An “interesting” week.

Well, it is week 3 and things have started to get “interesting”.  The main issue I face is time management and I know that this is a major issue for the whole class. I am lucky in some respects as I am an accountant and so the financial reporting module is not as tricky for me as it is for some of the others. However, I have a wife and daughter that I would like to see at least once a day so managing my study time around that is a bit of a challenge for me.

This week has been the most “interesting” or more accurately – challenging to date. In previous weeks, I had used either Saturday or Sunday to try to catch up on any readings or work I could not complete during the week but it was my daughter’s first birthday party on Sunday and my wife and I spent most of the weekend preparing for it. I got less study done than I would have liked and we have a number of assignments to hand in either at the end of this week or the beginning of next week. As I said – “interesting”.

In reality it is all about teamwork, and trying to be as efficient during team meetings and in allocating team tasks as possible. It is a learning experience and we have a bit to go in our team before we are running smoothly. The important thing to remember is that we are all here to do the best we can and if we can keep this at the forefront of our minds at meetings, hopefully we will still be able to talk to each other before the semester is out!

I am curious about how the team dynamic will evolve as more and more work is piled on us, will we knit at a team and see the efficiencies that we gain from good teamwork or is there a risk of fragmentation? Hopefully, we will all knit and gel together. In order to try to engineer some team morale and build stronger bonds the team is going to have a “video night” in my house in the next week or so. We are going to watch The Commitments so that the foreign members of our team get an introduction to the real Dublin! I will let you know if they needed a translator and how it went in my next post.

Thady Duggan.

FT MBA 2014.

MBA Welcome Dinner.

The whirlwind of the UCD Smurfit MBA life kick started right from the first day of classes, so having a night off just to get to know the faculty, staff, everybody, and their loved ones outside of the classrooms were quite refreshing.

The night started off with a drinks reception in which full-time MBA and EMBA students mingled and shared our experiences so far into the programs.  We, the FTMBA students, quickly found out that our schedule faded compared to the hectic work-study-family balancing act of EMBAs.

Moving forward to the dinner, watching a video of the very first alumni talking about their time at UCD Smurfit 50 years ago made us appreciate better the rich history and excellent tradition of the school.

As a mini-representation of how accessible and diversified the program is, half of my table was international students from the US, Malaysia, China and Vietnam, the rest consists of Irish students and even a professor. The multitude of differences between nationalities, age, background and experiences made for an amazing sharing session. Ciaran and Orla even made sure to visit all tables and ensure we all had a good time.

To cap off the night, we went down to the Dark Horse, a local watering hole, and celebrated Pete’s birthday. Congratulation, Pete!


Cong VU,

FT MBA 2014.

In at the Deep End!

Week one.

Lectures kicked off on Monday 2nd Sept at 8.30am on the UCD Smurfit MBAFinancial Reporting with Niamh Brennan.

“This is how you prepare an income, profit and loss statement. This is how you prepare a balance sheet. Any questions?”

Silence.

“Good, these are your assignments for Thursday.”

Two months’ worth of accountancy lectures at undergrad level, dexterously squeezed into two hours. The pace was set for the rest of the week.

It’s not that the lecturers assume students have considerable previous knowledge of the subjects. There’s just a lot of work to get through. The best thing to do is to jump straight in. The only comfort being the reassurance that others have gone through the same process in the past and lived to tell the tale.

We’ll see!

David Kiernan,

FTMBA 2014.

UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Captain’s Day – perfect end to a spectacular first year!

The first year of the UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Society has drawn to a close. And what a way to finish; under the watchful gaze of the Sugar Loaf, in the beautiful environs of Powerscourt House and Gardens, the scene was set for some dramatic golf. Admittedly, with the members blessed with blue skies and farmer tan generating sun bursts during the previous two rounds, both Cormac and Andrew decided to up the ante(in both weather and prize stakes) for this final outing! Rain and a €250 blue book voucher (thank Michael McDonnell for the latter and God for the former) were the driving forces for the day on 23rd August last.

