Meet an FTMBA Class Rep: Emily Merlino

Each term, the Full Time MBA Class elects two members to serve as the liaison between the students, faculty, and administration. Emily Merlino was selected as one of the two FTMBA Class Reps for Spring Trimester 2024.

The author in Singapore, on the Doing Business in International Markets study tour.

What ways do you hope your career will change when you’ve earned your MBA?

I was the Engagement Director for a global edtech company before joining the Smurfit MBA. In this position, I was lucky enough to travel to some unique spots worldwide and meet with fantastic people from across the globe. This experience, paired with learnings from the MBA about innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital strategies, led to me developing a goal of working in travel and aviation innovation. I hope to combine my experience in program management, global engagement, and leading a team with my MBA learnings around digital innovation and strategy to work in the travel and airport innovation sector. I’ve learned so much about critical thinking, ideation, and implementation during my time in the FTMBA, and I would love to implement those learnings in a field that really excites and inspires me.

How would you spend your ideal day off?

My ideal day off would start with getting a flat white from Bodega Coffee, followed by going on the Howth Cliff Walk with friends. After the walk, my partner and I would head into Dublin city centre and go to a couple of the bookstores I love. Then, we would head to one of our favourite restaurants, El Grito, for some great Mexican food. We’d end the night watching a movie at Stella Cinemas, a lovely, old-school cinema with beautiful decor and delicious snacks. Finally, we’d get home and snuggle our shih tzu, Yoshi. Coffee, hiking, books, Mexican food, movies, and dogs – what more could you want?

What skills have you learned in the programme so far that you’re most excited to take to work?

This year solidified and enhanced my time management and project management skills. Between classes, student organisations, class rep responsibilities, working part-time, travel, and trying to carve out time to decompress and rest, life as an FTMBA student necessitates strict organisation and planning. Skills like compartmentalisation, planning, delegation, and teamwork are vital to succeed in the FTMBA and the workplace. I suggest getting a great agenda or planner and using it!

Emily Merlino, Full Time MBA Class of 2024

Hiking in Dublin

As the first light of dawn stretches across the sky, painting it in a breathtaking palette of orange and pink, I find myself lacing up my boots along with my close friends for the Bray Head Cross Hike. This isn’t just any hike; it’s a journey that resonates deeply with the transformative path I’ve embarked on as an MBA candidate. There’s something about the anticipation of discovery that makes each step forward feel like a metaphor for the academic and personal growth journey I’m navigating.

The Author and Classmates at Bray Head Cross

The terrain of Bray Head Cross is a beautiful blend of rugged and serene. With every twist and turn, a new perspective unfolds, demanding resilience and offering insights. Yet, this experience transcends academic hurdles, focusing instead on personal growth and the exhilarating sense of adventure that comes with stepping into the unknown.

This academic endeavour, significant as it may be, is but a chapter in the grand adventure of life, a backdrop to the rich narrative of exploration and discovery that defines our existence.

On this hike, the vast canvas of nature’s artistry takes centre stage, offering real lessons from the elements themselves – the wind, the sea, the earth – teaching us resilience, adaptability, and the joy of overcoming challenges. Amidst this immersive learning, the support from faculty and peers enriched my journey with guidance and companionship. The fellowship found in group projects and classroom discussions is mirrored in the silent solidarity among fellow hikers, each on their own journey yet together in a shared experience.

Reaching the Bray Head Cross, the panorama that unfolds evokes a deep sense of connection to the world around us. This moment of achievement, much like the completion of a challenging trimester, marks a milestone in the larger story of personal growth and the relentless pursuit of knowledge and experience.

The Bray Head Cross Hike is more than just a path along the beautiful Dublin coast; it’s a metaphor for life’s journeys. The academic pursuit, though a significant part of this adventure, is just one of the many paths we traverse in our quest for learning and self-discovery. It’s the journey itself, with its natural beauty, challenges, and reflective moments, that embodies the true essence of growth and development.

As I stand at the summit with my friends Lijun Chen and Harsh Mangla, looking out over the vastness before me, I’m reminded that this hike is not just about reaching the end. It’s about the stories we gather, the wisdom we gain, and the joy of the journey itself. It’s a reminder that in the grand adventure of life, the most valuable lessons come not from the destination, but from the journey.

In the end, I heartily thank all my classmates for always being there for me.

