didn’t feel I’d go further in the competition but was pleased with that. Then in August, the five finalists were invited to go on air while two of the three judges discussed the books and announced the winner. To my surprise I won and, just like that, my book was going to be published. Well, not quite, there was quite a bit of work to be done between edits, cover design and preparing to promote the book.


I’m married with two young boys and run a small business, so finding the time to get the multiple edits and other pieces done was going to be a challenge. Luckily, though, the MBA had been great preparation for this. When originally considering taking the course, my wife and myself had both looked at our routines because we knew it would mean a commitment from both of us. An added complication was moving house and having the new house extended and renovated during the same time period. We cut away a lot of the extraneous stuff and really prioritized things like time with the kids, there were easy sacrifices like TV and some others that weren’t so easy and, at times, eight hours of sleep was a luxury foregone. Thing is, though, it was manageable; at times it got a little stressful but all of the work got done. So, when it came time to do the book work, what might have seemed otherwise difficult with a temptation to compromise on quality, ended up being quite doable. We just looked at it like a two month resumption of the MBA.


Funnily, the MBA helped in one other way. The book deals with a conflict between two global drug cartels which unbeknownst to the protagonists has been incited by third-parties. Part of the story deals with the issues of drug shortages, what impact they would have on demand and pricing and the possible societal impact. During the rewrites, I was able to subtly change some of these passages to have a firmer economic footing. Saying this, I should provide a disclaimer to my economics and finance lecturers, none of them ever lectured on the supply-and-demand dynamics of the international drug trade and any flaws that remain are solely mine.


The hope with the book now is that people will check it out and spread the word amongst their family and friends. To read a little about some of the books I would recommend and that have influenced my writing you can see some blog pieces at http://www.davidgrahambooks.com/category/blog/

Dave Graham,

EMBA 2012.

The road less travelled – giving rugby a shot.

“Please tell me you are not playing rugby but only helping out with the equipment department!” – Timothy Downs

The above quote comes courtesy of my brother in response to telling him I signed up for the UCD Smurfit Rugby Football Club. A little background info for the readers: I’m 5’8” and weigh 145 lbs soaking wet (that’s 65 kg for you Continentals). I’ve never been much of an athlete either. And sure, trying rugby for the first time is a bit out of my comfort zone but that’s kind of the point. It’s kind of the point of doing this whole UCD Smurfit MBA thing too.

I could have followed an easy path and continued working at my old job. But I didn’t want to keep living my life on autopilot. Everyday was basically the same: routine, static.  At times to spur growth you need make a drastic change to the status quo. And if I can jolt myself out of my comfortable routine I suppose I should keep that theme going throughout the rest of the year.

So, I’ll give rugby a shot. Sure, I may get knocked down and banged up on the pitch but that’s okay. Now is the time to try new things. If it doesn’t work out at least I can say I tried. So long as I finish my UCD Smurfit MBA with the same number of teeth that I started with, I’ll mark it up as a successful year.

Tony Downs,

FTMBA 2014.

UCD Smurfit MBA Rugby Defence is Up & Running for 2014.

There is a quote I often like to fall back on and whilst it originates from the sporting world, it is pertinent across all aspects of teamwork.  It comes from the man who is revered in NFL circles (especially those from Green Bay) – Vince Lombardi.  

One of the greatest sports coaches of all time, he  said ‘The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand’. Given that the UCD Smurfit rugby club is focused less on playing rugby and more on ensuring there is an opportunity to play the sport, this is apt.  With the not inconsiderable task of putting together a squad and ensuring we have the funds to travel to the US to defend the MBA Rugby World Cup, our small, dedicated and hard working committee has hit the fundraising road as early as possible.

On Tuesday 29th October, UCD Smurfit Rugby FC held what is hoped will be the first of many table quizzes in the Dark Horse on Carysfort Avenue. Whilst some of the question rounds proved trickier than hoped (maybe the rugby questions should’ve been easier…), the pub was buzzing with arguments about the second largest city in the EU, what the highest selling album of all time was and what is that obscure country that begins with a ‘D’.  With the division of labour across the committee and the opportunity to drive additional fundraising through selling questions and phone use, the rugby club committee was kept busy. With the kind support of the Dark Horse (MBA students can make time for the pub), it is hoped that there will be many more table quizzes during the year.

It was great to see some of our predecessors and other members of last year class come out and support this first event – we hope to see them more often! With all funds going towards ensuring that the club can attempt to defend the MBA Rugby World Cup in April, every little bit certainly does count.

With the hard work, dedication and determination shown at getting this first fundraiser put together and executed, there is no doubt that the UCD Smurfit rugby club will make a success of the task at hand.  With ongoing support from family and friends and growing interest in the club, future quizzes will promise to be even more competitive, so get your thinking caps on!

Keep an eye on the club’s website:  http://www.ucdsmurfitrugbyfc.ie/

facebook page:  www.facebook.com/UCDSmurfitRugbyFC

and twitter @ucdsmurfitrugby for news of the next event.