Another increase in participation helped to reinforce the Society’s existence as a fun and enjoyable networking medium for the UCD MBA crew. That aside, the 11 prizes up for grabs produced game faces unseen since the 2007 Ireland England Six Nations match in Croke Park (God Save Our Queen). Unfazed by his five point deduction, Dave Joyce strode into the clubhouse a mere 10 minutes before his tee time, while Declan Griffin, unfazed by fashion, opted for an Eleanor O Higgins inspired ensemble (somehow he wins both worst and best dressed male for his delightful chalk blue-green pants!!)

Others followed suit with consistent bravado, including the dark horse from the third outing, Dave Kelly and the epitome of calm, Jim Gannon. With all eyes on the prize(s), Dave Flynn, Gareth McCluskey, Chris O Connor and Dave Feighery took to a sodden first tee. These golfing stalwarts approached the round like titans of industry: aggressive, risk taking and at times completely delusional. Dave Feighery, our resident 6 foot 3” man mountain could not handle the pace, opting to pull up at the 12th, leaving the remaining three to battle through one of our tougher challenges since Brian McGrath revealed his project schedule in Semester 2! The greens were slick AND quick, hard to read, and left all from this and other groups scratching their heads. With hands shaken and a resignation that the course had somewhat defeated them, the remaining three decided “to hell with club rules, we’re hitting the Members’ Bar”, a theme which was followed by subsequent groups.

New members David Slevin, Deirdre McHugh and Caroline MacKell (all very welcome, especially the new Ladies) joined MBA Golf Society pro Charlie Weijer as the next Group out. Charlie showed the newbies how it was done on the front nine with an impressive 19 points. However, his round faltered on the Back Nine, leaving his playing partners a little underwhelmed with his chances of winning Top Prize. Deirdre McHugh on the other hand, notable for her unrelenting frugality, chose value for money over low scoring (300 shots is a new course record!!). Of course I’m joking, and she has already stated that the new season will bring an invigorated ferocious golfing legend (with no excuse of lagged MBA exhaustion). Caroline MacKell, in the absence of our two times reigning Lady Champion, Emma Fagan, commanded attention with some delicate chips and exquisite putting to take 28 points into the Clubhouse, claiming the coveted Captain’s Ladies Prize. David Slevin, unable to keep up with the champagne golf on display, opted to copy Dave Feighery and exit before the end of the round. Don’t worry, he’ll be back next year.

Female Powerscourt Golf Club Members and Staff were left a little hot and bothered upon seeing our next foursome collectively preparing for their round. Declan “smooth talker” Griffin, Seamus “I invented the Internet don’t you know” Shaw, Conor “whoops, there goes my T-shirt” Ryan and Ronan “I just did a thousand sit-ups” Sheridan hit the course, with little regard for the weather or any of these aforementioned ladies’ husbands! And the confidence of these Alpha Males showed with Declan Griffin racking up a significant 37 points, spanking the course into submission. Chest out throughout his whole round, he forced both Sherdian and Ryan to retire early and lick their wounds on the way home, while Seamus Shaw managed some impressive drives to prove he was up to the challenge. Unfortunately, similar to most combatants on the day, the greens left him frustrated and confused.

Unaware that the eventual winner on the day was ahead of them, Cormac Dunne (our future Captain), Dave Kelly (a contender for Player of the Year 2014), Andrew Bacon (the legend) and Kieran Dowling (the storyteller extraordinaire) took to the course. No one’s quite sure how this foursome, all in contention for Player of The Year 2013, would succeed or falter during the round. To ease any tension, Andrew Bacon, having found one of the many water features on the course, opted for a Seve Ballesteros style recovery shot from the lake edge (this has since been posted on YouTube, link to follow). It should also be noted that in spite of being in water TWICE on a Par 4, somehow a 6 appeared on hisscorecard!! This left Kieran Dowling laughing so hard that all he could do was relax, achieving a birdie on the toughest hole on the course (Index 1), good man. Also still laughing was Dave Kelly as he approached the 18th hole, smashing his tee shot a massive 306 yards to win Longest Drive (Mr Joyce, you can’t win everything, although admittedly yours was longer!!). Meanwhile, Cormac Dunne, “fresh” from his Gaelforce success (finishing in the top 250 athletes) used guile and panache on a course he knows well, narrowly missing a Top Three Finish.