Pratik Shivare, FTMBA Class of 2024

MBA After Hours

The inaugural MBA trimester leaves in its wake a wealth of knowledge, encompassing finance reporting, corporate finance, economics, strategy, and marketing management. Simultaneously, the period is punctuated with vibrant, exciting, and profoundly enriching extracurricular activities. 

The UCD campus offers a myriad of clubs and societies. Living by my life motto, ‘I will try anything once,’ I plunged into the world of tennis, evolving from a novice to an intermediate player in just four months. I’ve always been passionate about sports for their lessons in discipline and focus, and a regular runner and gym goer.

Tennis at UCD particularly appealed to me because it’s both physically and mentally challenging. It provides a fantastic platform for social interaction and networking. It’s not just about learning a new sport for me; it’s about embracing a challenge, expanding my network, and aligning with my energetic personality and continuous quest for self-improvement.

Author on the way to practice Tennis in UCD Main Campus

Beyond the sports realm, extracurricular pursuits extended to group hiking expeditions across Ireland, conquering trails such as Howth, Tiknock, and the Wicklow Mountains. The awe-inspiring landscapes of Ireland left an indelible mark on us.

The author and MBA classmates Emily, Emer  and Kumuta at Howth

In addition to the wide array of extracurricular activities offered at the university level, our MBA program at UCD uniquely empowers us to create and lead our own student-run and program-funded clubs and societies. This initiative begins with an idea for a new club, which we then develop into a formal proposal. Following this, we present our concept to the entire class to garner interest and involvement.

This academic year, our class has successfully launched 10 diverse clubs, each reflecting our varied interests and passions. These include the Music & Culture Club, Gastronomy Society, Strategy & Consulting Practice Club, Growth Mindset Club, Travel & Explorers’ Club, Community Outreach Society, and the Sport, Fitness, & Wellbeing Club, of which I am a proud co-founder.

Being at the helm of the Sport, Fitness, & Wellbeing Club, I anticipate honing my leadership and communication skills. It’s an exciting opportunity to apply what we learn in the MBA program in a practical, community-oriented setting.

Amidst the leisurely activities, the trimester was strategically balanced with career-focused initiatives. Notable among them was a visit to Workday, as well as numerous networking opportunities both online and offline. One standout event was a networking session at the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) organized by the Dean of UCD College of Business. The extensive discussions with UCD alumni spanned various graduation years, offering invaluable insights into the Irish business landscape.

The author and MBA cohort at Workday office
The Author and the MBA Cohort at UCD MBA Alumni event

Moreover, the trimester presented opportunities to expand networks outside of the university network. Facilitated by the UCD Smurfit Business School, I had the privilege of participating in the Ireland China Business Association Event. This event proved to be a remarkable platform for connecting with Chinese businesses and associations in Ireland.

The Author at Ireland China Business Association Event

During the first trimester all the full-time MBA students were offered to join  the GNAM Week.  It took me to ESMT in Berlin, Germany, where I chose the Sustainability Finance program. The decision was strategic, driven by the program’s relevance  rather than the city or country. Engaging with MBA students from various international business schools, hailing the Oxford Saïd Business School from the UK, IE Business School from Spain, Koc University from Turkey, Haas School of Business from the USA, and Fudan University from China, provided invaluable insights. The shared passion for ESG finance and collective experiences enriched our conversations and case studies, making it a truly transformative academic encounter. Looking ahead, 2024 holds promises of study tours to Singapore in March and Portugal in June.

Author and MBA classmates Kumuta and Emily in GNAM Week for sustainable finance program in Berlin ESMT Germany

The first trimester was an invigorating and fruitful experience, seamlessly blending academic rigor with diverse extracurricular and professional growth opportunities. As we turn the page on this enriching first trimester, I look forward with great anticipation to the new experiences, learning opportunities, and personal growth that the next phases of the MBA program at UCD will undoubtedly bring.

Lijun Chen, FTMBA Class of 2024

Women on the MBA: A World of Support

The importance of women supporting other women in both their personal and professional lives has been ingrained in me throughout my life. My mother spent her entire career breaking barriers and pulling other women up the ladder behind her – including, with her mentorship and support,  me. Because of her guidance and lifelong encouragement, I had the confidence to apply and enrol in the MBA programme. 

However, I recognise that not every woman has the advantage of such a supportive network, which underscores the need for us to foster environments where all women can access similar encouragement and mentorship. Luckily, the Smurfit School has been a wonderful place to find and foster this support. 