Jim Radmore, UCD Smurfit Rugby Football Club Chair 2013-14.

FT MBA 2014.

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 Entrepreneurship Club kicks off a new season in Google HQ.

The UCD Smurfit Entrepreneurship Club put together an introductory event on 8 October. Over 35 current and recent MBA participants attended. The event was hosted at the Google Docks building on Barrow Street with an incredible line-up of speakers and club member who stepped up to make it happen. When you see them, thank these incredibly generous individuals who provided the substance to the event and helped to coordinate everyone and everything on a VERY short timeline.

One of our own, Mathilde Miravete EMBA 2015, did a fantastic job securing Google as the venue and also MC’d the panel. Michael Culligan pulled double duty on the panel, providing an introductory overview and discussing the types and availability of funds in Dublin. Eamonn Sayers provided an overview of the Incubator environment at the Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC), discussing the benefits of close working environment for entrepreneurs. Our NDRC representative, Gary Leyden, discussed his LaunchPad programme and that an Accelerator slightly differs from an Incubator by focusing on projects closer to viable start-up status. individuals who provided the substance to the event and helped to coordinate everyone and everything on a VERY short timeline.

Bringing social responsibility to the discussion was Darren Ryan from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI). He gave us an overview of how SEI is working to make a difference through entrepreneurs and redefining success by social impact. Brendan Cremen provided an academic supported Incubator at NovaUCD, which leverages the school’s researchers, leaders, and investors.

Our attendees found the event an incredibly useful introduction to the entrepreneur landscape. Pawel Ostropolski enjoyed that a “broad range of the entrepreneurship landscape” was covered from physical products, to IT solutions, and process change through social process reform ideas. Sundar Balasubramani enjoyed the chance to meet and network with Gary and Eamonn. David Keirnan found that “The discussions outlinedpractical steps to take a business concept to reality. Advice on the do’s and do not’s for start-up enterprises was given by highly experienced people working in the field.”

Being Google, we also got some swag in the form of stickers, diary pads, and pens. After the formal Q&A everyone enjoyed canapés with wine kindly sponsored by the MBA Office.

In all, a great introductory event that provided everyone a feel for some of the major players in the Entrepreneur scene in Dublin in such a beautiful setting overlooking Dublin city from Google headquarters.

The next meeting of UCD Entrepreneurship Club is scheduled for 31 October at 7:30p in the Pillar Room.


Pete Kloehn,  MBA Entrepreneurship Club Chair 2013-14.

FTMBA 2014.

Come Dine With Me!

I love eating.

Two bowls of ice cream for lunch…sign me up.

A crispy layer of fat on a pork roast for dinner…table for one please.

An entire box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese just because…don’t mind if I do.

But there is more to it than spurts of gluttony. It’s not just food but the whole experience of eating a meal that I love. For me, the emotional component to eating is a powerful thing.

So when you add good company and conversation to the mix I’m the happiest boy in town. And that is what happened the other night at the Cathal Brugha Barracks in Rathmines. Thanks to our classmate, Captain Ken Barry, the Fulltime UCD Smurfit MBAs and I had the privilege of dining in the Officers’ Mess on the army base.


UCD Smurfit FT MBA 2014 Cathal Brugha Barracks SEM1


Don’t get me wrong here, the gravied lamb shank with buttery mashed potatoes was delicious but what really filled me up was the chance to relax and chat with my classmates over a good meal outside of school.

We’ve been on our UCD Smurfit MBA journey for over a month now and everyone needed a chance to refuel. It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters during this experience. When you get too wrapped up in assignments you can forget that when the modules are done the real leftovers you take with you are the people and friendships you find along the way.

The friendships are side dishes that come with your MBA entrée. You didn’t order them when you came in but your meal wouldn’t be complete without them.



Tony Downs & Kim Cathal Brugha Barracks SEM1








Tony Downs,

FT MBA 2014.

UCD Smurfit MBA Investment Competition 2013

I hope the participants are enjoying the competition so far and learning from the practical experience of trading….we’ve had a challenging market environment with infinite QE hangovers and traders doing their best to ignore the US federal shut-down… it is really interesting to see the different trading strategies at work across the competition….and now some good news; UCD MBA Office has put up with two really excellent prizes (thanks Michael);

First prize is a very nice selection of wine – this will be for the overall winner….But, that’s not all! – we also have a ‘most interesting trade’ prize of a €50 book token – to be judged by myself and an independent person from a selection of your trades that are very unusual, creative, brave or just plain stupid!….we’ll have a look at all trades but if you spot a candidate for this prize send your nominations to me, so get going on those exotic trading positions (judge’s decision is final etc. etc.).

In view of the really great prizes on offer and our busy schedules, I am extend the trading game until close of US markets on Friday 18 October 2013.


Markets re-open in under 1 hour – happy trading!


David Flynn.

EMBA 2013.