Having patiently observed their peers entering the fray, it was time for our final group to depart to the first: Captain Andrew Bourke, David Joyce, Jim Gannon and Steve Kelly, all ready for battle. Kelly, a novice to the sport, with only two years since he first held a golf club, was still yet to grasp the gravity of how stringent the rules of golf actually are. Just off the 5th green, he declared that his foot had glanced the ball, hoping that we would tell him to play on. David Joyce, however, in keeping with the ethos of honourable play awarded a penalty to a dejected Steve (like a bold child, it’s the only way he’ll learn!!). Both Gannon and Bourke were exhibiting moments of brilliance around the course, with Andrew shooting a 2 over across 5 holes. However, a calamitous run of 3 and 4 putts left both himself and Jim out of the running for the top spot (did I mention the greens were ridiculous?!!). As this final foursome approached the 18th tee, a steely determination to end in style in front of the gallery of “fans” instilled a resolve last seen when Declan was selecting his outfit that very morning. Both Jim and David reached the green on this tricky Par 5 in two shots, while Steve and Andrew played the percentage game to attempt pars. David Joyce, knowing he needed something special to cap off a near perfect back nine, hit his second shot to within 3 yards of the hole, knocking in for a well-deserved Eagle. With the rain having finally cleared, hands were shaken and the time came to withdraw to the Members Lounge to announce the winners.

It should be noted that with an increase in the Prize Pot, a significant improvement in scores took place, with 9 people shooting over 30 points. The eventual top prize of the €250 Blue Book Voucher (graciously donated by Michael McDonnell) was awarded to Declan Griffin on 37 points, with a 2 ball for Carton House going to a very close second: David Joyce on 36 points (he actually managed to get around the course in 7 under par, impressive). Bringing up the rear with 34 points (after his penalty) was a delighted Steve Kelly (his handicap is currently being reviewed by the Committee). Longest Drive was awarded to David Kelly while David Slevin (one of our new members) achieved Nearest the Pin on the day. Ladies Prize went to a very commendable Caroline MacKell with a commanding 28 points, with Deirdre McHugh awarded a voucher for “most use of the course”! Spot prizes were also given to Andrew Bacon, Gareth McCluskey and Kieran Dowling who were delighted to have been drawn out of the hat. To round off the day, it was time to announce Player of the Year. With Steve Kelly on 33 points, Dave Kelly on 36 points, a very worthy David Joyce stood up to collect his prize. With 39 points overall across his two best rounds, he humbly received his trophy and prize.

With the golf carts safely parked in the garage (and a lot were used that day by the Society), it was time for many to hit the Dame Tavern, Hogans, and eventually Copper Face Jacks (a club befitting the exclusivity of the MBA brand) for a few drinks and laughs.

It certainly has been an amazing journey for myself and Cormac. From a conversation during the Induction Week, to finishing the first year of a growing UCD Michael Smurfit Club, which we created, has been special. A massive thanks must be given to the staff of the MBA program who have tirelessly supported us throughout the setup process and indeed the financial donations we have received over the course of the year. Most importantly, the biggest thank you of all must go to you, the players. Without you, this club would not exist. We are hoping that we have created a fun environment for you to mix with fellow MBAers, take a break from the sometimes stressful aspects of the course, and most importantly, have a few laughs along the way.

Announcements of the schedule for 2014 will be available shortly on our website AND NEW REGISTRATIONS ALWAYS WELCOME!

Thank you again for all your support and see you shortly for some more golf.