Five young women in smart-business dress stand in front of an Old Masters painting, smiling.
UCD Smurfit MBA Alumni Networking Event at Museum of Literature Ireland

The presence of women in MBA programs has seen significant progress in the last two decades, with the percentage in top programs increasing from less than 28% in 2002 to around 41.4% in 2022. For instance, at Smurfit, women constitute 59% of the recent EMBA and 42% of the full-time MBA cohorts. However, challenges persist as some top U.S. and European business schools report declines in women’s enrollment. An MBA greatly benefits women’s careers and salaries, with reports of substantial pay increases post-graduation. Furthermore, companies with female board directors often experience higher returns on equity, underlining the broader benefits of women in business.

Therefore, it is critical for both individuals and businesses alike that we continue to encourage women to enroll in MBA programs. However, enrolling (and graduating!) is only part of the equation. Providing women with support and encouragement once they are in business programs is equally as important as the enrollment period. 

Luckily, I have seen this happen organically in my current FTMBA cohort. While we make up less than half of the MBA class, we have an outsized impact on the cohort’s networking and extracurricular activities. One of my classmates, Kumuta Palan, organised an end-of-semester Women in the MBA luncheon for us in December, while another, Emer Walshe, arranged a Shoebox Appeal Drive for Team Hope that collected 21 boxes of gifts and essential items for children around the world. Our Class Reps in the Autumn 2023 semester were both women, as are many student organisation leaders. 

A diverse group of young women pose for a photo around a Christmas Tree
Women on the MBA End-of-Trimester Luncheon, December 2024

I noticed a distinctive throughline of support during the semester, in and out of the classroom. The cohort is tight-knit as a whole, but the women in the program have a special bond. Any hint of insecurity or a modicum of self-doubt was quickly drowned out by a vocal chorus of disagreement and support from the other women in the course. One classmate (the best in our class when it came to quantitative subjects, by the way) voiced that she was unsure if she was qualified for a career in finance and was met with a cacophony of incredulous women telling her that she was, undoubtedly, the most qualified in the class for such a career. With incredible classmates like these, it’s no surprise that I am constantly inspired by the women in our cohort every day. As Emer Walshe, our Autumn 2023 Class Representative, states: 

“Working with such inspiring and talented women really uplifts you. To know that you have a support system of people like you, who have persevered, just as you have, and understand the hard work and resilience to get to where you are, is so reassuring, and helps you to keep moving forward. I couldn’t do it without these ladies! “

This representation of women taking the lead in and out of the classroom is not only affirming for women in the current cohort but also vital for our future careers. The ability to practice consistent and successful leadership is crucial in building our confidence to take leadership roles as we move forward to our next professional endeavours. To that end, I encourage my classmates and women in future MBA cohorts to use the supportive environs of the Smurfit School as a “sandbox” to try new things, including taking on leadership positions, organising exciting events, and experimenting with new career and academic interests. As one of my classmates, Lijun Chen, put it: “I’ll try anything once!”

We must continue to encourage and support women in MBA programs and foster environments where all women can access mentorship and encouragement. Nor should we lose sight of the importance of supporting women in their post-MBA careers. Once we graduate, we must provide actionable support and mentorship to those coming after us – as we saw in the statistics above, the work is certainly not done yet. 

In conclusion, let’s raise a glass to all women who break barriers, pull others up the ladder behind them, and continue to make strides in their personal and professional lives. Cheers to the women who came before us, the women standing alongside us, and the women who will come after us. And remember, the future is female, and based on the amazing women around me, it’s also looking pretty bright!

Emily Merlino, FTMBA Class of 2024

Meet the Full Time MBA Class Reps

Each term, the Full Time MBA Class elect two members to serve as the liaison between the students, faculty, and administration. This autumn the roles are held by Vinamrata Pandey and Emer Walshe.

What ways do you hope your career will change when you’ve earned your MBA?

Emer: Initially, when I applied for the MBA, I was uncertain of my specific career aspirations, however, I knew a change was in sight. Having worked as a manager for over 10 years in two fast-paced, dynamic industries that required quick adaptation to change, I knew that a pivot into a new area would be an exciting endeavour. The MBA has broadened my outlook and crystallised my ambition to transition into a strategy-focused role. Strategy is the essence of business and I want to be a part of helping to shape its future. My MBA journey so far has been about discovering the means to forge this new path for myself.

FTMBA Class Rep Emer Walshe

Vinamrata: Swapping marketing magic for a leadership wand, my MBA adventure is about more than climbing the corporate ladder—it’s about building a whole new ladder for business. Think of it as trading in my organised creative hat for a strategist’s cap, all while keeping my moral compass firmly in hand.

I am thrilled about the possibility of exploring international opportunities that the MBA could reveal, enabling me to lead cross-border initiatives with a blend of innovative entrepreneurship, fresh leadership, communication skills and marketing expertise. Combining business knowledge with a global perspective, I am fully committed to creating value that extends beyond profit, aiming for a career that makes a positive impact on both the balance sheet and the world.

In a nutshell, I’m gearing up to be that leader who’s as comfortable in a boardroom as I am in a brainstorming session, driving change that’s smart, kind-hearted, and, fingers crossed, planet-friendly.

How would you spend your ideal day off?

Vinamrata: On my perfect day off, I’d strike a balance between invigorating my mind, rejuvenating my body, and nourishing my soul – basically, I’d be a triple threat to any form of stress. The morning would start with a peaceful meditation, followed by diving into a good book, letting my imagination roam free. For a body boost, I’d grab my racket for a lively game of badminton, letting the swift movements and competitive spirit energise my body. The second half of the day would be dedicated to a creative pursuit or hobby that feeds my soul, maybe painting or dancing. As the sun sets, I’d wrap up the day with a cosy gathering of friends and family, sharing food, laughter, and stories, feeling grateful for the simple joys of life.

FTMBA Class Rep Vinamrata Pandey

Emer: My ideal day off involves being at the top of a mountain, with my dog, taking in the breath-taking views of Ireland’s magnificent scenery. There is nothing more relaxing than a crisp, clear day with blue skies looking out over the Dublin mountains. After 7 years of exploring the volcanic terrain and hidden coves of the Canary Islands, I’m happy to be back in my luscious, green home country, where I can enjoy breathing the clean, fresh air and savouring the unique landscapes Ireland has to offer. Oh, and without technology. A true break can only be taken when you disconnect from the world and reconnect yourself with nature.

The Class Reps together, outside UCD Smurfit Main Hall

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your MBA?

Emer: To savour every moment. Time passes by so quickly that sometimes you don’t realise what’s just happened. You forget to enjoy the moments, really take in the experiences of connecting with new people, relish in the long evenings and weekends with your new “family”, your study cohort, and reflect on the transformation that’s happening within you. It goes by before you know it, and the process is shaping the very being you’ll become. Embrace the journey.

Vinamrata: Three months into my MBA, and if I could sit down with my pre-MBA self, I’d say, “Buckle up; it’s going to be a wild ride — think ‘roller coaster meets networking event.’ Real wisdom is found not just in lectures, but also in the late-night study sessions, the diverse perspectives shared by international classmates, and the real-world case studies where the most valuable lessons are learned.

I’d also underline the importance of agility — the ability to pivot not just in business decisions but in career plans as new opportunities and interests unveil themselves. And on the personal front, it turns out crafting my narrative is as critical as any case study analysis. It’s about weaving my unique set of skills into a story that resonates as loudly in interviews as it does in networking mixers. If only I’d known to sell my study-induced panda eyes as a mark of dedication from day one!

Emer Walshe and Vinamrata Pandey, FTMBA Class of 2024

Changing directions, new friends and aspirations

It’s been sixteen years since I stood beside the lake at Belfield and stared across the water shimmering in the autumn sun. Back then, O’Reilly Hall behind me played venue to my graduation day. We were a close group of BA graduand friends. Then, how we celebrated – hats thrown in the air, (too many) drinks taken and bright futures ahead of us all.

Regrettably a massive financial crash the following year, along with the general march of time, scattered us. 

Four young people smiling in front of an ornamental lake, with university buildings in the background
Author’s study team in from of the UCD lake
From left to right: Harsh, Vaishali, Luke and Kumuta

Today it’s just a few weeks into the first semester of my MBA at Smurfit Business School and the same hall is hosting a careers fair which I’m visiting with the three other members of my new study group. It didn’t take us long to become friends – luckily for us, we turned out to make a great team. But I can’t help but feel nostalgic about my first time here as we ask a passer-by to snap a picture of the four of us in front of the lake.

It was during the pandemic that I really started questioning whether I was happy with my career. I’m proud of the success I achieved in journalism after graduating UCD but the world, and the profession, has changed. 

Then earlier this year, a redundancy process. 