Andrew Bourke, Captain, EMBA 2014.

Greens and Fairways

UCD MBA Golf Society
http://www.ucdsmurfitgolf.ie/


UCD Smurfit MBA Golf Society goes from strength to strength!

REVIEW OF EVENT on 19th July.


Word is spreading fast throughout the streets (of Blackrock mainly) that the MBA Golf Society is becoming one of the most popular clubs in UCD Smurfit history. With yet another increase in participation from the last outing in Druids Heath, the prestigious K Club served as the backdrop for the club’s penultimate event of 2013. As the temperatures reached a tepid 27 degrees, the competition for Player of the Year continued to heat up, with a noticeable air of excitement (and camaraderie) building in the Clubhouse.


The K Club, home to the Ryder Cup in 2006, certainly lived up to its reputation as an exclusive venue, with Andrew Bourke kindly reminded early on that “shorts, if they absolutely must be worn by visitors, should be tailored”. To avoid any risk of offence caused by his combat style pocketed shorts, Andrew was safely placed in a pair of black slacks for a meagre €110 (apparently all that was available in the Pro Shop on the day). With this minor obstacle surmounted, all players arrived suitably early for their respective tee times to discuss strategy and double up on their sun cream dosage. Some, namely Andrew Bacon and Declan Griffin, (believing it to be Ascot) were aiming for Best Dressed Male, putting the extravert golfer Rickie Fowler to shame. Also notable for his dress sense was David Kelly with his all black number (black shorts, black shirt and black cap). Among many overheard comments in the changing room were, “There’s a ninja on the course” and “He’d use black golf balls if he was allowed”.


With the prizes again graciously sponsored by the University, the battle to obtain these much coveted accolades was ready to commence. Ray O Gorman, Andrew Bacon, Declan Griffin and Cormac Dunne took to the first tee with all the bravado and showmanship of prize fighters… with only one decent drive between them as a result. Already the heat was wreaking havoc. This did not stop an intense driving rivalry from developing; Griffin Vs Dunne. They just could not wait until the 16th for the Longest Drive competition. By all accounts, Cormac was the victor, probably using the strength he’s been developing while training for Gaelforce West!


Next up were the intellectuals: Kieran Dowling, David Joyce and Jim Gannon. “Fresh” from his holiday in Spain and fully acclimatised to the heat, Kieran was ready to take on the top two players from the last outing. David Joyce, our resident scratch golfer, was using this round as a mere practice session before an epic 54 hole weekend that lay ahead, while Jim was using his excessive IQ to course manage his biggest challenge yet, the River Liffey. Rumour also had it that David continuously had one eye out for the Course Manager with a view to becoming the resident course professional. This threesome impressed throughout with touches of elegance around the green coupled with shots unseen since Padraig Harrington’s numerous final round collapses during many, many Majors! It should be noted that these lads admirably lost the least amount of balls during their round with a mere 26 balls!


The time to let the more mature gentlemen enter the fray was upon us with Chris O Connor, Ciaran Hynes and David Kelly looking relaxed and in control. However, by Hole 4, they looked dishevelled and forlorn. Actually in fairness, David Kelly was making the K Club look like a pitch and putt course! By all accounts it was one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf he has ever played, possibly a direct correlation to him just finishing the full time MBA course.


Unaware that a new champion was playing ahead of them, Ronan Sheridan, Conor Ryan, Joe Kenny and Andrew Bourke looked the epitome of MBA class approaching the first tee. Andrew seemed a little shaken though, quickly revealing he had committed the cardinal sin of drinking the night before a competition. With a pitiful 5 points in the first 8 holes, and being driven around in a buggy by a factor 70 wearing Joe, he looked desperately for the drinks cart (for water people, for water). Conor Ryan, on the other hand, playing off 28, used the first 3 holes to rack up 8 points, and was notably the first person to wear a sleeveless extra small polo shirt to the K Club! Ronan, who had moments of brilliance, could obviously not stop thinking about his future wife long enough to string two decent holes together, while Joe attempted to capitalise on his team mates’ weaknesses, waiting until the back nine to demonstrate his true golfing panache.