The last few months have seen some of the toughest decisions of my life, a lot of a risk and worry – but I already know I won’t regret coming back to university. I’ve learnt more here in the past five weeks than I did in the previous five years across a range of new subjects. How, for example, could I ever have known that I’d find financial reporting incredibly interesting? On top of that I’ve met fantastic new people with a diverse range of backgrounds and outlooks from around the world. 

A group of about 25 young people, many in grey MBA hoodies, all smiling in front of a large tree. The students in the front row hold a banner that reads UCD Smurfit School MBA.
MBA Class of 2024

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to California, something I’ve always dreamed of doing, to take a course and network in Berkeley during GNAM (Global Network for Advanced Management)  week. This is not humble bragging – in fact I invite you to be jealous. You’ll be able to read a post about that adventure soon.

To be serious though, I am honestly and sincerely so very grateful for having been awarded the Aspire scholarship that allows me to start this new journey in my life. I’m not yet sure what the future holds for my career, but for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about it. 

Take the plunge. 

Luke Byrne, Full Time MBA Class of 2024

Navigating New Beginnings: My UCD Smurfit MBA Reflection

On the 24th of August 2022, as the morning sun cast golden hues across the campus, I stood  at the gateway of UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business, a  haven for new beginnings. I embarked on a journey of enrichment, where the old and  the new would weave together to create a tapestry of deeper understanding and personal  growth. 

The MBA programme at UCD Smurfit was a chapter of academic enlightenment. Every day unfolded like a page from a book  of wisdom, offering lessons that went beyond the confines of a classroom. I found myself constantly inspired, absorbing the wealth of  knowledge and diverse skills that my peers brought to the table. Amid this vibrant learning environment, friendships blossomed organically, in corners of  classrooms, during coffee breaks, and within the comforting walls of my home where we  gathered to create joyous memories. I was enriched, as I learned to meld the structured approach from my past as a marine engineer with a Japanese company with the vibrant,  dynamic, and collaborative learning environment at UCD Smurfit.  

The author and MBA classmates

As I reflect on this journey, a profound sense of gratitude envelops me. UCD Smurfit has  been more than an institution; it has been a fertile ground where dreams were nurtured,  aspirations fostered, and where individuals honed their abilities to leave a lasting imprint on  the world. Some of my favourite experiences follow:

  • During the summer trimester, I had the privilege of serving as the Class Representative, a role  that allowed me to foster unity and collaboration within our diverse group. My colleague Ananya Singh and I orchestrated class events that not only facilitated  learning but also nurtured bonds that I believe will stand the test of time.
  • The international trips to Prague and Italy expanded our horizons, teaching us to navigate the intricate nuances of  different cultures with grace and adaptability. This demonstrated the global  perspective that UCD Smurfit nurtured within us. 
The author and friend, about to jump into the sea
  • My dear friend Eddy O Byrne ushered me into the exhilarating world of sea  swimming, a practice that became a sanctuary of tranquility and reflection amidst the  bustling MBA life. The rhythmic waves of the Irish Sea seemed to mirror the heartbeat of the  Irish people, a community that embraced life with resilience and joy, whether under the gray clouds or the shining sun.
  • An exciting chapter of this journey led me to the lively sets of “Fair City“, a cherished TV  show that encapsulates the vibrant pulse of Ireland. Here, amidst the laughter and shared  stories while working as an extra, I glimpsed the true spirit of Ireland, a place where joy  permeated the simplest moments.
The author in a screenshot from the RTÉ programme ‘Fair City’

Now, as a proud member of the CoolPlanet team, I find myself utilizing the rich tapestry of  experiences and knowledge acquired during my MBA journey to help companies navigate  their path towards sustainability, aiding them in achieving their decarbonisation goals. It feels  like a natural progression, a step forward in a journey that seeks to harmonize business goals  with the pressing needs of our environment. 

As I pen down these cherished memories, I realize that this journey is a continuous path of  growth and learning. The friendships forged, the knowledge acquired, and the experiences  garnered are precious treasures that will accompany me as I step into a future brimming with  hope and promise. To my classmates, my professors, and the entire UCD Smurfit community, thank you for  being an integral part of this enriching journey. Here’s to UCD Smurfit, a place where dreams find wings, where individuals grow into  leaders, and where the journey is as enriching as the destination itself.

A young man in a white shirt stands in front of a multi-textured brick wall

Abhinav Agastya, Full Time MBA Class of 2023

Most Important Lessons Learned on the MBA

Finally putting pen to paper having promised this blog for a while. We’re in the final week of our MBA program; it’s been quite the year!

Why Smurfit? Having done my undergraduate degree in UCD–with parents also alumni–no other colleges even came into thought. Smurfit’s reputation speaks for itself: it takes huge pride in its present students and alumni, and the MBA offers multiple opportunities for international exposure and learning throughout the year. Plus, I could never even dream of going to any of our cross city rivals! 

Here are some of the main learning points I’ve taken from this year on a personal level.

Importance of Teamwork

Cliched for sure. But the MBA has taught me so much about teamwork and team dynamics. We’ve had multiple different teams throughout the year. Each team has different personalities, different skill sets and most importantly, different ways of working.

In these situations we need to learn how to adapt. Get to know those on our team, get to know how they work. There is never a perfect team recipe, or a one size fits all. If there was, we’d all be winning. Learning about how you work best as a team is crucial to optimizing the experience for all involved. 

The biggest learning here for me is being able to find that middle ground, trying to find a perfect fit for that team at that moment, even though it won’t be a sweet spot for everyone involved. 

Three young white men in suits pose with an Instagram photo booth frame labeled UCD Smurfit School
The author + classmates at the beginning of the school year

The Power of Authenticity

Authenticity: This is by far one of the most used words or phrases used by our guest speakers this year.

I think authenticity isn’t spoken about enough at times. I believe people feel pressured to be something they’re not to allow themselves to fit into a social group, a work group or even into a job description. ‘Being your authentic self’ is obviously easier said than done at times, especially when you feel it may not be good enough. But I’m a firm believer in what is for you won’t pass you by, and things will become easier in the long run by staying by your own beliefs.

Applying this to myself, the transition from a clinical to more corporate style environment has been challenging in itself. The networking, the events, the phone calls–I didn’t even have a LinkedIn profile this time last year! But I’m hopeful and slowly becoming more confident that in the long run my own skills, old and new (courtesy of the MBA), will be useful to a team, company or client wherever my professional life takes me come September. My skill set has improved for sure, but me as a person won’t change to fit into a job description or role.

The Importance of Balance

Stress is another word which has certainly been thrown around our class group quite a bit this year. I think as humans it’s super important to learn how to cope with it. Everyone has their quirks, habits, and hobbies, their small things that improve their overall wellbeing by those small percentages. This year more than ever I have found it to be both extremely difficult but also high priority to try and find a balance between work and wellbeing. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to not have had huge exposure to stress in my 29 years, and I think the MBA is trying its best to make up for lost time! Time is the most valuable resource to us in the Full Time MBA class, but for me the most important part of the week is the small pockets of time to offset that stress. Exercise is my own go to, and I know this differs throughout my class cohort.

This particularly has been a huge learning point for me this year. I think we as humans are improving, but still slow to talk about and manage things like stress and mental health. And also slow in admitting we do certain things to offset that, when in reality the importance of it for our overall health couldn’t be more significant.

Owning your Strengths

As this year has developed this has become something which I would hold huge value to. The Irish culture is one which is certainly not conducive to “fancying yourself”, but I certainly believe there is a balance to be struck here. 

One thing I have certainly learned from the MBA this year is that the corporate environment can be dog eat dog at times, and nobody is going to own your strengths for you. This has required a shift in mindset for myself personally, coming from a healthcare background.

However, what the careers team and faculty in UCD have done consistently for us this year, is go above and beyond to facilitate our own self-development and increase our own self-awareness of our skill sets and strengths. This has come from not only self reflection, but also what our peers see that we may not. Hopefully we as a cohort can do ourselves and the school justice going forward. 

So a huge shout out to Bernie and the rest of the staff for all of their hard work.

The Author on his GNAM Network Week posting

Respect for my International Colleagues

In a year that has demanded substantially more than most of us could have imagined, I have to take the opportunity to show my respect for my international colleagues who have made the journey to Dublin this year.

Having lived in New Zealand for 4 and a half years prior to coming home to study, I know exactly what it feels like to be away from home for such a long period of time. However in such a challenging year, I am super grateful to have my friends and family so close as a support system to make the year that little bit easier.

I don’t think I could imagine doing the year so far away from them. So again, a huge amount of respect to my international colleagues who have taken the leap to Dublin and hope you have found those safe spaces whilst being here.

The Author & Classmates on their International Study Tour to Scandinavia

All in all this year has been an experience to say the least, one which has presented big challenges but also plenty of good memories. As the end is drawing nearer, the next challenge of entering the working world again awaits, and is something I hugely look forward to embracing.