Finally, Steve Kelly (the reigning long drive champion), Emma Fagan (the current female champion) and Charlie Weijer (the champion for 2nd year MBA causes) aimed to challenge right up to the gallery that awaited them on the 18th. Emma, arriving just one minute before her allocated tee time brought her mother along for support (that’s how serious these competitions are taken). And she still found time to change out of a black and into a pink top during the first hole. Steve, having secretly played nine rounds in the previous two weeks maintained a quiet confidence throughout, racking up points while keeping the natives behind the final threesome at bay. Meanwhile, Charlie who earned a free baseball cap (resulting from a welcome credit card machine malfunction) was thoroughly enjoying a little freedom from his Capstone Project. It seems that these three were not the only players to enjoy this course.


As the summer sun started to make its way deservedly to the horizon, the final few joined the jubilant masses enjoying a drink in the luxurious clubhouse. With the numerous buggies safely parked and sun cream long gone (due to persistent sweat), talk turned to longest drive and nearest the pin. It seems that, yet again, hitting the fairway and green respectively would have been sufficient to win either award, with only two participants managing both. Charlie Weijer waited until the 12th to bring his best work, pinging a perfect 6 iron 970mm from the hole while Jim Gannon smashed his drive across the 16th chicane to claim yet another prize (we’re starting to realise we’re fund his outings).


Meanwhile, the point’s race was again slightly unflattering with only two players achieving 30 points or over. Thankfully David Kelly, with 39 points, led by example for next month’s Captain’s Day in Powerscourt on the 23rd August. Second with 30 points was David Joyce, with Cormac Dunne claiming third with a modest 27 points.


Yet again, it was recognised by all that the MBA Golf Society, although created upon the premise of networking, presented an arena for witty banter and adolescent regression (where the relaxed atmosphere spilled over onto the wee hours outside the Dame Tavern, hosting a band and many many pints!)


With representatives from midweek, weekend, full time, first and second year MBA classes present at the K Club, the society is certainly gaining momentum. It should also be noted that the club cannot keep giving the female prize by default to Emma Fagan (step up to the challenge ladies). And there’s always room for more male contenders, considering the relatively low winning scores.


Finally, a little note from the creators of the MBA Golf Society: We (Andrew Bourke and Cormac Dunne) started this club on an absolute whim, from a conversation that started in the canteen during our first week. However, as this club goes from strength to strength, we endeavour to create a club befitting the ethos of MBAs worldwide. Therefore we thought, “Why not use the society’s popularity to showcase Ireland as one of the best golfing destinations on earth?” To this end, we would like to announce at this juncture that we intend to present Ireland the hub of the first ever MBA Golf World Trophy, a competition that invites every nationality sharing our educational experience to join us as host in one of the most prestigious events on the MBA calendar, rivalled only by the MBA Rugby World Cup. More will follow, and thank you again for your support.


The next outing, is our “Captains Day” and our Captain Andrew Bourke is keen to see a large number attend our first, end of season event. Our target is 25 golfers, and we appreciate your assistance in making this happen.


The event is on the 23rd of August 2013 on the West Course of Powerscourt. A minibus will be running with further details on our website.


Greens and Fairways

UCD MBA Golf Society

A day in the life of an MBA student/ wife/ mother

Before coming to UCD for my MBA, I did a few searches on the internet to find out what a day in the life of an MBA would be like. Having two children and seeking the ever so unreachable work-life balance, I wanted to get a feel of how much time I would have to spend on school work vs the time I could spend with my family and my other projects.

A search on the internet for the schools I was applying for wasn’t very promising. Only one ‘A day in the life of’ was found and it didn’t look too appealing. Despite that, I still decided to delve into an MBA hoping that it wouldn’t be as bad as the person wrote. So here’s sharing what a day in the life of an MBA student with family responsibilities looks like ;-) . By the way, I am a Muslim, and we have five prayers each day – at dawn, mid-day, afternoon, sunset and at night, so my typical day would revolve around these prayers as well as the other obligations.