Eddy O Byrne, FTMBA Class of 2023

The MBA + Part-time Job Combo

So, you’ve decided to pursue an MBA at UCD, hoping for a thrilling academic adventure. But wait, there’s a twist! It would be best to juggle a part-time job to keep your savings intact. Don’t worry: We’ve got some first-hand insights from MBA students who’ve walked this path of multitasking madness. So, buckle up and prepare to navigate the wild world of part-time jobs and the MBA!

My Personal Experience

I have been working in a famous Irish supermarket as a sales assistant. My part-time job paved the way for me to learn completely new skills I never thought I would try my hand at. Getting out of my comfort zone and choosing to upskill myself was nothing less than an achievement. Some of the skills that I picked up are better planning (planning is very important in inventory management), time management and better customer interaction & engagement. These skills will enrich my personality and add dimensions to my persona (hopefully).

Timing is Everything

Starting a part-time job while managing your MBA coursework requires careful consideration. At the start of the programme, you may find yourself drowning in modules and assignments, desperately trying to grasp the basics. There are better times to add another variable!

The consensus among seasoned multitaskers is to hold off on the part-time job until you’ve settled into your MBA routine. While the MBA timetable may seem to have free spaces, it’s important to remember that these are dedicated to coursework tasks like group meetings, reading, research, and homework. The schedule is designed to handle the significant workload of an MBA program. Seasoned multitaskers advise against taking on a part-time job alongside your studies, particularly during the program’s initial stages. Trying to juggle too much can result in a messy situation and hinder your ability to engage and excel in your coursework fully.

Jobs as Diverse as Your Classmates

You’d be amazed at the vast array of part-time jobs your MBA cohorts will embrace. There’s something for everyone, from supermarket shelf stackers to pizza parlour wizards, physiotherapists, nurses, movie side actors and warehouse warriors. Remember, many of these gigs require physical labour, so get ready to flex those muscles with your brainpower.

Filmmakers at work.
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

The Art of Multitasking

Once you’ve taken the plunge and secured a part-time job, it’s time to put your multitasking skills to the test. Prioritisation would be your new best friend. Seriously, it cannot be stressed enough how crucial it is to prioritise your MBA work effectively. 

If you need help keeping up with readings, fear not! Explore the wonderful world of PDF-to-audio reader apps. Who knew your MBA journey could be filled with a symphony of readings?

Embrace the Irish Work Culture

Working part-time during your MBA will introduce you to the vibrant and lively Irish work culture. You’ll get first-hand experience interacting with people from different countries and cultures, broadening your horizons while stacking shelves or delivering pizzas. You might even learn a few choice phrases in various languages. Bonjour, ciao, and dia duit!

Financial Freedom and Fancy Purchases

One perk of taking on a part-time job is the newfound financial independence—no more hesitation before buying those fancy items you’ve been eyeing. Just remember to resist the urge to splurge your hard-earned cash on too many unnecessary treasures. Saving money is essential, even amid your MBA journey.

Photo from work, by the author

Not Everything is Hunky-Dory

Sometimes you will have to deal with people who may not be as polite as your co-workers from your pre-MBA life. However, it is for you to stand your ground and take on challenges as they come – you need to stand behind your work and build confidence in your abilities. You will surely come out on the other side as a stronger individual.

It’s Not All Doom & Gloom

While the MBA + part-time job combo may sound daunting, it’s not all bad news. The challenges you face will make you more resilient in handling heavy workloads. You’ll become a multitasking maestro, and prioritising your work will become second nature. Think of it as a crash course in professional development with a side of financial stability.

The Camaraderie of Cohort Gems

One of the silver linings of pursuing an MBA is the incredible support and camaraderie you’ll find among your classmates. In group projects and assignments, everyone is generally happy to adjust their schedules to accommodate their part-time job. But care must be taken to ensure that when pursuing part-time work, students keep in mind that they will also have responsibilities to their classmates and study team members. Therefore, consider yourself blessed if surrounded by a batch of true gems, ready to conquer the MBA journey together.

A group of students smiling together in the Common Room at UCD Smurfit
At work in the UCD Smurfit Common Room

Where to Find Part-time Jobs

To discover part-time opportunities, check websites like Indeed and Jobs.ie. For a more proactive approach, visit local shops and personally hand in your resume. If you’re interested in supermarket chains, apply through their websites. Lastly, don’t forget to tap into your network of friends already working part-time—they can offer valuable assistance.

In the fantastic journey of the MBA program, taking on a part-time job might seem daunting. However, you will survive this adventure armed with time management skills, a multitasking skill, and the willingness to prioritise. Remember, it gets a little more accessible daily, but you must consistently put in the effort. So, embrace the MBA, conquer your part-time job, and emerge from the MBA as a multitasking warrior with a bright future.

Roshen Sunil, FTMBA Class of 2023

Bella Italia

In March 2023, a group of 21 Full Time and Executive MBA Students traveled to Italy with Professor Karan Sonpar for the Doing Business in International Markets study tour. There, they heard from experts and executives in fashion, food and beverage manufacturing, luxury brand management, financial services, and technology sectors ranging from data analytics to aerospace engineering. Here’s what the students had to say about the experience.

The Italy travel group in front of the Milan Duomo

The Italy Study Tour was an incredible experience visiting the offices of Campari, Enterprise Ireland and Piaggio. The presentations were insightful and the visit to Insoore showed us the innovative start-up culture in Italy. A great opportunity to learn about the luxury brand industry, heritage marketing, and competitive advantage of nations. In addition to the valuable business insights gained from the Italy Study Tour, the quality time spent with my MBA batchmates was truly unforgettable. The opportunity to bond over delicious Italian cuisine and explore the beautiful cities of Milan and Rome together was a highlight of the trip. A truly enriching experience both professionally and personally. Abhinav Agastya, FTMBA Class of 2023

FTMBA Student Ananya Singh submitted this photo of herself & two classmates during the Duomo Rooftop Tour the first day in Milan
A group of Indian, Chinese, and European young people standing in a sunlit lobby smile for the camera.
MBA Students wait eagerly for their tour of fintech startup Insoore to begin.
A white man takes a selfie of a group of students standing with their luggage on a street in Milan
EMBA Student William Boyd took a selfie as the group assembled for the train journey from Milan to Rome.

Experience is the teacher of all things.’ – Julius Caesar.
The international business trip to Italy was an invaluable experience I would carry for my life. The trip provided an opportunity to immerse in a new culture, try local foods, visit local landmarks, and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diversity of the world. I was able to meet business leaders and learn from the experts in the field. I got a chance to visit local companies and industries to learn about their operations and business models and to observe the challenges and opportunities they face in the global market. Overall, I found the experience was more tangible, and I could see how the theories we learnt in the class apply in the real business world. Ananya Singh, FTMBA Class of 2023

FTMBA Student Blessing Ehinomen Ebare poses with a matching Vespa at the Piaggio Showroom in Milan.
A white woman accepts an Aperol Spritz from a bartender.
The visit to Campari Group wrapped up with aperitivo hour in the company’s function space.

Did you know that more than 85% of businesses in Italy are family-owned? This makes up about 784,000 businesses and accounts for around 70% of employment in the country. These businesses include the Said chocolate factory, the well-loved Borsalino, specialists in Italian luxury hats,  the luxury Italian fashion house D&G and Piaggo, the Italian motor vehicle manufacturer to mention a few.  If there is one thing all these companies share in common, it’s the appeal to lifestyle, culture, and joy of life which Italians are known for.

Well, it was not all business. I did get to enjoy some Italian delicacies, tour the Campari museum, the Duomo Di Milano Cathedral, the D&G fashion house in Milan, and visit the Milan Fashion Institute, among others. It was also a great opportunity to bond with my classmates and the Executive MBA students outside the classroom setting and make new connections. I also got to appreciate a culture that was different from mine. I fell in love with Italy and look forward to visiting again sometime. Blessing Ehinomen Ebare, FTMBA Class of 2023

A soccer pitch at night, with bright lights overhead and stadium staff in orange in the foreground
A group of students arranged on their own to see a soccer match during a free evening: EMBA student Noel Quinn submitted this photo from the outing.
A group of around 20 students, faculty, and staff smile behind a banner reading UCD Smurfit School MBA in front of the obelisk in Rome's Piazza Navonna
The MBA Travelers on their walking tour of Rome

This should give you an idea of why so many UCD Smurfit MBA Students consider the International Study Tour a highlight of their year! Thanks in particular to Legacy Ventures for putting together such an engaging and rewarding itinerary.

To any prospective students reading this: Just think, next spring this could be you.

Kathryne Del Sesto, FTMBA Programme Manager