The class times differ in different semesters, in the first semester most classes would start from 830 up to 2 pm, in the second semester we would start at 11am and end at 4 or 5 pm. In the summer semester, most classes are ‘block’ style, which means the classes run from 9 am to 5 pm for a specific number of days. We are also starting Capstone projects next week, so that will depend on whether the company requires your presence in their premise or for you to work on your own schedule and place.

I like to think of my day as starting at the end of the previous day, then add in my six or seven hours of sleep from there, if I can get that six/seven hours. The day usually ends at between 1145 pm to 130 am – after one to two hours of studying, cooking dinner for the family, cleaning up, reading and checking my six year old’s homework, getting my two kids ready for bed – which includes about 45 mins of chasing the two and six year olds to get them to brush their teeth, clean –up and reading a bedtime story. Once all the chores are done, I would perform the night prayer and then do my reading or assignments, so generally my bedtime would depend on when I think I’ve met my study goals for the day. Performing the final prayer before retiring helps me to refocus and reflect on what I’ve done throughout the day in preparation for tomorrow.

About an hour and a half before the actual sunrise, I would rise and perform my morning prayer. This would usually take five or ten minutes, but I would stay awake for another half hour to read and reflect the verses from the Quran and sometimes study for one hour.

In winter, the sun rises at around 8 am, so by the time I am done for my prayer, I rush off to class. But in spring and summer, I would have some time to sleep again and would wake up at 8 am to make breakfast, get my son ready for school, and depending on when I start class, send him to school. Once my son is in school, depending on the workload and class schedule  I usually spend the rest of the time between 9 am to 5 pm doing schoolwork – at times on campus, at times at home. If I am at home, I take a two hour break to prepare lunch and eat it with the family as well as perform my mid-day prayer. When I am on campus, I usually have a packed lunch while reading cases or finishing assignments and do my prayer in the multi-faith prayer room on campus.

The afternoons are then usually spent with the children or doing housework and squeezing in ten minutes for the afternoon prayer.  The time is spent sometimes studying, sometimes going out for groceries, sometimes doing NGO work. During the weekends, 50% of it is committed to do NGO work, so the rest of the 50% is divided between family, housework and studying. I don’t know how they have all managed to fit in, but God has been kind in helping us achieve our goals for the year despite the challenges along the way.

Having a family and young children who are growing up with lots of attention needs, I’ve had to be very selective on where I spend my time. This means that I haven’t attended 90% of the social, networking, club and other extra events that the school or my classmates have organized. But these are the conscious choices I made when I prioritized my goals for the year in Dublin. I have to say that despite the stretch on my time, brain, physical being and psychology, I am very happy that I’ve taken the year off to do this MBA.

Nur and Family

If you’re also a mother and you’re thinking of doing the MBA, it’s not going to be an easy journey, but it will be rewarding if it’s something that will add value to your long term goals. If you need specific feedback, I would be glad to communicate with you :-)


– Nur Zahirah M Sukran, FT MBA 2012/13




True support

In order to achieve, one must have support. These achievements vary greatly by individual, asdoes the form of support that they need to achieve. The effort required not only to attend the UCD Smurfit School Executive MBA, but also to actively participate and take full advantage of the learning opportunity is tremendous. This effort is simply unrealisable without support. There are many definitions of what support is, but in the context of my current studies I particularly like the definition that states support as; “to keep from weakening or failing”.

In my case I couldn’t even countenance attending the Executive MBA without the absolute support of my wife, children, family and friends. And recently at the Family Easter Egg hunt in Smurfit School, the strength of the family support for all students is particularly evident! We simply couldn’t achieve our ambitious goals without you all, and I wanted to take this chance to say thank you for your sacrifices and support in our endeavours.

Thinking further on the support that I have drawn on specifically for the Executive MBA, I was struck by the incredible support available and eagerly offered to all students by the UCD Smurfit School students themselves. And what I believe to be a unique strength of the school and programme, this support has been offered by the past students and alumni just as much as it has been by current students.

The strength of this support network is unrivalled, and even though I had read of it before attending the school and programme, I continue to be amazed by just how vital this network of support is. I myself spoke with past students prior to application and have continued to draw on the experience and perspective of these alumni throughout my time on the programme.

This support will only strengthen as we all continue to utilise it until and after graduate. I look forward to being in a position to extend these bonds of support to future students and for any prospective MBA students reading this blog, I would strongly recommend that you reach out and contact a current or former student for their perspective on UCD Smurfit School and the MBA.

You will be generously surprised by the response and support that you will find.

James O'Rourke



– James O’Rourke, EMBA Weekend 2012-14

Executive MBA Family Day

It’s easy to forget that your class mates are actually people with lives outside of the this world with husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and children – and not merely fellow captives trying to help you get through the many, various assignments! So with the goal of getting to know our class mates a little better and having some harmless fun we conceived of the idea of the eMBA Family Day.

We are a time poor group at the moment with little capacity for extravagant party planning so our core focus in getting the event organised was to pool everyone’s talents and resources to see what we could come up with. Before we knew it we found we had an ‘Egg Hunt Director’, Jenn Boyer (EMBA Weekend), who brought significant experience from her childhood in the US, a jewellery designer class mate with a flair for face painting (Claire McAllister, EMBA Weekend), and the offer of a 7 feet tall dragon costume from a class mate’s marketing department! With these various resources and the support of the MBA office the eMBA Family Day Egg Hunt and Picnic was launched!

The path of the MBA student is never smooth and despite the fact that almost every Saturday that the weekend group has spent in Blackrock has been bathed in glorious sunshine, the day of the egg hunt coincided with the torrential rain and floods in Dublin. Not a group to be easily defeated, we brainstormed, innovated, discussed and debated and quickly relocated the party indoors and crated an indoor Easter woodland.

More than 15 families with over 20 children and even a few grandparents attended the event, eating approximately 2 metric tonnes of chocolate! The children were very excited to meet the eMBA Easter Bunny (graciously played by James O’Rourke, EMBA Weekend) and were a little astounded to encounter the eMBA Friendly Dragon (a stunning performance by Steve Kelly, EMBA Weekend). Despite our various obstacles and limited time we were delighted with the success of the event and are already looking forward to a bigger and better event for Year 2.

In addition to the kid’s enjoyment it was great to see the partners of the eMBA class mates spend some time together in such a fun setting – to commiserate over their missing spouses in some cases, to regale everyone with tales of practice presentations in front of the fire in others! There is a life outside of the eMBA, even if it’s sometimes easy to forget, so it’s good to give ourselves a little reminder every once in a while so that we remember why we’re doing this.

– Ciara O’Brien, EMBA Weekend 2012-14

What’s in a Grade?

To return to university after a gap of ten years since last attending a lecture or class is a daunting experience. To do so in tandem with your 9 to 5 and family responsibilities is bordering on insanity. Six months in to the Executive MBA, I don’t feel less insane for my decision but thankfully I am glad I lost my senses for those moments whilst filling in the Smurfit School application form! Surprisingly however, the satisfaction and benefits of my decision have not been derived from what I had previously assumed.

The decision to attempt to find 480 hours a semester in addition to work and family life was brought back to me in recent weeks, when receiving my semester 1 results. I must admit the most surreal experience of the Executive MBA to date has been waiting to sit an exam in the UCD RDS Exam Hall the week before Christmas with 18 year old first year undergraduates! I never knew I had such levels of ignorance of youth and self-consciousness of my own age in equal measure!

It was not the doing of the exams however that has triggered my reflection but rather the arrival of the results themselves. It has made me revisit why I decided to return to school in the first instance. Most organisations today ask a similar question as to what I did, which centre on the theme of what does success look like in any given situation.

What surprised me the most was the answer that I arrived at. It is very easy once in an academic environment to gauge one’s performance and success based on the quantifiable grade at the end of your module of effort, learning and long hours. This grade takes on a surprising level of significance not just for the student but also their peer group, friends, family and associates. What surprised me about my reflection is that whilst the grades I received were gratifying, they are not the reason that I or my classmates are here.

Each weekend I am surrounded by 21 extremely driven, intelligent, curious and accomplished individuals. In a wider sense there are nearly 100 equally impressive colleagues in the other classes of the 2013 Smurfit MBA Class. The insight, learning and enjoyment we are providing to each other through the facilitation of our lecturers is truly incredible. This is an aspect which may be outlined by numerous institutions as a sales point but it is the experience of this richness of experience on the Executive MBA which is challenging, stretching and ultimately enlightening.

And to the question of what success looks like to me on this MBA, it revolves around a new way of thinking and appreciating issues I face every day and this success is as dependent on my classmates and their contribution to the programme as much as it does my own or that of our lecturers. So to my classmates I say thank you and let’s continue to challenge each other as we make the most of this unique lifetime learning opportunity.

James O'Rourke



– James O’Rourke, EMBA Week-end 2012-14


Welcome Second Leg of MBA

It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining; the trees and grass are green with only a slight wind is blowing. It’s been more than two weeks since the start of a new semester for the full time MBA class. We’ve begun our option classes this semester, with only five core classes ongoing, including the overseas study trip due in March. The earliest class starts at 11 am this semester, good news for the owls among us.

We received our last semester’s results on Wednesday during the first week of class. I still feel a bit incredulous that I had actually completed studying seven subjects in three months. This semester, thus far, feels a lot less hectic compared to the last one.

A few of the class members mentioned that they felt like there was a lack in work/study-life balance last semester and wanted to re-prioritize their lives. Personally, I had occasional very high stress levels adjusting to the amount of work required last semester, along with my two young children and other domestic responsibilities. The ‘stress’ points were usually when the internet wasn’t working at home, had two or three assignments due and my beloved little ones were still running around the house when they should have had their morning bath.

I do feel that I was stretching myself a bit, and at some points wondered whether I would ever get to the end of the program! But I rationalized that it’s only for a short duration and I might as well juggle everything as best as I can. And it really depends on what we are looking for during this one year. Some of us may be using it as a stepping-stone, to network and get a better job while others may wish for academic excellence.

We all wrote down in our application essays what we wished to achieve during the MBA, though some people may have changed expectations and goals, but these objectives guide our decisions during the school term. For me, it has also meant forgoing taking any formal positions and attending most networking events because my aim is understanding with academic excellence while juggling a family, and bringing up and educating two future leaders (aka my children! ;)).

One of the great aspects of the MBA is that we get personal coaching which has helped us gain clarity into our own lives amidst the hectic MBA schedule. I’ve had two wonderful sessions with a first class Smurfit MBA alumnus. Coming out of the coaching session last Wednesday, I have asked myself a question that I felt I knew the answer, but perhaps I should ponder more on. I always have big dreams for my family and myself. But do I want to aim for eight things and only achieve 90%, or should I aim for only five things and achieve 100% on all of them? It’s a tough question. I would love to say I want to aim for eight things and achieve 100% but that would be stretching myself too thin and would definitely be bad for long-term health.

So to reach a middle ground, I will have to ask myself, out of those eight things that I want to achieve, which ones are the most important to me? What are my ‘key performance areas’ for this year? And for the long term? What are the strategic differentiators that I want to develop in myself? I know my priorities are my religion, my family and then only my career/ studies, but how much percentage do I devote to each of these, and how much do I have left for other things?

Deep breath.

Hard and tough questions to answer.


– Nur Zahirah M Sukran, FT MBA 2012/13